Coach's Corner: Steve Donahue
Published: Thursday, April 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
Donahue: No doubt. At Duke, most of those kids are grad students that couldn’t wait because they saw it on TV and they were at a college that didn’t have that. The undergrads are doing what our kids are doing. They’ve got a lot of studies, they’ve got a lot of options, they’ve got a lot of social things that are there. It’s just not as big a thing until—I think here we’ve got a great opportunity, especially with the city of Boston. If we win, then they’ll come, so Conte Forum will be packed in that sense. The students will come when it’s the thing to do, and it’ll be the thing to do because we’re winning, it’s exciting, your friends are talking about it, and you have to be there.
The Heights: Looking ahead to their junior year, you’re adding Pitt and Syracuse to the mix. How does that both help and maybe hurt your tournament resume?
Donahue: I think it’s a win-win. Nowadays you don’t get hurt by playing great teams, and both those, let’s be honest, they’re going to be top 25 or top 30 teams in bad years. We’re going to be playing Syracuse twice every year. I think it’s great for all of that [tournament resume], but I also think it’s great for us to have some relevance with other teams in this region. It looked like people talked about Boston College basketball and people talked about us like that, but they never talked about the ACC and how they’re doing. Now, Syracuse is in it. Now all of the media, especially in New York and adding the region with Pitt, everybody is going to be talking about the ACC as well, which will help in every aspect, recruiting in particular. But just fan excitement that no one could even talk about the ACC, they’d just talk about the Big East, but now we’re taking the two best teams out of that in my opinion and adding them to our league.
The Heights:Is it complicated or challenging for you to bring in recruits with the numbers in this freshman class and having five freshmen who start?
Donahue: I think we all have challenges at every program to sell playing time and opportunities, but you know what, I’m pretty honest with every kid—and this is nothing against the guys who are here. I told these guys that no one earned the starts this year. It’s not like they beat out a sophomore or junior or senior who had been playing. Essentially, someone had to play, and that’s where the challenges are. I told them that everyone coming in here, I’m trying to get guys that will help us win in the ACC, so they’re probably going to want your job. Your responsibility is to get better and better, so personally you don’t lose your job if you’re playing already. You’re trying as a sub to beat those guys out, and then all of us are trying to get better. I think it’s actually, if I’m honest with a guy, I’m saying that no one’s secured this spot. I may say in two years, you know, look at this kid’s freshman and sophomore years and now he’s our junior, and at the same time I’m recruiting a guy at the same position, that’s a lot harder. Right now, I think there are still great opportunities, and I said that to our guys. That’s the challenge. You’ve got to continue to get better. No one really beat someone out and earned it this year. You’re going to have to do that from now on.
The Heights: You’re already adding Olivier and Joe to the backcourt. Do you think you need to add another frontcourt player to this recruiting class?
Donahue: You know, what I think is more important is that we get a great ACC player. I don’t know if it has to be a position. I’m happy with a lot of our breakdown of post and perimeter. I think the way we play, the beauty of it is, is that I can put guys in different spots. They just all have to be really good ACC players. So if the kid happens to be a 6-foot-7 rebounder that fits what we do, or he is a 6-foot-3 guard, I think he’s just got to be a great player. I think you’ve got to be very selective now. I think you’ve got to make sure you’re upgrading everything about your program each and every day. And recruiting is all about getting a great kid, who is probably a little better than what you’ve got. That’s what everyone is trying to do, and I think it’s critical that we don’t say, “Oh, well we need a big guy to rebound for us. He’s not as good as these guys, but he gives us another guy that can rebound.” I think you’ve got to be careful. I think you’ve got to evaluate not on need necessarily, but on the strength of your league and how good of a player he is in your league. I think that’s more important, especially right now as we grow the program.
The Heights: Is the non-conference schedule going to be a little harder next season? Maybe a few more high-profile games on it?
Donahue: Well I think our schedule was pretty hard last time. We’ve got a great ESPN tournament down in Charleston with Baylor and a couple other teams where everybody is really good. Obviously we still have Providence and Rhode Island and Harvard being a top 50 team again next year for sure. I think we’re close with a home-and-home with someone out west most likely USC and Notre Dame home-and-homes over the next couple of years - I don’t know if it’s next year. And I want to continue to upgrade our schedule as we can handle it. I want to be careful - we’re playing 18 league games next year. That’s a big chunk of games so we’ve got to be careful with our young team, but in general I want to bring in games that students are excited about, that Boston College fans are excited about. Interregional games like Notre Dame, USC - most likely Auburn next year too.