The big story this offseason for the Eagles is the head coaching change: Al Skinner out, former Cornell head coach Steve Donahue in. And, clearly, along with the change in personnel at the top will come a change in style, as Skinner’s defense-first system goes away and Donahue’s Princeton-style offense takes over. The transition will take time as Donahue will be forced to play with mostly the players that Skinner leaves behind, but there is some talent there, with four players who averaged double-figures returning (seniors Joe Trapani, Rakim Sanders and Corey Raji and junior guard Reggie Jackson). Trapani and his three-point ability may fit in nicely with Donahue’s style, and Jackson is a talented offensive player who can play in several different styles, but Donahue will have to get improvement from others on the roster to contend for a NCAA tournament bid (and, for the record, in these posts, I am going to assume that the size of the tournament does not increase this offseason, perhaps a sketchy assumption). Returning point guard Biko Paris will need to improve his ball control, cutting the turnovers and getting the Eagles into some more effective offense, all of which will enable Jackson to play off the ball more at his natural position, the two. Senior big guy Josh Southern is going to have to play up to his talent to give the Eagles a legitimate interior threat. Raji and Sanders may not be natural fits for Donahue’s offense, but they are both athletic wings, with Raji capable of playing bigger than his six-foot-five frame on the interior and Sanders capable of knocking down threes or scoring off of his athleticism. Juniors Evan Ravenel and Dallas Elmore along with senior Courtney Dunn will provide depth along the frontline as will incoming freshmen Kevin Noreen and Papa Samba Ndao. Incoming freshman Brady Heslip could backup Paris at the point.
There is some talent on this Eagle team, but already some around the program are looking towards 2011-12, when Donahue will have six open scholarships with which to begin to mold this team and this program in keeping with his vision.
As can be expected when coaching changes are made, personnel changes. Rakim Sanders has announced his intentions to transfer out of the BC program, a blow to a program in transition. It will be interesting to see if this is an isolated incident or if this is the beginning of Donahue remaking the program in his image, but I suspect Donahue would have rather had Sanders stick around for his senior season, as he is clearly a talented player.