Thursday, March 09, 2017

A Plea For The Future Of Boston College Basketball

In case you had not heard, the Men's Basketball and Football teams at Boston College have been an embarrassing disaster the last few years.  They are not just renting space in the basement of the Atlantic Coast Conference, they are the landlords of that piece of ACC real estate.

Boston College is currently searching for a new Athletic Director, following the resignation of Brad Bates, and providing a path to being able to compete in these two sports will be critical to the success of whoever gets hired.

Here is some advice to whatever eager man or woman convinces the Powers at Boston College on how to solve the issue of Men's Basketball.  Sit down with Leo Papile of the BABC.

For those of you not in the know, Papile's BABC program is not just the premiere AAU Basketball team in the Greater Boston area, it's the most prestigious program in the entire country.  A quick glance at their website supports my claim that no other AAU program has produced as many elite players as has Leo Papile's BABC.

In the 1990's, when Jim O'Brien was still the Head Coach at Boston College and the school was coming off an exciting run to the Elite 8 of the 1994 NCAA Tournament, it looked like the BABC was about to become a pipeline for the talent of Greater Boston to Chestnut Hill.  Chris Herren of Fall River joined forces at BC with fellow BABC alum Mickey Curley of Duxbury in the Fall of 1994.  Scoonie Penn of Salem was primed to enroll in the Fall of 1995.  O'Brien had found a way to mine the BABC gold mine and Boston College was on the verge of building a legitimate powerhouse in the Big East Conference.

Unfortunately, BC never achieved the greatness that the BABC players promised.  Herren got hurt in his first game and left the school for Fresno State University following a public drug scandal.  Penn's career looked like it would live up to the hype after he won Big East Rookie of the Year in 1996 and then was named Big East Tournament MVP in 1997 but then he decided to transfer to Ohio State after O'Brien resigned and was hired to be the Head Coach of the Buckeyes.  Penn did serve a four-game academic suspension to start his sophomore season and had been considered an academic risk during his recruitment.

O'Brien's reason for resigning from his alma mater a few weeks after leading them to their first ever Big East Tournament Championship?  Boston College refused to admit Elton Tyler of West Roxbury High School and Jonathan DePina of South Boston High School.  Tyler and DePina, two local high school stars who played for the BABC, had met NCAA requirements but were denied admission by BC, who does have very high academic standards.  Tyler went on to play at the University of Miami while DePina joined his South Boston teammate, and fellow BABC alum, Monty Mack at the University of Massachusetts.  Two other prominent members of the BABC who had expressed interest in attending BC, Mike Bradley and Sean Connolly, both ended up at different schools.

O'Brien's departure marked the end of BC's relationship with the BABC.  Yes, the school had success with Al Skinner (who replaced O'Brien) but without the talent provided by the BABC program (only Jermaine Watson and Steve Hailey has enrolled to play at Boston College since O'Brien left the school), the Eagles have lost out on the type of talent that could have made them a regular contender for the National Championship.

Yeah, that's right.  The National Championship.

While not every local star would decide that Boston College was the best fit for them and BC's strict academic standards would prevent some student-athletes from enrolling, even landing 25% of the BABC talent from the last 20 years would have made a tremendous difference.

Don't believe me?  While my wife would congratulate you on your apparent good judgement, here's a partial list of BABC alumni that could have lifted Boston College to (pardon my pun) new Heights in Men's Basketball:

Mike Bradley (Kentucky/Villanova)
Sean Connolly (Ohio State/Providence)
Leland Anderson (Michigan/Providence)
Torin Francis (Notre Dame)
Will Blalock (Iowa State)
Jeff Adrien (UConn)
Farnold Degand (NC State)
Anthony Gurley (Wake Forest/UMass)
Jamal Coombs-McDaniel (UConn)
Alex Oriakhi (UConn/Missouri)
Phil Pressey (Missouri)
Gerard Coleman (Providence/Gonzaga)
Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse)
Jake Layman (Maryland)
Georges Niang (Iowa State)
Nerlens Noel (Kentucky)
Wayne Selden (Kansas)
Rene Castro (Butler/Duquesne)
Andrew Chrabacz (Butler)
Jaylen Brantley (Maryland)
Bonzie Colson (Notre Dame)

Now that you've been educated on the history of the BABC and their split with Boston College, here's the plan for the school and the new Athletic Director.

Hire a Head Coach with ties to the BABC.  I doubt that David Blatt wants to coach in college but he'd be my first call.  Patrick Ewing, who spurned BC for Georgetown 35 years ago, has been seeking a Head Coach position in the NBA and building Boston College into an ACC powerhouse may finally get him the job he wants.  Listen to Papile and get your man.  Then fill the staff with BABC people, like Jay Demings (currently with USA Basketball).

This is the plan.  There's no other path to sustainable success.  The Greater Boston area consistently produces top level talent and while not all of them play for the BABC, tapping in to Papile's program is the surest way for BC to become nationally relevant in Men's Basketball.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Celtics Trade Deadline Thoughts

Danny Ainge, armed with enough assets to acquire almost any player available to bolster a team on the brink of legitimate contention, is ready for the NBA Trade Deadline.

While I trust Danny almost as much as I do Bill Belichick, my big fear is that ownership may push him to use one of the key assets - rights to swap first round picks this year with the Nets, the rights to the 2018 Nets first round pick, or young wing man Jaylen Brown - on a veteran such as Jimmy Butler or Paul George who would solve one hole (complimentary star scorer next to Isaiah Thomas) but not the other hole (big man who can impact the game on both ends of the floor).

Thankfully for him, I've been doing my part to help by wasting most of my vacation manipulating ESPN's NBA Trade Machine to come up with a solution that solves their short term needs while maintaining the flexibility to build a long term contender.

If anyone has Danny's contact info, please forward him the following trade proposal and then let him know he can thank me by picking up the tab for a few slices and a couple of 32oz drafts at Halftime Pizza before the March 12 game against the Bulls.

Yes, a three-way deal to solve a few issue for the Celtics.

Boston will be giving Detroit salary filler in the form of Tyler Zeller, Jonas Jerebko, and Jordan Mickey as well as promising young guard Terry Rozier and the rights to 2017 first round pick Ante Zizic, a 6-11 center currently playing in Turkey. Dallas adds in salary filler Deron Williams for the Pistons.  The Pistons big grab here is the rights to the Nets first round pick in 2018 as well as the first round pick owed to the Celtics by the Grizzlies. Detroit gets Rozier and Zizic, salary cap relief, and two promising first round draft picks.

Dallas adds Reggie Jackson from the Pistons and Jae Crowder from Boston to help with their rebuild as well as salary cap relief in the form of Amir Johnson and James Young. Boston will also send Dallas their 2019 first round pick and the 2017 second round pick they are owed from Minnesota.

Boston adds Andre Drummond and Harrison Barnes to their existing group and immediately becomes a legitimate title contender while putting together a team that can contend for several years. Barnes is not on the level of Butler or George but he's an All-Star caliber player with a championship pedigree and Drummond gives the C's a big man who can score, rebound, and protect the rim.

How's this for a rotation heading into the playoffs?

Thomas, Avery Bradley, Barnes, Al Horford, and Drummond as a starting five with Marcus Smart, Brown, Kelly Olynyk, and Gerald Green off the bench.

That is a team that can win now, contend for the next 4-5 years, and will be bolstered by whatever player they draft (or deal) with a likely Top 3 pick this June courtesy of the Nets.

Thanks for the pizza and beers Danny.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Super Bowl LI Pick

Patriots (-3) over Falcons

Last Week: 2-0
Playoffs: 6-4
Regular Season: 128-118-9

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Time For Celtics To Make A Change

After 44 games, the Celtics sit in third place in the Eastern Conference behind the Cavaliers and Raptors.  They'd be facing a first round series against the Hornets if the playoffs started today and, if they advanced, would likely be facing division rival Toronto in a series that they'd likely lose.

Winning a playoff series would be another step in the right direction for the Celtics.  Four years ago, Danny Ainge blew up his aging roster to create salary cap space and add draft picks while also plucking Brad Stevens from Butler University to coach his team.  The plan has worked up until this point but the idea of continuing to take small steps in the rebuilding process is getting frustrating.

This Celtics team seems to carry itself as a contender when in reality, it's truly a pretender.  To get to that next level - the level where they can put themselves in a position to at least qualify for the Conference Finals - Ainge has to turn his roster and draft picks into impact players.

There just so happens to be a match for Ainge.  The Chicago Bulls rolled the dice this off-season that aging stars Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo could team up with Jimmy Butler to form an Eastern Conference contender.  That gamble failed and now the Bulls are entering the territory in which trading Butler may be their only path to rebuilding.

The Celtics have young talent on cheap contracts, veterans on expiring contracts, and draft picks to offer the Bulls.  Ainge can offer Chicago the 2018 Nets first round pick along with a package of Kelly Olynyk, Jae Crowder, Terry Rozier, Gerald Green, Tyler Zeller, and Jonas Jerebko to land Butler in Boston with Robin Lopez being added to balance out the salaries.

Chicago lands what should be a high lottery pick in addition to three players that could be part of their future - Olynyk, Crowder, and Rozier - or who could be used as additional trade bait.  Zeller, Jerebko, and Green balance out the salaries.

This deal would give the Celtics a starting five of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jimmy Butler, Al Horford, and Amir Johnson with a bench rotation consisting of Marcus Smart, Robin Lopez, and Jaylen Brown.  It definitely cuts away at the Celtics depth but Butler provides another All-Star to complement Thomas and Horford while Lopez can give them the interior defense and rebounding that they desperately are lacking.  Ainge could then add veteran free agents to round out the bench as Boston would become an enticing place for a veteran who is looking to play for a contender.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Conference Title Game Picks

All picks are against the spread and home team in CAPS.


FALCONS (-5) over Packers


PATRIOTS (-6) over Steelers

Last Week: 2-2
Playoffs: 4-4
Regular Season: 128-118-9