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."

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Celtics-Knicks preview: Thomas scoring at record pace in fourth quarter

Celtics-Knicks preview: Thomas scoring at record pace in fourth quarter

WALTHAM, Mass. –  As the fourth quarter rolls around, you will occasionally catch Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas looking down at his wrist, a gesture to remind anyone watching what time it is – Thomas time.

There are those who elevate their play in the fourth quarter of games, and then there’s Thomas who continues to smoothly navigate his way in unchartered fourth quarter scoring territory.

The Celtics begin the second half of the season Wednesday night against the New York Knicks, and there sits Thomas atop all players in the NBA when it comes to fourth-quarter scoring.

But that’s not all.

He’s not only dropping more points than any other NBA player in the most important quarter of them all, but he’s doing so at an unprecedented level of 10.1 fourth-quarter points per game.

Since NBA.com/stats began tracking fourth quarter scoring with the 1997-1998 season, no player has averaged more than 9.5 fourth-quarter points (LeBron James, 2006) in a season.

What makes Thomas’ fourth quarter heroics so impressive is that everyone in the building – fans, coaches, opponents – knows that’s when he’s looking to be most impactful for the Celtics and yet he still can’t be stopped.

Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford acknowledged how tough it is to limit Thomas despite knowing he’s looking to take over games in the fourth.

“It’s hard because the blitz game is impossible because they don’t roll,” said Clifford whose Hornets were beaten 108-98 by Boston on Monday. “If you watch the teams that try to blitz them, you’re going to give up basically lay-ups. We had things in to get the ball out of his hands but the way they played and the stuff that they usually go to late, they didn’t get to. He (Thomas) made some terrific plays; he’s a terrific offensive player.”

Despite what he does in the fourth and his overall scoring average of 28.2 points which is ranked among the league’s leaders, there are still lots of doubters as to how good Thomas.

Regardless of how you view his play, he has consistently played at a level this season that places him among the game’s best players.

And at the rate he’s scoring in the fourth quarter, he’s establishing himself as one of the great closers in the game.

Consider the list of players in the past decade who led the league in points scored in the fourth quarter.

  • 2016: James Harden (7.7)
  • 2015: Russell Westbrook (7.1)
  • 2014: Kevin Durant (7.9)
  • 2013: Kevin Durant (8.4)
  • 2012: Kevin Durant (7.3)
  • 2011: Amare Stoudemire (7.1)
  • 2010: LeBron James (8.0)
  • 2009: LeBron James (7.7)
  • 2008: LeBron James (9.1)
  • 2007: Dwyane Wade (8.2)

You have All-stars, All-NBA First Teamers, league MVPs as well as a few future Hall of Famers.

As good as those players were in their respective seasons, when the game mattered most – the fourth quarter – Thomas numbers (for now at least) stand head and shoulders above them all.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens gives Thomas a lot of credit for being such a consistent scorer, particularly in the fourth quarter.

But as good as Thomas is, he’s not out there getting all these baskets on his own, either.

“It says a lot about the fact that he’s got a lot of skilled guys around him that are hard to leave,” Stevens said. “When you’re playing Kelly (Olynyk) and Jonas (Jerebko) together with him, there’s a lot of space on the floor to operate. When those guys are at the four (power forward) and five (center), when you’re playing guys like Al Horford who can space the floor or Avery (Bradley) or Jae (Crowder), you know, those types of guys … at the end of the day I think that it’s a combination of a lot of things.”

And for opponents, a lot of problems.

“He’s been playing well,” Hornets guard Kemba Walker said of Thomas. “He’s been playing better than anyone in our league. He’s playing with great confidence and making the plays for his team to win games. He’s been great.”