UMass Retires Al Skinner's Jersey
Feb. 18, 2004
AMHERST, Mass. (AP) -- Boston College coach Al Skinner, returning to the University of Massachusetts to have his No. 30 jersey retired on Wednesday, credited his former teammates and coach for his own success as a player and coach.
Skinner, one of the all-time greats in the program's history, was to have his jersey retired at halftime of the UMass-Rhode Island game Wednesday night.
"I'm extremely happy to visit the school in a non-playing capacity and I'm honored to be in such great company," Skinner said before the game. "This is the highest honor that a student-athlete can have and I'm in great company."
Skinner was to be the fourth UMass player to be honored with his number being retired. One of the other three, Julius Erving, was in attendance on Wednesday night.
Erving would have been Skinner's teammate at UMass had he not passed up his senior year to enter the American Basketball Association. Skinner and Erving later played together on the New York Nets, winning the 1976 ABA title.
Skinner later played for the Detroit Pistons, the Philadelphia 76ers and in Europe.
"In order to receive this honor," Skinner said, "I had to play with some great teams."
Skinner was a three-time All-Yankee Conference selection in the early 70's and led his team to back-to-back NIT appearances. He scored 1,235 points and also led the Minutemen in rebounding from 1971-1974. He was inducted into the UMass Athletic Hall of Fame in 1982.
He started his coaching career at Rhode Island before taking over at Boston College in 1997. With Boston College, he posted a record of 103-85 and two NCAA Tournament appearances. He was 138-126 at Rhode Island, where he coached from 1988 to 1997.
Skinner has been named 1992 Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year, 2001 Big East Coach of the Year, and 2001 National Coach of the Year.
Skinner credited his coach, Jack Leaman, for his success as a coach today.
"Leaman had a tremendous impact on how I coach," Skinner said. "He made me learn the importance of the defensive part of the game."
"He blended his playing skills with his intellect for the game," said Erving. "That's why everybody wanted him to play on his team. And he made the players around him better."
"I remember asking Al if he wanted to be the second Julius Erving," added Leaman. "His answer was 'I'm going to be the first Al Skinner.'"