Anthony Grasso, Staff Writer-
It’s 11:15 a.m. on a Tuesday morning as Michael Donnelly sits in his office, ready to begin another day as men’s basketball head coach for Southern Connecticut State University.
This isn’t the start to his day, as he has already had many obligations as a father, before the 11 a.m. arrival time.
“I like to start my day by eating breakfast with my two little girls and bringing them to school,” said Donnelly. “I don’t get to see the family as much during the season, so I cherish the mornings when I can be with my daughters.”
Coach Donnelly is in his first season as men’s basketball head coach, according to Southern’s official website for athletics. Donnelly took over on May 7, 2010, becoming the leader of a team who has won 12 games overall and nine conference games this season so far.
“It’s truly amazing what Coach Donnelly has done,” said Assistant Coach Greg Clark. “To go from only winning four games in two seasons, to winning the first four games that we played this season.”
“Coach Donnelly has turned around the whole culture and mindset of this program in a month.,” said Clark. “It’s nothing short of a miracle.”
Coach Donnelly talked about what he has done to create such a turn around.
“The themes that I try to implement are program, and community, every day in the huddle,” said Donnelly. “This is the first year of rebuilding the program. I want my guys to play hard together; results will take care of themselves.”
Patricia Nicol has been the Southern athletic director for seven years now, according to Southern’s athletic website.
“We held a national search for the next head coach. We selected Coach Donnelly because of his philosophy, vision, standards and his complete understanding of the overall role of head coach on the collegiate level,” said Nicol.
Nicol said that her and Coach Donnelly have an “open-door policy,” and a very effective working relationship.
“I have never had any reservations about Coach Donnelly,” said Nicol. “The one thing that makes this program premier is Coach Donnelly’s accountability on the academic side, and involvement in the community.”
“Coach Donnelly cares, and invests his time and efforts into the total student,” Nicol said. “The Southern basketball team is a great group of young men, and I wish them the best.”
Coach Donnelly noted that the season has “gone by fast.”
“My whole experience here at Southern has been positive,” said Donnelly. “The administration has been extremely supportive.”
Donnelly said he played college basketball at Central Connecticut State University, and Sacred Heart University, where he graduated in 1997.
“The game of basketball is my identity,” said Donnelly. “Once my career ended after graduation, I knew I had to be around the game somehow. I have put so much time into basketball throughout my life. It (basketball) is what I know best because of the passion my father has instilled within me.”
Coach Donnelly talked about his future expectations for the program.
“Regardless of what happens this year, I want to finish strong,” said Donnelly. “I want to give everyone a sense of what’s coming.”
The Southern men’s basketball program has clinched a spot in the Northeast-10 tournament, which will begin on Saturday, Feb. 26, according to Southern’s athletic website.