This Boston College Eagles basketball team will indeed be under the watchful eye of its head coach, Steve Donahue. Last year was a particularly tough one to endure, but it is a new day. Donahue spent the offseason working with his team and getting them ready for what is to come in a few weeks. They even went to Spain to get some extra experience and bond, which may have helped. When this season begins on November 11, what will we see?
I am not going to go game-by-game and predict an outcome for each, because I’m not going to paint myself into a corner in early November about games that won’t be played until March. All I can submit is that I have a rough sketch in my mind as to what games I think BC should win, which ones I think they probably won’t, and which look like toss-ups. Unlike a lot of the Electoral College maps you might see this week, this prediction will have no toss-ups.
In 2011, I predicted that the new-look Eagles would be better than generally expected. The outsiders’ expectation, of course, was that BC would probably go about 5-26 (0-16), maybe 1-15 in the conference, and thoroughly soil themselves at every opportunity. My prediction was for 10 wins, at least 2 in the ACC. They got nine and four, which is close enough.
This year, the conventional wisdom seems to have Boston College pegged at anywhere (in the regular season) between 11-20 and maybe 14-17 or 15-16. The lower end of that range would be an unmitigated disaster for this team. That would indicate that BC did not make nearly as much progress as had been intended and would clue us all in that the ceiling for this team is not as high as we thought. Such a thing would probably also endanger Donahue’s coaching position, but that can be assessed if and only if the Eagles disappoint this season.
I choose to again defy the outsiders this year. I am expecting relatively significant progress, because (a) I honestly believe these kids have gotten a little better and stronger over the offseason, and (b) I think Olivier Hanlan and Joe Rahon will end up being about as good or better than advertised, catching a few folks by surprise. Not all of BC’s problems will be fixed, but I suspect they will make fewer dumb mistakes and I do not expect them to get pantsed on their own court by the likes of Holy Cross and Dartmouth. I would sincerely be appalled and shocked if games like UMass, Holy Cross, and Boston University from last year happen this season.
Now, I must define “significant.” “Modest” progress is what the conventional wisdom holds, so “significant” progress is a good bit more than that. I see about nine wins in non-conference play and about seven or even eight wins the ACC. Add that up and you get a 16 or 17-win season before the ACC Tournament. That is where I also make this somewhat bold prediction: BC will win an ACC Tournament game. If they don’t win it, they’ll be highly competitive. I don’t know who they’ll play or what their seed will be (could be the 8-9 or 7-10 game), but I plan on rooting for BC in Round 2.
I could be completely wrong. I might be utterly misreading this team. I could fork over whatever blogger credibility I have for predicting such things, but as it was at this time in 2011, I have followed this team extensively. From their trip to Spain to their super-secret preseason scrimmages, and everything in between, I have done my homework on this bunch. These kids are going to be better, and there are welcome additions joining the roster. They are probably still a year away from bigger things, but I believe BC responds this year and has an improved 2012-13 season.