After 10 years under Fran Dunphy with the Penn men's basketball team, Steve Donahue is finally getting his chance. Donahue was introduced yesterday as the new head men's basketball coach at Cornell. He replaces Scott Thompson, who stepped down on July 28 after being diagnosed with colon cancer. Being tapped as a Division I head coach marks the culmination of a long climb through the coaching ranks for Donahue, who served as an assistant for two seasons at the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Sciences before coming to Penn. "We are very fortunate to have a coach of Steve Donahue's talent and determination join our staff," Cornell Athletic Director Andy Noel said at a press conference in Ithaca, N.Y. "Steve is the ideal leader to advance our men's basketball program within the competitive Ivy League and beyond." The change in scenery from Philadelphia to Ithaca will not be the only difference between Donahue's current and former positions. While he has been at or near the top of the Ivy standings for most of his tenure with the Quakers, Donahue now inherits a Cornell squad that finished last in the league in 1999-2000 with a 3-11 Ivy record. The Big Red, however, do return several talented players, including honorable mention All-Ivy selection Ray Mercedes, and Donahue believes it is a team on the rise. "I feel it is a privilege to be named head coach at Cornell University," Donahue said at the press conference. "I look forward to joining the Cornell family and working hard to bring the highest success to the basketball program on and off the court." Donahue's departure leaves an open spot on Penn's staff, but Dunphy said yesterday that he already has a few candidates in mind and will be contacting potential replacements during the next week. His two other assistant coaches, Gil Jackson and Dave Duke, will both return for the 2000-01 season. While Dunphy said he was elated to see Donahue finally get the chance to be a head coach, he must now go about the difficult process of replacing someone who has been by his side for 10 years. "Well, you have mixed emotions," Dunphy said. "You're so very happy for him after all his hard work to finally be rewarded with a head coaching position. Yet, it is difficult to see a top assistant leave." Last year, the Big Red played two very competitive games against the Quakers, including a 50-47 nailbiter in Ithaca. This year's contest, however, should prove to be even more difficult for Dunphy and his team. Facing a former member of his staff is never easy for Penn's head man. The Quakers play Lafayette each season, and Dunphy said that it is quite difficult to face Leopards coach Fran O'Hanlon, who was an assistant at Penn for six years. "It's always very tough to play Lafayette because you're so close and you do so many of the same things," Dunphy said. "Now, I'm sure it will be the same at Cornell." Unlike O'Hanlon, though, Donahue leaves the Red and Blue for a league rival and will face Penn twice each season. "We are obviously thinking those two games will be very challenging games for us, as they always are," Dunphy said. Donahue, however, must now face the difficult task of preparing for the year in a severely truncated offseason. Preseason practices begin in a few weeks and Cornell's first game is on November 18 -- a match-up of Dunphy disciples, as the Big Red meet O'Hanlon and his Leopards. Donahue also served as an assistant under O'Hanlon at Monsignor Bonner High School in 1987-88, helping lead Bonner to the Philadelphia Catholic League championship. After joining Dunphy's staff in 1990, Donahue was involved in every aspect of the program. He served as head coach of Penn's junior varsity team until 1995 and most recently served as the Quakers' recruiting coordinator and helped develop the team's offensive strategyComments powered by Disqus
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