When it came to rebuilding, Boston College basketball head coach Steve Donahue quoted us a number: 50.
It would take the Eagles, which experienced a near-total roster turnover heading into the 2011-12 season, fifty games to come together and start playing as they should. Donahue insisted that this would be the standard. Saturday’s game at Virginia was game number 50.
Now, is this meant to be taken literally? If the coach intended for us to take it literally, then we’ll take it literally. Game #50 was hardly one to write home about for the Eagles — a 65-51 defeat at Virginia in which the Eagles played maybe about ten good minutes — but just because BC lost that game does not mean all is lost. Even the best teams lose games every now and then, but with this team, we are deep into an evaluation process of where they are and where they will go.
BC went 18-32 (5-17) in the first fifty games of this core of players formed by the recruiting class of 2011. As of late, they have been more competitive than last season, but the Virginia game was their least inspiring performance in over a month. Now, if we are to take Donahue’s standard at face value, it’s time to see something from this group. That may not be possible, as they could hit a wall and/or run out of gas, or any number of things could happen related to injury, but nevertheless, here we are.
This season has already been written off in terms of anything special; the only thing for which it counts is ensuring that BC wins some games and builds some forward momentum heading into the following year. Not being able to accomplish that would be a sincere disappointment, but still, that’s almost not even the point anymore.
The point is, as it has been for some time, next season itself. It is not what BC does in the 2012-13 year that will decide their fate or Donahue’s: it is the 2013-14 season, and always has been. The expectation was that by their collective junior year (“they” being Ryan Anderson and his classmates), BC would be “back.” They would contend for an NCAA Tournament bid at a minimum, and in their senior year they would be a solid bet to get into the field. The 9-10 (1-5) Eagles do appear to be somewhat off-course, but there is no way to know now what strides, if any, BC will make next season with some new recruits and a different schedule.
It is saddening for Boston College fans to watch their team lose, but no matter how bad this season gets, there will not be any changes made to the head coaching of the team, nor should there be. Everything, including the long-term future of this program, hinges on next season. If BC is in the same spot next year or looks like a glorified Wake Forest (a team that in its third rebuilding year under Jeff Bzdelik but is still only 10-9), heads should roll. I want this team on the bubble next year at a minimum. Anything less would show us that their trajectory is not going to take them to new heights, that they will not meet their potential, and that Donahue’s 2011 class was a collective bust. The Eagles will make the NCAA Tournament again someday, but if they can’t get back on track towards it next year, then why did we all suffer the last few seasons? What was the point? What improvement did we truly make?
Those are questions to be assessed next season when and if the time comes. As for now, through 50 games of this completely new basketball team, there is a great deal of uncertainty. It is not impossible that they will start to put it together, and we must hope that they will, but our questions about this team will not be solved in January 2013 or at any point this season. This could be a college basketball interpretation of Waiting for Godot, except Godot is an NCAA Tournament bid that never comes, and we waste so much precious time expecting it. Then again, it may come to this BC team after all, but not this year.