Danny Rubin was thrust into a starting role in the second game of his college basketball career at Boston College.
All things considered, he hasn't disappointed. In seven games, six of which he has started, Rubin is averaging 7.6 points on 45.9% shooting and three rebounds.
"It's been an awesome experience," said Rubin. "I'm just really grateful for the opportunity coach has given me, and I'm just trying to make the best of it now. It's really exciting, though."
Rubin played 22 minutes in the Eagles' season-opening win over St. Francis (NY), finishing the game with nine points, two rebounds and a block. Despite the solid performance, Rubin did not play in Boston College's next game, a home loss against Yale.
In his short time as the Eagles' head coach, that is one of head coach Steve Donahue's biggest regrets.
"That's one of the things that I was upset with myself about the other night, I didn't play him," Donahue said after Boston College's loss to Yale. "He's been playing well in practice."
Just minutes prior to the Eagle's next game against Holy Cross, Rubin got the word that he would be starting in place of senior forward Corey Raji.
"I was surprised I started," Rubin said. "But that's going to happen as a freshman. Some games I'm not going to get in, and when you do get in, you've just got to be composed and relaxed."
Rubin went on to score a career-high 14 points and collected six rebounds and a steal in the Eagles' 69-54 win. He went on to start the Eagles' next six games and feels like he has been experiencing steady improvement.
"I think I've gotten more comfortable with each start," said Rubin. "That's a point that coach makes every day in practice that you all should be getting better every day."
In Boston College's 67-65 win over Texas A&M in the first game of the Old Spice Classic, Rubin scored six points and grabbed three rebounds. Rubin didn't score a point in the Eagles' next game, a loss to Wisconsin in the Old Spice Classic semifinals, but rebounded with a nine-point performance against California and a 10-point game in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge against Indiana.
Rubin scored five points and had two rebounds in the Eagles' win over in-state rival UMass at TD Garden in the Boston Tip-Off Classic on Saturday.
"That was really cool," Rubin said about playing on the legendary parquet at the Garden. "My dad, Steve Rubin, had actually called me and said he had played there in 1966 with the University of Rhode Island. It was a pretty cool experience."
Despite playing in their home city, the crowd at TD Garden was overwhelmingly pro-UMass. That rattled Rubin at the beginning, but he eventually settled down and went to work.
"Maybe at first when I looked in the crowd and didn't see of our colors," Rubin said when asked if the overwhelmingly pro UMass crowd affected him. "It was something that you got over pretty quickly. It didn't help that we had one of the biggest hockey games of the year here. It was nothing we were too worried about. We just knew we had to come out even harder and execute better."
With Rubin promoted to the starting lineup, that meant someone had to take his place on the bench, and that was Raji. While that may have been a problem for some players, Raji was perfectly fine with the move.
"We're all a team, so I knew by me not starting, someone else was going to step up," Raji said.
Raji stuck by his words and has served as a mentor for Rubin, and there hasn't been any animosity between them.
"I don't think there's been any at all, really," Rubin said. "Corey's a really good teammate and a really good friend of mine. He made the transition a lot easier, really, by encouraging me before every game. Every time I step out on the court, he always has something positive to say to me. He pulls me aside, tells me something to do, and it's just been really helpful in the whole situation."
Raji hasn't been the only senior helping Rubin transition to his starting role at Boston College, either.
"All the seniors have made that transition a whole lot easier for me, talking to us in practice," Rubin said. "Even when we're not in the gym, Joe [Trapani] or Corey will go over something with me that I should work on."
Naturally, Rubin has had his fair share of struggles transitioning to coach Donahue's style of play. But as time has progressed, Rubin said that he is starting to come around, along with the entire team.
"I think everyone had to change their game somewhat," said Rubin. "I think I had to just make better decisions. don't think I had to change my game as much, just make better decisions, learn when to shoot, when not to shoot."
This isn't Rubin's first taste of Donahue. Rubin was recruited out of the Landon School in Bethesda, Maryland by Donahue at Cornell, where he served as the head coach from 2000 to 2009. Rubin averaged 18 points in his senior year of high school, draining 52 three pointers in the process.
As a result, Rubin as named to the All-Gazette and All-Montgomery County Sentinel teams and was also an All-Met honorable mention. During his high school career, Rubin helped lead Landon to back-to-back Interstate Athletic Conference championship titles in 2008-09 and 2009-10.
Rubin's brother was also recruited by Donahue, and the entire family really liked what Donahue brought to the table.
"My junior summer, I went to visit Conrell on a recruiting trip," Rubin said. "He had also recruited my brother to Cornell, so my dad had some kind of relationship with him. We knew he was a really honest guy. He had talked with my dad and my brother, and they both really liked the talk they had. It didn't end up with him going into Cornell, but it was one of the most honest talks that he had with a college coach during his recruiting process."
That honest and trustworthy demeanor was one of the reasons that Rubin joined Boston College's men's basketball team as a walk on this season.
"His honesty and his ability to look past certain things," said Rubin, when asked what he likes best about his coach. "Like if someone is working hard in practice, that's going to translate into what he thinks should be done during the game. I think that's really rare in a coach, and I really appreciate it."
The Donahue-Rubin combo is a welcome addition to Chestnut Hill. Boston College now sits at 6-2 after the hard-fought win over UMass and is well on its way towards a successful first season thanks to Rubin's contributions.
Many thought that the Eagles would take a step back in the first season without 13-year coach Al Skinner, but so far, its been just the opposite.
Rubin believes that Boston College can run with the best of them in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season.
"I feel like we have the ability to compete when we play our game," Rubin said. "I don't think there is any team that will blow us out. I think we're going to compete really well with all of the teams in the ACC and hopefully make some noise."