The BC basketball team has shown flashes of brilliance this season in wins over previously undefeated Miami, and road wins against Providence and Michigan. But the team has also exhibited really puzzling lapses of concentration and effort against lower tier teams like St. Joseph's, Harvard, and Rhode Island.
The critics on the Heights are calling louder than ever for the scalp of long time head coach Al Skinner, and while there is absolutely zero indication of a coaching change, or even displeasure in the job that Skinner has done from the administration, it's worthwhile to take a look at why this team can't seem to put together a consistent performance from week to week. Over the next few days, I'll examine a list of candidates, what the public is saying about those candidates, and what the reality is from my perspective...
Since putting together a veritable dream team (by school standards) in 2005, led by Craig Smith, Jared Dudley, and Sean Marshall and reaching the Sweet 16, Skinner has rested on his laurels. He has been lazy in recruiting, disinterested during games, and has failed to develop players in practice. This season has been the tipping point. After not recruiting a single new player to help replace the departed Tyrese Rice, the team has played down to its level of competition, showed major flaws defensively, still can't break a full court press, and can't inbound the ball. All of this can be directly related to Al Skinner's laid back approach, which is just a code word for "he doesn't care".
As a coach, mentor, and leader, Skinner has been the perfect man to lead this program since all the trouble that was caused by Jim O'Brien. Al did a tremendous job bringing the program back to respectability and has generally brought in players that have performed on the court and in the classroom, and have been good representatives of the school that students and alumni can be proud of. However, his coaching prowess, is certainly up for debate. Routinely, his teams have been unable to break a press, have constantly turned the ball over on out of bounds plays, and have played down or up to their level of competition. Al has also struggled to adapt his coaching style to fit his teams personality (in this case, a more athletic up-tempo group). His attempts to squeeze round pegs into square holes with this group has really hindered their growth and development and has led to some of their struggles. He may not be the right person to lead this particular group. Skinner has been here a long time, and perhaps has gotten too comfortable at the helm. Perhaps new blood is needed, though it's not likely to be coming.
Tomorrow: Rakim Sanders