Exclusive: DeFilippo discusses the firing of Skinner

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Exclusive: DeFilippo discusses the firing of Skinner

Some highlights of the press conference at Boston College, in which athletic director Gene DeFilippo announced the dismissal of basketball coach Al Skinner:

ON NAMING AN INTERIM COACH
"Pat Duquette has been named interim coach. All assistants are still on staff as of now, but they can go out and look for jobs at the Final Four."

ON THE DISMISSAL OF SKINNER:
This job has "a lot of good days and days not quite as good. This is one of the days that has been difficult for me. I am here to announce Coach Skinner and I met twice and last Wednesday, March 24 felt it was best to part ways."

ON THE SUBSTANCE OF THOSE MEETINGS:
"In these two meetings we addressed philosophical differences and future of program."

ON THE TIMING OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT:
"Out of respect for Coach Skinner he asked for 48 hours before we announced his firing, and with many job opportunities strung out, we gave him six days."
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ON SKINNER:
"We have great great respect for Al. He had a lot of great seasons at BC . . . Skinner stands for all that's good in college athletics . . . A lot of thing you look at . . . interactions betweens fans and players, how many people are in stands. How many people have been at the same institution for 13 years?"

ON THE NEXT COACH:
"Our goal now is to find a coach who shares a vision with BC basketball . . . We want to be very competetive, we want a coach that's going to play very competitive basketball, we want a team that's going to give everything while out on that floor, and we want a coach to recruit outstanding young men in the classroom."

IF THE LOSS TO VIRGINIA IN THE ACC TOURNAMENT WAS THE LAST STRAW:
"No . . . You look at whole body of work . . . I needed the time to think what's the best way I can get the basketball prgram to where it needs to be. These decisions are never easy because of all involved."

ON SKINNER'S INTERVIEW AT ST. JOHN'S:
"I said both parties very forthcoming with information. St. John's knew he had been fired by BC; Al told them, and so did I. We have to be truthful and we kept Al in that position because it had not gone public."
ON KEEPING IT A SECRET:
"It would have been a whole lot easier for me to say we were going to have a press conference on Thursday. As AD, you have to take the beating. Would I do it again the same way? Yes, I would."

IF RECRUITING WILL BE A PROBLEM:
"No, not really. We have had some terrific assistants that went off and got great jobs. It was nothing new at BC because we have had great players before."

ON TALKING TO THE TEAM:
"I have not yet. Skinner will address the team and then I will talk to them. Similar to football. I ask them to be patient."

IF THERE'S A TIMETABLE TO HIRE A NEW COACH:
"No timetable. Most of our students are taking off tomorrow, that gives us some time. I don't think there are other comperable jobs out there. If it takes us a while, so be it. We take as much time as we need to get right person."

ON THE FANS:
"I certainly don't expect everyone to agree with every decision we make. Decision we make are institutional. I don't just go out and do anything I want, but any decision we make has my recommendations."

Sixers' success against C's defense shows Boston still has room to grow

Sixers' success against C's defense shows Boston still has room to grow

Avery Bradley was a member of the NBA’s All-Defensive first team a year ago. And Al Horford has been among the league’s best interior defenders for a number of years.

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But as talented defensively as they may be, the Celtics are still learning how to play with each other as well as off of one another.

Injuries have slowed down the chemistry developing as quickly as some might expect. Horford missed nine games due to a concussion, and another game due to wife giving birth to their second child, Alia Horford.

And in Boston’s 107-106 win over Philadelphia on Saturday night, defensive chemistry -- not only among Horford and Bradley, but with all of the players -- remains a work in progress for sure.

Boston had a number of defensive issues in the first half which factored in the Sixer shooting 46.1 percent from the field while shooting 9-for-18 from 3-point range.

But the second half was an entirely different story as Boston’s defense picked up his intensity and focus level which would prove to be just enough to beat a scrappy Sixers team.

The Celtics (12-8) are four games over .500 for the first time this season currently have the third-best record in the Eastern Conference behind Cleveland (13-5) and Toronto (14-6). 

And while the players point to a handful of games that they felt they gave away, Avery Bradley reminds all that the success of this team this season has for the most part come with key players out of the mix or limited in some capacity.

“We haven’t played that many games with the full roster,” Bradley told reporters after the win. “We’re still learning how to play with each other.”

Bradley pointed out a moment in Saturday’s victory where a miscommunication between him and Horford led to a defensive miscue.

Boston has had similar mistakes made on offense this season, too.

“We haven’t really been in pick-and-roll that much,” Bradley said. “Every single game we need to improve.”

And that improvement has to continue evolving on the defensive side of things for this team to achieve its goals this season which include being among the last teams standing in the East.

Doing that will likely mean Boston re-establishing itself as a defensive force, something that should come with time and experience playing with each other.

Horford, who signed a four-year, $113 million deal with Boston in the offseason, says it’s an ongoing process for all involved.

“I have to learn to play with our concepts, the guys have to learn to play with me,” Horford told reporters after Saturday’s win. “We just have to make sure we keep playing the right way, be more consistent with that. I feel like we’re getting better but there’s still some work that we need to do.”

Stars, studs and duds: Thomas churns out another strong fourth-quarter performance

Stars, studs and duds: Thomas churns out another strong fourth-quarter performance

The pressure that comes with a tight game in the fourth quarter can be a weighty proposition for some NBA players.

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Then there’s Boston’s Isaiah Thomas who continues to save his best work for the fourth quarter.

Saturday’s 107-106 win at Philadelphia had yet another Thomas-like finish for the Celtics as the 5-foot-9 guard was at his most dominant state in the game’s final minutes.

Thomas finished with a season high-tying 37 points which included a stretch in the fourth in which he scored 12 straight.

“I just love the fourth quarter,” Thomas told reporters following the win. “I just want to win. Whether it’s making plays for myself or making plays for my teammates, it’s about making the right play. I get ultra- aggressive in that fourth quarter. That’s what I’ve always done.”

And his teammates appreciate how Thomas elevates his play in the game’s most pivotal moments.

“A lot of the credit is to Isaiah, how he was able to finish the game tonight,” said Avery Bradley. “He was able to make shots when we needed him to.”

And while Thomas knows his shots won’t fall all the time down the stretch, his fourth quarter mentality does provide him with a level of confidence that no matter what the defense does to him or what the score may be, he can swing the game’s momentum in his team’s favor.

“Some guys get a little tight, they get a little timid (in the fourth quarter),” Thomas said. “I embrace it. I want to be great. I want to be somebody my teammates can call on when the game is close.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Saturday night’s game.

STARS

Isaiah Thomas: There was no more dominant player on Saturday night than Thomas. He finished with a game-high 37 points along with seven assists.

Dario Saric: It was a breakout game for the 22-year-old rookie who led the Sixers with 21 points as well as 12 rebounds for his third double-double this season. Both his points and rebound totals tied his career highs in those categories.

STUDS

Avery Bradley: Boston’s surge towards victory did not kick in until the third quarter which is when Bradley elevated his play offensively. In the third he scored 10 of his 20 points on the night, to go along with a team-high nine rebounds.

Ersan Illyasova: He finished with 18 points which included a pair of three-pointers in the closing seconds of the game. He also grabbed six rebounds and two assists.

DUDS

Celtics first half defense: There wasn’t much to like about Boston defensively in the first half. The Celtics struggled to take away or limit Philadelphia’s only strength Saturday night which was three-point shooting. The Sixers nailed nine of their 18 three-point attempts in the first half in addition to hurting the Celtics’ transition defense which gave up seven fast-break points to Philly compared to Boston scoring just one point in transition.