On his first day as BC coach, Donahue reached out to some of the most influential figures in New England youth basketball, hoping to repair crucial relationships that frayed during Skinner’s 13-year tenure. The list of elite Division 1 players from New England who have shunned BC in recent years include Erik Murphy (Florida), Nate Lubick (Georgetown), Jordan Williams (Maryland), Alex Oriakhi (Connecticut), and Carson Desrosiers (Wake Forest).
"Some terrific players have left the region, for whatever reason,’’ Donahue said. "That’s why I wanted to reach out to those guys.’’
"He’s doing all the right things,’’ Gassnola said. "Without a doubt, he’s going to change the impression some of us had of BC basketball.’’’
I would say it's one of the few places in America that I feel is one of the best academic institutions, that can compete for a national championship in basketball. So I think I don't have to take any shortcuts, and I can do everything that I've always done to recruit great kids with academic desires and then get an opportunity to play in what I consider to be the best basketball conference in the country.
When I thought about leaving Cornell, I always thought it could only be something like this. I didn't necessarily think I was going to leave Cornell, but I said if it had to be, it had to be this kind of situation where it's just so good academically and so good basketball-wise, in a great city, that that's probably my best move.
With the Boston College job still open, Auriemma was asked if that men's vacancy intrigued him. "Yeah, yeah, yeah, sure," he said, facetiously. "We win 30 games every year and I'm going to go someplace where I'm going to get killed?"
Dayton's Brian Gregory talked to BC athletic director Gene DeFilippo, who received permission to talk to him, but has declined to visit Boston for an interview, according to a source close the situation.
Bruce [Pearl] said to me, "You know how much I love Boston College ... and I’d love to come back there. But Tennessee took a real chance on me, and I owe it to them to stay here and finish the job."
Even the most optimistic BC fans in the world (of which, let's be honest, there aren't many) cannot expect that there is a remote chance Pearl will be on the sidelines at Conte Forum next November. Yes, Pearl went to BC. Yes, his first assistant coaching job was with BC. But besides that, there is zero motivation for him to leave his situation in Knoxville for the cold, dreary pastures of Chestnut Hill, Mass.
One thing about Skinner that needs to be defended is his work ethic. He has a tight-knit group of friends and might come across as aloof at times. But if you're allowed in to watch games, to talk hoops, to observe practice as I was at times, then you'll see just how intense he is about the game and how much he is well-versed in all nuances. Skinner does a great job at practice of being the CEO, sitting and standing to observe position, making decisions and passing within his flex offense. Countless times Skinner would make corrections, offer encouragement and question moves by his players. There was an immense amount of respect the players had for Skinner and at the same time his persona and presence allowed for a bit of intimidation that the players had to fear.
Asked if Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl, a BC alumnus and Massachusetts native, would be too pricey for the Eagles, DeFilippo said: "We’re going to pay what we have to pay to get the right person. We just really are. This is an important hire for us." However, DeFilippo said he has had no contact with Pearl and does not consider him a candidate. "At this point, no, he’s not," DeFilippo said. "That doesn’t mean he couldn’t be at another time.
Our goal now is to find a coach who shares our vision of Boston College basketball. We will begin this search immediately, and I want people to know that this is a very good job. Boston College, and the Atlantic Coast Conference, is seen as a terrific job. A lot of people say that we are in a pro town, which we definitely are, but it can also be a very good and exciting college town. The type of person we are looking for to lead our team is someone who will make us very competitive against local teams and teams in the ACC.
We want a coach who is going to play a very exciting brand of basketball. We want a team that is going to give us everything they have to give while they are out on that floor. We want a coach who will relate to our student body, staff, alumni and fans. Lastly, we want a coach who will continue to recruit outstanding young men who will be successful in the classroom, on the basketball court, and in the community and we know that type of person is out there.