Donyell Marshall Learning The Ways Of Coaching

HAMDEN — Donyell Marshall had 10,716 points and 72.4 million reasons not to pour his heart into coaching. That's how much money Marshall made over 15 years playing in the NBA.

That kind of money can change a guy's attitude as much as his lifestyle. Change it plenty.

Tom Moore saw something different. He knew that Marshall, now in his first season as assistant coach with Rider after a year at George Washington under Karl Hobbs and another under Dave Leitao with Maine in the NBA Development League, was serious about life after playing when he'd see him at AAU tournaments in Las Vegas.

"When he was still an NBA player, he sponsored the Donyell Marshall All-Stars out of the Reading [Pa.] area," Moore said Saturday after Quinnipiac ripped Rider 82-61 in a MAAC game at TD Bank Sports Center. "A lot of guys who have the money want to give back to the community and that in itself is a great gesture."

"But some of them cheapened it by 'coaching' when really all they were doing was being in Vegas, acting like a fool on the sidelines and talking junk to the other guys. It was more about them. Donyell was almost like a general manager the first couple years. He'd sit back and watch. If you didn't know him, you'd think he was like anybody else."

Then an assistant under Jim Calhoun at UConn, Moore remembers going to watch a game in Vegas with Calhoun. There was Donyell in the parking lot at 8:30 a.m. already hustling to watch his team.

"I'm like, wow, they don't usually act that way when they're in the NBA," Moore said.

Marshall began coaching those AAU teams. Moore remembers how poised he was. This was no sideline joke.

"He had articulated to us that he wanted to coach when his playing days are over," Moore said. "But he was proving it. He just wasn't going through the motions."

Fast-forward to Saturday. This was a rough afternoon for Rider.

"It has been up and down for us [12-11 overall, including 8-6 in the MAAC]," Marshall said. "We've got a number of young guys getting the majority of minutes. The coaching staff is pretty young, too. But it has been a good year."

There are a number of ways to remember Donyell Marshall. He is one of the greatest UConn players in history, of course. Before Kemba Walker put the argument out of reach in 2011, Marshall arguably had the greatest season in UConn history. Another way to remember Marshall is for missing those two free throws in Miami in that OT loss to Florida that dashed UConn's dreams of its first Final Four.

Or maybe you remember Marshall, with Toronto at the time, tying Kobe Bryant's record with 12 three-pointers against the Sixers in March 2005. He shot out all the lights that night. Or maybe you remember Marshall as not quite the transcendent star you hoped he'd be in NBA.

"He was long, scored inside-outside, just awesome at UConn," said Scott Burrell, Moore's Quinnipiac assistant and Marshall's teammate for two years at UConn. "I don't think people appreciate how good he was in the NBA. He averaged a double-double for a number of years. Every game wasn't on ESPN like it is now, and nobody got to see him a lot in Golden State and Utah. He was a beast."

A former beast who wants to be a future college head coach.

"I think everybody does," Marshall said. "I'd love to have my own program one day. I think I have a lot to offer. Right now, I've got to start where I can, right now that's being an assistant. Hopefully, one day I'll get my chance."

Marshall arrived in Storrs in the same class as Kevin Ollie and they played together for three years before Marshall became the first UConn player to leave early for the NBA. To this day, Ollie calls Marshall his brother. When asked if he knew right away that Ollie, a workaholic guard and natural leader, would be a head coach and if he was surprised that the quieter Marshall became a coach, Burrell chuckled.

"You hang out a lot in college, you don't have a lot of meaningful conversations," Burrell said. "Now we have meaningful conversations. We all learned a lot from Coach Calhoun."

"I don't think we were looking at each other at the time and going, 'Yeah, he'll be a great coach,'" Marshall said. "We were focusing on helping our team win and playing in the NBA one day."

Marshall, the 1994 Big East Player of the Year, said it was in the NBA that he could see Ollie's future.

 
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