The Boston College Eagles men’s basketball team wasn’t the only hardwood-based program that’s in the middle of a rebuild. BC’s women were just as bad as the men in 2011-12, if not worse, and in 2012-13, the idea was getting some respect back for the program and moving things in the right direction.
With a new coach and some old faces, the Boston College women have started to do just that.
The 2011-12 year in Boston College basketball was atrocious by any standard or measure. While the men went 9-22, the women were 7-23, and some of their losses were downright nightmarish. It was the last season for Sylvia Crawley as head coach; her tenure was marked by a decline in the product and some strange occurrences, such as the team’s surprising decline of a WNIT bid (in which they would have been a top seed) on the grounds of team disunity, which created an actual outcry amongst some of the graduating seniors.
She was succeeded by Erik Johnson, then the head coach at Denver and a former Eagle assistant under Cathy Inglese. He was charged with the task of rebuilding a 23-loss basketball team from the ground up, but he did have some veteran help.
Regular season and ACC Tournament
Boston College’s two most prolific players during the 2012-13 regular season, Kristen Doherty and Katie Zenevitch, were both entering their junior years on the Heights. The third most prolific scorer, Kerri Shields, was a senior. Already, this group had upperclassman assistance that the men’s team did not, even though the guys ultimately won more games.
Erik Johnson’s tenure as BC head coach began ignominiously with a road loss to Boston University on November 9, but then things took a decided turn to the better as the Eagles would go on to win their next three games in a row: Holy Cross, BYU, and New Hampshire. BC then lost a low-scoring game to Sacred Heart, followed by a win against Portland the weekend of Thanksgiving. By the time BC alumni were done carving up their turkey leftovers, the Eagles were off to a 4-2 start.
The losses started piling up when the major conference segment of the non-conference schedule and the ACC schedule came through, though things never got quite as bad as the year prior. Back then, at one point in the season, Boston College had lost 11 games in a row and 15 of their last 17 games, with some 40+ point losses sprinkled in. This time around, the Eagles got throttled by the elite programs as one may expect, but they found their way to five ACC regular-season wins: at Virginia Tech, at Clemson, NC State, Virginia, and Georgia Tech. Though the losing streaks in conference play weren’t particularly long, there were plenty of them.
BC wrapped its regular season at 11-18 (5-13), taking it on the chin more than once and looking subpar in most statistical categories, but as it always does, hope lives again at the ACC Tournament. The Eagles were the #11 seed in 2013 and their draw in the first round was Virginia, a team they had beaten earlier in the year — BC had lost to UVA in the first round in 2012 by a 72-41 score. Like their male counterparts, the ladies found a way to take down their Thursday opponents in Greensboro and make it to the ACC quarterfinals with a 66-57 win over the Cavaliers.
In the Friday round, the Eagles played #16 North Carolina and gave the game a spirited effort, but lost, 62-57.
Post-season and beyond
Considering that the previous year’s women’s basketball team lost its first-round ACC Tournament game to Virginia by 31 points in a completely non-competitive game, 2013′s ACC Tournament was far more productive. The Eagles’ regular season was not without its bruises, and a grand total of 12 wins suggests that Johnson and company still have a great deal of work to do, but one can point to some steps in the right direction.
Next season, the Eagles are going to have Zenevitch (who is the second-leading scorer and the leading rebounder) and Doherty as seniors. They lose Kerri Shields, who led the team in three-point percentage, but upcoming sophomore Nicole Boudreau was right behind and has shown the ability to shoot from deep. Boudreau was named to the All-ACC Freshman team for her efforts.
With the ACC getting bigger and more dangerous, the ladies are going to have a tough road to keep climbing and getting better, but at the very least, one can say with some confidence that they did not get any worse last season and actually took a few strides forward. In 2013-14, those steps are going to have to get bigger in order to keep up in the new ACC.