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."

Celtics overcome big game from George to beat Pacers, 109-100

Celtics overcome big game from George to beat Pacers, 109-100

BOSTON – Having already clinched a playoff spot prior to Wednesday’s game, no one would have been shocked to see them come out and play fat-and-happy basketball.

Especially against an Indiana Pacers team that’s hungry for a win to bolster their playoff position.

But the Celtics continue to show us that they are a different team than the one that far too often failed to stack strong performances on top of one another.

That was not the case on Wednesday as they pulled away in the second half for an impressive 109-100 win over the Pacers.

Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 25 points and five assists. His backcourt mate Avery Bradley was solid as well, scoring 18 points to go with eight rebounds. Jae Crowder and Al Horford each had 15 points while Kelly Olynyk had another strong showing off the bench with 11 points and eight rebounds along with four assists.

With the win, Boston (46-26) swept the regular season series 3-0. While it’s unlikely they will finish in a tie record-wise with the Pacers, there is the possibility that they could meet in the first round of the playoffs next month.

Knowing they haven’t lost to the Pacers all season could be a huge mental plus for Boston if in fact their first-round foe was Indiana.  

Wednesday’s game was the first between these two with most of their respective rosters at full strength.

And the Celtics at full strength, regardless of the opponent, have been pretty tough to beat.

But the Pacers (36-35) weren’t going to make this easy for Boston, even as they fell behind by as many as 17 points to the Celtics.

Paul George, who led all scorers with 37 points, began to lead the Pacers back into the game with a strong fourth quarter showing.

And when Boston’s defense tried to adjust to George’s jacuzzi-hot scoring, he got others like Jeff Teague involved.

Teague, who had 25 points, made a 3-pointer that cut Boston’s lead to 93-86 with 6:31.

That was enough for Celtics head coach Brad Stevens who called a time-out.

After a pair of Isaiah Thomas misses, the Celtics got a little more cushion following a mid-range jumper by Olynyk.

While Indiana continued to get timely offensive rebounds, the Celtics went into bend-but-don’t-break mode defensively down the stretch.

And while the Pacers certainly were in the game, there was never a moment down the stretch when Boston’s impending victory was in doubt.

Both teams set the tone defensively in the first half which was a relatively low-scoring affair.

That should not come as a surprise considering how well each team has played of late at that end of the floor.

Since the All-Star break, Boston has the third-best defense in the NBA while the Pacers aren’t far behind, coming in at No. 6.

A 3-pointer by Bradley to close out the second quarter gave Boston a 49-42 lead at the half.

Boston’s control of the game remained solid through most of the third, but an 8-3 spurt by the Celtics to close out the third put ahead 88-74 going into the fourth.

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Strong defense standing out

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Strong defense standing out

BOSTON – Boston and Indiana know there’s a chance they could face off next month in the playoffs, with both teams delivering the kind of defensive performance on Wednesday that highlighted two teams playing with a heightened sense of urgency fueled by tough, physical defense.

It was indeed a “Both Teams Played Hard” kind of first half which ended with Boston ahead 49-42.

Avery Bradley drained a 3-pointer that just beat the halftime horn which gave Boston its biggest lead of the half.  

The tone was set by both teams with a low-scoring first quarter in which the defenses for both teams stood out.

It really should not have been that big a surprise considering how well both teams have defended since the all-star break.

Boston has the third-best defense in the NBA since the break, while the Pacers have proven to be no slouch coming in at No. 6.

After falling behind 37-36 in the second, Boston ran off eight straight to lead 44-37 which was their largest lead of the game at this point.

But the Pacers stayed within striking distance in large part because the Celtics’ unusually high number of turnovers.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Wednesday’s game between the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers.

 

STARS

Paul George

A four-time All-Star, George was scoring but the Celtics made him work a lot harder than he would like. He leads all scorers with 14 points, but has done so on 4-for-11 shooting.

Isaiah Thomas

Like George, the opposing team’s defense made for a rough first half. Thomas still managed to lead the Celtics with 10 points.

 

STUDS

Jeff Teague

He really went at Isaiah Thomas to start the game, and for the most part it was working for him. He had 11 points on 4-for-7 shooting in the first half.

Jae Crowder

Solid defense and timely shot-making made for a solid first half for Crowder. He had nine points on 4-for-7 shooting.

Avery Bradley

He did more than deliver a timely shot to end the half for Boston. He had nine points on 4-for-6 shooting in addition to grabbing four rebounds while being one of the main contributors defensively to Paul George not having an efficient night shooting the ball.  

 

DUDS

Celtics turnovers

By far the biggest concern Boston has heading into the second half. The Celtics average 13.2 turnovers per game. They had 14 in the first half, which led to 17 points for the Pacers. Boston’s season-high for turnovers is 24 which they racked up against Philadelphia on Feb. 15.