Coach's Corner: Steve Donahue
Published: Thursday, April 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
This continues a series of sit-down conversations with Boston College coaches.
Steve Donahue, the head coach of the men’s basketball team, sat down with The Heights to look back on his second season and look ahead to this upcoming offseason after spending the weekend at the Final Four in New Orleans.
The Heights: How was the Final Four?
Donahue: It’s a great event. Obviously, it’s a great time for all coaches. Our coaches convention is at the same time so you meet with guys. There’s great excitement, and it’s great motivation because as a coach you want to bring your team there some day.
The Heights: Kentucky obviously won it all. On that subject, if you had the opportunity to recruit a player to BC who you knew could stack up academically but had the potential to leave after one or two years, would that be something you would be interested in pursuing?
Donahue: Yeah, I don’t think that there’s an issue with that. I think that if the young man, first of all, fits what we do and he can do the work here at Boston College and he has an incredible first year and he’s a draft choice in the NBA and he has that opportunity, then I think it’s all great. Just like any other field where a kid goes to college and has another opportunity maybe during the summer where he finds out he can really make a great advancement in that field of interest, then I would support that as well. I would also hope that the kid would try to keep furthering his education if he did leave after one year, to come back in the summers and things like that.
The Heights: You got the opportunity to talk to the hockey team before the Frozen Four. What was that like?
Donahue: Well, I was surprised that coach York asked me, and I was honored and privileged to stand in front of those guys. As I said to them, I’ve thought for my two years here it’s been really a great privilege for me to watch how they run their program. There’s no air of being superior to anybody else in the department. The kids are really grateful and gracious for what they’ve got. I just love how hard they work and that they care about each other, and it’s what I want to build here with our basketball program. I just really shared my thoughts there and how proud I was to be associated with Boston College athletics and how they represent us so well.
The Heights: Were you a big hockey fan at Cornell?
Donahue: I was. I’ve been a big hockey fan my whole life. I grew up in Philadelphia in the early ’70s. My father was a season ticket holder. We went to more than half of the Flyers games growing up. Although I never played ice hockey, I played a lot of street hockey, and then I went to Cornell and it’s such just a great tradition there as well. I love the sport.
The Heights: Your players are at a lot of the hockey games and games for other sports as well. How important is that to you?
Donahue: I think it’s real important. I think it’s important that the guys are really integrated within our athletic department, supporting all of the other kids that come to our games. And, you know, I didn’t even have to ask these guys. They understand it, and they enjoy that part of it. They want to support their fellow students, and really be a part of the success that any other program has. It’s just the type of people they are. I think we’re all a big family here in the athletic department, and our guys realize that.
The Heights: To look back on the season just to start off, how do you think they handled the non-conference schedule?
Donahue: It’s hard to explain the first month and a half just because these kids never played college basketball before. To try to get them to put a group out there and understand all of the things that go on in a college basketball game—even though you’ve played basketball, now you’re playing 40 minutes with a shot clock and a different three-point line and obviously all of the other older and physical players to go along with the challenges you’re against each and every possession—that was so overwhelming early on that after a month and a half, I think they finally got that feeling of what to do and how to be competitive, and I was really proud of our stretch from the beginning of the ACC season, even those three or four games before that I thought we played really well. And then going into the ACC season, we had a great stretch, obviously beating Virginia Tech and Clemson, and then really good basketball where we are into games with eight to go and six to go. And then we hit another wall when bigger and older teams really took advantage of us, and then I think we made another big jump at the end of the season. I thought we competed really hard and we did a lot of good things. So I was really proud of a lot of our progress, and I think the guys really learned a great deal. I think we’ll find the true answers of this season when these kids are juniors, and look back and say, “Man look how far they’ve come.” Part of that will be because they went through all they did this year.
The Heights: You said you’ll see the effects of everything when they’re juniors, so what does that mean for the progress this season in their sophomore year?
Donahue: I think it’s all part of the maturation. We still don’t have a real junior or senior who is going to play valuable minutes next year, most likely, so you’re still really young and you’re going to put another couple young guys in there. I’m excited about it. We have a great chance over the summer since now we’re allowed to work with our players for the first time during the summer. We have a trip to Spain which then you’re allowed to practice full for 10 days and then go out to Spain and integrate those new guys and then obviously the preseason. I’m excited about it, especially with the additions that we’ll have, but I don’t know exactly—I can’t as a coach—I’ve been on really good teams and then I know what the feeling is going to be right away again the next year because I’ve had some really sure things. I think part of this is that we’re still growing the program. We’ve got some young guys coming in—how are they going to be? Are they as good as we expect? Will they really have great chemistry with the guys? There’re still a lot of question marks at this point and I think they’re going to be answered in the next six months, and then I can say exactly how I feel. And then obviously I think really strongly about that junior and senior year with this group, and I think they’ve got a chance to be really special.