Q&A: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

Courtesy of William Guillory

What was your initial reaction when your dad told you he was thinking about getting back into coaching?

MDJ: Well, I was surprised it was college, to be honest. I knew he really wanted to get back in it, but I was thinking the pros. Then, this opportunity came up, as I recall it happened pretty quickly, and I was just surprised. I was also happy for him because I knew how bad he wanted to get back into coaching.

Did you know for sure that he’d eventually return to coaching one day?

MDJ: Yeah, because I don’t think there was any point where he ever thought he was done. He was always just kind of looking for that next opportunity. But with the way the NBA is going nowadays, there are only so many opportunities out there. He just wanted to work with players, so he knew he would eventually get back into coaching. Tulane gave him a great opportunity to do that?

Why do you think taking a coaching job in college was the right move for him?

MDJ: Just the ability to impact young players, to grow them and teach them. I think he’s looking forward to having the opportunity to build his own program. In college, you’re a coach and a general manager, much like he was for a couple teams in the pros. It’s somewhat familiar territory for him, but its obviously gonna be an adjustment after spending so much time in the NBA.

What are some of the ties your family has to the New Orleans area that drew him to a program like Tulane?

MDJ: My aunt and uncle, on my mother’s side, live in New Orleans and have been there for as long as I can remember. We’ve always come down there to visit and we know the area pretty well. When he told me about the opportunity at Tulane, it seemed like a good fit. The opportunity to build a program, and he also has some familiarity with people in the city, opposed to moving somewhere completely out of the blue that you aren’t familiar with. I thought it made sense.

How will his experience coaching in the NBA help him in the college ranks?

MDJ: I think with all the years he’s coached and played, the amount of things he’s seen and the amount of offenses and defenses he’s run, it’ll help him figure things out. At times, the college level isn’t as advanced. So he can bring some of the stuff he’s done to the college level. I think it gives his players a pretty big advantage over other coaches who aren’t as experienced.

He’s had to learn some stuff with recruiting, but I think he’ll have the upper hand with X’s and O’s and certain things like that.

How different will it be coaching college athletes instead of professional athletes?

MDJ: It’s a lot easier to coach harder because sometimes you have to back off when your coaching guys in the pros. I think coaches sometimes have had a hard time transitioning from college to the NBA because of that. But there’s usually a lot of success for the guys that go from the NBA to college. For him, it’s gonna be about managing the whole program–academics, dealing with the school, the NCAA, boosters and things like that–that’ll be new territory for him because he hasn’t really dealt with that.

I think he’ll be great dealing with the kids. He’s very personable and has a way of getting on guys without it being too harsh. I think it’ll be a good deal.

What was the reaction that came from your mother, Emily, once your dad decided to get back into coaching?

MDJ: I think she was ready for him to get back out there and get off the golf course. I think she’s pretty excited about it just because of how familiar she is with the city of New Orleans. I’d say she’s pretty happy about it.

As a former Duke player, don’t you think it’s pretty fitting that the first game your dad will come back into coaching will be against your former rival, North Carolina?

MDJ: Yeah, I think we know who I will be pulling for in that one. I’ll be pulling for Tulane, but I’ll also be pulling against North Carolina in that one.

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