Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Roundtable: Donahue - Lucky Start or Long Term Answer?

Welcome to The Roundtable! This will be a weekly feature here where we post a question surrounding BC Sports and hear arguments from all of our writers and at times, outside contributors. Unfortunately for this first Roundtable, only 3 of the main writers were available but going forward you should easily expect 4+ different (and hopefully persuasive) arguments.

Roundtable Discussion: Coach Donahue - Lucky Start or Long Term Answer?

Mike: I'm going with long term answer on this one. When coaches have lucky starts early in their careers a la Charlie Weis, there are certain tell-tale signs. In Charlie's case, it was the fact that almost every major part of his team was laid out before he got there. His first season at ND therefore told us very little about his ability to evaluate and recruit talent.

This is not a similar situation. We know Donahue has brought a change of culture through his increased intensity on the floor and by nature of the fact that his players have lost weight across the board. We know that he has the ability to recruit because next year's recruiting class is the most highly regarded in recent history. We also know that he has the ability to recognize talent (hello Danny Rubin!) because we now have walk-ons getting serious playing time and holding their own. All of these things point to long term success on the heights and I couldn't be more excited to see this team play over the next few years.

Ralph and Alex's comments after the jump.

Ralph: As much as I am impressed with Coach Donahue so far (and trust me I am), I have to consider this a lucky start. Donahue has exceeded expectations so far but let's remember ACC play hasn't truly started yet. The concerns about Donahue were how he was going to compete in the ACC; not against the Bucknell's and Yale's of the world. His style of play is certainly exciting and a break from the Flex era under Skinner but will this work in ACC play? Count me as skeptical. We are currently 326th in the country in rebounding and its fair to say we "live and die" by the 3. I'd like to see some more consistent offensive outings against marquee opponents to see if this style will be effective in the ACC.

Additionally one more point others have overlooked is that Donahue inherited a senior laden team. This team has only two freshman (Rubin & Moton), no sophomores, and 11 combined juniors & seniors. Having a more experienced team certainly has helped Donahue ease into this transition. As Mike points ou
t, we do have a strong incoming class based on the rankings but rankings can be misleading. It is more important these recruits fit Donahue's style of offense (good ball-handlers, great shooters). No matter how you view Donahue though, I am very excited about the future of BC Basketball.

Alex: Given the choice between the two, I have to side with Mike and say Donahue is poised for success. Certainly it is too early to say in earnest that Coach Donahue is going to bring substantial success to The Heights. After only one game against an ACC foe how can we say with even the slightest bit of confidence that the D-man will have our Eagles contending for conference titles or making deep runs in March? We cannot say if Donahue’s system will work in the ACC. We cannot say if he will be able to recruit players that can knock down the 3 in clutch moments at Cameron. We simply have not seen enough to know in which direction the Donahue era will move.
Why in the face of this uncertainty am I choosing to say Donahue is poised for success? Simple, while we do not know if Donahue will be our man in the long run, we do know that what he has showed us so far is not luck. With the exceptions of the misstep against Yale and the Wisconsin heartbreaker, the Eagles under Donahue have gone out and taken care of business each time they have stepped on the hardwood. Now Ralph makes a fair point that Donahue has inherited considerable talent. Not every first year head coach is going to have 11 upperclassman including Reggie Jackson at their disposal. That's fine. Certainly we would not have won 10 games already without the guys Al left in the cupboard. However, looking at who Donahue inherited is of little help in trying to assess his merits without looking at who they have become. Almost every player on the roster has improved. Of course the most dramatic improvements are Biko with the 3-ball, Reggie in the more open offense, and (dare I say it?) Southern proving to be a legitimate offensive weapon. In one off-season Donahue has taken a talented group of experienced players, helped them develop, and seemingly take their games to new levels. This is even more telling when we consider that one of the biggest criticisms against Al was the stagnated development of these very same players. The only exception is Trap who looks like a guy slumping as he's trying to find his role in a new system.
We don't know if the D-man is our man. What we do know is that he is drawing more from these players than we have ever seen or could have honestly expected. Donahue has done away with the headbands, the individual sneakers, and the names on the back of the jerseys and has this group of players playing more like a team than anything in recent memory. And that, my friends, ain't luck.
Feel free to leave your thoughts or arguments in the comments below!

1 comment:

  1. While I agree with Mike that Donahue is a long term answer, I wouldnt go so far as to say that this recruiting class is the best in recent history. Skinner before he lost his assistants and became more concerned with playing pickup than the team brought in some pretty good classes. The 2007 class (or this years seniors) was a better recruiting class than 2011. This years class has one headliner in the high 3 star/low 4 star level (Ryan Anderson), 2007 had both Rakim Sanders and Josh Southern as legitimate high 3 star or 4 star players. Sanders would easily be the best recruit of either class as he was pretty much a consensus top-100 type. Raji, Dunn, and Paris rounded out the class with nice depth comparable to the Caudill, Lonnie Jackson types.

    While it may not have worked out the way we were hoping (or at least I was), it should also serve as a cautionary tale of reading too much into recruiting too early.


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