Donahue has been educated by fans about BC-UConn rivalry

During his offseason travels, Steve Donahue received an education about the UConn-Boston College rivalry.

Donahue spent 10 seasons coaching at Cornell in upstate New York before coming to Boston College in 2010, so he's admittedly not an expert about the history between the New England schools.

BC fans let him know that they're thrilled UConn and Boston College will play for the first time since 2005 when they meet at 7 p.m. Thursday in the 2K Sports Classic championship round at Madison Square Garden.

"In my six months on the road in-between seasons, visiting alums and going around and talking, it's obviously been something that really excites our fan base, there's no doubt," Donahue said Tuesday during a conference call.

"So that's where I think I've probably been educated more than anything else is just listening. Honestly, I think like any rivalry you're going to get some real passionate feelings about it. I think both sides would say we want to play each other. It makes a lot of sense. That's really the resounding opinion I get."

UConn coach Kevin Ollie said on Monday that he's all for renewing the rivalry.

Donahue has talked to Ollie about playing.

"They're a good program and we're both from up in this area," Donahue said.

"I just think it makes sense that we play each other. I have great respect for what they've accomplished in basketball, really one of the great programs in the country over the last 15 years."

The No. 18 Huskies (4-0) are looking to remain undefeated while the Eagles (1-3) are attempting to gain a foothold on success.

Boston College is off to a bumpy start. The Eagles have had a problem closing out games, losing two games by four points or less. They've allowed an average of 85 points and been outrebounded by 10.5 boards per game.

"At times, we've played really well," Donahue said. "We've had double digits leads well into the second half in three of those games. We've played good basketball teams.

"That being said, obviously we haven't defended, rebounded or taken care of the ball during key times. There's obviously a lot of room for growth. That's what we're working at, getting better."

Boston College's best player is sophomore guard Olivier Hanlan. He earned Atlantic Coast Conference co-player of the week honors after averaging 28 points, four rebounds and four assists in two games last week. He had a career-high 38 points in Sunday's 82-79 win over Florida Atlantic.

"Olivier really did a nice job in the last couple of games in terms of getting his teammates involved and taking a three when it is there," Donahue said. "When we reversed the ball, I thought he attacked really well and made good decisions.

"In terms of him winning player of the week, it's not something we focus on. I think he would tell you he's got to continue to help us win basketball games. He has really a great sense of how to play the game."

g.keefe@theday.com

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