After Boston College fired men’s basketball coach Jim Christian yesterday, thoughts went quickly to what would come next for BC - and who could build the new era fans have been hoping for since BC’s now infamous breakup with Al Skinner in 2009.
Would it be possible to create a new era by tapping into the old one?
Members of Al Skinner’s coaching tree were floated as candidates for the BC job the last time BC had an opening, but several factors - including a desire for a new direction, and the possibility of hard feelings between Skinner’s camp and BC after his acrimonious departure - seemed to keep them from becoming serious candidates.
Could this time be different?
Jeff Goodman floated Northeastern head coach and former Skinner deputy Bill Coen as a candidate for the job this time around, and it certainly seems conceivable that he’ll be on Pat Kraft’s list.
Coen was an integral part of Skinner’s staff during the peak of his tenure at BC, and put together a solid first few seasons after leaving to become head coach of the Huskies, which put him vaguely on BC’s radar the year they hired Jim Christian. But NU had not yet made an NCAA tournament under Coen during the last hire; his resume has only improved since.
Since Christian arrived on the Heights, Coen has taken Northeastern to two NCAA tournaments and won an additional CAA regular season title. NU is currently 8-2 in the CAA, good for second place, and very much a contender to make the postseason again this year.
Coen will almost certainly be a candidate at BC if he wants to be, and his knowledge of Massachusetts and New England basketball would make him a strong contender.
In addition to Coen, another possibility is former BC and Skinner assistant Pat Duquette, who left BC after 13 years with Al Skinner and became Coen’s assistant at Northeastern from 2010-2013.
Duquette then became the inaugural D1 men’s basketball head coach at UMass-Lowell when UML went D1 in all sports in 2013. He surrounded himself with former Eagles as he built the program, with Louis Hinnant and Biko Paris, former BC players under Skinner, joining the staff.
The results have been so-so at Lowell (92-136, 60-75 in America East play) - but that’s with the caveat that it is literally a brand new program.
The other Skinner-era possibility for BC would be getting former players in the mix (for years, Jared Dudley has stayed prominent in the hearts of BC fans), but it appears no former Eagles from Skinner’s tenure are quite ready for that kind of move just yet. Dudley is obviously still playing out his NBA career, and guys like Hinnant and Paris are still developing early in their assistant coaching careers.
While Pat Kraft should make an exhaustive search that includes assistants at top-tier programs and head coaches at successful midmajors, these guys with long-time BC ties will certainly be considered if they are interested.