Friday, February 16, 2007

Skinner Referendum

This post defends Al Skinner. I agree that Al might not be the best in-game coach in the world, but the guy has done a phenomenal job at the Heights, and anyone who questions that is an absolute moron. People forget just how bad his predecessor, Jim O'Brien, was because O'Brien had a great last season at BC and then went on to Ohio State where they made the Final Four (I maintain that that had more to do with BC transfer Scoonie Penn than OB, but that's a story for another day). Make no mistake about it, a thousand years from now, O'Brien will still hold the record for worst winning percentage of any BC coach who stayed over 10 years. No doubt. My buddy Doug did some research on this topic recently and here's what he found out:

In his 11 years, O'Brien finished in the top half of the Big East (or the division within the conference) exactly 3 times. He finished dead last 5 times in those eleven years and won the division only once (his last year, which he parlayed into a big contract at OSU). In fact, his winning percentage in the Big East was .357 (74 - 133), a total disaster by any measure. His winning percentage is the lowest in Big East history for any coach that has coached more than 5 years. Underscoring how bad his BC teams were, going into this season the only Big East coach to have lost more Big East games was Jim Boeheim. It took Boeheim 26 years to lose 166 games, whereas it only took OB 11 years to lose his 133. Truly eye-popping statistics.

Compare this to Al Skinner, who has finished in the top half of his league in 6 of his nine years (including finishing 1st three times), which will be 7 of 10 after this year even if he loses the remaining 4 ACC games. The only years Skinner finished in the lower half of his conference were the three immediately following OB's departure, when all the OB recruits went elsewhere and Penn followed OB to Ohio State. Here's the breakdown:

O'Brien

86-87 - 9th out of 9
87-88 - 7th out of 9
88-89 - 9th out of 9
89-90 - 9th out of 9
90-91 - 9th out of 9
91-92 - 7th out of 9
92-93 - 7th out of 10 (Miami joins conference)
93-94 - 3rd out of 10
94-95 - 10th out of 10
95-96 - 3rd out of 6 (1st year of split divisions)
96-97 - 1st (tied) out of 6

Skinner
97-98 - 6th out of 6
98-99 - 13th out of 13 (back to one division)
99-00 - 13th out of 13
00-01 - 1st out 6(back to split divisions)
01-02 - 4th out of 7
02-03 - 1st out of 7
03-04 - 5th out of 14 (back to one division)
04-05 - 1st out of 12 (Miami and VTech defect)
05-06 - 3rd out of 12 (1st year in ACC)
06-07 - 1st (currently) out of 12

Furthermore, since Skinner turned the corner with his recruits in 00-01, BC has finished in the Top 25 five times (including two Top 10 finishes) and has been to 5 NCAA tourneys in 6 years (soon to be 6 of 7), all while playing in 2 of the top conferences in the land. Moreover, in the past 5 years, BC has played 6 of the decade's 7 national champions (Michigan State, Maryland, UConn, Syracuse, Duke & North Carolina, but not Florida), and beaten everyone of them except Duke, with whom they've had a couple of memorable near misses. Significantly, they are 13-16 against those opponents -- a pretty broad sampling that indicates they have more than held their own. So like it or not Skinner bashers, BC is a power, definitely a Top 25 program, and probably a Top 15 one. No one is perfect, but you can't argue with the fact that he has taken a perrennial also-ran under O'Brien (if not a doormat) and turned BC into a team that is very much on the national radar. Do you think the ACC schools look forward to playing BC? Case closed!

1 comment:

Matthew said...

Great post --

I too am sick of the Skinner bashers. Everyone is quiet about him when the team is rolling off victories, but one loss and all of a sudden he needs to show more emotion and call more timeouts.

His style is what it is, it works, and thats all there is too it. He isn't perfect, but no coach is.