Ivy Interview: Steve Donahue

October 2nd, 2006
Jon Teitel chats with Cornell head coach Steve Donahue about the upcoming Ivy League season.

Steve DonahueSteve Donahue1. What are your team’s goals for this season?
A: Now that we have built the program to be competitive, the goals are always the same: win an Ivy League championship and go to the NCAA Tournament.

2. What are your team’s expectations for this season?
A: Play as hard as we can, be unselfish, and represent the program and the university in the best possible way.

3. What facet of the game is most important to your team’s success this season?
A: I believe we need to mesh the talented younger guys with our veterans. On the court, we need to take care of the ball better: more assists and less turnovers. Lastly, we need to be a better rebounding team.

4. Which non-conference opponent do you think will be your biggest challenge this year?
A: We play some terrific teams, but the ones that seem to jump out at me include Bucknell and Albany at home, and Iowa and Northwestern on the road.

5. Which of your 6 incoming freshmen (Louis Dale III, Jon Jaques, Geoff Reeves, Pete Reynolds, Alex Tyler, and Ryan Wittman) do you expect to make the biggest impact this season?
A: It is always tough to say this early in the pre-season. Wittman and Reeves will get a chance to play early because we need them to do so, and I think both will be very good Ivy League players. If he does not start, Dale will be our back-up point guard, and I believe he is going to be a terrific player at this level. The other front court guys will have to fight it out to see who gets time.

6. In light of the success of Ivy players from other countries like Graham Dow (Canada), do you think it is crucial to specifically recruit foreign-born players, or do you just want to get the guys who can best help your team win?
A: It is very difficult without scholarships to recruit foreign players outside of Canada (luckily for us, Canadians are treated like U.S. students).

7. Do you consider this season to be the usual two-team race between Penn and Princeton, or do you think another team can win the conference title this season?
A: Penn should be the favorite, but I think everyone should feel that they can compete for the championship.

8. After being named All-Ivy 2nd team as a freshman, how high is the ceiling for Adam Gore?
A: Gore has really worked hard to get where he is at. I know that some people feel he has limited potential because of his size, but I have seen improvement even since the season ended last March. He is a gym rat who is never satisfied, and I believe he will be a 1st-team All-Ivy player at some point in his career.

9. What is the latest update on Khaliq Gant, who suffered a neck injury during a practice last January?
A: It is hard to put into words, but it is nothing short of a miracle. Khaliq is walking around campus just like every other student. He is a huge part of the program, and his situation is an entire story in itself.

10. Do you think that your assistant coaches’ experience of playing in the Ivy League (Nat Graham) and in the Final Four (Mark Vershaw) gives them a big advantage over coaches who have not done so?
A: I feel that both guys are hard workers who know what it takes to be successful. However, I am sure the other staffs in the league have terrific coaches as well.

11. Having worked for Fran Dunphy for 10 of his 17 years at Penn, how do you expect the defending Ivy champs to do in their first year without him since the 1980's?
A: It is hard for me to judge. It is a different program right now: not better or worse, just different. Personally, I'm just glad to not have to play him twice a year!

12. You can probably relate to the rigors of taking classes at an Ivy League school better than most coaches: how are you making out in your efforts to get your Master’s degree in organizational dynamics from Penn?
A: Very difficult: I have 4 children under the age of 10, and my personal goals have been put on hold for the time being.

13. Who do you consider to be the favorite for Ivy Player of the Year?
A: Penn’s Ibby Jaaber.