By Kyle Lovern
Williamson native Mark Cline will be staying at Marshall as an assistant basketball coach. Although it has been rumored that he was staying, the announcement was not official until Friday.
New head coach Dan D’Antoni, a native of Mullens, will keep the fellow West Virginia native on his staff.
“I’m really excited and happy that Coach D’Antoni allowed me to be a part of his staff,” Cline said in an exclusive interview with the Williamson Daily News.
“I think he will bring back a lot of excitement to the program here in Huntington,” Cline added.
“Being from West Virginia – especially the southern part of the state – I know it’s a special job for him,” Cline stressed. “It’s his dream job. He played for the Herd and this school and program are both special to him.”
Cline knows that being from the Mountain State, especially the coal fields, gives him a unique perspective.
“Me being from West Virginia – I understand the magnitude of this. I have the same feeling about the people who live here and our great fan base,” Cline added.
“I think Dan has all of the ingredients to succeed and make this a winning program,” Cline said. “I’m thankful to be a part of his staff and pleased to be staying at Marshall University.”
Cline just finished his fourth season as an assistant men’s basketball coach at Marshall, to former coach Tom Herrion.
With Cline’s assistance in 2012, Marshall went 21-14 and earned a bid to the NIT for the first time in 24 years. The Herd also made the Conference USA Championship game for the first time in school history and the first team ever to do so as a No. 6 seed.
Cline, who led the Williamson Wolfpack to a Class AA state title back in 1983, returned to the Mountain State in 2011, after spending the previous four seasons on the staff at Oklahoma with Jeff Capel.
He was Capel’s first hire when he went to OU. Cline helped guide the Sooners to an 82-51 record, two NCAA Tournaments, a 2009 Elite 8 appearance, and a No. 2 national ranking during his stint in Norman. Cline was the lead assistant at OU and recruited 2009 consensus national player of the year and current NBA all-star Blake Griffin.
Cline, who graduated from Wake Forest in 1988, and his wife Nancy have a daughter, Layla. His mother also lives close to Huntington and Cline is happy to be able to stay and work close to her.
The Cline File:
Cline, the two-time West Virginia High School Player of the Year who earned McDonald’s and Street & Smith’s high school All-America honors shot .414 from 3-point range during his collegiate career. He is also one of only three players from West Virginia to be named a two-time Parade All-American, joining Earl Jones (Mount Hope) and Brett Nelson (St. Albans).
Cline enjoyed an outstanding playing career at Wake Forest from 1983-1987 (the same span as Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues) and was a four-year starter. He finished his career with 1,202 points and currently ranks in the top 30 on Wake’s all-time list. He averaged double figures over his final three seasons and served as a co-captain the last two. Cline currently ranks 12th in career free throw percentage (179-219, 81.7 percent). The Demon Deacons advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight his freshman season. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater during the 1988-89 campaign.
While at Wake Forest he went up against players like Michael Jordan and Len Bias.
Cline was as an assistant coach for Virginia Commonwealth under Capel and helped VCU compile a 61-31 record from 2003-2006, which included a trip to the 2004 NCAA Tournament. Cline’s relationship with the Capel family dates back to his days as an assistant coach at Fayetteville State where he served under Capel’s father, Jeff Capel, Jr., from 1989-93. Cline helped convert the Broncos from a team that finished at the bottom of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association’s Southern Division to one of the top programs in the league. He also served as the head men’s golf coach at Fayetteville State and was twice named CIAA Golf Coach of the Year.
He transitioned with Capel, Jr. to North Carolina A & T for the 1993-94 season, a year that saw the Aggies claim the Mid-Eastern Athletic Association championship and make an NCAA Tournament appearance. Cline followed Capel, Jr. to Old Dominion, where he spent five seasons with the Monarchs. He helped ODU reach the NCAA Tournament in 1995 and 1997. In 1999, the Monarchs tied a school record for wins with 25 and were rewarded with an NIT bid. Cline moved from Old Dominion to Virginia Tech, where for four years (1999-2003) he served as an assistant and associate head coach.
(Kyle Lovern is the Sports Editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at email@example.com or at 304-235-4242, ext. 33 or on Twitter @KyleLovern.)