BC Basketball Through 10: Young Team Finding Its Way?


Right now, there appear to be two distinct camps forming with regards to the 2011-12 men’s basketball season and its future: one, that the team has gotten better and will be fine in the long run, and two, that the team has not gotten better and that this core group will never sniff the NCAA Tournament at Boston College. Such pronouncements are highly premature, whether positive or negative, and yet, they have been a topic of much discussion lately. The only thing about which Eagles fans can worry is this season and analyze what this young team has done so far.

It is far too soon to suggest that the Eagles have turned the corner with their effort in the past two games, even. For all we know, they will hit the court against Bryant and lay an Eagle-sized egg. It — in my eyes, anyway — is fact that the last two games Boston College has played, Providence and Stony Brook, are the closest they have come to a complete 40-minute effort so far this season. They were certainly more competitive.

Now, these sample sizes may be small, and you can’t get any smaller than a one-game sample for the last two columns, but this is a tangible, visual representation of what many suspected: the Eagles did not play perfectly in either game, but these weren’t their customary “hang in there for a while and then fold” performances. Stony Brook is a team that any Boston College team worth a damn should beat anyway, but Providence is playing well. That they could go into a road environment and play a representative game, which is to say, not getting blown out, gave them the confidence that they could go back home and beat a lesser opponent.

The fact of the matter is that even though the Eagles have played noticeably better in their last two games, the prior two had been far from their worst efforts. Boston College had second-half leads against both Penn State and Boston University before eventually falling apart. This is far more than they could say against Holy Cross, UMass, St. Louis, and New Mexico.

Does this guarantee the Eagles will beat every lesser opponent for the rest of the way? Of course not; as young as the team is, I don’t think anyone was counting on double-digit losses to Holy Cross, UMass, and BU, and that sort of thing can unfortunately happen again. It is true, though, that none of the last four games, and definitely not the last two, have been disasters. In fact, all four were winnable, though BC only got one.

One reason in particular that the previous two games have been better are fewer rotations by Coach Donahue. Over those two games, 8 of the 10 BC starters, or four in each game, got a minimum of 31 minutes. Of those, Jordan Daniels saw the most time with 77 out of 80 possible minutes. Himself, his offensive game hasn’t been good, as he is only shooting 28.1% from the field, but at the same time, the Eagles have had a tiny bit less of the offensive futility overall with him running the point. Across the Providence and Stony Brook games, the Eagles shot 40.4% from the floor; in the first eight games, they averaged 38.3%.

Part of this has also been Matt Humphrey getting his game under better control. Over the first seven games of the season, Humphrey had six where he took at least ten shots from the field, and his best percentage was in the New Hampshire game where he shot 40%. From the UMass game to the Penn State game, he shot no fewer than seven three-pointers in each, and has not made more than three in any game this season. Amongst the BU, Providence, and Stony Brook games, however, Humphrey has avoided jacking up shots at will. He took six shots against BU, eight against Providence, and five against Stony Brook. Over that three-game stretch, he has gone 7-of-19 (37%), whereas before that, his FG% for the year was below 30%.

In the most recent several games, Boston College has also played better defense. The results have not always translated into a lower opposing field goal percentage, but they have been aggressive in challenging defenders and have allowed a few less open shots than in prior games where they were getting blown out. There is no question that the team will need to get physical and stay physical, particularly in ACC play, though they are inhibited by their sizes/lack of build.

When you’re 3-7, the news is mostly bad. It has not, though, been all bad, particularly lately. The season is not quite one-third over, and already, we’ve had highs and lows watching this young team, but there is now some optimism — even if just a little — that the Eagles are capable of getting better.