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Ex-BC coach O’Brien in line for Rutgers job

04.20.10 at 8:51 am ET
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According to a report in the New York Daily News, former Boston College basketball coach Jim O’Brien is in line to take the vacant job at Rutgers. O’Brien, a New York native who played at BC and then coached the Eagles for 11 seasons, most recently coached at Ohio State but was fired in 2004 for alleged rules violations. O’Brien denied the charges and successfully sued the school for breach of contract, but he has been out of coaching since.

The Rutgers job opened when embattled coach Fred Hill accepted a settlement Monday and resigned.

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Heslip reportedly set to transfer

04.16.10 at 7:26 am ET
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Freshman Brady Heslip reportedly joined Rakim Sanders on the list of Boston College basketball players planning to transfer after the team’s coaching change. Heslip, A point guard from Canada who enrolled at BC midseason, Heslip will visit Boise State this weekend, according to a report in The Boston Globe.

Sanders appears headed for Fairfield to join former BC assistant coach Ed Cooley, although the Rhode Island native also reportedly expressed interest in Providence and URI, where Jim Baron received a one-year contract extension this week that locks him up through 2013-14.

New BC assistant Gallagher might leave for Hartford

04.15.10 at 1:51 pm ET
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According to Jeff Goodman of WEEIcom and FoxSports.com, new Boston College assistant basketball coach John Gallagher is the leading candidate to be named head coach at Hartford. That position came available when Dan Leibovitz resigned, reportedly to take Gallagher’s former job as top assistant coach at Penn under Jerome Allen. Gallagher previously served as an associate coach at Hartford under Leibovitz.

Report: Sanders plans to transfer from BC

04.15.10 at 12:27 pm ET
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Sources have told Jeff Goodman of WEEI.com and FoxSports.com that Boston College basketball player Rakim Sanders intends to transfer from the school. Sanders, a junior swingman from Pawtucket, R.I., has been a starter all three of his seasons in Chestnut Hill. He averaged 11.3 points and 3.7 rebounds this season as the Eagles went 15-16, leading to the dismissal of coach Al Skinner. Sanders missed eight games due to injury and suspension.

Ex-BC coach Jagodzinski lands in UFL

04.15.10 at 11:52 am ET
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Former Boston College football coach Jeff Jagodzinski has been named head coach of the new United Football League team in Nebraska. The 46-year-old Jagodzinski spent two seasons at BC and was fired a year ago after interviewing for an NFL job. He landed a job as the offensive coordinator with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but was fired in September.

“This is what I do,” Jagodzinski told the Omaha World-Herald. “This is what I’ve been doing my whole life. Getting an opportunity to run a team again is great.”

Jerry York on D&H: ‘We really were tenacious’

04.12.10 at 3:31 pm ET
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NCAA Championship Hockey

Jerry York celebrates another national championship for BC. (AP)

Jerry York and his BC Eagles hockey team took home another national championship over the weekend in dominating fashion. In the Frozen Four the Eagles outscored their opponents — Miami (Ohio) and Wisconsin — 12-1 en route to the championship.

But if you ask York, he wasn’t comfortable until the games were official.

“If you were there at the games like the Miami game, it was 3-1 with 13 minutes left to go in the third. So it was still in doubt,” York said on Dale & Holley on Monday. “All of a sudden we broke it open in the third. The Wisconsin game was a very tenuous 1-0 game going into the third, so both games came down to the third period and our compete level was really good for 60 minutes that I think we just wore teams down. They were close games despite what the scores would indicate. I never felt, at least through three-quarters that this was a safe game.”

The Eagles were led by a good mix of young players and veteran players, but nobody stood out more than Ben Smith. The senior was named the most outstanding player of the tournament and York said that every championship team needs a leader like Smith to keep a team focused and prepared.

“They all had a Ben Smith type player,” York said in reference to championship hockey teams. “A senior or terrific leader and someone that could keep you poise as a team and your ability to play on a big stage … The difference is we had those Ben Smiths.”

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Ben Smith had good reason for celebration, as he was named the most outstanding player in the tournament. (AP)

The Eagles have now won their fourth title in school history but it came with some bumps and bruises along the way. The Eagles went on a three-game losing streak in January, highlighted by a loss to rival Boston University at Fenway Park. But after that rough stretch, York could see his guys coming together and playing much more competitive hockey.

“Sure enough that Beanpot and that February stretch and in March we became a much more effective team,” said York, whose team went 20-4-1 after that loss to BU at Fenway. “I think it was really our compete level. We really were tenacious on the puck. If we had it we were going to try and score a goal and if you had it we were trying to get it back as quick as we could. That’s just that competitive nature of some kids and it became an epidemic. … We became a difficult team to play against.”

The mix of young and veteran players was just right for York and with solid freshman like Brian Dumoulin and Phillip Samuelsson being contributors this year, there is some thought that the Eagles could be perched right where they are a year from now. York explained how he liked recruiting high school seniors rather than guys who have played in junior hockey for a few season.

“That’s one of the great things at BC is our ability to take young players, not out of two years of juniors but right out of high school and make them so much better,” said York. “I think if you got the elite player that’s 18 he’s just going to improve so much. If you take the older, more mature [player] you are going to get a more physical player, probably a better freshman, but his upside will be reached much earlier in his career. I think Brian Dumoulin and Phillip Samuelsson are just going to get better and better as they go through.”

In his 16 years with the Eagles, York has won three titles and has a record 33 wins in the NCAA tournament, and he hinted that he will be around for a long time.

He said, “I have a great relationship with Gene [DeFilippo] and we are going to come to an agreement over the next couple of months that will be very beneficial to the Yorks and to BC in general.”

Frozen in time: BC’s top moments in Frozen Four

04.08.10 at 11:50 am ET
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After a disappointing 2009 campaign, Boston College is back in the Frozen Four.

The Eagles will be facing a very familiar opponent Thursday night: Miami (Ohio). The Eagles bounced the RedHawks three straight years, from 2006-08, once in the Northeast Regional semifinals and twice in the regional final.

Miami probably is less than thrilled to see the Eagles once again, but this will be a team on a mission after last year’s heartbreaking loss to Boston University in the championship game. In that one, Miami saw its 3-1 lead evaporate in the last minute of the third period, and the Terriers stunned Enrico Blasi’s club in overtime, 4-3. But this year, Blasi’s team was the top overall seed in the tournament and is the top-ranked team in the nation, and that will make the Eagles an underdog Thursday. Read the rest of this entry »

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Donahue: ‘We will take a back seat to no one’

04.07.10 at 7:10 pm ET
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CHESTNUT HILL — Steve Donahue was introduced formally on Wednesday afternoon in the Yawkey Athletics Center as the new head coach of the Boston College men’s basketball program.

Thanks to the media relations department at BC, here is a partial transcript from the press conference.

Gene DeFilippo, Director of Athletics at Boston College

“What an exciting day for Boston College basketball. If you can’t feel it on the campus then you are really, really missing something. Coach keeps getting text messages from our students…Welcome … can’t wait to meet you … we are all excited. This is a great day.

“Someone in the media asked me what we are looking for in a coach. I said, “We wanted somebody who is a great person….we wanted somebody who is a teacher, not a schemer. We wanted somebody who was going to have a team that is exciting and play hard … take charges … and dive on the floor for balls … and we were going to play an exciting up tempo game. We were going to have some real fun.”

“So the first interview we had was with Steve and I said, how would you describe how our basketball team play.”

He said, “Gene let me show you something – a picture is worth a thousand words.”

“And he opened up a Sports Illustrated and here [DeFilippo held up the SI for the assembled audience] it says “As Good As It Gets” and there are three Cornell players on the floor … on the floor diving for the ball. I knew he was going to be tough to beat.”

“I did some checking, as you always so do, these are about a few of the recommendations that we got on Steve – Digger Phelps, Jamie Dixon, Tom Creen, John Calipari, Bruce Pearl, Eddie Fogler, CM Newton, Billy Donovan, Fran Dunphy and my college roommate, Gary St. Jean from the Golden State Warriors. Every one of those people had great things to say about Steve as a person, as a family man and as a coach.
Let me just read to a couple of quotes some people have made recently … This has been real interesting.
Here are just a couple of quotes from people –

Andy Noel the Athletics Director at Cornell University:
“Kids were diving for balls, they were hustling and accepting the roll Steve provided. He developed a discipline ended up bearing great fruit.”

“Before the Wisconsin game, Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan called it, “a coach’s worst nightmare to prepare for Cornell in one day.”

“Then after the game, he said, “I’m not sure three or four days of preparation would have stopped what they (Cornell) did to us because they did it so well.’’

“Before the NCAA Tournament, Bill Self, the head coach at the University of Kansas, said, “They [Cornell] can beat anybody regardless of the seed. I’ll make a prediction right now, they’re a team nobody wants to play, if they make shots they can beat anybody in the country.’’

“Ladies and Gentleman I am really, really proud to introduce to you the new coach of the Boston College Eagles – Steve Donahue.”

Steve Donahue, New Men’s Basketball Coach at Boston College
“I first want to thank Gene and Father Leahy for bringing me to Boston College. There are few if any jobs in America that provided everything I believe in … When I think about the history of the program, it’s humbling that I get the opportunity to lead this basketball program. I figured the level of play in the ACC, the history of the program, the great players who have worn the uniform, the passion I know Gene has for all the teams. I just get so fired up to take the program to the next level.”

“We will take a back seat to no one. I believe strongly in the upside of the program. Everything we do will be first class with the attitude that we will be the best in the conference…and obviously if we are going to be the best in our conference, we’re going to be one of the best in the country.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Ex-Harvard coach lauds Donahue hire

04.06.10 at 11:33 pm ET
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Steve Donahue has what it takes to succeed at Boston College, according to a former rival Ivy League coach. (AP)

Steve Donahue has what it takes to succeed at Boston College, according to a former rival Ivy League coach. (AP)

Steve Donahue, set to be introduced as Boston College’s new basketball coach Wednesday, may be an unrecognizable face to those at BC, but there are some in the Boston area who are quite familiar with the man who guided Cornell to the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16 last month.

Frank Sullivan, who coached at Harvard from 1991-2007, has known Donahue for two-plus decades, as the two regularly crossed paths in the Ivy League. Donahue made a name for himself as an assistant coach at Penn from 1990-2000, which included the Quakers’ run of five league titles (plus one tie) in eight years from 1993-2000. Donahue took over at Cornell in 2000 and, after six losing seasons, turned things around the last four, including three straight league titles.

As Donahue prepares to make the leap to the ACC, Sullivan said he understands why BC athletic director Gene DeFilippo decided to go with the 47-year-old over two former BC assistants — Fairfield coach Ed Cooley and Northeastern mentor Bill Coen.

“I think it’s a marvelous choice,” said Sullivan, now the associate commissioner of the America East Conference. “He’ll be honest, straightforward, candid — he’ll represent all the good values that have percolated in the recent success of [national finalist] Butler — and Cornell.

“He’s an excellent technical coach and he puts a high premium on the quality of the relationships with his players.”

That was evident in the comments from Donahue’s former players at Cornell, after he told the team Tuesday that he was leaving for BC.

“Anytime somebody leaves like that, it’s hard to swallow,” Cornell guard Louis Dale told The Associated Press. “But you, at the same time, were such a fan of Coach Donahue that we’re BC fans now. We want to see him do well.”

Cornell athletic director Andy Noel also said he’s now rooting for the Eagles.

“I told the folks at BC that they made a great hire,” Noel told the AP. “Our university really wanted to keep Steve. I’m a little heartbroken, but we turn the page and become a BC fan forever. … We’re appreciative that we had a decade with Steve Donahue.”

While critics of former BC coach Al Skinner point to Skinner’s work habits and his lack of a presence on the recruiting trail, Sullivan said that won’t be the case with Donahue.

“He’ll be a very visible head coach, engaged very much in the process of recruiting,” Sullivan said. “As much as the assistants do much of the legwork, Steve did a lot of the legwork himself, did a lot of the travel himself. He’s not necessarily be the lead recruiter, but he had a strong presence in the recruiting process.

“When you’d see him at AAU events, he would be the first guy there and the last guy to leave. And those events run from 9 in the morning until 11 at night.”

That said, Sullivan noted that Division 1 coaches are limited in how much interaction they can have with recruits, so don’t put too much emphasis on that part of the job.

“You can’t outwork anybody in the business because there’s restrictions,” Sullivan said. “So, it becomes how you develop relationships.”

Donahue will need to be able to delegate responsibilities and manage his staff well. That should be a strong point for the Philadelphia-area native, who reportedly has confirmed one hire so far: Nat Graham, a former Penn player who was Donahue’s top assistant at Cornell.

“He’ll have as strong an infrastructure as anyone would expect, in terms of people and resources,” Sullivan said. “If you’re in a league like the Ivy, you’re still mom and pop in a lot of ways. You don’t have the degree of sophistication you’ll see in the ACC. But he’s a smart guy, and he’s the type of guy people will like. He’s likable, but he’s also assertive.”

The list of coaches who have gone from the Ivies to bigger conference and had success is a short one, partly due to the fact that Penn and Princeton have dominated league play for many years and did not have much turnover at the top. Two of the success stories are John Thompson III, who left Princeton for Georgetown and has guided the Hoyas to the postseason six straight seasons, and Donahue’s former boss at Penn, Fran Dunphy, who has taken Temple to the NCAAs in three of his four seasons there (Donahue’s Cornell team knocked off Temple in the first round last month).

Sullivan said he believes Donahue can join that list with his combination of effort and integrity. “He’s a basketball lifer with tremendous values,” Sullivan said. “I think he’ll be great for BC.”

Read More: Boston College, Cornell, Frank Sullivan, Harvard

Report: Donahue next BC coach

04.06.10 at 10:21 am ET
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Steve Donahue guided Cornell to the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16 last month. (AP)

Steve Donahue guided Cornell to the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16 last month. (AP)

UPDATE, 10:48 a.m.: According to a Boston College spokesman, an announcement on the school’s new basketball coach will not come on Tuesday. A source at BC indicated that Cornell’s Steve Donahue is likely to be announced as the school’s coach on Wednesday.

Jeff Goodman of FoxSports.com first reported that Donahue was chosen over former BC assistant coaches Ed Cooley (now at Fairfield) and Bill Coen (Northeastern). Speaking on the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning from the Final Four in Indianapolis, Goodman said Donahue can be successful if he does a better job than his predecessor, Al Skinner, at making inroads with area amateur programs.

“The key here is sitting down with the right people in Massachusetts,” Goodman said. “There’s three major AAU programs. You’d better get in well with all of them.”

Donahue had met with BC athletic director Gene DeFilippo and vice president of human resources Leo Sullivan last Wednesday. The 47-year-old Donahue has compiled a 146-138 record in 10 seasons at Cornell and led the Big Red to the Sweet 16 in this year’s NCAA tournament.

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