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Where Do BC Men's Basketball Coaches Come From?

I recently set out to answer the following question: Where do BC basketball coaches come from?

To do this, I took a look at past BC coaches and their coaching stops immediately before taking the top job in Chestnut Hill. Appreciating that all bets are off with the Eagles' next head coaching hire (consider that this will be Gene DeFilippo's first BC men's basketball coaching hire), this may provide some insight into the type of coach that BC has brought in to coach the Eagles in the past.


Al Skinner
First Year as BC Head Coach: 1997
Previous Position: Head Coach, Rhode Island
BC Alumni? No (Massachusetts '74)

In nine seasons with the Rams, Skinner compiled a record of 138-126, including three 20+ win seasons and four postseason appearances. While Skinner finished with a record over .500, it's worth nothing that his URI teams actually finished A-10 play below .500, posting a 72-76 record overall in conference. In his last year in Kingston, Skinner led the Rams to a 20-10 record, good for a 9 seed in the 1997 NCAA Tournament. 

Arguably Rhode Island's most successful team in program history was built by Al. Skinner is credited for recruiting most of the Rhode Island players that would go onto the Elite Eight of the 1998 NCAA Tournament, a team that came within 3 points of making that year's Final Four.

Jim O'Brien
First Year as BC Head Coach: 1986
Previous Position: Head Coach, St. Bonaventure
BC Alumni? Yes (BC '71)

O'Brien coached at St. Bonaventure for four seasons before returning to his alma mater. He had mixed results with the Bonnies, posting records of 20-10, 18-13, 14-15 and 15-13. He finished with a mark of 67-51 (.568), but only made one trip to the postseason in his first year with St. Bonaventure (an NIT appearance). O'Brien was named Atlantic 10 Co-Coach of the Year in 1983.


Gary Williams
First Year as BC Head Coach: 1982
Previous Position: Head Coach, American
BC Alumni? No (Maryland '68)

Williams took the top job at American in 1978, leading the Eagles to a 14-13 record in his first year at head coach. His second year was similar to his first, with AU finishing with a record of 13-14. Williams had his breakout year in his third season as the Eagles finished with a 24-6 record overall, including a perfect 11-0 record in the East Coast Conference. In his fourth season, Williams had another strong performance as the Eagles finished 21-9. In his third and fourth seasons, Williams led the Eagles to two ECC Championship games and two NIT appearances.

Williams served as a BC assistant head coach under Tom Davis.


Tom Davis
First Year at BC Head Coach: 1977
Previous Position: Head Coach, Lafayette
BC Alumni? No (Wisconsin-Platteville)

Tom Davis' first head coaching stop was with the Lafayette Leopards. During his six years at Lafayette, he posted a record of 119-44. He led the Leopards to two NIT appearances in 1972 and 1975. 


Bob Zuffelato
First Year as BC Head Coach: 1971
Previous Position: Assistant Coach, Boston College
BC Alumni? No (Central Connecticut State)

Boston College was actually Zuffelato's first head coaching opportunity. Prior to landing on the Heights in 1971, Zuffelato served as assistant coach at Hofstra for two seasons (1966-1968) before serving as assistant coach for year at Central Connecticut State University.

In 1969, Zuffelato took the assistant job under then-BC coach Chuck Daly. He would spend two seasons under Daly before taking the reigns for Daly in 1971. He went 89-80 in six seasons with the Eagles.


Chuck Daly
First Year as BC Head Coach: 1969
Previous Position: Assistant Coach, Duke
BC Alumni? No (Bloomsburg '52)

Daly came to the Heights after six years serving as an assistant for Vic Bubas. During Daly's time in Durham, Duke won the ACC and advanced to the Final Four in both 1964 and 1966. From Duke, Daly became the head coach of the Eagles replacing Bob Cousy. In two seasons, Daly's squad would go 11-13 in his first season and improve to 15-11 in 1971. Daly would go on to much greater success with the University of Pennsylvania where his Quakers would win the Ivy League in each of his first four seasons.


Bob Cousy
First Year as BC Head Coach: 1963
Previous Position: N/A
BC Alumni? Kind of, but no (Holy Cross '50)

After retiring from the NBA in 1963, that same year Cousy would accept the head coaching position at BC. In six seasons from 1963-1969, Cousy would compile a record of 114-38, including two trips to the NCAAs (including an Elight Eight appearance) and three NIT appearances.


Granted this is a small sample size - that's what happens when you only have 7 men's basketball coaches in nearly 50 years - but this little history lesson certainly isn't encouraging for those BC fans who are hoping for a splash hire *cough* Bruce Pearl.

You can see a distinct pattern in hires over time. The schools last four head coaching hires were previously head coaches at East coast, mid-major programs. Before that, BC looked at taking a chance on an assistant coach (Chuck Daly) and/or promoted from within (Zuffelato). Going even further back, the Eagles took a chance on NBA great Bob Cousy, who had no prior coaching experience before coming to the Heights. Despite the leap of faith on Cousy, that seemed to work out pretty well for BC.

Only one of the last 7 hires at BC has been an alumni (Jim O'Brien). However, four of the last seven coaches did have some tie back to the Heights, whether as an alumni, an almost-alumni (Cousy) or as an assistant under a former head coach (Daly-to-Zuffelato, Davis-to-Williams).

If you use history as a guide, I wouldn't expect the next head coach of the Eagles to come from a major conference school. If DeFilippo was able to lure away a big name coach, that would certainly be a program first. I also wouldn't necessarily expect our next coach to have previous ties to the school, considering BC has only hired one alumni in the last 50 years and I have the feeling GDF wants to take this program in a slightly different direction.