Saturday, April 2, 2011

What Donahue can Learn from Bruce Peal

Now that Bruce Pearl is officially looking for a job, I would like to step back and point out a few things the man in orange did well at the University of Tennessee. I know that Bruce Pearl is being vilified on all fronts right now, and rightfully so, but that doesn't change the fact that he was very successful in a previously unheralded SEC program. If Bruce Pearl can make it work at Tennessee, Donahue can make things work here in Chestnut Hill.

And yes, in case you're wondering, the slow news cycle is officially hitting your favorite BC blogs...

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  1. The best thing that Pearl did for Tennessee was sell the program to the students. BC struggles with student attendance. Even when the student sections do fill up to 75 percent or so, most of the students arrive well after the first TV timeout. Sometime students are still streaming in at the half-way mark in the first half, which is really disheartening to see. Donahue needs to take a page out of Pearl's playbook here and start working the cafeterias, the million dollar staircase, and maybe even a few residence halls to talk up his program and sell tickets. No coach at a big-time program should have to sell tickets this way, but by eating his pride and going down this path, Pearl was able to bring a lot more excitement to the program, helping him with recruiting and giving his team an extra boost when they hit a three or dunked it. Conservatively, I think that Donahue could double tip-off student attendance if he was to do this.
  2. Get animate during games. One of the things that made the Skinner era pretty boring, besides the flex offense, was the fact that Skinner seemed apathetic on the sidelines. While we all know this wasn't the case, I love it when Donahue gets into someone's face after they've made a bonehead move. I honestly wish he did it more often because it revs up the fans and brings another level of intensity to the game. I want to know that my coach cares just as much about BC basketball as I do and believes that the program should be striving for excellence. Conversely, some coaches just don't like being animate during the games so it's a fine line to walk because you want your coach to be comfortable and not to come off as fake. I just think Pearl was perfect when he would get so upset he would take off his jacket and flash the orange suspenders. While I'm on the subject of strange things to bring to your sidelines as a coach, Donahue really needs to leave the chap stick at home. It is not manly.
  3. Surprise appearances with student activities. Two things that immediately come to mind here are when Pearl made a surprise appearance at a University of Tennessee concert to rap, which actually went over really well, and when Pearl painted his chest for a UT women's basketball game. Both of those moves made ESPN, and were probably clips that the Tennessee coaching staff showed recruits. Now, I don't expect Donahue to rap and I beg him not to paint his chest, but I'm sure that he has interests which would align with a few student activities, and it would be awesome if he could find the time to interact with the students now and again because I really think it would build student support for the basketball team. 
Like I said earlier, clearly Pearl had more than his fair share of problems, but that doesn't mean he wasn't successful at building a program with weak student support. If BC isn't going to win year in and year out, then Donahue might want to consider employing some of these tactics to keep student support going. BC students just don't care enough about sports to show up to see a losing team. It's a sad fact of BC sports, but one that the athletic department needs to work around. 


  1. Great insights. I like what you guys have been doing with the blog so far. Just one comment, you don't have to tell readers in every post to "make the jump." People know what the "read more" link is for, and it's kind of distracting for those that use RSS feeds or other subscription services (because the feed goes directly to the expanded article rather than the homepage).

    Keep up the good work.

  2. Thanks for the feedback! We have been a little concerned with how small the "read more" button is and were trying to compensate for that. Point taken though. We'll try to either eliminate it completely or work it in more naturally.


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