Jon Teitel’s Interview with Kennesaw State Head Coach Al Skinner

North Florida coach Matthew Driscoll was named Atlantic Sun Coach of the Year last March after leading the Ospreys to their 1st NCAA tourney in school history.  However, he will have some new competition in the conference this year because Kennesaw State has brought in Boston College legend Al Skinner to try and lead the Owls to the postseason for the 1st time in their own history.  It will not be easy due to a brutal schedule, including a trio of road games to start the year against Alabama, LSU, and ASU.  Then again, if anyone knows what it takes to succeed on the basketball court, it is a guy who was an All-American player at UMass, a member of the 1976 ABA champion New York Nets, and the 2001 national COY at BC.  Brand-new HoopsHD writer Jon Teitel begins our 2015 NCAA season preview coverage by chatting with Coach Skinner about playing with Dr. J and winning a tourney game in double-OT.

 

skinner

1. In 1971 you were a freshman at UMass while the varsity was led by Julius Erving (who had 32.5 PPG/20.2 RPG during his 2 varsity seasons): was he just unstoppable during scrimmages?  He was a pretty dominating player, to the point that we would play better than the varsity when he was on the bench.  It was great to play against him: he taught me what it took to be a great player.

2. 2 of your teammates on the freshman team were future NCAA championship coach Rick Pitino and future AL Cy Young winner Mike Flanagan: could you tell back then that either of them would become so successful in the future?  Not at all.  I knew that Mike was a good pitcher, but not as good as he actually was.  Rick always had the drive to become a coach because he loved the game.  He has been able to put it all together and have a Hall of Fame career.

3. In December 1973 you recorded the 1st triple-double in school history (28 PTS/18 REB/10 AST in a win over St. Peter’s): where does that rank among the greatest performances of your career?  I never knew about that until you mentioned it.  The most important thing is that we won the game: I never cared about stats.

4. As a senior you averaged 18.8 PPG/11 RPG, led the Yankee Conference in scoring, and were named an All-American: did you feel like you were 1 of the best players in the country?  I was proudest of my shooting percentage: I had the highest FG% in school history at the time.  Any good player can score, but I was also happy about my rebounding.

5. In the summer of 1974 you were drafted in the 9th round by the NBA’s Boston Celtics, but decided to join the ABA’s New York Nets: how much of a factor was the chance to join your former classmate Erving?  It was a big factor because he showed me the way to be successful in the ABA, just like he did in college.  I also thought it would give me the best chance to be a pro athlete.

6. Despite 42 PTS from David Thompson in Game 6 of the 1976 Finals, your team was able to overcome a 22-PT deficit in the 2nd half to pull out a 6-PT win over Denver and clinch the title: how were you able to come all the way back, and what did it mean to you to win the title?  That is probably 1 of my biggest accomplishments.  I had to guard David in the 2nd half and I was embarrassed so I just stood in front of him and face-guarded him to keep him from getting the ball.  We said during 1 timeout that we did not want to go back to Denver, so we were fortunate to win the game.

7. What are your memories of Game 7 of the 1979 Eastern Conference Semifinals with the 76ers (Erving had 34 PTS/8 AST but George Gervin had 33 PTS/12 REB in a 3-PT win by the Spurs)?  There was 1 game in San Antonio where I was guarding George, who is 1 of the best offensive players to ever play the game.  It was 1 of the biggest challenges I ever had trying to guard someone.  Unfortunately, we came out on the short end.

8. In the 1992 NIT as coach at Rhode Island, Jason Alexander made a 3-PT shot with 34 seconds left in a 1-PT 2-OT win over BC: how does your coaching style change in regulation vs. overtime?  In OT I just try to figure out what was successful in the 1st 40 minutes and focus on that.  That was probably 1 of my finest wins as a coach.

9. What are your memories of the 1997 NCAA tourney (Brad Miller scored a career-high 31 PTS in a 7-PT OT win by Purdue)?  We previously beat Purdue by 6 PTS in the 1993 tourney.  I remember that it should have never gone to OT.  We were up 3 at the end of regulation, but did not stay home on the perimeter and Brian Cardinal made a 3-PT shot to send it to OT.  We felt a little deflated going into OT and did not have the same drive that we had during regulation.

10. In 2001 you won the Big East regular season title as coach at BC and were named national COY: what did it mean to you to receive such an outstanding honor?  It was great recognition for the way I did my job, but it just showed that I was able to communicate to my players, as they are the ones who executed on the floor.

11. Take me through the 2001 NCAA tourney:

11A:  Jeff Monaco scored 26 PTS and Justin Sant’s 3-PT shot at the buzzer hit the front of the rim in a 3-PT loss by Southern Utah: did you think the shot was going in?  When it is on-line like that you think is going in.

11B:  Troy Bell scored a career-high 32 PTS in a 3-PT loss to USC: what made Bell such a great player?  Troy is 1 of the finest offensive players that I have ever coached.  He had great quickness and great elevation on his jump shot, which is rare for a jump shooter.  He had tremendous concentration: he must have made more 4-PT plays than anyone else in school history, and graduated as the #2 scorer in Big East history.

12. What are your memories of the 2004 NCAA tourney (Jarrett Jack had a steal/breakaway dunk with 5 seconds left to clinch a 3-PT win by eventual national runner-up Georgia Tech)?  That was a well-played game but we just did not execute at the end as well as we should have.  Jack played an excellent game: I did not realize how good he was when we scouted him.  We took pride in winning close games.

13. In 2005 the Eagles became the 1st Big East team to start a season 20-0: how do you keep your team focused for 20 games in a row?  That was going to be our last year in the league.  We mentally understood what we were trying to do and had discipline throughout our team.  We had all the ingredients: leadership in the locker room, the desire to win, etc.

14. Take me through the 2006 NCAA tourney:

14A:  Craig Smith had 25 PTS/13 REB and made a pair of FT with 4.3 seconds left in the 1st OT en route to a 2-OT win over Pacific: where does that rank among the most exciting games you have ever been a part of?  Pacific was 1 of the better-coached teams we played that year so I knew that they presented a big challenge.  It was clearly pleasing to me to win: we did not deviate from the game plan or get distracted.  Pacific did not play like a mid-major: they upset Providence in the 2004 tourney as a #12 seed.

14B:   Sean Williams blocked Kyle Lowry’s jumper at the end of regulation, but was called for goaltending with 3 seconds left in a 1-PT OT loss to Villanova: how was Will Sheridan able to slip behind the defense on an inbounds pass for the game-winning shot under the basket?  It was just a mental mistake and we just did not execute well.  Guys were disappointed in the locker room, but more about how we lost than the fact that we lost.

15. You remain the all-time winningest coach in BC history: do you think that anyone will ever break your record, and what do you hope to do in the future?  I would like to think the record will be there for a while.  I would like to get back into coaching and have it end on a high note, but it will take quite an effort to pass me.  I served on the D-1 Coaches Ethics Committee for several years and am very proud of my players’ high graduation rates as well.

Hoops HD August Session

On this month’s offseason episode, Kyle goes to the NCAA Library in Indianapolis.  How exciting!!!

David Griggs is absolutely thrilled to hear about all the research he’s been doing.  So, we get an update from Kyle on what he saw and experienced while at the NCAA HQ, and an update on the College Basketball Database that he’s been putting together for the site.  It’s coming!!  We promise!!

In addition to Kyle, Chad is joined by Jon, John and David.  The panel discusses the NLRB ruling and how that impacts not just college basketball, but all college sports.  They also talk about the two new selection committee members this year, and whether or not the imbalance of FBS representatives vs non-FBS representatives will matter.  They also touch on what’s happening at North Carolina, and how the NCAA’s thinly spread enforcement staff could be contributing to why they’ve been so slow to act.

Last but not least, they go over the rules changes and discuss what impacts they feel it will have on the game this upcoming season

 

…and for all you radio lovers out there, below is an mp3 version of the show….

Hoops HD July Session: News & Notes, Coaching Changes, and Transfer Banter

Joby hosts this month’s offseason session and is joined by regulars David, John and Chad (sort of).  They begin with hitting the news and notes from the past few summer weeks, including Fred Hoiberg’s departure from Iowa State, Shaka Smart’s move to Texas, and Rick Barnes’s move to Tennessee.

The main topic of the evening is the transfer rules, and how the panel basically feels it is unfair that so much is working against the players.  They discuss what changes they think they should be made, and how coaches having less control over the players would actually lower the transfer rate rather than raise it.

The final topic that’s discussed is the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag from South Carolina’s state house, and how doing so now allows the state of South Carolina to host men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament games.

 

And for you radio lovers out there, below is an mp3 version of the show….

Hoops HD June Session: News & Notes, Restarting the Border War, and More

Chad is joined by David, John and Joby as they delve into the News and Notes of college basketball.  They talk about how NKU has moved from the Atlantic Sun to the Horizon League, and how NJIT was able to join a conference.  They also look at the different rules changes that have been passed and discuss what impacts they think they’ll have on the game, the two most notable being the shot clock and the possibility that the graduation transfer rule may change.

The main topic tonight is something that David Griggs has not shut up about for over two years, and that is the Border War Rivalry between Kansas and Missouri.  The panel wanted to discuss the history of the rivalry, and how they feel restarting it would be different since it’s not a conference game, but would still be beneficial.

All of that, and more….

 

And for all you radio lovers out there, below is an mp3 version of the show…

News, Notes and Puppet Rants (June 5th)

-We will be doing our June Session podcast within the next week or two.  Be on the lookout for that.  Barring something totally unexpected that deserves immediate attention, it will be our final podcast of the athletic year.  On July 1, we will OFFICIALLY be in the 2015-2016 athletic year, so this year will suddenly be last year and next year will suddenly be this year.

-This is old news, but Northern Kentucky has moved from the Atlantic Sun to the Horizon League.  2015-2016 will be their final year as a transitional program.  The Atlantic Sun is now down to just seven full members, which is the minimum a conference is allowed to have while still being an automatic qualifier.  We’ve said this before, but NJIT would make sense despite being a geographic outlier.  Most A-Sun teams travel in the OOC portion of the season anyway, so this would be just one more trip.  And, NJIT has plans to build a new arena, and would be a formidable basketball program by Atlantic Sun standards.  They advanced to the semifinals of the CIT a year ago, and anyone who can do that would be an asset to a league like the A-Sun.  If this is going to happen, it  needs to happen before July 1st, so let’s take to Twitter and make this happen!!  #NJITtoASun!!!!  #TeamOfThePeople!!

-North Carolina is about to go through the NCAA equivalent of a full body cavity search.  The NCAA has accused UNC of five level 1 violations, which basically means they could be looking at a postseason ban for the sports that were involved.  The violations include lack of institutional control for failing to monitor its academic programs, extra benefits, and not cooperating with the NCAA, The report mentions that 169 student-athletes were involved, and 15 of those were men’s basketball players, so this is no small thing.

-UAB has announced they intend to reinstate their football program, which should allow them to remain in Conference USA.  This is good news for their basketball program seeing as how the three best basketball centric conferences (Big East, Atlantic Ten and Missouri Valley) likely would not have had much interest in adding UAB, which would have likely resulted in them landing in a league like the Sun Belt as a non-football member, or the Atlantic Sun.

-Fred Hoiberg has left Iowa State for the NBA.  He did an unbelievable job with the Cyclones, especially the past two seasons where the team entered the NCAA Tournament as a #3 seed in each of those years, and won two Big Twelve Tournament championships.  Unfortunately they were inflicted with injuries going into the 2014 NCAA Tournament, but still made the Sweet Sixteen, and they were upset in the round of 64 by UAB in the 2015 NCAA Tournament, but despite that the program was having a terrific run.  I for one am kind of sad to see him leave the college game.

 

-And finally, I will close with my rant on the Graduate Transfer Waiver, or more accurately, those who oppose this waiver.  Here’s the thing.  People in college athletics love to claim that these are student-athletes, and that academic are important, and that it’s about getting a free education.  Well, if that’s the case, then what the hell is a “Graduate Transfer??”  There’s no such thing.  In the world of academics, which people in college athletics (falsely) claim to value, graduating and enrolling in another institution to seek an advanced degree, or simply to seek a second undergraduate degree is NOT transferring.  Transferring is when you begin a degree program at one school, and opt to complete that same degree program at another school.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that if college athletics actually does value academics and claims to be tuned in to academics, then they should not refer to college graduates as transfer students when they enroll in another college.  The only thing that should change about the “Graduate Transfer Waiver” is the name.  It should be called the Graduate ENROLLMENT Waiver” since these players aren’t technically transfers…at least as far as the academic side of things is concerned.

….and no, this waiver should NOT go away.  You cannot claim to have the best interest of the student-athletes in mind, and then take away one of the few things that is advantageous to them.

 

Griggs

Hoops HD May Sessions Video Podcast

Chad is back with David, Joby and John, and they hit on many issues in this year’s first offseason podcast.  Some of the News and Notes include the Horizon League and Big Sky changing their conference tournament formats, the new coaching changes, the possibility of a thirty second shot clock and whether or not that will properly address the game’s issues, and a look at some of the upcoming OOC games.

The main topic tonight is conference realignment in hind sight.  Each of the panelists discuss how they think it has impacted or changed the game, and whether not we’re better off post-realignment than we were pre-realignment.

 

And for all you radio lovers, below is an mp3 version of the show…..