What they said… BC coach Al Skinner
|03.20.09 at 11:34 pm ET|
Al Skinner said he was concerned early in the week that he didn’t know which BC team would be showing up on Friday night. He got his answer on the Metrodome floor and as it turned out, Skinner had reason to be worried. His team didn’t have enough answers in the second half for Taj Gibson and the Eagles went ice cold from the floor, scoring just 21 second half points while allowing 42.
A 34-30 halftime lead turned into a 72-55 loss and it will be USC advancing to play in the second round on Sunday in Minneapolis. Here’s how Skinner evaluated things afterward, beginning with an opening statement.
COACH SKINNER: Basically, obviously the game was decided in the second half, and we did not execute as well as we needed to. We were impatient at times and in comparison to the first half when we took our time, executed. I thought the second half we got a little anxious.
And because of that, didn’t get the shot selections or get ourselves into rebounding position to keep ourselves in the game. And basically that’s the difference in the second half.
And because we missed as many shots as we did, it allowed them to get into transition and score and obviously shoot a very high percentage.
Q. Coach, could you just talk about the guy, Taj Gibson. Kind of a beast.
COACH SKINNER: Yeah, we didn’t do a particularly good job on him.
Not as well I was hoping we would do. I mean, he obviously had a tremendous night. We did not defend him as well as I thought we would have, so that was a little bit disappointing.
But obviously his quickness was a factor, and we just didn’t adjust to it well. Because he was pretty persistent. I thought as times we did a good job, but he just kept coming. And we did not work as hard as he did.
Q. How did you want to defend him coming in? Did you feel that the matchup was kind of not necessarily a mismatch, but did you feel it was a matchup that would be an x factor?
COACH SKINNER: No, I didn’t think that would be a difference in the ball game. As a matter of fact, even though I know he had a great line, that really was not the difference in the ball game.
To me, the difference was we allowed some other people to score. And I thought we could have done a better job with them.
We knew that this was going to be a tough matchup for us, even though, again, I expected to do a little bit better than what we did.
But I thought we could defend those other individuals a little bit better than we did and we did not. And to me that was the difference in the game.
Q. Who did you let get off that you didn’t want to?
COACH SKINNER: Like I thought we did a decent job against Hackett, but some of that might have been foul trouble. But, again, I thought DeRozan got off pretty good and Lewis got off pretty good. They made some shots when they were in that run.
In the first half we did a decent job, but when they got into transition a couple of times, they did a good job and we did not defend them as well as I thought we should have. They spread the floor and made some shots and we got kind of lost a little bit.
Q. Was there a part of you that wanted to see Tyrese put his fingerprints on the game more, or were you happy with the way he played?
COACH SKINNER: We can’t be totally satisfied if you look at his line, he’s had much better lines than this. So at times I thought he played well and other times I thought he was inconsistent in the game.
And that happens sometimes. And, you know, in saying that, I really don’t I think it was more his decision making at times than the defense.
We showed patience in the first half and the second half we weren’t as patient. And that unfortunately starts with him. And it kind of went through us a little bit. And just enough for them to get some run outs. And then all of a sudden this one pass shot and we weren’t playing the way we needed to play. And that’s really what that’s really what it was.
The first half we pretty much played the way we wanted to play. We executed, we showed some patience. But the second half, any time you see us dribble, dribble, dribble, other than Tyrese, then that means things are not going as well as we would like.
Q. As a coach, there’s nothing you can do when the game starts getting wild in the second half as far as getting them to settle down and be patient?
COACH SKINNER: Well, you want to try to get them to you try to call some things, at least for us, call some sets that’s going to do that.
But in saying that, you got to again, a number of our plays have options. And I thought we got impatient and went to the first option and it wasn’t a good one. We should have waited for the next option to become available. We did that in the first half. The second half we didn’t do it. And because of that, we didn’t get the shots that we wanted. And because of that, our shooting percentage wasn’t what it should have been.
Q. As far as again, Tyrese’s role this season was to kind of come off the scoring. Do you feel that the team benefitted from that? He benefitted from it?
COACH SKINNER: We definitely benefitted from it, no doubt about it.
We are still talking about a young man who has tremendous expectation from anyone who sees him play. People expect him to play a great ball game. And when he doesn’t, you know but his level of play is so much, his level of expectation is so much higher than most people he’s playing against.
And, you know, that’s something you have got to deal with when you are Tyrese Rice. He gets great recognition for when we are successful; unfortunately, when you come up a little bit short, he gets some of that criticism. He is a young man that can handle it.
And, again, there is no question that we would not be here today, at this position, as disappointed as we are, without his play this season. So, you know, I recognize that.
And I think we’ve learned a lot this year. I think the guys that play with him have benefitted. And we can learn from the things that occurred this season and the guys that are returning. We have a chance to build on something.
He’s helped raise the bar here, and see if the guys that are returning can reach that bar next season.
Q. And I know that logically like basketball sense says you don’t focus just on one play. But Roy Williams literally said earlier in the season with Tyrese Rice, cut off the head and the body will die, whatever. Is it a compliment to the team that Tim Floyd is like, no, I’m going to worry about Rakim, I’m going to worry about Trap, I’m going to worry about all these other guys.
COACH SKINNER: We hope people will think that, cut off the head and the body will die. We hoped that would happen because we feel that we could respond to that and eventually we would get the job done. So I think all season long that’s what we were preparing for, that people would take that attitude.
And, again, in saying that, you know, you’ve got to give a lot of credit to Tyrese for accepting his role in the sense that I asked him to score less, hand the ball, distribute it, run the team so other people could benefit.
That’s why we are where we are today. I have said this many times.
If I let him go out and run it and do his thing, he could get numbers.
But is that the best thing for this team? I didn’t think so. The reason we won as many games as we won is because even though, you know, when you sit back we think about the games that we maybe there were more games we could have won, but the reason we won the ones that we did is because he was willing to do that.
And when you are a player like that and when you have that type of offensive potential, sometimes it can get a little frustrating and I have to recognize that. Because it does bring about sometimes some inconsistencies. Because, again, as people have such a high level of expectation for him, but he did what I needed him to do.
Could he have done it better? Yeah, at times he probably could have.
But, still, it was a sacrifice on his part in my opinion. And we’re better for it. We won 22 games because of that.
Q. Coach, considering you were picked, I think, to finish 11th in the preseason and you finished tied for fifth, would you say it is one of your more gratifying seasons as a coach?
COACH SKINNER: There are always rewards during the season, whether it’s I mean, so every year you try to put your own handle on it. And at the end of the day what I’m really looking for is are we improving, are we a better team in February and March than we were in November and December? This year’s team fulfilled that.
So, you know, I mean, I’m believe me, when I think back on this season, I’m going to be pretty satisfied with the results that we got, believe me, I am. Right now I am a little frustrated because I want more. Believe me, I want more. When I walk into any game that we’ve played, I always think that we can win. If we go out and do what we need to do. And when we don’t do it, you know, it’s disappointing.
But I also know when I sit back and look at what this team was able to accomplish, you know, I’m going to be able to tip my hat to them and say I think they’ve had a pretty fine season.
Q. Where is this team compared to where your started? And what do you think about this team for next year?
COACH SKINNER: Well, this team is better than the 6 21 team I had.
So I think they are starting off at a pretty good place.
For them to bounce back, talking about the guys that were freshman this year and sophomores this year, for them to bounce back and fight and improve to the point where they are today, I am real happy for them.
As Joe has already mentioned, you know, I think they are going to expect a little bit more from themselves for next season. And, you know, so it’s going to be interesting to see how hard they’re going to work in the off season. If they are going to be able to pull together and understand that, you know, there are some roles that are going to change. And different guys are going to have responsibilities. So it’s going to be interesting to see if they can fulfill that and continue to improve.
But every year presents a new challenge, and next year people are going to last year this past season, I don’t think as you’ve already indicated, the expectations weren’t very high. It’s going to be interesting to see what the expectations are going to be for this team next year.
Do people think we’re going to be a better team without Tyrese Rice?
Are we going to be a worse team without Tyrese Rice? That’s the question that people are going to have to answer as far as the preseason is concerned. That’s the question that we’re going to have to answer as a team.
Q. Al, can you reflect back on the bigger picture? So many great coaches preceded you at Boston College, but you’ve really presided over a golden age. Bob Ryan wrote about it in The Globe. Seven NCAA tournament appearances, seven 20 win seasons in the last nine years.
Really remarkable when you look at Boston being a pro town. Boston College, such an outstanding academic institutions and all of the challenges that exist. Can you reflect back on this really remarkable run? And are you optimistic that this success can continue? I know you told us that when you took the job, but this has really been a remarkable run for you, your staff, and your players. And you deserve a lot of credit.
COACH SKINNER: For me right now reflection is kind of difficult, because my reflection is what happened here this afternoon. As time goes on, I think it will be easier for me to do that. Because right now I can’t take much satisfaction in some of the things we did this year. I understand what happened, but I am not feeling that now. I’m more concerned with what happened this evening.
Q. So like Jared Dudley, they all get to ride off into the sunset, it’s kind of great. Where does Tyrese Rice stand in your eyes?
COACH SKINNER: Again, you know, I don’t know if people really appreciate him. We are playing with basically freshmen and sophomores.
And for us to be where we are, you got to tip your hat to him. How many other point guards can you think of in this country, forget about just in our league, that could have led this team to where we are today?
If you want to put it into perspective, you give me another point guard that could have done that. I don’t know if there are very many.
If you can name one, you let me know and we’ll talk later.