Boston College Basketball: Crushing Joie de Vivre Since 2011


Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Last night’s Boston College basketball loss to Virginia in Charlottesville was just another disappointment in three years full of them.

22 games into the 2013-14 season, it is impossible for doubt about this team’s collective mettle to exist, because it’s not there. At 6-16 (2-7), we know what they are, and what they’re going to be the rest of the way. It’s the same thing they’ve been since the start of the 2011-12 season, save for a one-and-done sense of improvement in the 2012-13 campaign. Now, winning 16 games looks like the fluke, not this year’s likely single-digit wins.

Since the 2011-12 disaster, there has been little upon which to cling. This team has walked a long and winding road with this coach, and the program appears to be no better now than it was when our suggestible heads were filled with promise upon Steve Donahue’s hire. If anything, things appear to have become substantially worse.

Boston College fans have been asking “what happened?” What made this team regress back to looking like they did as freshmen? Are there things going on about which we don’t know? There might be, and if there are, it is doubtful we will ever learn them.

We do know two things that are for certain:

1.) Head Coach Steve Donahue has failed at Boston College. As we have said before, there is no questioning his character as a person (though the constant excuses are becoming lame), and he might not be a bad coach, but let’s make this distinction: Donahue has been a bad coach for Boston College. This is coming from someone who rooted like crazy for Donahue to succeed here.

The numbers speak for themselves:

Not only have the results on the court been poor, but recruiting offers no reprieve in sight. At present, Boston College has zero 2014 recruits committed and zero 2015 recruits on the board. His weak coaching staff also bears a good bit of blame for that.

2.) This team just isn’t that good. This one will draw some fire from a few sectors, but like Bill Parcells said, “you are what your record says you are.” The 2011 recruiting class has lost 55 games in two and two-thirds seasons.

We keep hearing that this team “is a lot better than their record,” and even that someone like Dennis Clifford playing all year would have magically fixed all of their problems. We also hear that their confidence was shattered early in the year, which implies that they’re a fragile bunch incapable of adapting and pulling themselves together. No matter what, it’s a bad look.

Maybe on paper they should not be this bad, because individually, some of them really aren’t. As a team, however, this does not work. Building a team is about forming a cohesive unit where players complement each others’ strengths, and ideally, that team will be versatile and multidimensional.

Boston College basketball has a lot of parts that on their own might seem alright, but as a team, they are incongruent. The Eagles are one-dimensional, soft, and mistake-prone. Their defense is atrocious at best and they lack an inside-outside offense — Boston College usually only deals with outside, and to be blunt, they’re not even that good at it. There is no toughness, relative to the ability to bruise down low or grind out wins, and far too often they still look lost. If they’re not nailing a lot of threes, they’re probably going to lose.

This is not about calling out individuals: the team as a whole does not work. When Steve Donahue lost (or shooed off, depending on what you believe) Al Skinner’s recruits and set himself up for the big reboot season in 2011, he bet his job on this class panning out. He constructed a dud.

This must be difficult for all directly involved with the program, and it has likewise been hard for us on the outside to watch. For the time being, there is sadly no end in sight.