Coach’s Corner: Billy Donlon
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Fourth-year men’s basketball coach Billy Donlon sat down with Guardian Sports Writer Emily Gay to discuss how far he has come in his basketball career, dealing with stress throughout the season, what he will be doing when he leaves Wright State and his all-time NBA starting five.
Emily Gay (EG): “How do you describe yourself, if you had to describe Billy Donlon to somebody?”
Billy Donlon (BD): “I would tell you what someone very, very close to me in my life said about me that was very hardworking and dedicated, very funny and extremely generous. All very flattering things from someone that probably knows me about as well as you could know me. How would I describe myself? Self-accountable, one of the biggest things from my mom was accountability, probably to a fault at times, great passion for what I do for a living and certainly nothing more important than being a dad to Maren Grace.”
EG: “How is your stress level this season compared to last season? Higher? Lower?
BD: “Stress level is always about the same as a coach, if you are having a successful season based on winning or losing you want to win the next game, and if you’re not having a successful season based winning and losing, you still want to win the next game. I think the stress is different, sometimes you strictly have the stress of the game plan for your preparation, and sometimes there’s the stress of a couple guys on your team who are a little off and you are trying to figure out how to help them get right. So that’s stressful. So there are all kinds of stresses with the job. There are a lot of other hard occupations, but ultimately putting your life in the hands of 18-22 year olds is a quiet challenging.”
EG: “Growing up, did you ever think you would be a college basketball coach?”
BD: “I knew I was going to be a coach, I didn’t know when, or where, or what level. I probably wanted college because I grew up as a college coach’s son for the most part. But I had different experiences, you know coaching is challenging no matter what sport you’re coaching, teaching is challenging, what our professors at Wright State everyday, is very, very difficult. It brings upon if you’re doing it for the right reasons, which 99 out of 100 professors, teachers, coaches are, you know the sacrifices you make, that impacts greatly with your family time. So there’s a lot of stressing that brings, but that’s not a complaint, that’s the field we choose…I’m very fortunate, I love college coaching, I love Wright State, it reminds me a lot of myself and where I went to school.”
EG: “Do you think you’ve changed Wright State basketball at all?”
BD: “Yeah, certainly in my eight years.”
EG: “How about as your time as head coach?”
BD: “You know, I think we’ve done some positive things, especially this year we have had the chance to put back to back really special seasons together. Certainly we still can, and that would have been unique. You know, I think getting to the championship game, advancing in the CBI meeting, meeting some teams that we beat, playing on national television as much as we have, the notoriety we’ve gotten, the exposure we’ve gotten has never been seen at Wright State, and that’s certainly some of the success that has gone on here…”
EG: ”So after you leave Wright State, whenever that is, what do you think you will be doing?”
BD: “Coaching, I tell people all the time I would love to be the coach here all the time. I believe that Wright State can become a place that is significant in basketball. It going to take time, a whole lot of work and it’s going to take a little bit of luck.”
EG: “So here are some easy ones. Who are your all-time NBA starting five?”
BD: “I think Michael Jordan is the greatest player to ever play, Magic Johnson, Larry Byrd, Tim Duncan and Bill Russell… Positionally, Magic would play point guard, Jordan would play the two, Byrd would be the small forward, Duncan would be the power forward, and Bill Russell would be the center…”
EG: “In a 1-on-1 game, who would win: you or coach Bradbury? Bradbury said you would win.”
BD: “That’s probably a very fair answer, yes.”
EG: “But he said in a game of horse, he would win.”
BD: “I understand where he is coming from. Mike is a very competitive person, his teams play that way, but I do think he would go, in any kind of basketball contest, he would not come out the victor if we played…”