Anyone who visited Soaring to Glory in April 2014 knows that I am not the president of the Jim Christian Fan Club. I questioned his hire back then and it concerned me — and still does — that Boston College hired a coach whose resume was almost as light on major-conference experience as the guy they just fired.
With that said, any harsh criticisms of Jim Christian this season are not warranted.
To make this perfectly clear at the outset: he is the coach and he has our support. We all want him to succeed in fixing the program. He deserves a fair chance at doing so. In keeping with that, what will be this year’s lousy results should not be held against him.
In a way, Coach Christian may come across as a tragic figure (though how tragic can it be if the man is being compensated handsomely for his trouble). He inherited a dreadful basketball team, and he might not even have known how bad they were until he got here. It’s something one has to see to believe.
This can be hashed out further when the time comes, but what Jim Christian took over is a program in shambles, at perhaps an all-time historical low point. One reason that a number of Boston College fans wanted the school to break from its traditional position and spend big for a home-run hire in a head coach was to accelerate the recovery. Since that did not happen, it does no good to bash the current coach. It’s not his fault he got hired. He is here now and we all want him to succeed.
Whether or not Jim Christian will ultimately prevail in turning around a moribund Boston College basketball program is too soon to tell. It may be several years before we have any idea of how he is truly doing. Yet, there is one thing we can say now with no hesitation: it is not fair to judge him harshly for the team’s performance this season.
You know those mistakes Boston College hoops make out there on a nightly basis? Those same players were doing those very things while Christian was drawing on a clipboard in Fort Worth, Texas. Virtually the whole lot of them are unsalvageable, and by extension uncoachable. That he has gotten any additional effort out of them at all is a plus, but the rest of their collective game is a big minus. Jim Christian cannot be blamed for the low basketball IQ and lack of talent on a team he took over when those things were present for years before he got here.
At this point, Boston College fans have long since reached the conclusion that the core of the current Eagles basketball team is not going to succeed. Even if Boston College had made the “home-run” coaching hire, this season probably still would have gone badly given the talent at the coach’s disposal.
Trying to get some of these guys to play solid, fundamental basketball is like trying to get the late Helen Keller to read an eye chart. The ship has sailed, the bridge is burned, and the window is closed. The roster as presently constructed is a lost cause. Period; the end.
In spite of that, there actually have been some limited accomplishments this season. For example, the Eagles are likely to exceed last season’s (wretched) win total, though a lighter non-conference schedule may be responsible, and unlike in past years, the team is showing flashes of effort on defense. That, too, can probably be attributed to newcomers like Aaron Brown and Dimitri Batten, players brought in by Christian. The Eagles also collected respectable wins over New Mexico and Providence before going in the tank.
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It is fair to offer objective criticism for more minor issues, like Eddie Odio and Steve Perpiglia getting more playing time than their abilities warrant; again, that might be more attributable to the personnel available than bad coaching.
While Jim Christian cannot be blamed to a major degree for the bad things seen this season, how he recruits will be the real tell. If he does not recruit well, he will suffer the same fate as Steve Donahue, and that will be his responsibility. Recruiting kids to come here with the program in this state will not be easy, but next to Conte Forum, the coach who does his job at Alumni Stadium put together a nice class in his first year following a disastrous 10-loss 2012 season. Difficult, but not impossible.
That will be a large part of the basis upon which we judge Jim Christian in future seasons, as well as how he is able to coach and develop who comes here. But that’s then. Now, he has a very bad team, and there is not much left to be developed. He will someday bear full responsibility for the situation the Eagles are in, for better or for worse, but that day is not today.
Let Jim Christian do his job and see where the chips fall.