Introducing Mark Daigneault

Introducing Mark Daigneault

Thunder VP and GM Sam Presti held a virtual, joint press conference with Mark Daigneault to introduce the latter as the new head coach for Oklahoma City yesterday. Anyone can find the video of the press conference and press play, but why waste 36 minutes and 4 seconds of your time when you can read the highlights and only waste 3 minutes of your time?

Here are my Top 10 Takeaways from the Daigneault introduction:

1. Nobody knows how to say his name.

Sam Presti introduced his new head coach as “Mark Dagg-nalt.” But in the press release, the Thunder included a text pronunciation that read “DAYG-nalt”. And to further confuse matters, both Presti and the presser may be wrong.

Check out how the French say it:

2. He’s here for the long haul.

When Sam Presti was asked about the Thunder’s track record of longevity for coaches and players, it’s like he was mapping out a plan for the rebuild. Words like “hard” and “tough” setting the stage for the beginning phase, but showing the successful light at the end of the tunnel by assuring the new coach would be in OKC forever and ever, amen.

“We try to stick with people and let them do their best work. Coaching in the NBA is an extraordinarily hard job. Everybody needs support when times get tough. We’re always going to support our coach. I’d expect Mark to be here for a really long time.”

3. Space and pace.

If you’re wondering what Daigneault’s offensive philosophy is, he stressed high efficiency basketball.

“As a foundation, the way I see the game offensively is you’ve got to play with great pace, keep the floor spaced and let the ball breathe…and let players play to their strengths.”

4. Sam Presti likes him. Duh.

As you’d expect, Presti gave nothing but praise and two big thumbs up for his new hire. We haven’t seen reviews this glowing since the final season of Schitt’s Creek.

“He has the rare combination of youth and experience. In over 250 games as a head coach, he has built tremendous relationships. Not just with our players, but with others within the organization.”

More Presti praise:

“He has a real modern approach to today’s NBA. He’s an extraordinarily quick learner and can connect different disciplines within the program. Learn quickly, apply quickly, and take some chances.”

Presti also emphasized his relatability with players and his stellar record with the Blue.

5. The new coach took a shot at KD.

 “It’s not gonna be easy, and nothing worthwhile is.”

Tell me that isn’t a not so thinly veiled jab at Kevin Durant.

6. Daigneault is a Donovan disciple.

Among other coaches Daigneault credits for his success, he singled out Billy Donovan both at Florida and Oklahoma City as someone who has helped him thrive. It was clear when hearing and watching him speak that the new Thunder head coach thinks very highly of the former Thunder head coach.

7. He and his wife Ashley are an Oklahoma sports power coaching couple.

Daigneault mentioned that his better half is a coach for the OU Sooners Women’s Gymnastics team. Christine Donovan could never.

8. Mark bleeds Thunder blue and orange.

We knew that the person Presti hired would be a high character man or woman who would welcome the small market family lifestyle that OKC offers. Daigneault confirmed those beliefs when speaking about the team:

“The Thunder raised me as a basketball coach. I’ve never had a bad day with the Thunder.”

Upon the news breaking, he got a flood of congratulatory texts, and a phone call from Chris Paul and others within the Thunder. “That’s the way it should be for a tight-knit organization,” said Daigneault, who responded to Thunder VP Donnie Strack’s congrats by saying, “The best thing about this is we get to go to work together tomorrow.”

9. The rest of staff may come from within.

The most familiar Thunder coaching names have been trickling away in recent seasons. Billy Donovan, gone. Mo Cheeks, gone. Mark Bryant, gone. Darko Rajakovic, gone. Royal Ivey, gone. Daigneault says his staff is not yet complete, and that he will look internally first to fill open positions. But I gotta be honest, I don’t know who is left. Chris Paul? Oh wait.

10. He’s a Bruce Springsteen fan.

Presti, being the 90s alternative hip hop head he is, ragged Mark for being a big Boss fan. And then Daigneault, who was born one year after “Born In The USA” was released, ended his first presser with a Springsteen lyric. The song, fittingly, is entitled Land of Hopes and Dreams:

Oh oh this train, I’m riding this train

Don’t you wanna ride (This train)

Oh get on, get on (this train)

Grab your ticket and your suitcase

Thunder’s rolling down the tracks

Someone send Springsteen an SGA jersey, STAT.

More quotes from the presser:

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