ACC Previews: Boston College Eagles

Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE

When 9-20 was considered a better-than-expected season last year, maybe you realize that light at the end of the tunnel is just another train.

You know, 9-20 doesn't sound like much, but ponder for a moment the philosophical implications of actually being pleased with a win/loss ratio of .5 and you'll come away with some vague and disturbing understanding of what last year was like for BC Eagles fans. What was expected to be an uber-debacle turned out to be merely a debacle (if I may overuse what has become the overused sports word of 2012, thank you very much NFL replacement officials). The angst over early,horrifying losses to BU and Holy Cross was perhaps attenuated a bit by 4 (!) ACC wins including a victory over then #15 ranked FSU ( something Duke and UNC fans should certainly respect). So give ol' "whistling" Steve Donahue some credit ( what is it with the ACC and whistling coaches anyway ?) ; he took a team comprised of (mostly) unheralded freshman and nobodies and turned them into a team of...er...well, of guys you still probably won't remember ( for any good reasons) but will make you work hard for your money, especially if you don't guard the 3-point line.

Now, the Eagles have some talent. It may not be expressly ACC caliber talent, but hey, you'll take it where you can get it! The exception to my mockery may very well be Ryan Anderson, who led the team in scoring (12) and rebounding (7.4) and was named to the all freshman team. Other freshman contributors were: 7'0" Dennis "The Big Red Dog" Clifford, who provided a surprisingly legit inside presence despite being one of the most awkward looking players I have ever seen ( 9ppg/5rpg), 6'7" Patrick " The Flailer" Heckman, who started the season like a hovel-on-fire and got cooled off by Mono ( but another guy with an awkwardly effective game 8ppg/3rpg), 3-point specialist Lonnie Jackson, speedy point guard Jordan Daniels and Kyle " Lumber-Jack " Caudill (who finished the season with the dubious distinction of having more turnovers than made baskets). From this group we must subtract the peripatetic (or merely confused) Matt Humphrey who has transferred from BC to Somewhere Else University after transferring from Oregon to BC. He was second in scoring for a team that fought tooth-and-nail to put up a league worst 59.1 points per game, so that loss will be felt. Adding his talent to the pool and heading up a really unimpressive recruiting class (basically 3 guards, 2 of whom are backups), will be 6'4" Freshman shooting guard Olivier Hanlan, who is expected to contribute right away and may partially account for the loss of Humphrey.

Steve Donahue's teams rely heavily on the 3 and last year's team was no exception. They finished 3rd in the ACC in attempts and makes and finished 7th in 3-point percentage. Unfortunately those were pretty much the only things they did well, as they finished in the bottom 3 teams in the conference in every single other statistical category of note. With a year of experience under their collective belt, it seems reasonable to project some marginal improvement for the Eagles and that large crop of now-sophomores. I'd like to think that they can eliminate the shame-inducing, out-of-conference losses of last year and pick up another win or two against the other chum at the bottom of the ACC. In a year or two , Coach Donahue will have an NIT-bound, middle of the pack ACC squad. He's a good enough coach to pull that off. Right now, this a mediocre mid-major team, in a top tier, high-major conference.

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