Former NCAA Division I head coach Don Friday enters his seventh season at the helm of Penn State Harrisburg’s men’s basketball program in 2020-21.
During his six-year tenure, the reigning ECAC Division III and North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) Men's Basketball Coach of the Year has expanded the program’s recruiting reach and amplified its success in both the NEAC and Capital Athletic Conference (CAC), while taking the program to heights never before reached.
Under Friday’s leadership, the 2019-20 campaign was the most successful in program history. Penn State Harrisburg racked up a program-record 21 victories, won its first-ever NEAC Championship and clinched a berth in the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament. In the first NCAA Tournament game in program history, the Lions won an instant classic in double overtime over No. 6 Johns Hopkins before falling to No. 13 Yeshiva in the round of 32. The Blue & White won the NEAC Regular Season Title, hosted the final four of the conference's championship tournament and earned a thrilling overtime victory over Lancaster Bible in the NEAC Championship Game. Under Friday’s guidance, Donyae Baylor-Carroll became the first player in program history to earn all-region accolades (D3hoops.com – 1T, NABC – 2T) after being named the NEAC Player of the Year. Freshman Nate Curry was named the conference’s rookie of the year, while Friday was voted the NEAC Coach of the Year by his peers. Friday was also named the ECAC Division III Coach of the Year, Curry added ECAC Division III Rookie of the Year honors and Baylor-Carroll was named to the ECAC Division III All-Conference Second Team. Baylor-Carroll and Curry were All-NEAC First Teamers, while Dylan Daniels and Zegary Scott III picked up all-conference third-team recognition. Daniels also won NCAA Division III Statistical Championships in the categories of blocks per game and total blocks. By season’s end, Friday’s efforts had Penn State Harrisburg receiving votes in the D3hoops.com Top 25 National Poll for the first time.
Friday has also put an emphasis on his players' performance in the classroom. "Diplomas and championships, in that order" has become a mantra for his program. Most recently, Friday’s group turned in a stellar 2019-20 academic year. Led by five players who earned Dean’s List recognition, the Lions had 12 players post a GPA of 3.0 or higher. As a whole, the squad registered a 3.24 GPA. Additionally, Clinton Asalu, Brandon Coleman and Donald Friday Jr. earned NEAC Scholar-Athlete recognition. In total, Friday has guided 25 players to academic all-conference status during his time at Penn State Harrisburg.
In 2018-19, Friday led the Lions to a winning-record and a CAC playoff berth during the 2018-19 campaign. Under his tutelage, Kahlil Williams became the fourth 1,000-point scorer in school history. Also, Donyae Baylor-Carroll set the program record for 3-pointers made in a single season. His players also succeeded in the classroom, with four student-athletes earning CAC All-Academic Team recognition.
His first year as head coach coincided with the college’s first season competing in the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC). Friday led the Lions to wins over a number of renowned mid-state schools including Gettysburg, Lebanon Valley and York (Pa.). He also led the Blue & White to the program’s first-ever victory over a nationally-ranked team in No. 14 Christopher Newport. That winter, senior guard Will Doyle became the first student-athlete in school history to earn All-CAC honors.
From 2008-2012, Friday was the head coach at Division I Saint Francis (Pa.). Under Friday’s watch, the Red Flash competed against some of the nation’s most storied programs, including North Carolina, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh. During his four-year stint at SFU, Friday led the program to back-to-back Northeast Conference (NEC) playoff appearances in 2010 and 2011. The 2010 postseason berth was the team’s first since the 2005 campaign.
Prior to his time at Saint Francis, Friday was the head coach at Lycoming from 2003-2008. In 2004, Friday’s squad won the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Freedom Championship and ranked second in the nation in rebounding amongst Division III teams. He was named the conference’s coach of the year in 2006 and again two years later when he led the Warriors to the 2008 MAC Commonwealth regular-season championship.
Friday also has more than a decade of assistant coaching experience to his credit, including stops at Bucknell from 1994-2003, where he helped legendary head coach Pat Flannery build Bucknell teams that gained national acclaim thanks to NCAA Tournament victories over Kansas and Arkansas. He began his career as an assistant at Lebanon Valley, his alma mater, from 1989-1994. Friday was a member of the Flying Dutchmen staff that led LVC to a thrilling NCAA Division III National Championship victory over New York University (NYU) in 1994.
Known for his skill at developing players, Friday has also served on the staff at some of the most prestigious basketball camps in the nation, including the highly regarded Hoop Group camps, which feature a plethora of the nation’s top collegiate prospects.
Friday also serves in an athletic fundraising role for Penn State Harrisburg's athletic department. He earned his MBA and his Bachelor’s of Science in Management from Lebanon Valley College. He currently resides in Annville, Pa. with his wife, Amy, and son, Donald, who is a junior on the men's basketball team.