Head Coach Mike MacDonald
The 2019-20 season will mark Mike MacDonald's sixth year as the Head Men's Basketball Coach at Daemen College. All he's done over the last half-decade is lead the Wildcats to the second-most wins among all Division II programs in New York State. Since being introduced as the sixth head coach in the modern history of the program on September 16, 2014, MacDonald has guided the Wildcats to a 105-43 overall record, wins in nearly 75 percent of their conference games (70-24 record) and five top-three finishes in the East Coast Conference standings.
MacDonald holds more than 30 years of collegiate coaching experience, including the last 22 as a head coach. In that time, he's compiled a record of 361-269 (.573 winning percentage) as a head coach, while also graduating 83 of the 86 seniors he has ever coached.
The 2018-19 season was the team's finest since transitioning to the NCAA Division II level. MacDonald led the Wildcats to a 24-6 record and the program's second ECC regular-season title. The Wildcats spent a combined 16 weeks ranked in the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and Division II Sports Information Directors of America (D2SIDA) top-25 national polls, and earned their first-ever NCAA tournament berth.
MacDonald recorded milestones and received several accolades along the way in 2018-19. His 350th career win came in dramatic fashion on January 18 as junior guard Breon Harris scored five points in the final 21 seconds to lift the Wildcats past Mercy 75-74. His 100th win at Daemen came February 10, placing MacDonald among an elite fraternity of coaches who have achieved at least 100 wins while coaching in each of the NCAA's three divisions. That achievement propelled him to HoopDirt.com Division II Coach of the Week honors, and he went on to be named the ECC Coach fo the Year, the NABC District Coach of the Year and the Basketball Coaches Association of New York (BCANY ) Division II Coach of the Year.
The Wildcat faithful become familiar with MacDonald's fiery style during the 2014-15 season as the veteran mentor guided Daemen to its fourth straight 20-win season, including a 13-7 mark in the East Coast Conference, good for a third-place finish in the final league standings. The fireworks got started before the season even officially began as MacDonald led the Wildcats to an 83-81 win in overtime over Canisius College in an exhibition game on November 11, 2014 at the Koessler Athletic Center. It was Daemen's first-ever victory against an NCAA Division I opponent.
MacDonald's official Daemen debut came just days later as his Wildcats walloped Concordia College (N.Y.), 88-50, in the opening round of the ECC-CACC Challenge before a raucous home crowd at Lumsden Gymnasium. MacDonald would go on to lead the team to wins in his first nine home games, extending the program's NCAA Division II-best home-court winning streak to 44 consecutive before a buzzer-beating three-pointer in overtime by eventual ECC Player of the Year Darian Hooker lifted N.Y. Institute of Technology past Daemen (85-84) to snap the streak on January 24, 2015.
Depsite losing two starters to season-ending injuries, including first-team All-ECC selection Torrence Dyck, MacDonald helped the Wildcats advance to the postseason. With Daemen's teams still ineligible for ECC and/or NCAA Division II postseason, Daemen elected to partake in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) Division I National Championships in Uniontown, Pa., entering the tournament as the No. 1 overall seed. While there, MacDonald guided Daemen to wins over No. 8 Indiana-South Bend (69-63), No. 4 Concordia College (Ala.) (68-63) and No. 3 Rochester College (Mich. ) (77-53) to capture the program's first USCAA national title, riding USCAA Division I Player of the Year and National Championships MVP Gerald Beverly to the tourney crown.
At the conclusion of the 2014-15 season, MacDonald was named the BCANY Division II Coach of the Year.
The 2015-16 season marked Daemen's first as a full-fledged NCAA Division II member, and it presented its share of challenges. Starting guards Supreme Hannah and Nick Petrucelli were lost to season-ending injuries, but that didn't stop MacDonald from leading the team to new and unprecedented heights. After opening the season with just three wins in their first eight outings, the Wildcats hit their stride after the calendar turned to January, scoring 15 wins in the final 19 games of the regular season.
A 94-81 win over Mercy on January 9 jump-started what turned out to be a nine-game winning streak. Included in the string was a miraculous 98-96 win over Roberts Wesleyan on January 12. Dyck's driving layup with four seconds remaining gave Daemen the lead after erasing a 22-point deficit over the final six minutes of the contest.
Daemen's 14-6 league record was good for a second-place finish in the final regular season standings, earning them the No. 2 seed and a bye into the semifinal round of the ECC Tournament which would mark the program's first-ever postseason berth at the NCAA Division II level. Taking on sixth-seeded Mercy in the semis, Daemen came through with a 103-102 win in overtime, advancing to the tournament finals. There, the Wildcats' season came to an end against top-seeded St. Thomas Aquinas.
The 2016-17 season saw MacDonald lead the Wildcats to 5-0 start out of the gates, including the veteran coach's 300th career win which came at Edinboro University (90-79) on November 23.
MacDonald's team would rebound from a four-game slide to rattle off 11 wins in 13 outings between mid-December and early-February. Included in the stretch was a 67-64 win over No. 23 St. Thomas Aquinas on January 4 - the Wildcats' first-ever victory against a ranked opponent at the NCAA Division II level. The Wildcats would go on to close the regular season at 18-8 overall and 12-6 in ECC play; the team's 12 league wins placed them fourth in the final ECC regular season standings.
Making their second straight ECC Tournament appearance, MacDonald led the Wildcats to a 73-71 win over fifth-seeded District of Columbia in the opening round. The win pushed the Wildcats' home record to 14-2 on the season, tying the team record for home wins in a season. The 2016-17 campaign came to an end in the semifinal round of the tournament where top-seeded St. Thomas Aquinas emerged victorious.
Before arriving at Daemen, MacDonald spent eight years leading the men's basketball team at Medaille College (2006-14) where he transformed the program into a regional contender at the NCAA Division III level. Inheriting a program that went 4-46 in the two years prior to his arrival, MacDonald's version of the Mavericks averaged 18 wins per season, while advancing to the postseason six times.
Medaille's emergence as a Division III power in the Northeast was cemented in MacDonald's final five seasons there, as he led the Mavericks to more wins (101) than any other Division III team in New York State, while ranking 17th nationally in wins during the same time frame.
MacDonald was named the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year on four occasions (2006-07, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2011-12). He left Medaille as the school's all-time leader in wins (148) and winning percentage (.670).
Prior to his stint at Medaille, MacDonald served as the head coach at Canisius College from 1997-2006, guiding the Golden Griffins to 108 wins which ranks him third in program history for coaching victories. While there, he was one of only five coaches in that program's storied history to orchestrate a 20-win season, and was named the 2000-01 BCANY Division I Co-Coach of the Year.
Before being elevated to the head coaching post at Canisius, MacDonald had been the Golden Griffins' top assistant coach under John Beilein, now the head coach of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers. In that role, MacDonald helped Canisius reach the 1996 NCAA Tournament in addition to two National Invitational Tournament appearances.
In addition to his coaching accomplishments, MacDonald brings a strong connection to the local community. His teams have been active with a number of community organizations in the greater Buffalo community and beyond, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Buffalo, Blessed Sacrament Athletic Club and Coaches vs. Cancer. MacDonald and several of his players have also worked with the Drug Enforcement Administration and Mayor Byron Brown's office on the "Game Changers" program which provides academic and athletic opportunities for inner-city youths during the summer months.
A 1988 graduate of Saint Bonaventure University, MacDonald resides in Amherst with his wife Maura (nee Heary). The couple has raised four children - Matthew, Patrick, Nicholas and Mark. Matthew served as team captain during his collegiate career at the University of Pennsylvania and is now a player development assistant with the Brooklyn Nets. Patrick was a Division III All-American while playing at the State University of New York Maritime College, and is now enlisted in the United States Navy. Nicholas is a freshman on the basketball team at Division I Niagara University.