Eagles Air Grievances Virtually and In Reality

By David Scott - November 25, 2006

Hang Time

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - Back in the day, before email, text messaging and instant messaging, the co-captain of a team that found itself in a funk might call a team meeting. Usually it would be "Players Only" and most of the time it would unfold like the Costanza’s “Airing of the Grievances” during Festivus (on the Seinfeld show). Go around the room, speak your peace and move on. (Wrestling between father and son is strictly optional.)

The hope is to clean the slate and build team unity.

That is exactly the kind of meeting that BC senior co-captain, Jared Dudley called for after the Eagles fell in lackluster fashion to Providence, 73-64, on Wednesday night. The loss dropped the Eagles to 1-2 and put a certain amount of panic in the streets near Chestnut Hill’s Conte Forum, as the Runnin‘ Rams of Rhode Island visited for a Saturday afternoon tilt.

“We had the meeting just before practice on (Thursday, Thanksgiving Day),” said Dudley, the 6-foot-7, 225 pound San Diego native, who finished with 18 points and ten rebounds (both right at his average). “I never remember being 1-2 in anything, ever, and I just didn’t want to go into (this Wednesday night’s) game against Michigan State at 1-3. I’m sure we’ll have other meetings during the season.”

But this one - which Coach Al Skinner declined much knowledge of - could very well have helped save the BC non-conference slate, and in turn, the early season psyche of a team in transition, trying to make up largely for the loss of all-everything Craig Smith.

“I don’t know if (they had a meeting or not). I think they did,” said Skinner following his team’s 86-68 rout of Rhode Island. “They know what time practice starts.”

In other words, Skinner was saying: his BC leaders may lead however they choose.

Senior co-captain Sean Marshall chose the new-school method: email. Marshall said he sat down for almost an hour on Friday and wrote individual Eagle emails to his teammates, in hopes of letting them know what is expected of each of them.

“I know a lot was said to (sophomore point guard) Tyrese Rice in that meeting,” said Marshall who tied a career high with 23 points against Rhody. “His email was a little longer than the others. And Dudley’s too. When I walked in today, Tyrese had the email I sent him, hanging in his locker, so I know it got through to him.

“I wanted (the emails) to be from the heart,” said the 6-foot-6, 212-pound, Rialto, California native. “I learned to love these guys in my years here and I got emotional writing the emails.”

Evidently the Dudley method of the face-to-face meeting, combined with the virtual Marshall plan, was just what the Eagles needed to get back on the winning track and even their record at 2-2, as they await 6-1 (and entering the Top 25) Michigan State on Wednesday night (as part of the 11-game, three day ACC-Big Ten Challenge).

Rice, the flashy point guard, keyed a pivotal BC run in the first half with three 3-pointers that turned a 17-10 deficit into a 19-17 advantage with 11:55 left in the first half. From there, BC outscored URI 28-13 to finish the first stanza with a 47-30 lead, and essentially seal the W, seen by 6,021 fans.

Williams, who had a dozen blocks in Wednesday’s losing effort, tacked on seven swats against Rhody and increased his offensive output 13 points on 6-of-7 from the field. He now has 19 blocks in two games (after missing the first two games of the season for a violation of team rules.)

“I tried to text message (Williams) because I didn‘t have his email,” said Marshall. “But he was busy and didn’t respond. If he keeps blocking those shots, I don’t need to send him an email.”

No, the messages would likely get rejected as spam - much the way Williams rejects opponents shots form all parts of the court. His seven blocks on Saturday seemed like 17 and led one press row wag to comment, “I’ll come just to see him.”

“We’re a work in progress,” said Skinner. “I recognize that. We’re trying to establish who we want to be. If we’re going to be good it’s got to be a team effort with good ball movement. The difference between this and previous games we played, is that when the ball went inside, it came back out.”

On the Eagles’ defensive end, what went in was mostly sent back by Williams. “The blocked shot is a luxury, not a necessity,” said Skinner. “But it does affect how teams play us. If you don’t look for him (Williams), you’re going to eat it. You can‘t ignore him.”

The Eagles, meanwhile, feasted on the overmatched Rams, hitting on 56 percent of their shots, including 7-of-12 from 3-point land. BC held a 38-24 advantage scoring in the paint and turned 18 URI turnovers into 31 points. Rhody entered the game averaging 86.4 points per game, but were held to almost 20 points below that average on Saturday.

It was exactly the kind of win that can result from a positive team meeting and a few well-crafted emails.

Posted by David Scott at 04:02 PM on November 25, 2006

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