From The Starting Lineup To The Bench

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The following post was authored by Birkir Jonsson, a student in Professor Mark Hyman's Sports Media and Communication class.


On November 11th, The George Washington Colonials battled The University of Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks at the Charles E. Smith Center in Washington, D.C. It was the season opener under a new head coach following a very successful year where the team won the National Invitational Tournament (NIT). But the real story was on the bench, where former GW men's basketball standout Joe McDonald traded in his basketball and uniform for a suit and tie and clipboard.  

McDonald, who some might say was the face of GW basketball during his four years as a Colonial, had a very successful career, including reaching the NCAA Tournament as a sophomore in 2014 and winning the NIT as a senior in 2016. He has now rejoined GW men's basketball, but in a staffing role as the Director of Player Development.


"It has been a very warm welcoming, and to come back as part of the coaching staff is a lot different but very exciting. I make the joke sometimes to people that now I understand why I got yelled at," McDonald said laughing.


McDonald's role now with GW men's basketball involves video work, primarily clipping film. He focuses on breaking down film for certain players, positions, and plays so the coaches can review the video and find areas to improve. He also helps with scouting opposing teams and assists with creating scouting reports.


"My experience as a player from the last four years helps me pick up on things a lot easier, during the game or on film, to find things we are not good at or not doing well and give that information to coaches," said McDonald. "Specially with what we call 'Ghost Stats' is stuff that doesn't show up in the box score - floor dives, fouls drawn, and things like that - to reward players for hard work that is not very visible. And honestly that was the type of player I was and I find great joy in that work."


The transition from an athlete to coach is not always easy and McDonald admits that he sometimes finds it difficult to sit on the bench and watch.


"Obviously I would love to be on the court playing for GW. I had a great four years here as a player, but I am excited to move on as staff and help contribute to success that way, and the welcome has been so great that it makes the transition easier."


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