I’ve been dragging my feet on this post since the end of the season. I could have buried it amidst the hockey stuff or the draft coverage, but that wouldn’t have been fair. Before I get into the thoughts on this season, let me restate that I think Al Skinner is a great coach and the program is still in good hands. The grade and post below are strictly about the 2007-08 season.
The loss to Kansas didn’t bother me. Nor did the stinker against Robert Morris. When the team followed those bumps with three straight ACC wins, I was at ease. We were looking at another good season. New faces, new challenges, same Skinner results. Who would have known that 3-0 start would be the peak of it all? Shortly after the quick start, the wheels came off.
There were so many problems I don’t know where to begin. Ultimately what made this season different from past is we did not establish an offense that could dictate tempo and force teams to play our style. Left scrambling for points, we were susceptible to presses and couldn’t stop other teams’ runs. How did we go from being so consistent to the mess we became? Part of it was the roster change, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Skinner made the mistake of trying to bridge the eras. We tried to use Blair and Spears like they had the same inside games as Dudley and Smith. When that failed against better competition, Skinner started giving those minutes to Southern (and Raji somewhat) and moved to a more open style of play a la the Troy Bell years. By then it was too little too late. We also were very sloppy with the ball. That’s to be expected with so many young players, but there wasn’t much improvement as the season progressed.
I also hoped the defense would be better this year. It wasn’t. While the team showed improvement on the perimeter and in transition, the defensive rebounding and interior play was lacking.
There’s a perception that Al doesn’t coach during that games. Anyone who has sat near the BC bench can easily refute that myth. However, his in-game adjustments hit the wrong notes this year. We let winnable contests get away from us too often during ACC play.
Fortunately recruiting held up and there is more talent on the way.
I remain optimistic. I’ll give Skinner a pass for this year and probably for next year too. But I can’t sugarcoat what happened on the court this year. I look forward to next fall so we can put this season behind us.
Season Grade: C-