SEARCH 2000 Games

Monday, September 26, 2000

Canada's success leaves Donohue proud
Nobody in Canada could have been happier than Jack Donohue when the men's basketball team achieved its greatest victory in more than 60 years.

But the former Canadian coach wasn't exactly surprised, either.

"Jay Triano knows how to win," was Donohue's uncharacteristically brief explanation when asked about Canada's come-from-behind, 83-75 win over world-champion Yugoslavia early yesterday to win its pool in the Olympic tournament.

If the Canadians, now coached by Triano, beat France early Thursday in the quarter-finals, they will be in a position to play for a basketball medal for the first time since winning silver at the Berlin Olympics in 1936.

Triano was the soul, conscience and inspiration for the national teams Donohue coached from 1978 to 1988. As they travelled the world together and took part in two Olympics, the pair formed a tight bond that still exists today.

With Triano in Australia for the Olympics, it was Donohue who introduced Triano in absentia when the Niagara Falls native was inducted into Ontario's Basketball Hall of Fame last week.

"I am often asked if I am surprised at what a great player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became," Donohue said, referring to the NBA superstar he coached in high school in New York as Lew Alcindor.

No surprise

"Now people ask me if I am surprised at the success Jay Triano is having as a coach. As I said at the banquet, the answer to both questions is absolutely not.

"(Triano) is so organized and so intense he can do anything he sets his mind to."

On this side of the Pacific, Triano invoked Donohue's name to inspire his players in his pre-game pep talk yesterday, recalling his former coach's focused reaction to a loss to Puerto Rico in Uruguay about 20 years ago on a wild, low-percentage, last-minute shot that somehow dropped in. After the game yesterday, Triano was thinking about Donohue again.

"A lot of everything I do in basketball is because of Coach Donohue," Triano said. "He was my mentor and I try to be like him. I ask myself how he might react to different situations."

Like everyone, Donohue has been most impressed with the play of point guard Steve Nash, who earns his living during the winter with the Dallas Mavericks of the NBA. But Canada's strength was that Triano was getting a lot out of all its players, Donohue said, singling out forward Mike Meeks for special praise for his outstanding shooting.

"Many Canadians won't realize what an upset it is to beat Yugoslavia," Donohue said from his home near Ottawa. "They were the class of the section and their whole country would have been paying attention. I hope this success starts to change the way Canadians think about basketball because we have a very good team."