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Mike Krzyzewski on Steve Donahue: ‘We’re lucky to have him in our league’

01.27.11 at 5:29 pm ET

BC coach Steve Donahue gives credit where credit is due: Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium ‘€” where the Eagles play Thursday night ‘€” is among the toughest place to play in America. However, the former Cornell coach noted this week that the Ivy League gyms have their own intimidation factor.

“There are very few at the higher levels that have places like [Duke's],” he said. “Allen Fieldhouse last year, when we played Kansas, I thought had the same type of vibe. But you’ll get a lot more tougher gyms to play at at the lower levels. Even in the Ivy League, a place like Yale sits around 2,500 and they are on top of you. And it’s loud. There’s no good acoustics. A lot of these arenas are so nice at this level that even if the crowd is loud, you’ve got some space, you’ve got good acoustics, you’ve got video boards to take your attention away from fans.

“Sometimes at the Ivy and Patriot League level you’ve arenas that people that know everything about you and they’re screaming everything and you hear every little word they say. And they can be just as intimidating if not more intimidating than some of these bigger arenas.”

BC’s Conte Forum is not known as an intimidating place to play ‘€” except, perhaps, when big-name teams such as Duke and North Carolina pay a visit. When athletic director Gene DeFilippo fired Al Skinner last year, he made it clear that he wanted the new coach to connect better with the school and community and bring some new excitement to the building.

BC still has a long way to go, as it is averaging a league-worst 4,562 fans per home game.

“I think going forward, that’s still an objective for our administration and basketball program,” Donahue said. “I think we’ve done a very good job with our kids out selling season tickets. We picked a day there, we had a real good kind of like midnight madness thing with ice hockey as well. And we’re constantly coming up with other ideas that the marketing people have done, and we’re looking forward to our home games going forward here.

“Unfortunately, we had two games in the league that we had no students in session, so that made it difficult. But we’re going to try to do everything we can to make Boston College a great homecourt advantage for us. In this league, everybody has a great place and it’s well-supported, and if you don’t do that I think you’re really missing the boat.”

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski sounds like he believes Donahue will have success in Chestnut Hill.

“Well, he’s done a really good job with a veteran BC team,” Krzyzewski said on Monday’s ACC conference call. “They have really good talent. But a new coach coming in has to implement a new system and sometimes that’s harder to do with older guys than younger guys. They seem to have responded really well.

“And he obviously did a great job at Cornell. So I mean, he’s an outstanding coach and a good guy. We’re lucky to have him in our league.”

Donahue said he was once introduced to Krzyzewski by Cornell alumnus Garry Munson, who serves on the Coaches vs. Cancer Council with Krzyzewski, and he relished the limited interaction he had.

“Like everybody else, I try to learn anything I could off a guy like that,” Donahue said. “It’s probably more me listening and him speaking, but I always appreciated everything he had to say. I obviously respect everything he’s done at Duke, and once again this year.”

Donahue took his 2007-08 team to Cameron for a nonleague game. The Big Red put in a respectable effort in losing to the eight-ranked Blue Devils, 81-67. That’s the only meeting Donahue has had as a head coach against Krzyzewski.

Read More: Boston College, Duke, Mike Krzyzewski, Steve Donahue
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