Welcome to March Madness and the slew of awesome articles about coaches. One excellent example of resilience is University of Pennsylvania Coach Steve Donahue, who has led Penn to an Ivy league championship after having been fired at Boston University.
Donahue, who took Cornell to the Sweet Sixteen in the past, is the only coach to win the Ivy League with two different teams since 1979.
In between those two championships he was fired from Boston University.
Writing at the Philly Inquirer Mike Jensen unpacks the keys to Donahue’s return to the top.
“There’s a lot to do with my success here because I’m a failure at BC — there just is,” Donahue said. “That was very difficult, particularly on my family. There’s been the highest of highs and lowest of lows. I’m the national coach of the year [in 2010, at Cornell], and I’m told I’m not good enough to coach at this school. You can take it one of two ways: Man, they’re wrong and you’re bitter and you don’t learn anything from it. Or you move on.”
Donahue studied his errors in the year between Boston University and his return to coaching at Penn.
Some of what needed to change was tactical. He returned to the defensive roots that had been key at Cornell. At Boston his team’s offense had been as good as any in the ACC, but not its defending. He changed that at Penn and returned to his defensive focus.
But, what he really focused on was values. He spoke about them and modeled them for his team.
“I probably assumed everybody was for team first,” Donahue said, noting that unity was at the center of those words for a reason. “I didn’t give examples. I didn’t live it. I didn’t try to get those guys to really understand it. I just assumed. Here, we’d talk about each of those things for an hour.”
The article is worth your time.