Measuring the Degrees of Boston College Basketball “Progress”


Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Not every Boston College men’s basketball observer agrees that the Eagles are better so far this year than they were last season. It seems obvious that they are, as the 2012-13 squad’s rock-bottom has not been anywhere near as bad as last year’s, at least to this point. When taking stock of this team’s performance, especially after a close and somewhat bitter loss to Wake Forest on the road, this is not necessarily a matter of black and white — as in merely saying “they’re improving” or “they’re not.” There are varying degrees in play.

Without having taken a scientific poll on the matter, it appears that more Eagles fans believe the 2012-13 team is better than the 2011-12 bunch. Yet perhaps that’s not the question we should be asking. Maybe it’s not a matter of “are they improving?” so much as it is “are they improving enough?”

This Eagles team, with near virtual certainty, will win more games than they did last year, probably by at least a few unless they’ve got a miserable 1-17 or 2-16 ACC season on the horizon (in which case we’ll say “no, they did not improve.”) BC has lost two of their last three games, but those losses were competitive — though many would argue the Eagles should have won. That’s all well and good, and it is encouraging at a minimum to see BC not get slaughtered by 20 points each time out, but that isn’t a high bar to clear. Certainly, in the situation they were in last year, they’d rather be in a game until the final minutes (like this season much of the time) than get run out of the gym, but losses are still losses.

Going from embarrassing losses to close losses and some respectable wins may point to a generally more competitive basketball team, but if we intend to talk about real progress, it must come through victory. Next year, we definitely do not want to be sitting here talking about BC basketball in terms of “well, they lost to all those big-time ACC teams and didn’t make the tournament, but at least they kept it close.” If we are, some people might be looking for new jobs. As it stands, BC is becoming more of a team that keeps it close but hasn’t broken through. It’s improvement, but perhaps not enough improvement for where they need to be.

When the roster reset in 2011, a reasonable expectation for the core group (recruiting class of 2011) was that they could contend for an NCAA Tournament bid by their junior year. They are putting additional pieces of the puzzle together, but the jury is still out on that charge. As of the present, I have not seen enough to suggest it is unlikely, nor have I seen enough sustained good play to know for certain that it can be done. They are heading in the right direction, but only to a point, which puts them in a gray zone.

Perhaps the trajectory for this team is higher than we think it is — or perhaps it is lower. Whatever the case may be, it is fair to say that right now Boston College’s basketball team has made some improvements, but will they make enough to set them up for better things next year and beyond? That is still very much up for debate.