Former BC greats Dana Barros and John Bagley met with the media ahead of their jersey retirements in Boston College’s final home game this season, and here is the transcript and video from the presser:
JOHN BAGLEY: First of all, let me just say what a pleasure it is to be back here at BC on this occasion, being able to have -- or being recognized for some of the things that we've done in the past. Just giving us a chance to get back and see some of my old teammates and some of the old alum that were here when I was here, seeing the new facilities and everything, everything looks really good. I remember being back over in Roberts Center, so it just kind of gives you a kind of a sense of where things have come to or have grown to, and I'm just glad to have been a part of things that have happened here at BC.
DANA BARROS: Again, I'd like to just reiterate what John said. Being a Boston guy, living in the city my whole life, I look forward to tomorrow. It's been an honor to play here, play in the Big East Conference. We were talking about how unbelievable the Big East Conference was at the time that we played, and to be recognized for those accomplishments in a conference at that time is pretty special for both of us, so we're pretty proud of that.
Again, I have a son, a sophomore here actually right now at BC, so I'm around frequently, so it's good to be back again in this capacity, like he said, and to be recognized from a basketball standpoint. So it's great to be back again.
Q. For both of you guys, was the Big East kind of at the height of its powers around that stretch in the '80s?
DANA BARROS: I'll let him start it because he was kind of the beginning of that run right there.
JOHN BAGLEY: Yeah, I was at the beginning when it first started. It was amazing when you start looking at the names of the guys that were playing at the time and the schools. So it was just a big opportunity for us coming out of the ECAC, stepping into the Big East. It was just one of the best things that could have happened for us.
But I think the height of it probably was when Dana and Michael Adams, and the way it started to pick up momentum or pick up speed. He would better know about that.
DANA BARROS: Well, again, those guys set the foundation, so I was growing up watching Pat Ewing come to the Garden, saying I wanted to play at BC, and then I actually see how tall and big he is and kind of rethinking that a little bit, watching those guys play was unbelievable.
Yeah, I mean, when I look back at it, that's probably the most prominent thing that I remember, the competition. But also the regional settings of each team. You know, you could drive -- my family from Boston drove to every single game, Villanova, Georgetown. So the atmosphere of New England was kind of a New England thing, as well.
It was just an unbelievable experience, and to be part of ESPN really growing of the Big East itself was kind of made ESPN at that time. Big Monday, Big Wednesday were the only thing going for college at that time. It was an honor to be a part of that, as well.
Q. Just talk about Tom Davis and his personality, his coaching style, and how did you guys mesh?
JOHN BAGLEY: Well, Dr. Tom was kind of a stickler for his offense, his defense. He was very good defensively, did a lot of great things. One of the things that I had to do coming in, playing a different style in high school, was just to really pay attention because he was really particular about how you ran his flex offense and what he was looking for, and then I started to find some niches and opportunities that I think kind of played to my strength, and so I utilized it, and it helped me to be able to compete at that level.
Once it started happening, it just kind of continued to snowball.
Q. You underwent the coaching change. You went from Gary Williams, I believe, to Jim O'Brien, right? How did that transition go?
DANA BARROS: Yeah, I came in under Gary Williams, which was kind of a disciple of Tom Davis, up and down the floor, pressing, flex offense. I loved the style he played. It was kind of conducive to what everyone is doing now almost. It was an unbelievable situation for me to be in, especially being my two visits here were football visits with Doug Flutie. I was a football player and I actually was going to play football and walk on the basketball team. Again, it was just amazing.
Jim O'Brien came in, and I know that there was a time where it was between, I think, Jim Calhoun and Jim O'Brien, and Jim O'Brien was chosen. I thought it was great for me because he gave me a lot of freedom, allowed me to be a coach on the floor, taught me really to kind of be more of a point guard than a 2 guard and led more vocally as I was kind of quiet back then, believe it or not. So it was a good experience for me with both coaches. I thought they both suited my style well, and I actually wish I could have played probably with one more just for four years, but I enjoyed both coaches, as well.
Q. Do any games stand out to both you guys? I know, John, the Elite 8 run, Dana had some tremendous games here. What stands out when you think about your Boston College career?
JOHN BAGLEY: Mine would be the Houston game in the Final Eight because that was a game we felt we could win. You know, they were kind of hyped, Houston's team, with Olajuwon and Drexler. But we got beat by free throws.
You know, but it was one of those things that you're getting close to the Final Four, and I mean, the eagerness, the ideal of being able to reach that pinnacle would have been great for us. You know, we got close, and the other guys that came after us, they too went, I think, Final Eight.
So you know, we've been able to establish some momentum hopefully to reach the top of that mountain and get in the NCAA Tournament final.
DANA BARROS: My group messed it up, I guess.
Again, it was -- I would say two moments. We weren't very successful. I think my best year was 15-15, and we went to actually the Final Four of the NIT, so that kind of tells you the competition at that time. So I would say only beating Georgetown once in four years and Syracuse once in four years and hitting probably the game-winning shot in each one was probably the biggest moment for us at the Garden. So I didn't beat those powerhouses too much during my four years, but there were a couple of times that really stood out to me. Again, just the element itself of the atmosphere every game was -- playing in the Carrier Dome, and just the atmosphere of every game was unbelievable. You had Rick Pitino at Providence. It was just a lot of different personalities from a coaching standpoint, as well, with Carnesecca and Thompson and all those guys and Boeheim. Again, it was all around. It was just an unbelievable experience.
Q. I remember those days in the Madison Square Garden in the '80s. That had more intensity than the NCAA Tournament it seemed like.
DANA BARROS: The Big East Tournament was one of the most amazing events to watch, and I remember watching Pearl Washington my senior year in high school going in the Big East Tournament, going down there to watch that, and I was totally blown away. I had been to NBA games, but I had never been in an atmosphere like that.
Man, it was just -- Madison Square Garden was kind of the mecca for me as a college player to get to that, to try to play at least more than one game for once in the Big East Tournament. I think these guys got a little further than me. I've only played one game ever in that tournament and wish -- actually I played two a couple of times, but I wish I had more of an experience during that time.
Q. How did your career at BC prepare you for the NBA?
DANA BARROS: I thought it obviously was a solid career at BC, but I really had to make a transition from being more of a whatever I wanted to be guard to a point guard. I could play 1 or 2 in college, whatever best fit us. But when you get to the league and there's four other 20-point game scorers on the team telling them to pass you the ball, you have to find that medium. So I think it was more me being a scorer in college, it was more difficult to try to make that balance of, okay, I need to get the ball to these guys and then look for myself. It prepared me physically, obviously, and emotionally for the game, but once I got to the league, it was a different animal for me to try to figure it out.
JOHN BAGLEY: Yeah, for me it was interesting because, again, I too was a scorer in college, and then I went to -- got drafted to Cleveland, and my first couple years I kind of struggled. I played for a coach, Tom Nissalke, who pretty much said right off the bat, I don't play rookies. So I didn't play none that first year.
But I had the chance to play against some of the other talent that was there, so that kind of -- even though I didn't play a whole lot, I was able to compete in practice, and so I found practice to be my game.
So I had a couple of guys, they would say to me, say, John, this is practice. I'm like, yeah, but this is the game for me because I don't play in the game. I took that position, and I think that helped me because one of the things that I did do was that because our team wasn't as strong as I would have liked it to be, we lost a lot of games, so I had to view what it was I was trying to do. I couldn't look at it and say, well, I'm going to lead us in scoring, when you have a guy like World B. Free and a couple other guys, like Dana was saying, that wants the ball.
I had to sacrifice myself for the team and say, okay, well, I have to minimize my scoring and look at how I can become a play maker and really get these guys involved, and things began to start to happen.
And I think because of that, because every year that you're in the league, they draft point guards, two, three, four of them, so when they come in, they're hungry. These guys done play college and they're looking at you like, look, they brought me in here to take your job. So every year you had to battle.
So I think that was the thing that really kind of kept me focused, that every off-season I had to get ready because I knew another group of guys were coming.
Q. I'm sure this might have already been asked, but this is a small club of guys you guys are joining. What does it mean to be a member of a select group of people?
DANA BARROS: I mean, again, it's not only just the institution, being honored by the institution, but the time that we played in, as well. You know, when you look back at the history of Boston College basketball, it's just -- I feel good to be a prominent piece of that, and I look forward to many more young players getting that same opportunity.
JOHN BAGLEY: Yeah, well, it's a great honor. I mean, I can't even begin to imagine how this turned into this. You know, I started out playing sand lot basketball, and my mother watching me and listening for the ball bouncing out the back window because if the ball stopped bouncing she was calling me. But to think that that went from there to here is just an amazing ride, an amazing ride. I'm so thankful that I had an opportunity here at BC. BC gave me the opportunity of a lifetime. I'm so thankful to BC for what they've done for me.
Q. If you go back in the history of BC basketball, not that I know a ton about it, but if you go backwards there's different time markers, like the ACC, the times in the Big East, but your time is a little bit different because it was like in a rough and tumble Big East. Can you pinpoint what that period in basketball was like in general?
DANA BARROS: Well, they make a lot of references to like the old NBA like now with Steph Curry, he wouldn't be able to -- it kind of goes back on that argument, yeah, I would come down the middle and I would have a finger roll and I would be smiling and then Alonzo Mourning or Mutombo would say next time I'm going to have to close one on you, and that was the style we played in, literally. So it is a different style of play now.
But again, it just kind of gives you the pat on the back that, yeah, I did that. Because when you're in the moment, you don't realize the moment itself. You look back, I look at tapes, I show my son old tapes, and I'm looking, gazing at my son, and he's talking about how small the shorts are. He can't get past the size of the shorts. You know, so again, like we said earlier, I just think it's -- when you go back, and actually the coaches, Jim Christian and Stan Heath, said they had some video of this stuff, so I wanted to go back and actually take a look at it, and that'll really kind of bring me back to that moment, that moment in time and how special it was.
JOHN BAGLEY: Yeah, for me I transitioned from the ECAC to the Big East, and we had some real battles, Holy Cross and a few other schools. But when we transitioned into the Big East, when you're playing against Roosevelt Bouie, Louis Orr or Curtis Redding and Carter and Rencher from St. John's and Georgetown with Craig Shelton and -- just amazing. You look at it, and you say, wow, okay, so for me, I thought it was just great because now we get the chance to play against the best players. You know, the people that they were claiming were the best players. And to me the only way that you can measure yourself was by them. So when I had the opportunity to play against the Sleepy Floyd or Eddie Moss at the point guard position, I took that on as my opportunity to show whether or not if I could do this, and so being able to show myself that I was able to do it, I think that was the thing that was kind of catapulting me forward to playing in the NBA.
Q. Dana, when you look back at the fraternity of small guards, where do you see yourself because you've seen sort of a progression of all of them?
DANA BARROS: Definitely the game has changed, and he's one of the first ones, as well, him and Michael Adams right after him. I mean, I've never seen myself as small ever until I look at myself in a picture maybe, and then I say, wow, I'm a lot shorter than these guys, but when I'm on the court, I've never looked around and said, wow, I'm a small guy, never. I've never thought about that, and I always felt like they have more of an issue guarding me than I do them.
When people say that to me, it's kind of amazing because I've never thought that way, and people think that you think that way, and I've never thought that way. I've never felt that my size was a negative. It's just funny how people perceive that you feel that way yourself, but I've never actually said, wow, I don't know if I can do this because of my size, whether it was football or basketball. That's never crossed my mind.
But when I watch the little guys on TV and I really see the significant difference, it's kind of like, wow, like these guys are -- Isaiah Thomas is amazing, like at 5'7", which he actually is, to not only shoot but he gets to the rack, he does many different things. Stepping outside of that box, looking at it, it's pretty amazing, you know. But as you're in that circle, I've never looked at myself and said, man, this is going to be hard because I'm small, ever, ever, and that's what I say to young kids, as well. It's not about that. If I had that mentality, I would not be here at all, not only in the pros, but I would have never played in the Big East.
You know, that's a misconception, I guess, that people think us small guys have is just we don't think like that. We might say it and pretend we're answering the question, but I'm sure he has the mentality. I know him as a player and played against him as a player. I've never felt that way, and I'm sure he has similar feelings, you know.
JOHN BAGLEY: Yeah, I think to me, the objective was to force them to have to play my game or the game that we play, you know, speed, up and down, left and right, because for a lot of big guys at the time, they didn't have a lot of that coordination that we had. So there was always an advantage for us, so it didn't matter who it was or how tough of a defender he was. He was always at a disadvantage. He never had an opportunity. He never had a chance with us, to me.
DANA BARROS: Yeah, if you see a ball come off the rim, you can forget it. There's nothing that you -- there's no defense for speed. It's like a wide receiver going one-on-one -- there's no defense. That's why AI was such a great player. When the ball comes off the rim, there's nothing you can do, and that's what people just -- when the court is open, it's so easy for us to have an advantage. I mean, it's very easy for us to call for a double-team, to yell for help when that double-team is needed.
You know, as players, just remember that we don't get to this point thinking of ourselves in a negative light. That's just -- we don't think like that, even if we say we do.
Q. Obviously where you fit in in Boston College history is one thing, but you're most kind of figures in Boston sports history in general, and I was curious how you felt about that narrative and seeing that play out.
DANA BARROS: I mean, I grew up in Boston, so I was -- I got to watch not only the great college players but watching Larry Bird, the Celtics, that era, that generation, and I remember even going -- when they played in the ACC going to see Reggie Louis and those guys play against each other just to watch that. I mean, look, man, it's just been an unbelievable ride for me, like a Boston kid, from Mattapan, to be able to play 14 years in the league, and the city that I grew up in, for the team that I watched, for the Celtics, man, it's just -- and to play at BC, which is the collegiate kind of equivalent of the Celtics, it's just -- you guys from Boston know, I don't have to explain it to you. It's been unbelievable. My family got to see me play at each level, in high school, college and the pros. And if you know me, I played in Seattle, Philly, Detroit; I promise you the day after the season was over I was on the red eye back to the bean. I promise you that, every year. That's what it is for me.
JOHN BAGLEY: Yeah, I just think that being a basketball historian, just knowing basketball and the history of Boston, New York and playing and everything and seeing those games on TV, the idea of being able to play in the Garden under the flags, under all the banners, all the retired numbers and the great players, I mean, how could you not be moved? How could you not be inspired playing -- having Red Auerbach at the practice and he's telling you stuff like, well, you know, if you hurt, don't come back and play because they're going to judge you on how you play. So you know, little bit of wisdoms that you get from those opportunities, and it's just amazing to me. I'm so thankful I had the pleasure and the opportunity to be here in Boston.
I have a sister that lives here in Boston, so when I first came here, she lived up on Humboldt Ave, so when I started traveling into Boston my first year, and so I got to know the city, me and Dwan Chandler became roommates, and I was running with him. We was going down on the South End, Shawmut Ave, down to the Dudley station riding the orange line, you know, so I really got a chance to live Boston. So I lived in Jamaica Plains when I played here. You know, so walking around the Res. I've enjoyed Boston to the max. I really did.
Transcript and video provided thanks to bceagles.com.