Brian: After the Harvard loss, I was frustrated but still willing to give Al Skinner the benefit of the doubt. Now with back-to-back home losses to mid-majors, I’m starting to question my previous position. For the second straight game, the Eagles came out flat … this time falling to Rhode Island 80-69.
Make no mistake about it. Rhode Island is a good team and can certainly make some noise in the Atlantic 10 and the postseason. But the Eagles came out flat, uninspired and lacked hustle. URI shot 50% from the floor including 9 of 15 from 3-point range. Rams guard Keith Cothran led the way with 19 points, while Rakim Sanders paced the Eagles with 14 points in his first game back.
In the last four years, BC has now lost to:
2006-2007: Vermont, Duquesne
2007-2008: Robert Morris
2009-2010: Saint Joseph’s, Harvard, Rhode Island
At 6-4, the Eagles are off to their worst start since 2003-2004 (a season they finished 18-11 and bowed out in the second round of the N.I.T.). Going back to the better Skinner teams over the past 9 years - 20-0 to start 2004-2005 season and the 2005-2006 team - it didn't seem like there were these type of letdown games coming from the Eagles. In recent seasons, however, BC has been dropping games to mid-major non-conference teams at an alarming clip.
Dropping games like these starts with how the players execute, but coaching preparation has to be part of the problem. So my question is this. Given the uptick in curious non-conference losses the past couple of seasons, Is Skinner’s job still safe in your book?
Jeff: I don't think Skinner would ever lose his job over a road or neutral site loss. So let's eliminate the 2006 Duquesne loss and this year's Saint Joseph's loss for a second. If you do that the Harvard and Rhode Island losses might not turn out to be too terrible considering Rhode Island is 8-1 and Harvard is currently 7-2 and both have top 60 RPIs. Both teams may very well be on their way to the NCAA tournament and no matter how highly you regard the BC athletics program and the men's basketball program, BC has never been and will never be a program where losing to NCAA tournament bound teams at home is grounds for losing your job as head coach.
I understand many BC fans are upset with the basketball team's performance early on this season, but we can't forget that one of our best players has been injured and our team is not all that deep. As hard as it is to imagine the Eagles rattling off a string of wins in ACC play right now, the Eagles should be able to get healthy, comfortable with each other, and still finish with a winning conference record. 9-7 or better in the ACC gets you serious consideration for the tournament, no matter what you did out of conference.
Brian: Attendance was abysmal last night. While it probably looked worse on TV than it actually was, there were still tons of empty seats in Conte Forum. All reports are that Rhode Island brought a strong fan contingent and were louder than the BC faithful that showed up for the game. This year, BC didn’t have any study days and start finals tomorrow. The official attendance was 4,263 but my guess is maybe half of that actually showed up. At one point, I counted all of 7 Superfans sitting underneath the baskets on one side.
Who’s to blame for the poor attendance?
Jeff: Attendance is usual a GDF problem. He is the only one to blame for selling season ticket packages that go unused. As for student attendance, this is no new issue. However, let me give the students a pass for the Rhode Island game considering it was a Sunday night game with finals starting the next morning. That's terrible scheduling for the student-athletes and the student fans. I'm actually glad to see, as a BC grad, that students were concerned with preparing for exams and not at the game Sunday night.