The Miami Hurricanes, then 3-0, rode into Conte Forum to face the Boston College Eagles as relatively significant favorites. After all, the Eagles’ basketball team was just 9-7 overall and was proving incapable of polishing off a few conference games that they should have won. Such was the case again on Wednesday night in their 60-59 loss.
It’s going to probably be hard for Boston College to not be discouraged this morning that they lost. For one thing, BC held a 7-point lead late in the second half. Second, they were the victims of a bad call inside the final minute (a “player control foul” on Joe Rahon that should be nominated for a Best Actor award on Miami’s player). It’s usually cheap to blame the refs, though. In sum, BC did not look overmatched against Miami nor did they look poor. For the most part, the Eagles played a good game against Miami and absolutely should have won. They have to be accountable for the fact that they didn’t.
Boston College has lost three ACC games by a total of nine points. They could just as easily be 3-1 or 4-0 in their conference right now, which would not only speak to real, tangible improvement, but let’s be honest: they’d be on the bubble right now, particularly with the latter. Making the tournament was not the goal that most people thought attainable this year, and it’s not anymore, but this season could have already been much better than it was. In a way, it’s almost as though they’re underachieving: we can see that this team is not as bad as last year, but they don’t have much to show for it because they can’t put it all together for 40 minutes, and they can’t stop themselves from making the big mistake(s). At the same time, you see the development and feel badly for them because you realize they’re capable of more.
This isn’t last year where the team was fresh out of the packaging and we were happy for anything we got out of them. Now, in Year 2, it’s completely fair to want to see some results. It’s nice and all that that BC is playing competitive games in the ACC, but someday, these losses will have to turn into wins. Is it more discouraging that they can’t close out games, or more uplifting that they’ve got legitimate chances to win them? What if BC has ten more games like this in 2012-13? Are Eagles fans going to feel good about the fact that BC is 5-13 in conference but lost virtually every close game they played? We’ll cross that bridge if they get there.
The bottom line is that if a team wants to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s better than it used to be, then it has to win games. There is no prize for losing close and if the Eagles intend to be a tournament team in future seasons, they’re going to have to learn how to close out games and consistently win in the ACC. Not only that, but sooner or later, they’ll have to prove to themselves that they can do it.