Monday, March 05, 2007

The Skinner debate rages on

Al is not perfect. But let me address some of the stuff that is being thrown at him. I come off like an apologist in this, but I really do think he is a very good coach. Skinner has legit shortcomings, but I think fans are somewhat misguided in what they are harping on.

In-game coaching. How do you define this? 'W's are the best measure in my opinion. But how about how Al and our team reacts in tight games? If a game comes down to one or two possessions a bad “in game” coach would surely be exposed, right? Use of timeouts, drawing up plays, substitutions…if a head coach has a problem with those things it would come to light with the game on the line, right?


Here is our record in games decided by five points or less over the last four seasons: 29-10. Winning 75% of your close games seems to indicate good “in game” coaching.


Now Al is not demonstrative on the sidelines. But I assure you he is constantly yelling from his seat to the players and the refs.

One problem might be whole sale adjustments. The game gets away from us for whatever reason and Al seemingly does nothing. Well that is not going to change. Al will not drastically adjust what he is doing based on a short period of success or failure within the game. If a team wants to try to bury us with 3s and gets hot, he will let them keep shooting. He just believes things will even out and BC will benefit. If a team presses us from the get go, he believes that we’ll adjust and get some easy points. Now this may be frustrating, but look at our results.

Frustration with the flex. The flex is a simple, high school offense. So what? It is annually one of the most efficient productive offenses in college basketball. The flex is not and won’t be our problem under Al. If you want to get on his system -- take a look at the defense. It is annually one of the worst.

Talent. Once we lost Williams, we were down to two real ACC caliber players. Our shortcomings are on the staff, but they are addressing it. Our incoming class is the best in Al’s tenure. And given his success, we no longer have to rely solely on “diamonds in the rough.” Al and company have been great in finding and evaluating talent.

“40 hour week coaching”. This is another thing I don’t understand based on Al’s results. If he were somehow watching film all night would it have made a difference Sunday? I don’t think so. Every staff works differently. Al has sort of the leader/figurehead role with his assistants doing a lot of the grunt work. It is his formula and it works.

Al is not perfect. We’ve underachieved in the NCAAs. Discipline problems have been a recurring theme, but I think he is nearly perfect for BC.

I want BC to win it all every year, but calling our accomplishments mediocre and whining about Al’s style seems unfair. He is an excellent coach and unless something drastic happens, I will continue to defend him on this space.

17 Comments:

At 3:12 PM, Blogger LongtimeEagle said...

I think Al has more strengths than weaknesses as a coach, but one of the "defenses" being thrown about drives me crazy. You point out that once SW was dismissed, this year's team had only "two real ACC caliber players."

Well whose fault is that? It's not like Skinner just took over this year and is hamstrung by a weak roster recruited by his predecessor. If a guy has been at a major conference school for 10 years and takes to the court with only "two real ACC caliber players" something is very wrong. I understand that we're not Duke or UNC and aren't going to get a pair of McDonalds all Americans each year, but there's no way to sugarcoat the fact that with four classes and fifteen scholarships available, Skinner is stuck with just 2 legit players, a streaky but sometimes effective senior, two marginal guys who should come off the bench in the ACC (Spears and Blair) and no one else that's much above walk-on talent level.

 
At 3:32 PM, Blogger newsthatfits said...

Head coaches number one job is recruiting talent that they can develop into a competitive team. BC has been thin but getting good results in the regular season. If next years class turn out to be workable talent and is followed by another like class, Al can stay on the soft 40 schedule. If not he may be home watching TV by someone elses choice.

 
At 3:43 PM, Blogger ATL_eagle said...

Two ACC level talents are partially a product Williams leaving. With Williams we have the probably ACC player of the year and the ACC Defensive player of the year. Al's job is to bring in talent. He is good at that. Keeping them focused on basketball is a different issue.

 
At 3:59 PM, Blogger NG21 said...

The close game statistic is nice but I can not remember a year when BC got utterly blown out by halftime! so regularly....and unfortunately this has been in four nationally televised games (both Duke games, VTech, GA Tech).

I am excited for the incoming class but really like longtime eagle said....he has been the head coach at an above average Big East or ACC school for ten years.

And tourney time is even worse...last year was our best chance by far and we barely got out of the first round......and then lost an extremely winnable "close" game to Villanova.

It looks like we are two years away from a meaningful run and that's unfortunate...Kudos to AL and he should be allowed to stick around for the next 3 years but really say what you will about JOB at OSU but he had BC at about the same level as well....

 
At 4:37 PM, Blogger sammie said...

TOB used to call it education contraints. Al does not even mention it. This is the first year that he has really been given some wiggle room on recruits. People go after the "off court problems" with the players. Many of these are not even noticed at other schools. Hasn't anyone noticed what his graduation rate is? Does anyone realize what Jimmy O'Brien's was? Do you think Jim O'Brien just started to bend the rules when he went to OSU? BC is still a tough sell. The atmosphere is the bottom of the ACC and was at the bottom half of the BIGEAST. We are a white school in a cold and not necessarily minority friendly city, who has reasonably high academics and students who show up for 4 games a year. It sounds like ND. How does Al's record stack up against them. Not easy to recruit against the acc with those contraints nor was it easy against the big 4 of the big east.
I have also always thought that Al has felt that he must have a "white" presence on the team at all times.

Be carful what you wish for. The next coach will not be some some big gunslinger. If Al leaves in the next couple of years, it will be Tim O'Shea. Great guy, but ...

Sammie

 
At 4:39 PM, Blogger ATL_eagle said...

"but really say what you will about JOB at OSU but he had BC at about the same level as well..."

Ng21, I am not going to touch that. Come on. JOB was a horrible game coach, a low character guy and his teams were never as consistent or as Skinners.

 
At 4:47 PM, Blogger sammie said...

JOB had them at the same level? Please......

11-18, 18-15, 12-17, 8-20, 11-19, 17-14, 18-13, 23-11, 9-19, 19-11, 22-9. Against a Tom and Sally pre league schedule. He wouldn't play the local schools or UMASS

One NCAA run (with 3 future NBA players on the team)

 
At 5:41 PM, Blogger Bravesbill said...

You wanted to know what adjustments Al could make. Well let's start with not starting Oates or Roche. That would be a good start. In the last game, how about taking a timeout to avoid big double digit runs, like the 15-0 run in the opening minutes. How about drawing up a decent in-bounds play when they had trouble getting the ball in. How about drawing up a play to beat the press. Leaving Rice alone in the backcourt is not going to get it done. Bring Marshall back to help bring the ball up. If he can't handle the ball, try using Haynes. How about bringing a big man back to help set a pick to free up Rice. How about running the ball up and try to take advantage of the mismatch in the front court due to the press. Al had 8 days, I repeat 8 days to prepare BC for this game. He knew Ga Tech played a stifling full court press, yet he did nothing to prepare his team for it. They looked lost out there. That is what I mean when I say he does not make any adjustments. Al just seems to throw the same crap out there and prays to God that it works. And if it does not work, he prays to God that somehow magically his players will fix it on their own, when they haven't shown the ability to do that all year. A good in-game coach is not measured by the close games he wins (BC should never have had some of those close wins you talk about this year). There is no way BC should have had a "close" win against the Miami or FSUs of the world. A good in-game coach is measured on the wins he gets because of the quality of his gameplan. A good in-game coach will never get blown out 3 times in 5 games on national television.

 
At 7:43 PM, Blogger NG21 said...

By daring to bring up "JOB" I was not endorsing his character I was simply saying that as the records Sammie listed show for 3 out of the last 4 years JOB had skinner-esque success. Above average record in the conference with quite frakly limited success in the NCAA tournament.....I was not saying JOB is a better coach or better representative for the school. I like Al's work but we have been to the sweet 16 once and I think I would trade one final 4 appearance for a decades worth of "consistency in league play." As TOB showed what has that consistency really gotten us lately....

And Sammie since when is there a "Big 4" in the Big East? Sure Uconn and Syracuse have had years of success and national titles but I have never considered or read national articles about a haves versus have nots history of the Big East....seems West Virginia, Pitt and Georgetown have thrived of late....

 
At 8:54 AM, Blogger Andrew said...

One thing is for sure: there is absolutely no reason to play Oates as much as he does. None.

 
At 9:43 AM, Blogger tpsreports said...

The adjustments bravesbill has talked about are all legitimate whether you are a team with 2 wins or 25. That's just basic coaching and by not giving the guys instructions Skinner is sending them down the creek with no paddle.

We are severely undermanned at this point though. Somewhat marginalized in all of this debate about Skinner is the loss of Akida McClain. He was a long, athletic player who would've made Oates a mere token starter were he around all year. He definitely was an "ACC caliber" talent and may have proved to be a top three scorer and/or rebounder this year for us (if only smoking dope were legal...) We wouldn't be able to differentiate Tyler Roche from Tyler Neville if Williams and McClain were still in the mix. Spears, Blair and Haynes would have been solid contributors off the bench and Mclain would have filled the classic Skinner spot as the guy who really is a starter but begins the game on the bench.
I know this all a moot point because those guys are gone and we need to support the guys who are still battling out there but we're bringing sling shots to a gun fight right now. at the beginning of the year i thought Spears had bad hands and was too slow and short to be counted on and Blair looked like he had mono or something. Now I scream for Skinner to put them in the game and leave them in because they are our best bets.

 
At 9:57 AM, Blogger Michael Sweeney - Waterville Investment Research said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 11:32 AM, Blogger flutie22phelan20 said...

ATL- I agree with most of your points, but like any statistic, the "close game" one is easily manipulated. It, in effect, gives Al credit for games like two years ago when Yale takes us to double-OT, or when we spot Kent State a 18 point lead, etc. If you narrowed that down to games that should have been competitive, I bet it looks a lot different. Skinner just loses control of the flow of the game far too often for my liking; that is my chief complaint about him. And, when balanced against his success, it's only a small complaint at that.

I do agree with your 2+ ACC-type players. The + refers to Marshall who, when on, is an All-conference type player. When off...well, he's not. What it comes down to is that we had 3+, and perhaps even 4 depending on McClain, and those idiots pissed it away.

For the people ripping Skinner on that ground, do you think Roche and Spears were supposed to be getting these minutes? I mean, c'mon. It's not fair to either of these guys to lean on them the way the team is, but their idiot teammates got suspended, so they're learning during conference games, rather than at practice.

As for Oates, I cannot speak rationally or appropriately about his level of play. I will say this, though: Blair cannot play 30 plus minutes. Doesn't have the conditioning and doesn't have the discipline. Oates needs to play some. Would he if SW were here? NO.

The fact that this team is likely in the tournament after losing it's best defensive player, and only athletic front court player, is absolutely shocking. And it's a tribute to Skinner. The tank is on empty right now, the guys are tired, and Duds is getting pushed around on his bad foot. There's only so much a coach can do to prevent that.

 
At 2:22 PM, Blogger downtown_resident said...

There is no team in the country that could survive the dismissal of its second best player and a key reserve/possible starter without a noticeable effect on its play. None.

Longtimeeagle above makes the preposterous assertion that Skinner should have recruited better so that the team would have been unaffected by the unexpected loss of 1/4 of its rotation. Come on. The irony of that suggestion is that Skins basically did recruit a player to fill a possible Williams void-- Tyrelle Blair, who is essentially a poor man's Sean Williams-- and without that move we probably lose the second FSU game and are squarely on the bubble.

Flutie22 is absolutely correct in that it's simply amazing that what's left of the team has accomplished as much as it has. But what's more amazing is that members of our so-called "fan base" will still sit around and bitch about it.

 
At 3:12 PM, Blogger LongtimeEagle said...

Sorry if you find criticizing the depth of Al's recent recruiting to be "prepostorous", but facts are facts.

This discussion started when ATL_Eagle defended Al and noted that he did what her did post SW with "only two real ACC caliber players." All I'm saying is that a good coach who's doing a good recruiting job shouldn't be taking to the floor (even if a great player like SW gets hurt or leaves early for the NBA or gets kicked of the team) with only 2 or 3 legit ACC bodies. Ever.

Dudley is a great enough player who had a great enough year that BC could win even with the likes of Roche and Oates and Haynes seeing time in the rotation -- but I don't believe that's a recipe for success in the long run. Sorry if that makes me a naysayer or a whiner or someone who hates Al Skinner in your book. But I firmly believe that unless he steps up recruiting and begins bringing in kids two or three steps above the Roche, Oates, Haynes level, we will struggle. From all I've read, he's doing exactly that with next year's incoming class, which will be great news.

 
At 3:28 PM, Blogger ATL_eagle said...

Our class is loaded next year and if just one kid turns out to be a 2000 point scorer and one turns out to be a Marshall/Hinnant role player, I think we'll be fine for another four years. Al's system and BC's challenges will never create a Duke/UNC-like annual list of McDonald's All Americans. The fact that he is bringing in five highly touted recruits speaks to a huge upside.

 
At 5:29 AM, Blogger Jerry Gene said...

Nice post! Can’t wait for the next one. Keep stuff like this coming.

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