New Boston College men’s basketball coach Earl Grant and Athletic Director Pat Kraft held a joint press conference today as Grant met the media. You can watch the whole thing here:
Some initial reactions:
- Most of this was pretty generic and what we would expect anyone to say, and what we’ve heard many times before - that BC has a lot to offer, as a great academic institution, competing in a great conference, in a great city, and that BC has the opportunity to build a program with the right character and mentality to be a winner. You could basically copy-paste this from any BC press conference (but because all of these things are true!).
- Grant noted that he would be meeting with the current BC players this afternoon and wanted to offer them encouragement that “anything is possible at BC.” Grant gave a non-answer to a later question about whether he was interested in any of the College of Charleston players who entered into the transfer portal.
- The most interesting and intriguing part of the press conference was at the end, when Grant was asked if he’d been in touch with Al Skinner, and he had the following to say:
“Yeah [I talked to Al Skinner]. I remember that staff - Pat Duquette, Bill Coen, Ed Cooley. I was a young assistant, I remember that staff. I’ve been in the gym with Al Skinner recruiting. Reggie Jackson visited Wichita when I was at Wichita.
Al Skinner did a great job. He could evaluate. Al and I, we talked a good bit - he’s been a mentor to me in the last 2-3 years because he lives in Charleston, so he comes to practice, he comes to games. I’ve heard over the last 2 years how much he loved Boston and BC, and how special the program is.
I’ll probably use Al as a consultant, because he did a great job here.”
- Julian Benbow of the Boston Globe asked Pat Kraft about what kinds of investments and commitments BC is making to the basketball program. Kraft said:
“When it relates to the investment [in the program], we’ve got to be committed to winning, from the top down. We all have to want it.
We have some deficiencies we have to address, but Fr Leahy and people around him understand the commitment has to be there. We’ve seen it already with our football program. We’re working toward those ends — we’ve got to be able to go out and get the best staff possible. We’ve got to pay staff what they need to be paid to keep them here. We’ve got to invest in nutrition, strength and conditioning, sports medicine. A facility. We’re committed to all of these facets. That’s what we’re investing in. We’re going to give Coach everything we can to be successful, because the fans, students, the alums, they deserve it. This is why I’m excited to work with Coach Grant - we’re going to keep moving the needle. We’re committed. We’ve already made some adjustments and changes already, and now with Coach Grant, we’ll work hand in hand to make sure he has what he needs.”
Obviously, Kraft is not going to say “he’s on his own,” but this really tracks with what most of the plugged-in reporters are saying and with what BC has done with other sports like football and baseball in recent years.
- In his opening statement, Kraft said of why he hired Grant: “He can develop talent - he produced NBA draft picks in recent years. He’s a great leader, who makes no excuses and doesn’t quit. He rebuilt a program, taking them to the tournament after a drought.”
- Rich Thompson of the Boston Herald asked, “what’s the structure and style of an Earl Grant basketball team?” Grant said:
“We’re going to be a passionate group, we’re going to have an unbelievable competitive spirit.
We want to defend and rebound, number one. If you can’t defend, rebound and take care of the ball, most times you don’t have a chance.
We want to change defenses some. We want to get after it so we can create opportunities to run and attack in open court.
So we have to create a mentality of guys who want to defend and rebound.”
- When asked how he foresaw being able to take BC back to the NCAA tournament given their current 12 year drought, Grant said:
“In my last job, we hadn’t made the tournament in 20 years, before we made it.
So how do we do it? We identify the right people...guys who are talented, but who have character too.
We went through some hard times [in the early days at Charleston]. I can’t just imagine we’re going to snap our fingers and everything is going to be okay.
So we’ve got to find some talented guys... and we’ve got to fall in love with the process of becoming great.
With the great BC teams, they did a great job of evaluating players. You have to recruit and beat teams head to head, but this is an evaluating job - you have to find diamonds in the rough, guys with a chip on their shoulder. You have to find guys who will be successful here - and that’s what I’ve done in my career. ”
- One odd moment was when Pat Kraft said a factor for him was wanting someone who understands New England and recruiting here, given that one of the oddball things about this hire is Grant’s lack of any New England ties.
- Laura’s takeaway: “I think my feelings on this hire are really going to be dependent on what kind of staff he puts together. He seems like a nice man but I’m still not inspired at this point. But if he can pull together a staff that is really made up of proven recruiters etc. I’ll be much more on board.”
- Joe’s takeaway: “It’s clear from this press conference that the vision Grant likely sold Kraft and other decisionmakers at BC is a program built very much in the Al Skinner mold - a lot of intensity, and the ability to find and develop under-the-radar players with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove. Whether he can actually deliver that remains to be seen, but that was clearly the message. The fact that Grant has a personal connection with Skinner is an intriguing part of the story too.”