Gene Sapakoff, who covers Charleston Cougars basketball for the Post and Courier, answered a few questions for us with quick reactions to Boston College’s hire of Earl Grant as its next men’s basketball head coach.
1) Many BC fans were surprised by this hire as Grant’s name hadn’t really come up on many of the coaching carousel articles. Was Grant known to be in the running for a move out of Charleston or did this come as a surprise on your end, too?
Gene Sapakoff: A surprise that he left the South, I guess. But his name was going to come up if South Carolina parts ways with Frank Martin, though I doubt Earl would have landed that gig because he hadn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2018, and has ties to Clemson head coach Brad Brownell [from his time as an assistant coach at Clemson], and that riles up rivalry talk.
But I’m not surprised he would leave for any ACC, SEC or other Power 5 job, with a few exceptions.
2) Early reports about Grant from national sources say he’s best known for his recruiting and talent evaluating abilities, does this track with his reputation in Charleston, too?
Gene Sapakoff: Earl at Clemson, Wichita State and College of Charleston was very good at recruiting and developing. Almost hard to believe C of C had NBA draft picks in 3 straight drafts (2018-2020 - Joe Chealey, Jarrell Brantley and Grant Riller).
Grant didn’t recruit them all, but was instrumental in development. C of C in its entire history before 2018 had only two NBA draft picks (Anthony Johnson in the 1990s, Andrew Goudelock in 2011).
3) How would you describe Grant’s coaching style - both in terms of how he interacts with the team, and also the style of offense and defense you expect his teams to deploy?
Gene Sapakoff: “Grant, like many coaches, will adapt to his player talents at both ends of the floor. But he wants to play an aggressive mix of defenses, and with inferior ACC talent, at least for a while, that’s what he will do for sure at BC.”
4) It seems like Charleston took a bit of a step back this year compared to recent years when they were in postseason contention - what do you attribute that to?
Gene Sapakoff: “Losing Grant Riller, a terrific force on offense [Riller was drafted after last season by the Charlotte Hornets]. Losing back-to-back home games to Northeastern – ironic, a Boston school. And COVID breaks.”
5) There’s no question that Grant faces a difficult rebuild at BC and it’s tough to predict how things will go in such a challenging conference, but do you see Grant as someone who can build BC into a postseason contender in the ACC?
Gene Sapakoff: “Given time, I like Grant’s chances. But patience among Power 5 football and basketball fans gets thinner every few years it seems.”
You can read Gene’s coverage on Twitter at @sapakoff, or in the Post and Courier. Thank you for taking the time!