In defense of Skinner
Last night was clearly not BC’s best game. As a result, Al is getting some heat from the fans and message board posters. It was clearly not his best night either, but I think people are being too harsh on Skins. The one point where I agree with most people is that he mishandled Oates and Blair last night. Oates should always be on a short leash, but Al uses him for minutes and fouls. Essentially he tries to buy as much time with Oates as he can and was successful with that in the first half. The score was 32-35 with 2:33 to go despite the easy baskets we allowed and Dudley’s rough night. But like the Clemson game and the first Duke game, we let a team build up a big lead right before the half. I believe that if we had gone to Blair earlier we could have improved the defense without sacrificing any strength or production we get from Oats. That is my one big gripe.
But some of the other stuff about Al is off in my opinion. Here are some of the things I’m reading and hearing and my counter to the respective argument.
“Why didn’t he fire them up? This was a huge game!!!” -- This one is silly (to me). Al is not an emotional coach. His style works in the vast majority of our games. The composure helps us during tight games, helps us rally, and keeps the program on an even keel. The tradeoff is that, at times, we seem to treat the big games like any other. I am not happy about the loss, but don’t want Al to suddenly become emotional. In the last two years Skinner has beaten every ACC team but Duke. He is doing something right.
“Where were the half time adjustments?” As I pointed out, we weren’t that off until a little slip before half. I imagine Al just said “buckle down on D and get Jared the ball more.” The first few possessions of the second half we went low post. The half court defense improved too, however, the transition sucked because of sloppy play and foul trouble.
"Why didn’t Al use more timeouts?" He used them more often than he normally does.
“Why didn’t we pressure earlier?" I think it was a last minute resort. He didn’t pressure until the game started to get out of reach. I think he has been hesitant to use it since Williams left as SW was the safety valve.
Like I said, this was not Al’s best moment, but it is not all on him. He gives guys a system and a scheme and say: “go do it.” If we are happy when that style works the majority of the time, is it fair to bash him for it now? We still have some important games to play. If we continue to stumble, than Al will deserve more criticism. I think we steady ourselves and pick up at least two more regular season wins.