Jon Teitel chats with Cornell head
coach Steve Donahue about the upcoming Ivy League season.
1. 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
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
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
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
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
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.