Sunday, March 28, 2010

Weekend roundup: Frozen Four and Skinner stuff

In one of the strangest hockey games I've ever seen, BC beat Yale 9-7 to advance to the Frozen Four. Even though BC got up big, it was a back and forth game. Yale used a three goalies, none who played well. Muse wasn't sharp but did enough.

This is now BC's 9th Frozen Four under York. York also improved to 26-4 in the NCAA Tournament while at BC.

The other big news of the weekend is that Al Skinner is still our basketball coach. There are plenty of rumors and speculation out there. Much of the focus has shifted to former UCLA coach Steve Lavin. Mark Blaudschun is saying that Al's loyalty to his staff may have hurt his chances in New York. The staff issue speaks to why I never thought Skinner-St. John's was a good fit. Skinner has plenty of autonomy at BC that he was unlikely to get at St. John's. Does he want to put up with that nonsense at this stage in his career? Does St. John's want a good coach, but someone who is not willing to deal with the politics of the position? It just doesn't make sense. Unfortunately this flirtation has become public and will change the dynamic at BC. It will be an interesting week.


Ry said...

Great time at the DCU Center today...definitely not a boring game. Scary that in the biggest games we seem to get lazy once we get a lead (Beanpot Final, HE Final, Today). Jerry said it best in the post-game though....he's ok as long as we win.

Yale DID have the #1 scoring offense in the country this year and the commentators were saying that they came close to being as fast, if not faster, than us. No one is going to beat us in a shootout though, try as they might.

Here are two videos I took after the game today. The post-game handshake and the alma mater.

BCDoubleEagle said...

BC is 26-8 in the NCAAs under York. The losses were Michigan '98, Maine '99, ND '00, Cornell '03, Maine '04, ND '05, Wisc. '06, MSU '07. The wins, thankfully, are too numerous to bother listing.

Thomas said...

Good catch doubleeagle... If we were 26-4 with this being our 9th appearance in the frozen four, we'd have 4 national championships under york, not 2.

Erik said...

Yup fun game, there were two moments of having it locked up (6-2 and 9-4) yet the game came down to the very end.

Disappointing turnout, especially for students. That's a whole other can of worms.

Also St Johns is absolutely doing the right thing demanding their coach have strong NY AAU ties. If I was in their shoes I'd require the same thing.

Joe Bags said...


mod34b said...

The Skinner saga has become "so BC."

It's a replay of the TOB multi-year exit dance. And there are so many parallels btw TOB and ALS: a good coach, not a great coach, acoach who doesn't inspire, a dull coach, a very boring style of play, a coach who thinks he deserves better pay and feels underappreciated; a coach who can't get that better pay from another school thus stays at BC to try for better when the next opening appears; a coach who stops putting maximum efforts into recruiting becuase he already has one foot out the door, a coach who can't get BC to the "next" level.

with Skinner, this episode -- if it ends with Al staying put -- has got to hurt recruiting, which was tough enough already with Al and the Flex to sell to recruits. The other coaches on the recruiting trail will have a field day with this one!

That being said, I don't see BC getting a new coach while they are still obligated to pay ALS something on the order of $3.6 million.

I guess we will be in a holding pattern for awhile.

Geez, I gotta get some coffee, I feel like one of those doom and gloomer guys.

My only hope is to rely on that old contrarian thought: just when you think it's bad, things will improve and surprise you.

JDK said...

Even though I'm a fan of Al Skinner I was excited about a change. I'm not sure what kind of coach we can land but I'll admit seeing an inbounds play or a press break would be a nice change.

However I do love the flex.

Really strange game on the ice, but what a goal by Sneep, short handed and from our own zone.

mod10aeagle said...

I sat near the Yale pep band, which only made the game experience all the more bizarre. When Yale had the puck in their offensive zone, they would chant, "Penetrate, Penetrate, score, score, score!" Huh? And, randomly, "Homicide, homicide, kill, kill, kill!" WTF? But, they did do their homework. On Saturday, they knew the No. Dakota goalie's parents' names and repeatedly yelled at him (he was just below them) that "Kara and Dave don't really love you!" Very strange bunch. That, and having a drum section consisting of totally rhythm-challenged spastics gave the whole affair a sort of anthropology project feel. I don't usually notice pep bands, but this was like driving by a car wreck.

Patrick said...

Very odd behavior by Skinner at the moment. Typically when an established coach interviews and reads the tea leaves that he will not be offered the job, he very publicly withdraws his name from consideration.

Instead, Skinner appears to be waiting it out. That is not something he'd be doing if he were happy in his current position.

Danny Boy said...

Patrick, he lives like he coaches. He had his plan, and refused to adjust it based on changing variable's.

mod34b said...

From Angry former UNC guy Matt Doherty, now SMU coach:

"Doherty: “Well, you know, I’m a New Yorker. My sister went there. My niece went there. It’s not a good job. I mean, I’m just going to tell you straight up. St. John’s has a little bit of an inflated feeling about themselves. It’s not a good job.

"Paul Hewitt has a better job. Billy Donovan has a way better job. Rick Pitino. I think they took a little risk by going after big names and then all of a sudden momentum now is swinging against them so they’re dropping down.

"I think it makes them look a little bit bad. But it’s not a good job. Facility wise. Yeah, there’s some talent in New York but there’s a lot of politics in New York that you have to address.

"And so it’s not the job that the St. John’s family thinks it is. And that’s what they’re facing right now, the reality.”

CT you and Matt think alike.

Jeremy Rosen said...

If BC follows precedent shouldn't they fire Jags - er - Skinner for talking to another team about a job?

For my money they should. I will not make the argument that Skinner hasn't done anything good at BC. He has. But he has maxed out in my view. And this is an ACC job, so it ought to have some coaches interested. I mean - unlike football you don't have to recruit 50 good players; just 5. And ACC hoops is way better respected than ACC football.

Harry Collins said...

Wow I can't believe it, but I happen to agree with erstwhile nemesis Mod when he says...

"It's a replay of the TOB multi-year exit dance. And there are so many parallels btw TOB and ALS: a good coach, not a great coach, acoach who doesn't inspire, a dull coach, a very boring style of play, a coach who thinks he deserves better pay and feels underappreciated; a coach who can't get that better pay from another school thus stays at BC to try for better when the next opening appears; a coach who stops putting maximum efforts into recruiting becuase he already has one foot out the door, a coach who can't get BC to the "next" level."

I think the common thread running through the two stories is the fact that GDF didn't hire Skinner or TOB (I'm almost positive about that), so he probably does the passive aggressive thing...he isn't overtly unsupportive (because both are proven winners who took over BC programs in shambles), but he isn't particularly supportive either. I'm sure that rankled TOB, and I'm sure it rankles Skinner. So I think Mod is largely correct.

Alas, I can't agree with him completely...I break with the notion that there really is an attainable "next level" for BC. I think this is it (i.e., field a competitive team that makes the tourney regularly, once in a while with talent to make a real run like in 2006). Now I'm sure that will get the backs up of the "Ever to Excel" crowd, but included in my "hope I'm wrong" thinking is the fact that, in 33 years of BC basketball spanning two leagues and four different coaches (more than a modest samplying I would submit), there is no evidence to suggest that BC has the means to ever reach a level higher than where they are right now (and by that I mean under Skinner, not the results of the current year). Look at the empirical evidence...BC has only made the regional final (Elite Eight) twice in those 33 years, each time as a fluky, underseeded upstart who surprised everyone after middling seasons (4th in 1982 BE standings and 7th in 1994 BE standings), and there's usually 1 or 2 of those teams every year. None of those four coaches took BC to any "next level"...Dr. Tom Davis (5 seasons at BC, 2 NCAA appearances, 1 Sweet Sixteen, 1 Elite Eight), Gary Williams (4 seasons at BC, 2 NCAA appearances, 1 Sweet Sixteen), Jim O'Brien (11 seasons at BC, 3 NCAA appearances, 1 Elite Eight and Al (13 seasons at BC, 7 NCAA appearances, 1 Sweet Sixteen). A couple of those coaches have reached the "next level" elsewhere in a given season (Williams with a National Championship at Maryland, O'Brien with a Final Four at Ohio State), but did not keep them there. That all suggests to me that there really is no "next level" for is what it is, a second tier program in one of the power conferences. That's a crowded field, with the likes of VTech, Clemson, Florida State, et al, just to name a few in conference. Hey I take no issue with hoping and trying to get to a Final Four some day, even a National Championship, I play the lottery every now and then like everyone else. But to expect to get there with regularity to me is just unrealistic. If BC can't get to the "next level" with mssrs Davis, Williams, O'Brien and Skinner in 33 years, what makes you all think that Steve Donahue or Bill Cohen are going to step in and get it done? I think there is a far greater chance of getting a Todd Lickliter than a Jim Calhoun.

BCDoubleEagle said...

Obviously I have to agree that BC's history is not a highlight reel of championships. But that doesn't mean we can't do better. Florida State was a girls' college before it became a football powerhouse. Gonzaga basketball was a no-name until the 1990's, now they're a regular in the NCAA's. The point is, things can and do change, and a program's potential is not limited by its past success (or lack thereof).

CT said...

Double, completely agree. Especially in basketball, where success is so heavily dependent on the head coach. Who would really want to go to Storrs, Memphis, East Lansing, Spokane, or Lafayette to play college ball? The assistants may recruit, but it's the head coach and his personality that drives the train much more so in bball than in football. Moreover, not to beat a dead horse, but as I keep saying BC bball isn't constrained by the same limitations that the football program labors under. My $.02.

mod34b said...

Here’s a Globe update: Skinner’s Future at BC in Doubt

Seems Blaudschun has got a great source. GDF??

eagleboston said...

Harry Collins,

Butler Bulldogs.

I rest my case.

I yield the remainder of my time to the distinguished senator from Massachusetts, Mod34B.

mod34b said...

Harry -- the next level is not the Kentucky, Kansas, UNC level. I think you called them basketball royalty.

the next level is to be a consistent top 20 team, with a sustained top ten poll position every so often and compete for ACC title most years. Maybe call it the Villanova or Wake Forest level or something like that.

An ambitious, but very doable goal and one that eludes ALS.

Bravesbill said...

I would also add Xavier into the mix as well EB.

Danny Boy said...

Harry, you know as well as I do that schools hire coaches to produce an upward trend of success. Memphis hired Calipari for that purpose, Tennessee hired Pearl to improve the program. Likewise, Kentucky fired Tubby because they felt like they stagnated (or even regressed).

I agree with you that we will never be perennial Final Four contenders, but I think there is something between our current state and that ideal.

I dont think anyone will argue that Al rescued us from our previous state, its obvious he brought our program up. I fear we reached our limit with Al, just like we did with TOB. I don't think its a coincidence that a new coach brought our football team to the #2 rank in the country not even a year after TOB claimed we'd always be an 8 or 9 win team.

There are plenty more obstacles that a BC coach will face over most of the rest of the country, but lets not say its impossible.

You use Williams as an example of a coach during our "dark days," but he brought our team to as many sweet 16's as Al did, in 1/3 of the time. Who is to say what would have happened had he stayed longer. Clearly he has a knack for coaching (but maybe only players at state schools).

Is there room between where we are now and perennial ACC contender? I say yes. Do I think that Al can get us there? History would say otherwise. While I agree that the nature of BC will keep us from being a constant feature in the Final Four, there is certainly a level that is an upgrade from where we are now. Even Duke (Basketball royalty, with a similar academic profile) had to start their legacy somewhere. Why cant we start ours now and enjoy the hatred of a nation 20 years down the road?

Harry Collins said...

Danny Boy, every school that hires some hotshot new coach does so to hopefully advance the program, so that and a token will get you a ride on the T. But it doesn't always work out that way, just ask Iowa with Todd Lickliter or Seton Hall with Bobby Gonzales this year. Or Kentucky with Billie Gillespie last year. All those guys were hot coaches, got the fanbase fired up with their introductory presser. Then they proceeded to fall flat on their faces. That's what I'm saying here, careful what you wish for. Skinner has been rock solid for a program that has never really done anything. Ever. 33 years is a long time, and that's only as far back as I went. BC has no hoops history. Zero. It allso has no street cred, unlike Villanova. It also competes in a conference that has some serious top dogs, unlike Butler and Gonzaga. So puh-leeze, ask a friend from the West Coast or the Midwest for an objective opinion about BC, and they'll probably tell you something very similar to the way you feel about Missisippi, Vandy, or Arizona State - an OK school from a big conference that occasionally has a decent season. Things don't change much for them, and I don't expect things to change much for BC, whether Steve Donahue or Bill Coen are coaching, or Al Skinner.

The notion that BC can be Villanova or Wake on a consistent basis is laughable in my view. Those schools have some bigtime history, and bigtime fanbases. Butler and Gonzaga? Gimme a break. Don't you think every program in the country aspires to be those guys? If it were so easy, I think maybe more teams would actually do it.

Yes I'd like BC to get a new coach, and I would be as intrigued as anyone to see how he does, but BC has some serious, serious institutional limitations to overcome. I think 33 years of the same old same old proves that. So I am not expecting anything better, and I fear something worse (see Henning, Dan). I mean, has any BC coach every recruited a big-time player outside of Massachusetts? The only big-time recruits who have ever came to BC have been backyard guys (Dana Barros, Billy Curley, Chris Herren, Jermaine Watson, Scoonie Penn). Every other decent player from parts elsewehere came here by default, i.e. no one else wanted them. Villanova has recruited guys like Tim Thomas and Kerry Kittles, Wake has recruited guys like Tim Duncan and Chris Paul. There is no comparison.

Patrick said...

If you truly don't think that BC can become as successful as Wake Forest then you shouldn't bother rooting for them. A college basketball team is as good as their coach. Duke was nothing before Coach K. Georgetown was nothing before Thompson got there. A great coach can make any school consistently good. I'm not saying that we could turn into Kentucky but we can certainly be as good as Wake Forest. Past team history means absolutely nothing going forward, all that matters is the next coach. I can't say that i know who will bring us to the next level but i will certainly be hopefully that we'll consistently be a top 25 team.