On January 2 of this year, we knew a lot less about this men’s basketball team than we do now, and by January 2, 2013, we will have some fairly concrete signs of their trajectory. On the former, Soaring to Glory released a list of five expectations for the calendar year 2012; today, we will set out some very early expectations for the team for the full 2012-13 season, which are subject to change as circumstances warrant.
The five expectations from two months ago were as follows:
• Development of current freshmen into more seasoned ACC players (in general).
• Ryan Anderson taking a big step forward (in particular).
• A respectable uptick in wins from 2011-12 to 2012-13 through the non-conference schedule.
• Victories in ACC game(s).
• Playing more aggressive defense — and getting results.
We won’t have answers on some of those items until the end of 2012, but some of those expectations have already been met. Even if they had not been reached, it is not at all unfair to raise the bar higher next season as these freshmen become sophomores.
These are a few things which must happen for this team next year:
• A respectable uptick in wins from 2011-12 to 2012-13 through the non-conference schedule, and an improved OOC performance in general. This cannot be avoided. Towards the end of Al Skinner’s tenure, the Eagles had some lousy teams, but even they cleaned up outside the ACC. Simply put, a losing record before conference play is absolutely unacceptable. It would be a sure sign that they won’t even rise to the level of those very sub-par 2007-08 or 2009-10 teams.
Granted, BC underachieved outside of the ACC this year and overachieved (relatively speaking) inside of it, but a team with any hope whatsoever of being decent sets the table by having a respectable resume in non-conference play.
A tournament berth is not an expectation for next season, but losing fewer than 20 games is. It’s all going to start in the non-conference schedule, so they have to own it. This also means that they can’t be getting atomic wedgies from teams like UMass and Holy Cross; BC has to be much more competitive.
• A reasonable increase in win total (13-15 wins). This is an arbitrary number, but one would figure the Eagles should be able to win at least four more games next year with the extra experience under their belts. If they were able to become a .500 team, give or take a game or two, that would be a definite success.
If they were to win, say, 12 games, it’s an improvement, but that still gets BC very close to 20 losses. If it’s 11 wins or less, especially if it’s peppered with some blowout losses to normally-inferior teams, people will probably make the case that BC didn’t improve much at all. The Eagles need to take a step forward, and that means winning some of those games that they couldn’t close out in 2011-12 and taking care of business with the teams they should beat.
• Ryan Anderson’s continued emergence as the team’s leader. Anderson came on strong towards the end of the season and ended up being BC’s best player. He has played like the top recruit he was, and the Eagles should be able to continue reaping the benefits.
There is every reason to believe that he will take another step forward in 2012-13.
• Better shooting. Boston College’s offense was reliably anemic almost all year long and they repeatedly hit a ceiling of about 60 points. This was helped by some extensive scoring droughts during the course of games. Every team has dry spells, but if this team really wants to show us that it has improved, they will avoid the ten-minute what-the-hell’s-a-basket stretches in each game.
• Fewer liberal player rotations in the early part of the season. This year, anyone with two brain cells to rub together could tell that Coach Steve Donahue was doing hockey-style line changes, especially early in the year, to try to get guys into games. This was presumably to throw proverbial crap at the wall and see what stuck, but next season, with some roleplayers figured out, I expect that this will happen less. Along those lines…
• The team will have greater stamina and perhaps better builds. Another part of the reason Donahue made major substitutions, especially later on, was because players were gassed. Going forward, we can’t afford to have a team that involuntarily packs it up after a certain amount of game play. Next season’s sophomores have got to build some endurance so they can play 40 effective minutes; a lot of time in the weight room wouldn’t hurt, either.