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Eagles Notebook: Slowly But Surely, Eagles Adapting To Steve Donahue

For the first time in 13 years, Al Skinner won't be roaming the sidelines at Conte Forum. As a result, players on the Boston College men's basketball team have been forced to adapt to the philosophies of their new head coach, Steve Donahue.

CHESTNUT HILL - Al Skinner had his own unique system in place at Boston College, as all coaches do. 

During his 13-year tenure as the head coach of the Eagles' men's basketball team, Skinner had infused his coaching style and mannerism into the program. Yet that's all water under the bridge now, as new head coach Steve Donahue has the chance to insert hit own personal preferences into the basketball program at The Heights.

The transition from Skinner to Donahue has certainly been a challenge for the returning players on the Eagles roster. It's been a slow process, but they have been coming around.

"I don't know if we picked it up really quick," said Eagles junior guard Reggie Jackson after scoring 16 points and 11 assists in an exhibition. "We still had11 turnovers tonight ... For the most part, I think we're picking it up pretty well. We're moving in the right direction and progressing. Hopefully things go this well for the rest of the season."

The biggest change for the Eagles is the up-tempo style of play. In the final years under Al Skinner, Boston College frequently played without passion and purpose. With Donahue now at the helm, that will change.

"It's a little more up-tempo," Jackson said of the team's play under Donahue compared to Skinner. "It's still structured, everybody still has their cues and still has their reads. Same thing in coach Skinner's system. I believe we abused it and got very robotic. In every system you have your reads and your mind frame of what your primary play call might be."

I think we've really embraced the new system," said Eagles senior forward Joe Trapani, who scored 18 points during the exhibition game on Saturday. "Obviously, practices are very different. I think we took it upon ourselves to bring our intensity up because we had to do that, regardless of who our coach was."

The intensity certainly wasn't there either at points for the Eagles during Skinner's career at Boston College, especially after they went 15-16 and missed the NCAA tournament last season. Even with a new coaching staff, increasing the intensity is a work in progress.

"We're in the process of doing that, but we're not quite there yet," Trapani added. "But this is why we have a couple tune-up games. We're getting there, though."

For Trapani and the Eagles, it all starts with a change in mentality.

"We just have to attack every single possession with the same mindset: going hard, cutting hard, reading the defense," Trapani said. "We're not going to overpower teams or outrun teams, or be more athletic. We're going to have to use our basketball I.Q. and discipline on the offensive end as well as the defensive end to get wins, especially in this league."

In the end, it all comes down to teamwork.

"I think coach Donahue's main mindset, especially with this team, is to play for each other," said Trapani. "If we're going to play for each other, everything will take care of itself. Making extra passes, looking for our teammates, not trying to worry about our own stats, and obviously things will come."


Saturday's exhibition game against Philadelphia at Conte Forum wasn't televised, but the 2,050 fans in attendance may have noticed something different about their team's do-it-all point junior guard: Reggie Jackson wasn't wearing his trademark headband.

After the game, Jackson told reporters that coach Donahue had a team-wide policy that prevents players from wearing headbands in order to discourage individualism. For the same reason, Eagles players will no longer sport their last names on the backs of their jerseys.

"Coach (Donahue) came in, and he has his rules," Jackson said. "It's about not being an individual. I had different purposes where I wore it and what it meant to me and my guys at home. But also, I'm making a sacrifice for my teammates. It's all about being one unit and being just part of a team."

It took Jackson some time to warm up to the concept, but he's come to terms with it.

"At first, you know, I was kind of disappointed," said Jackson. "But I've come to accept it and I understand that making a sacrifice for my teammates shows them my character and they're making a sacrifice for everybody on this team.

In the end, Jackson has high hopes for the 2010-11 Eagles, headband or not.

"Hopefully, we'll be a 22-plus win team and make the tournament," Jackson said.


Senior center Josh Southern sat out Saturday's exhibition game against Philadelphia while recuperating from minor surgery.

"I think he'll get the green light to start exercising again on Monday," Donahue said following Saturday's exhibition match against Philadelphia. "So, we'll see where he's at during the week and we'll go from there."

Last season, Southern averaged 4.4 points and 3.2 rebounds while playing in 31 games and starting 25 times.

Southern's status is still unknown for the regular season opener against St. Francis of New York on Friday night at Conte Forum (7 p.m. ET).