Boston College basketball’s 2012-13 season began on November 11, 2012 at around 2pm, and as we all just learned last week, it came to an end on March 15, 2013 at around the same time of day. The Eagles came into our living rooms (or, as the case may be with ESPN3, onto our computer screens) for four months, giving the fans reasons to cheer, gripe, and pay attention to their progress. With the second of BC’s three major sports now in the bag until next Fall, it’s time to pick apart their season and make sense of what we’ve witnessed.
As any season does, Boston College started with their non-conference slate. In a theme that would repeat itself once BC ventured into ACC play, the start was slow but the end caused some random bursts of optimism.
This was how the out-of-conference schedule went for the Eagles; the RPI figures are as of Selection Sunday and are very unlikely to change:
Only one of those games was against a ranked team (Baylor, at the time). That was the only team in the field projected to be an at-large NCAA Tournament team early in the season, though their late collapse sent them to the NIT. With another win or two, the Eagles might have joined them. Harvard was a reigning conference champion and would earn another tournament bid in 2013. Otherwise, the non-conference schedule was highly manageable for Boston College, and prior to the start of the season, this site called for a winning record, with 9-4 being appropriate for a team that was ready to take the next step.
The Eagles went 8-5 over this stretch, closing on a five-game win streak to save face and give the team a respectable mark heading into the ACC slate. The Charleston Classic was a disaster for BC: after dropping a game to Baylor that was closer than the final score might indicate, they got slammed by Dayton and then sustained one of their worst losses of the year to Charleston themselves. Their worst loss, however, would come a week later when Bryant out of the Northeastern Conference went into Conte Forum and handed BC a defeat for the first time. Had they not beaten Penn State on the road in between, the low point for the first half of the season may have been when BC lost to Harvard yet again in a game that wasn’t close in the latter stages.
Many of Boston College’s individual games were a microcosm of the season at large: start slow, close strong. This would happen twice, both in the out-of conference schedule and the ACC schedule. Outside of conference play, the Eagles struggled to find their footing out of the gate but then picked up a little steam following the Harvard loss. Of course, the RPIs for their opponents went way down save for Providence, their only half-way decent win prior to the ACC schedule.
There were times when it looked legitimately bad for the Eagles and the fans were reminded of the horrifying reboot season of 2011-12, but the team also showed a few glimpses of being better. Ryan Anderson started off the season red-hot, but then the freshman backcourt of Olivier Hanlan and Joe Rahon would start to assert itself more and more, having a direct say in those outcomes.
This particular Boston College team seems to like to close strongly, and perhaps that is fine for 2012-13 when there were still no realistic expectations of a tournament bid, but next season, that should not be so. In more ways than one, the Eagles will need to do better than what they did this season and start the new year with some momentum, not gradually accumulate it while picking up several bad losses along the way. The 2011-12 squad never recovered from their slow start but the 2012-13 team eventually did, just a little too late.
With any luck, the Eagles will establish a winning record as a new baseline in non-conference play and improve upon their win percentage in the years to come.
Tomorrow, evaluating the ACC schedule.