The Boston College Eagles saw their season come to an end last Friday at the hands of the Miami Hurricanes in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Miami, the No. 1 seed, won the regular-season ACC crown and went on to defeat the North Carolina Tar Heels to capture its first-ever ACC tournament championship. The ‘Canes are also the East’s No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament as well.
Despite losing by a 69-58 score, BC acquitted itself well as it led by two at the half and hung in until the last few minutes as Miami used a 14-3 run to salt the game away. BC finished its season with an overall record of 16-17 and 7-11 in ACC play.
As their record indicates, the Eagles had a season filled with ups and downs to be expected from a young team. Some head-scratching losses were part of the growing pains endured by Steve Donahue’s team.
BC fans have much to be encouraged about as the Eagles begin their offseason.
Let’s look at how and why the Eagles will be better next year.
To say BC was a young team this year was an understatement.
Eleven of the 13 roster players were either freshmen or sophomores. In a conference as challenging to navigate as the ACC, a lineup heavy with youngsters is certain to take its lumps on more than one occasion.
The upside is that seven of those 11 players averaged at least 14 MPG. Experience, or in this case, baptism by fire, is the best teacher. The young Eagles will be able to draw on their experiences from this year when they find themselves in tight spots next season.
The late, and legendary, Marquette coach Al McGuire once said that the best thing about freshmen is they become sophomores.
If that’s the case, then Steve Donahue should be ecstatic to see what Olivier Hanlan and Joe Rahon do next year.
Hanlan led the Eagles in scoring at 15.4 PPG, including a 41-point eruption against Georgia Tech in the first round of the ACC tournament. He also was also second on the team in rebounds and assists with 4.2 RPG and 2.3 APG.
The ACC’s Freshman of the Year also gets it done at the free-throw line (75 percent) and from beyond the arc (39.4 percent).
Rahon was third on the team in scoring at 10.1 PPG while leading the Eagles in assists with 3.7 APG. He also grabbed 3.2 RPG.
Surviving the pressure cooker that is being a freshman point guard in the ACC will serve Rahon and the Eagles well.
At 6’8” and 220 pounds, Ryan Anderson is slightly undersized to play power forward.
That didn’t stop the sophomore from notching 14.9 PPG (second only to Hanlan) while leading the Eagles in rebounds at 8.0 RPG.
Anderson didn’t receive as much attention as he should have since BC struggled in his freshman year and was mediocre this year. That will all change next year. Look for Anderson to continue to blossom and be a real threat to average a double-double next year.
The three-point shot has become the great equalizer in college basketball.
BC has its share of guys who can drain it from deep.
Hanlan (39.4 percent), Lonnie Jackson (38.2 percent), Patrick Heckmann (37.5 percent) and Rahon at 34.8 percent can all shoot it. All four players fall into the freshman or sophomore category.
Look for the Eagles to continue their aerial assault from beyond the arc next season.
BC’s schedule was littered with embarrassing losses at home to Bryant and Harvard and blowout road defeats to Duke, Miami and NC State.
But the Eagles did come close to pulling off a couple of shockers as they lost to Duke and Miami at home by a single point each game.
To turn the corner next year, BC will need to beat the teams it should beat and finish off one or two of the big-name schools when it has them on the ropes.
The Eagles will get their chance to do just that early in the season when they participate in the 2K Sports Classic early next season.
BC is one of four host schools, along with Indiana, UConn and Washington. Those four schools will meet in the semifinals at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 21-22, according to the Associated Press via ESPN.com. A victory or two versus two of those squads will give the Eagles some early hype and help build their post season resume.
A solid foundation is in place. Time for the Eagles to soar.