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What they said… BC coach Al Skinner 03.20.09 at 11:34 pm ET
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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. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Al Skinner, Boston College, NCAA, USC
What they said… BC coach Al Skinner 03.19.09 at 10:29 pm ET
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After Tyrese Rice and Rakim Sanders had their moment on the dais, it was Al Skinner’s turn.
Q. Coach, talk about just the fact that, like you mentioned before, that you haven’t necessarily gone on a winning streak per se, but the tournament is going to require you do that. Where do you feel like the team is as far as putting those together?

COACH SKINNER: Can you repeat it?

Q. You talked about not necessarily going on a winning streak per se in the ACC, whatever, but being in a tournament kind of requires you do that, to kind of put wins together. Does the team need to have that experience beforehand or do you trust that they have that ability?

COACH SKINNER: They definitely have the ability, it’s just a matter of doing it. But as you’ve already indicated, you’re in a situation where it requires that. But then saying that is different. This is very different because it is one and done. It doesn’t afford you to look beyond the first game. I think that’s clearly a mistake for anyone to do that, regardless of who you may be. So that situation is very different.

I think the most you should do is look at it as a two game situation, because that’s all you have to do. And you have plenty of time the following week to prepare. But, you really do have to take it one game at a time, otherwise you are doing yourself and your team a disservice.

Q. Does it make it kind of dangerous when two teams seem to be playing some of their best basketball of the year around the same time? Like USC won five straight. You don’t have a winning streak but you are meshing and the chemistry is coming together. Does it make it kind of dangerous when two teams are playing their best basketball at the same time?

COACH SKINNER: What it does, hopefully it will create a great basketball game. And I think that’s what the tournament’s all about.

But you’re not going to be playing any bad teams this time of year.
It’s just not going to happen. So you’ve got to get yourself prepared for get yourself prepared for a great basketball game. And I think we’ve done that.

But again, there are just no bad teams. There are talented guys out there. Outstanding coaches. And so, you know, you have got to put your best foot forward, otherwise obviously you are going to be heading home. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Al Skinner, Boston College, NCAA,
Skinner: It’s not a track meet, it’s basketball 03.18.09 at 11:12 am ET
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As they wing their way westward toward Minneapolis and a Friday night date with USC, the Boston College Eagles will be thinking about their first round opponent and how to go about beating them.

Those with concerns about BC’s chances point to the fact that Southern Cal is on a hot streak, winning the Pac-10 tournament just to get a ticket to the dance.

They also point out that USC is an athletic team that loves to get up and down the court and DeMar DeRozan will be a handful for the Eagles.

But BC coach Al Skinner isn’t looking at it that way.

“I’m not overly concerned about athleticism because when I last checked it’s not a track meet, it’s still a game of basketball,” Skinner said. “It’s about skills, you’ve got to be able to put the ball in the basket, dribble, pass. So, we concentrate on those areas. Athleticism can help but it’s still a game of skill.

“They like to get a little bit in transition. They have a lot of quick hitters. They have some individuals that are physically talented. We’re going to have to deal with that. They really like to attack the basket. They’re pretty athletic. They get around the rim and they do some good things.”

DeRozan, who scored 25 in the Pac-10 title game, is a quick hitter, as are Taj Gibson and Daniel Hackett. The Trojans feature a three-guard set under coach Tim Floyd, which points to Skinner’s belief that they will try to out-manuever the Eagles, who will try to run the flex offense.

This Trojans team erased a 15-point halftime deficit in the Pac-10 championship against Arizona State and won, 66-63. In other words, BC must bring it all game long and not let up.

“You just see what a little urgency does for a team,” Eagles point man Tyrese Rice said. “They realized they had to win a tournament to get into the NCAA Tournament and they went out and made it happen. We’re going to have to be aware of how hard they’re playing right now.”

Then there’s someone like Tyler Roche. He is a junior now, two years removed from advancing to the second round in 2007, when BC lost to Georgetown.

“It’s a big excitement,” Roche said. “I haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since my freshman year and I’m just really excited to be back this year, and hopefully we’ll make some noise.”

Read More: Al Skinner, BC, NCAA, Tyrese Rice
BC hoops: A reason to believe 03.17.09 at 11:40 am ET
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Al Skinner simply wants one thing out of his practices before his Boston College team takes on Southern California on Friday night in Minneapolis.

“I think we’re in a good place but I think,” Skinner said, acknowledging there’s still some reservation. “Whether I really feel that, We’ll find out in practice. I’m looking forward to it and I think they’re looking forward to it. I’m just curious as to what the results are going to be. I’ve been pleasantly surprised. They’ve responded.”

Responded and how. The Eagles are 22-11, a No. 7 seed in the Midwest after entering this season picked for next to last in the ACC, and facing USC on Friday night in Minneapolis. However, the Eagles didn’t get to this point without learning a lot about themselves.

While there was some genuine disappointment in losing to an inferior St. Louis team, 53-50, back in November, the B.C. Eagles first really learned how to respond when they dropped an unconscionable 82-70 decision to Harvard at Conte Forum three days after beating No. 1 ranked and unbeaten North Carolina on their home court.

“We’ve had a lot of ups and downs with big wins and dropping (games) to the Harvards of the world,” Rakim Sanders said. “But it’s been a good year. And the experience we’ve had, beating Carolina, knowing we can play with anybody. Having that confidence in our heads has been good for us.”

But confidence can be a funny thing. Just ask their head coach.

“I should have a little more confidence in them but I also know the history,” Skinner said. “I thought we were prepared for the ACC Tournament. Mentally, I thought guys did what I wanted, I thought they were ready to play. I really should, they’ve probably earned that but I’m not quite there yet.”

If Sanders’ shot goes through the basket on Friday instead of ringing off the iron, you could certainly make the point that it would be the Eagles who would have been dancing around the Georgia Dome floor with nets around their necks on Sunday.

“We lost to Duke by a point,” Skinner said of the loss in the ACC quarterfinals. “What they (Duke) did in the championship game is just an indication of where we are because we obviously had a chance to win that game. I’m pleased but not satisfied and so we’re going to continue to work hopefully till I get satisfied.”

Helping the team in its goal of satisfying the coach and themselves is Tyrese Rice. The senior point guard, who scored 34 points in a half against North Carolina in Feb. ’08, has matured into a leader of men. The kind of leader you need come tournament time.

“I’m expecting a lot,” Rice said. “I’m expecting everyone to step up and do what they’ve been doing all year, and a little bit more. I feel like I can step my game up a little bit more, I feel like there are some other people on the team who could step their game up some more and I feel like they feel the same way.”

Skinner said on Monday he can already sense other players responding to Rice and picking up their game.

“We’ve continued to improve and that’s the most important thing, especially for a young team,” Skinner said. “A lot of times, a team hits a plateau and we have not done that. We’re edging upward and obviously I’m very pleased with that.”

Rice has had a first-hand view of the growth on and off the court.

“Everybody’s playing with a lot of confidence,” Rice said. “You see when guys come into a game, they’re coming in to make a difference. We saw Biko Paris come in and probably have the best game of his career against Duke. He came in and was ready. A guy that didn’t play a lot or probably as much as he thinks he should have and comes in and gives us 15 big points.

“Everybody has a certain swagger to them, a certain confidence,” he added. “We’re just trying to bring it all together.”

Read More: Al Skinner, Boston College, NCAA, Tyrese Rice
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