August 29, 2013

Al Skinner set to join Bryant coaching staff for 2013-14 season

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Bryant University Athletics and head coach Tim O'Shea are pleased to announce the addition of former Boston College and University of Rhode Island head coach Al Skinner to the men's basketball coaching staff.

Skinner brings more than 20 years of head coaching experience to the Bryant sideline and will share the title of Associate Head Coach alongside third-year coach Happy Dobbs. Skinner will fill the hole left by the departure of assistant Mike Kelly, who has spent the last five seasons with the Bulldogs. Kelly leaves Smithfield for the prestigious IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

"It's a bittersweet time for us," said O'Shea. "We are losing a coach in Mike Kelly who has been with us since the beginning of our Division I transition, and his commitment to our program is a major reason we enjoyed such success last season.

"Mike is one of the finest assistant coaches I have had the privilege of working with in my 13 years as a head coach, so it is with sadness that we say goodbye to him," added O'Shea. "At the same time, it is exciting to have someone of Al Skinner's stature joining us at Bryant."

A current member of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Ethics Coalition, Skinner spent 22 seasons as a head coach at the Division I level, building a 385-291 (.570) career record while guiding his teams to nine NCAA tournament appearances and four conference titles. Named the 2001 National Coach of the Year by Chevrolet/CBS, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, the Sporting News and the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA), he has won conference coach of the year honors three times, including twice during Boston College's BIG EAST tenure.

The winningest coach in BC history, Skinner spent 13 seasons at The Heights as the Eagles' bench boss, compiling a 247-165 (.560) record from 1997-2010. He took Boston College to six NCAA tournaments in a seven-year stretch, driving his 2005-06 team all the way to the Sweet Sixteen.

Prior to his time at BC, Skinner spent nine seasons at the helm at nearby University of Rhode Island, leading the Rams to a 138-126 (.523) mark. Skinner took over as head coach at URI in 1988 after serving as an assistant on the Rams' bench from 1984-88. During his tenure in Kingston, he led Rhode Island to a pair of NCAA tournament berths and two more National Invitational Tournament (NIT) appearances, as well as three 20+ win seasons. He was named the Atlantic-10 Coach of the Year in 1991-92 and was inducted into the University of Rhode Island Athletic Hall of Fame in 2000.

O'Shea served on both staffs under Skinner, first as an assistant at URI from 1988-97 and again at Boston College from 1997-01 before making the jump to the head coaching ranks.

"I'm excited to work with Tim again and to work with these great student-athletes at Bryant University," said Skinner. "It's exciting how much progress Bryant has already made and the success it has experienced, and I'm glad to be associated with this program."

Skinner first broke into coaching as an assistant at Marist College in 1982 following successful stints in the ABA and NBA from 1974-80 (Nets, Pistons, 76ers). Drafted by the ABA's New York Nets in the eighth round of the 1974 draft, Skinner was named to the 1974-75 ABA All-Rookie Team and would lead the Nets to an ABA Championship a year later.

Prior to his professional playing career, Skinner spent three years on the court at the University of Massachusetts from 1971-74, where he became the only player in Minuteman history to be named a three-time All-Yankee Conference selection. A team captain and All-America Honorable Mention in 1973-74, he remains one of the most decorated players in UMass basketball history, graduating with 1,235 points, 749 rebounds and 320 assists in 79 games. Skinner was inducted into the UMass Athletic Hall of Fame in 1982, and his No. 30 jersey was retired by the Minutemen on Feb. 18, 2004.

"Al's record of accomplishments – from college player to professional athlete to coach – really speaks for itself," said O'Shea. "All of his experience and success will benefit our players, our program and Bryant University in so many ways."

With the addition of Skinner to the Bryant bench, the Bulldogs are now one of the most experienced coaching staffs in the nation, boasting 43 years of Division I head coaching experience across three of its coaches. More than half of those years have been spent at DI programs within the Ocean State's borders, as O'Shea enters his 13th season as a head coach and sixth at the helm in Smithfield (seven years at Ohio U. from 2001-08) while Dobbs spent eight seasons leading intrastate rival Brown from 1991-99.

"Having two former head coaches from prestigious universities on the staff speaks well of our progress as a DI program, but the real beneficiaries are going to be our student-athletes," said O'Shea. "Our program has been gaining momentum since we started the move to Division I, and bringing someone of Al's stature on board only adds to that."

"I think the overall experience that we bring as a staff is going to enhance the players and is a huge asset as we continue to improve upon what's already been accomplished," added Skinner.

The Bulldogs enter their second season of full Division I eligibility in 2013-14 after completing one of the best single-season turnarounds in NCAA history in 2012-13. Bryant posted a 19-12 record last season and was selected to host a first-round game in the 2013 College Basketball Invitational (CBI).

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