The Bryant basketball program just got a veteran voice on its sideline. The school announced early Thursday morning that Al Skinner has been hired as associate head coach under Tim O'Shea.
Skinner coached Boston College and Rhode Island for more than 20 years, amassing a 385-291 record between the two gigs. O'Shea worked as assistant under Skinner at both schools. Skinner was fired from BC in 2010. In 2001 he won national Coach of the Year. He replaces Mike Kelly, who left college basketball coaching to work at IMG Academy in Florida.
"It's a bittersweet time for us," O'Shea said in a statement. "At the same time, it is exciting to have someone of Al Skinner's stature joining us at Bryant. ... Al's record of accomplishments -- from college player to professional athlete to coach -- really speaks for itself. All of his experience and success will benefit our players, our program and Bryant University in so many ways."
The 61-year-old Skinner won 247 games at Boston College, making him the winningest coach in program history. Bryant is relatively new to Division I; the school became a full-fledged member eligible for the NCAA tournament just last year. It won 19 games last season -- a 17-game improvement from the year before and one of the greatest single-season turnarounds in men's D-I hoops history.
"I'm excited to work with Tim again and to work with these great student-athletes at Bryant University," Skinner said. "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."
Bryant notes the program now has "one of the most experienced coaching staffs in the nation, boasting 43 years of Division I head coaching experience across three of its coaches."
Bryant is now a member of the Northeast Conference.