This is part I of my End of the Season Evaluations. I am starting with the Assistant Coaches.
This season marked a big change in Al’s staff. Gone to head coaching gigs were two longtime cogs in Bill Coen and Ed Cooley. In their places, Al promoted Pat Duquette and Bonzie Colson. He then hired Mo Cassara and Preston Murphy to fill the duties formerly performed by Duquette and Colson.
Assistants play an important role for Skinner. They do much of the recruiting legwork, the scouting and many of the day-to-day duties. I am not close enough to anyone on the team to know how each coach did individually, so I grade them as a collective.
We pretty much run the same schemes regardless of who were are playing, so it is hard to guage how good our scouting is. That said, I do think our staff does a good job. We rarely get surprised by an opponent. Most of our problems came in game. Adjustments are on Al (grades coming for the Skinman), so the staff gets a pass for that. Another sign of how good our scouting is: what the players say. In interviews the guys slip in little nuggets that show they are well prepared for their opponent. And not just the “stats and stars” quotes. Guys like Dudley, Oates and Rice have all mentioned tendencies that they knew about prior to the game.
This was my biggest concern and seems to be where the new staff most excelled. The incoming class is the highest rated Skinner has ever signed and on paper may be the best class since the late ‘80s. Guys like Coen and Cooley were great at finding diamonds in the rough and guys who would fit in at BC. Will these new superstar type recruits come in with the same sort of work ethic and attitude that the Bells and Dudleys showed? No one knows, but it is encouraging that we have finally made inroads with more sought after prospects.
Another area that really speaks well to the future. I think this the first time in the past six years where everyone got better over the course of the season. Rice really took the next step. Marshall had his best year. Oates played well down the stretch. Blair took huge leaps. The much maligned Roche got better. Haynes even contributed down the stretch. The only two regulars who didn’t clearly improve from November to March were Dudley and Spears. I am just being nitpicky with Dudley. He was awesome throughout and just ran out of gas during the ACC stretch. And in my opinion that is not on the Assistants. Spears is another matter. I know his back was bothering him, but he needs to get better and it is going to be up to the staff to teach him and get him to understand what his role is and what he needs to do.
Overall I am very pleased with the Assistant Coaches. Al has always had an eye for good assistants and it appears like we are in good hands.