When I first heard the news in April of 2016 I simply could not believe it: Donyell Marshall, 1 of the best players in UConn history, was hired as head coach at Central Connecticut State! What would come next: Richard Hamilton at Fairfield, Ray Allen at Yale, etc.? You certainly cannot argue with his resume: 1994 Big East Player of the Year, an NBA record-tying 12 threes in a 2005 win over the 76ers, and a trip to the 2007 NBA Finals with Cleveland. He also gets to have some quality father-son bonding as Donyell Jr. is a sophomore on the Blue Devils roster. HoopsHD’s Jon Teitel got to chat with Coach Marshall about his NBA memories and why he took the job last year.
In the 1991 McDonald’s All American Game your East team had a 2-PT loss: how close did you come to beating a West squad that had most of the Fab 5 AND Glenn Robinson? I think we lost in the final minute of the game so it was pretty close. They had a lot of names but we had a lot of good guys on our side as well.
In 1994 at UConn you led the Big East with 25.1 PPG/3.2 BPG and were named conference POY/All-American: what did it mean to you to receive such outstanding honors? It was great: I was only the 2nd player in conference history to be named POY/DPOY in the same season. We only won 15 games my sophomore year but won 29 that year so I had a lot of confidence.
On March 13, 2005 with Toronto you scored 38 PTS and tied an NBA record with 12 3PM in a win over Philly: was it just 1 of those scenarios where every shot you put up seemed to go in because you were “in the zone”? Our offensive game plan worked perfectly. Coach Sam Mitchell wanted myself/Rafer Alston to get in a lot of pick and rolls and Philly preferred to give up 3s than 2s. I was on fire that day.
In Game 5 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals with Cleveland, LeBron James scored 48 PTS including the team’s final 25 PTS in a 2-PT 2-OT win at Detroit: where does that rank among the greatest performances that you have ever seen? To be a part of that game probably makes it #1 for me. He just put the team on his back and on the sideline he said, “you get the stops and I will take care of the offense”.
You spent 15 years in the NBA: what is the secret to your longevity? You have to take care of your body, eat right, get enough sleep, work out, and remain a good player for as long as you can.
Last year you were hired as head coach at Central Connecticut State: why did you decide to take the job? I thought that it was the right job for me. I felt prepared enough at the time and it was in the state where I went to college. I have the right staff around me and it is the right situation.
You only have 1 senior on the roster: how much pressure is there on Mustafa Jones to be a leader this season? Technically there is another 1 but I do not think there is any pressure on him at all. We feel we are good so even if we do not get picked at the top we like it that way. We are much improved.
Your non-conference schedule includes games against Rutgers/St. John’s/DePaul/BC: which of these games do you feel will present your biggest test? They are all going to be tough since we only won 6 games last year, but we have a lot more confidence this year and the older guys feel good in our system.