In the latest installment in his "Forgotten Legends" interview series CHN writer Jon Teitel spent some time with Doug Day, the all-time leading scorer in Radford University history. Day, who is also one of the college basketball's most prolific three-point shooters, is currently the head coach at Blacksburg (VA) High School.
Jon Teitel: Why did you decide to go to Radford?
Doug Day: I chose to attend Radford for a few reasons. One, it was close to home and would allow my family the opportunity to see me play. Two, I really liked Coach Oliver Purnell and his style of play. And three, I saw an opportunity to be a part of a rebuilding program and to be part of something special.
JT: You were an All-Big South performer during each of your four years at Radford. How were you able to come in and contribute as a freshman, and how were you able to remain consistent throughout the rest of your career?
DD: Growing up my parents always stressed to my sisters and I to set goals both academically and athletically, and they encouraged us to work hard to achieve those goals. Going into my freshman year I set the goal of wanting to be a starter and a major contributor on the team. I worked as hard as I could to prepare myself for the competition of D-I basketball. After each season was complete, I set new goals and dedicated myself to becoming a better player than I was the year before.
JT: In 1990 you scored a career-high 43 points on a school-record 11 three pointers made (5th-most in NCAA history) vs. Central Connecticut State. Was it just one of those scenarios where every shot you put up seemed to go in because you were "in the zone"?
DD: Coach Purnell said it reminded him of a shark in a feeding frenzy! It seemed to me that the basket was as big as the ocean, and no matter where I was on the court I felt like the ball had a good chance of going in. My teammates did an outstanding job of setting screens for me and getting me the ball in positions that allowed me to get good looks at the basket.
JT: In 1992 you helped lead your team to the first-ever conference title in school history. How big a deal was it to win that title, and what was the reaction like back on campus?
DD: Winning the first-ever conference title was a huge deal for the culture of the basketball program at RU. It seemed to bring a lot of pride and excitement to not only the program, but to the entire university. The student body, faculty, staff, and administration were outstanding in their support of us.
JT: In 1993 you completed your career as the Division I career leader in three-point shooting with 401 three pointers made. What did it mean to you to get the record, and what is your secret for three-point shooting?
DD: Knowing the history of college basketball and all the great players that played the game make it very special. Anytime a player is able to accomplish an individual record, there are a lot of teammates and coaches that played a major role in achieving this goal. I was very fortunate to play with some great players and be coached by some outstanding coaches. I feel like the secret to my success as a shooter was the countless numbers of hours my father and I put into shooting practice shots under game-like situations.
JT: Two of the guys who have since broken your record, JJ Redick and Curtis Staples, are both from Roanoke which is less than an hour's drive from your hometown of Blacksburg. What do they put in the water in Southwest Virginia, and what are the odds that three guys from the same region turned out be some of the best three-point shooters in the history of the sport?
DD: I have often thought about this phenomenon. It is really amazing to think of all the athletes who have played D-I basketball, and to have three of the top three-point shooters from the same small region is pretty remarkable. Curtis and JJ both had outstanding college careers and were fun to watch. JJ has continued to improve each and every year and has developed into a real good NBA player.
JT: You graduated as the all-time leading scorer in school history. Did you realize at the time how prolific a player you were?
DD: When I graduated from RU, I felt blessed and fortunate to have had the type of career that I did. It was with the support of my family and the help of God that I was able to accomplish many of my goals. Being a student athlete at Radford opened many doors and afforded me opportunities that I will always cherish. I look back on my career and have many fond memories of the things that I accomplished and the people that I met.
JT: You are currently the basketball coach at Blacksburg High School, where you took over for your dad Doug Sr. How big an influence was he on your own decision to go into coaching, and what did it feel like to take over for him?
DD: I am currently in my 8th year as head coach at Blacksburg. I took over the program from veteran Bob Trear, who was my coach when I was in school there. Coming home to teach and coach at the school where I graduated from is very special. Continuing the tradition of excellence and respectability is of utmost importance. It has been a joy and an honor to have my father as my top assistant since he retired from his job in 2008.
JT: One of your former players, Daniel Mitchell, walked on to the Radford team in 2008. Why did he decide to go to Radford, and what did it mean to have one of your players play basketball at your alma mater?
DD: Daniel was an outstanding player for us at Blacksburg. He helped lead us to the State AA semifinals in the 2007-2008 season. He received interest from several D-III schools, but decided that he would attend RU and walk-on to the team. It is very rewarding to have one of your former players playing D-I basketball at your alma mater. It was especially gratifying watching him play in the first round of the 2009 NCAA tourney against North Carolina (Mitchell had two rebounds in two minutes).
JT: When people look back on your career, what do you want them to remember the most?
DD: I would like for them to remember me as a team player who was always willing to do what was best for his team to be successful. I hope they walked away knowing that I gave it my all each and every minute!
Doug is also on Jon's list of best fantasy players in Big South history
Charleston Southern: Ben Hinson (1987) 2,295 PTS (#1), 45.7 3P% (#2), All-American, conference Player of the Year
Coastal Carolina: Tony Dunkin (1993) 2,151 PTS (#1), 721 REB (#4), 52.1 FG% (#4), All-American, four-time conference Player of the Year
Gardner-Webb: George Adams (1972) 2,404 PTS (#1), 1,113 REB (#1), 60.3 FG% (#1)
High Point: Arizona Reid (2008) 2,069 PTS (#1), 1,013 REB (#1), two-time All-American, two-time conference Player of the Year
Liberty: Karl Hess (1980) 2,373 PTS (#1), 648 AST (#1), 89.8 FT% (#1)
NC Asheville: Josh Pittman (1998) 1,549 PTS (#4), 175 STL (#2), 2-time conference Player of the Year
Radford: Doug Day (1993) 2,027 PTS (#1), 401 3PM (#1)
Virginia Military: Reggie Williams (2008) 2,556 PTS (#1), 820 REB (#4), 196 3PM (#4)
Winthrop: Charles Brunson (1982) 1,850 PTS (#1), 913 REB (#1), 61.3 FG% (#2), two-time All-American