The men's basketball team's close win over St. Francis has led to a flurry of concern over the direction of the program and Steve Donahue's job status. I am unquestionably less concerned about the direction of the basketball program than any other writer I know of, but I also believe that my confidence in Donahue has less to do with my maroon-and-gold-glasses and more to do with an objective view of the facts.
It simply isn't time to push the panic button yet on Steve Donahue.
It amazes me that Al Skinner's legacy is literally being remade before my eyes. I think a lot of people are allowing their hatred of GDF to cloud their judgment of the situation. Here is a coach that was termed the laziest basketball coach in America by Bob Ryan, a highly respectable Boston beat writer who knows more about BC basketball than anyone on the planet. In his final five seasons at BC, Skinner had win totals of 28, 21, 14, 22, and 15. That's a near linear regression for four out of five years. Given his track record at BC, you would think that Skinner might get a longer leash, but he showed zero sense of urgency to right the ship and accordingly lost his job. We had literally no recruits for the 2009 class and only Brady Heslip, Gabe Moton, and Danny Rubin for the 2010 class.
Fans are upset about Donahue losing Brady Heslip, who would be a nice piece to have right now, but he's not the world beater that some are making him out to be. He averaged 10 points a game in a conference that is significantly easier to play in than the ACC. Even IF he was able to average 10 points a game at BC, that would currently make him the fourth leading scorer on our team, behind Joe Rahon. It's not like we let the next Reggie Jackson transfer.
This team is also incredibly young, which contributes to a lot of mistakes on the court. It's easy to mask basketball IQ mistakes when you immerse a freshman with four upper classmen. Donahue simply doesn't have that luxury. We only got 16 minutes from our best player and zero minutes from arguably our second best player (potentially third, behind Hanlan) yesterday and still came out with a W. It's hard for any team to overcome that, nonetheless a team which is one of the youngest in college basketball. Keep in mind also that in the two years before going 27-5 and starting a truly amazing run of BC basketball, Skinner went 6-21 and 11-19 (including losses to Tulsa, Iona, Seton Hall (twice), and Rutgers). Rebuilding a culture takes time and players need at least two years to physically mature into competitive athletes.
I agree that the team hasn't played as well as expected over the past month, but there are certainly signs of development. Odio, who did not look like a Division 1 player last year, will be a solid contributor off the bench for the next two-plus years. Hanlan and Anderson are going to have very special careers at BC. Rahon and Clifford are solid pieces in the starting lineup. Jackson and Heckmann have shown that they can contribute but to what extent remains to be seen. At worst, both are very good options off the bench.
If we're still losing to College of Charleston and Bryant next year I will undoubtedly be concerned. In the meantime let's just try to keep a little perspective on where we are as a program right now.
Off the ledge everyone.