First and foremost, these are NOT predictions. More often than not, those don’t go so well for me. Rather, these are as they title says they are: expectations. Today, we look at five things Boston College fans expect to see from this basketball team over the course of 2012 (calendar year, not the rest of the 2011-2012 season).
Over the course of this year, we will learn a lot about this big new class we brought in, and there has to be a baseline or a minimum bar of results set if this team is ever going to reach the potential of becoming an NCAA Tournament team. This is that bar, and I’m setting it.
In no particular order:
• Development of current freshmen into more seasoned ACC players (in general). Players do not turn from raw, inexperienced freshmen into All-ACC first or second-team quality overnight. Understood, not every player will get to that level, but if this group is going to be successful when they’re juniors or seniors, they have to take a step forward in 2012. Mistakes have to be cut down and they have to look like they understand basketball at this level on a more consistent basis.
This does not necessarily mean winning every single game, and people understand that most any team is going to have an off night. They must absolutely learn to be more competitive, though. This is kind of hard to quantify, but we’ll know progress when we see it.
2012 will be a critical year for this team’s development. If, on January 1, 2013, we’re talking about how this team has flatlined over the past year, chances are they won’t be anything special.
We’ve seen him have some good games, particularly in getting aggressive in the rebounding department. If Anderson is going to become the player we suspected he might be when he came to BC as a four-star recruit, he’s got to blossom in 2012 and take over on the court.
• A respectable uptick in wins from 2011-12 to 2012-13 through the non-conference schedule. 5-9 or 6-8 like this year is absolutely not going to get it done. When the 2012-13 season rolls around, without even knowing the schedule yet, Boston College’s goal should be to win about two-thirds of out-of-conference games.
BC’s poor 15-16 team in 2009-10 went 9-5 outside the ACC; the 14-17 team in 2007-08 went 10-4. Some of the better teams we’ve had in the last few years, whether they were tournament teams or not, had decent or good non-conference records. Successful teams in major conferences should count on a certain number of wins outside of their conference as a minimum. Even unsuccessful ACC teams usually clean up in non-conference games.
For one year, with so much turnover, you can almost forgive a non-conference record this bad. You can’t for two years. Success outside the ACC will become mandatory.
• Victories in ACC game(s). Most likely, there will not be any ACC games in the December portion of the 2012-13 schedule, so this applies to 2011-12. Boston College cannot win zero ACC games. If they intend to trend way up this year and in future years, it starts in 2012. What do you think the odds are of them going from 0-16 to a great record when they’re seniors? Unless you believe they’re going to vastly improve from this season to next regardless, they’ve got to show us something now.
Outside of the top few teams, nobody else in this conference is truly great, and are therefore beatable by teams worth a damn. This young group needs to demonstrate that they’re cut out for play here, and that in future seasons they’ll be much better. Even if they only win a few games this year, they’ve got to be competitive in a lot more than that.
• Playing more aggressive defense — and getting results. We’ve seen some possessions this year where the Eagles have been aggressive in going after the ball; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Lots of other times, we’ve seen BC get killed in transition defense and give up wide-open shots from the perimeter. More experienced and talented ACC teams will take advantage of it and beat BC by 30-40.
If they can’t fix this part of their game, they’re not going far. In 2012, they’re going to be challenged by ACC offenses; they must take what they learn about playing defense in this league and improve. We’ll know that has happened when they’re not giving up field goal percentages higher than their own on a regular basis, when they start collecting more rebounds, and when they don’t leave guys so wide open for three-pointers as they do now.
I’m not asking for an NCAA Tournament team to blossom in 2012, but I am expecting significant progress as compared to where this group was in 2011. At this point, even making it to where Al Skinner’s last team (2009-10) was would be progress.