A Decade of Boston College Basketball: Part Two

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A Decade of Boston College Basketball: Part Two
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Welcome back folks, today we will continue to remember Boston College hoops moments from the decade. Today will feature part two of the four-part series. We will take a look at some of the best BC teams and players of the decade.

Part 1: 2000/01 - 2003/04
Part 2: 2004/05 – 2006/07
Part 3: 2007/08 – Present   
Part 4: Review, All Decade Team, Team Rankings, Team Honors, Etc.

As we were…

 

2004-05 Season 

It would mark the Eagles' 26th and final year in the Big East conference and they wanted to leave their mark. Al Skinner announced that juniors Craig Smith and Louis Hinnant, along with senior center Nate Dornekamp, would serve as team captains for the upcoming season.

Craig Smith continued to add to his trophy collection when he was named to the preseason All Big East Team. After the season opener, starting guard Louis Hinnant sprained his ankle in practice and was listed as doubtful for the big game at UCLA (he would miss the game and sophomore Steve Hailey filled in).

The Eagles were still able to pull off the win improving their record to 5-0. BC would defeat rival Holy Cross in overtime and then Boston University. 

The Eagles were 7-0, but not satisfied according to sophomore guard Sean Marshall.

"I think I was more satisfied with the 5-0 start we had, because in the past two games we came out a little too sluggish. Maybe people have been a little tired, but it's still not a good excuse. We need to come out with more energy for the next four regular-season games. We came out with energy in those first five.

"We played Clemson and UCLA, and I guess we had something to prove to them because we had heard how they were good teams. We came out against BU and Holy Cross and played like the game was already over "(BCEagles.com).

*A little personal note here: This quote says it all about Boston College hoops. People wonder why they have yet to make a deep run in the tournament or why they have struggled in first-round games and often lose in the second round to lesser teams. Well, there’s your answer.

The Eagles were looking to stay hot and so was Craig Smith. Smith earned National Player of the Week honors from Sporting News Magazine. Boston College took Sean Marshall’s words to use by winning their first 11 contests of the season.

The 11 straight tied a school record, which was set during the 2000-01 season. Their scheduled opponent was No. 10 Connecticut. The Eagles headed to Storrs hoping to break the school record for consecutive wins to start a season.

The Eagles were beginning to receive national attention when two days before the game, they were voted into the polls as the 25th best team in the nation. It was their first appearance in the polls since the 2001-02 season.

The game turned out to be a typical Big East backyard brawl. The Eagles out-muscled the 10th ranked Huskies to become the first team in Boston College history to win 12 straight games to start a season.

After the game Craig Smith made a statement that every team in the Big East caught an earful of... "We're not going to let people come and beat on us. We're going to put the beating on them" (BCEagles.com)...addition information on this game can be found, here.   

The Eagles wouldn’t stop winning. They jump-started their season by winning 20 straight games before losing on the road to Notre Dame. The Conte Forum was once again becoming a very tough place to play.

By the end of the 2004-05 season, the Eagles had won 16 straight home games. This was their longest home win streak since winning 25 straight from 2000-2002.  

The Eagles would climb the polls to as high as four when they were 20-0. They and Illinois were the only remaining undefeated teams. BC would drop its first game of the season at Notre Dame, but rebounded quickly by taking down Rutgers.

The Eagles began prepping for the biggest game of the season. A top 10 showdown between ninth-ranked Syracuse and sixth-ranked BC. The Conte Forum hadn't been that loud since the Eagles hosted Syracuse back in 2001.

In one of BC's most anticipated games in program history, Craig Smith had a monstrous game. He finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Jared Dudley added 21 points and as the clock expired he threw the ball in the air and triumphantly yelled as the sellout crowd stormed the court.

BC guard Jermaine Watson sank 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch to seal the victory for BC. At this point the Eagles had already outmatched the media attention that the program received from 2000-02.

Boston had already been a major sports town and the Eagles were searching for a spot in the sports section. This game earned them the Boston and national media’s attention.

A complete recap of this game can be found, here.

The win moved BC to No. 3 in the nation, their highest ranking in school history. Boston College would finish Big East play by dropping games to Villanova and Pittsburgh to finish 13-3 in league. The 13-3 record gave the Eagles the Big East regular season title. 

Craig Smith, Jared Dudley, and freshman Sean Williams were named to the All Big East Team. Al Skinner was named Big East Coach of the Year and Jared Dudley was named Big East Most Improved Player. BC had made their last season in the Big East, their best, so far. 

An early exit in the first round of the Big East Tournament to an up and coming West Virginia team left BC with a four seed in the NCAA tournament, when in reality they were hoping for at least a 1 or 2 seed.

The win really sparked the West Virginia program, and since then they have been a very good basketball team. BC had bid its final adieus to the Big East Conference after that game.

A first round win and a second round loss sounds familiar to Al Skinner and it happened again and after a 20-0 start and a 13-3 Big East record, the Eagles were unable to reach the Sweet 16. The last Sweet 16 appearance for the Eagles was over 10 years ago in 1994.

To see the schedule, results, and game recaps click, here

Boston College moved onto the ACC from there. The team had reached an all-time high when they defeated Syracuse and gone 24-3 in regular season play. The Eagles had a lot to be excited about for the 2005-06 season.

 

2005-06 Season

Another contract extension for Al Skinner to begin the season would keep him with the Eagles through 2010-11 season. Skinner certainly deserved the extension, simply because he turned the program into a nationally recognized team. The start of the season was awfully similar to what happened back in the 2001-02 season.

Again, the Eagles were coming off a big year and were returning four starters and their top three scorers from a 25-5 team. This season marked BC's first season in the ACC.

The Eagles were picked to finish second in the ACC and were ranked 11th nationally in the preseason polls. The Eagles won their first six contests of the year and Al Skinner had yet another outstanding freshman on his hands for the fourth year in a row.

Tyrese Rice had taken home ACC Rookie of the Week honors early in the season. He became the second Eagle to be honored that year. Craig Smith had been named to the preseason All-American Team along with ACC enemies JJ Redick and Shelden Williams.  

Within those first six games, the Eagles had defeated Oklahoma State in Las Vegas to win the Las Vegas Holiday Invitational. 

The Eagles would drop their first contest of the year at Madison Square Garden to Top 25 foe Michigan State at the Jimmy V Classic. The Eagles were ranked 6th in the polls at the time of the loss. 

Boston College would drop their first-ever ACC game at Maryland. As the buzzer sounded, the fans stormed the court. The loss marked the second defeat by a Top 25 team in one week. 

The Eagles had been without key reserve Sean Williams who was serving a suspension. Williams became eligible two games later. Williams had set the BC single season record for blocked shots in 2004–05 with 63.

Although not allowed back to Chestnut Hill until the end of the first semester and contingent upon a court hearing, Williams took courses and worked out at the University of Houston in the fall of 2005.

He was allowed to return after a Boston judge decided he had fulfilled his commitment and the school gave their approval because he met his academic requirements.

Also in trouble was sophomore forward Akida McLain, who was suspended from the team for the first seven games of the year for an off-court incident. 

The Eagles record stood at 8-2 and they had moved their ranking back up to 11 before heading into the bulk of the ACC schedule.

The Eagles were already 0-1 in ACC and they would be 0-2 after another road loss to Georgia Tech. They were quickly learning of the hostility of ACC road games. The Eagles returned home, but not even that helped them as they had dropped to 0-3 in conference play after being blown out at home to North Carolina State. 

After the game, senior captain Louis Hinnant called a players only meeting. Whatever happened in that meeting worked as Boston College remained the tough and resilient team they were. They would go on to win five straight games.

They won three games on the road at Florida State, Miami, and North Carolina and two at home wins against Holy Cross and Georgia Tech.  

The Eagles road win over North Carolina gave Al Skinner his 300th career win. Skinner was happy to get win number 300, but he was already looking ahead to a home showdown against Duke. 

It was one of the most anticipated games in school history. BC had no trouble receiving local attention despite the Patriots playoff run, as tickets sold out fast. This time around, it was the pros' turn to watch the Eagles.  

At the game from the Patriots: owner Bob Kraft, Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Doug Flutie. From the Red Sox: President Larry Lucchino and other members of the front office. From golf: Brad Faxon and executives from the Deutsche Bank Championship. From television, NBC correspondent Tim Russert. This game was a big deal.

The star-studded crowd in a sea of free yellow T-shirts that tried to make the Conte Forum look more like Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium saw BC jump out and take an early advantage and nurse it through seven lead changes in the first 13 minutes. Trailing 25-21, Duke scored 16 of the next 21 points to take the lead for good.  

The Eagles lost the game, but it was becoming evident that the Eagles were Final Four contenders after taking No. 2 Duke down to the final seconds. BC certainly learned a lot about Duke officiating crews that night, particularly Tyrese Rice who was all but face masked by Shelden Williams on what would have been the game tying layup.

The Eagles record stood at 16-5 (4-4) and they would go on to win eight of their next nine contests to finish third in the ACC with an 11-5 mark behind Duke (14-2) and North Carolina (12-4).

Jared Dudley, Tyrese Rice, and Craig Smith had reeled in their share of ACC honors and the Eagle's ranking had climbed back to 12th in the nation.

In the ACC tournament, the Eagles blew past Maryland in the second round and won a nail biter over North Carolina in the semi finals. BC was set to face Duke in the ACC championship game, where they would fall short by two points again.  

Here are some highlights from BC's ACC Tournament run.

With a 26-7 record, which was one win shy of tying the school's single-season wins record, the Eagles had received a four seed in the NCAA tournament. Many felt the Eagles were chipped by the selection committee.

The Eagles were projected to receive a two seed after their impressive ACC tournament showing. The Eagles' resume certainly showed that they were deserving of a two seed. The polls too had proven so, when they were ranked number seven in the nation on the day before the NCAA Tournament began.

Regardless of their seed, many college basketball analysts, including Dick Vitale, had chosen BC to beat out higher seeds Florida, Georgetown, and Villanova to reach the Final Four.   

In the tournament the Eagles advanced to the Sweet 16 after a dramatic triple overtime win over Pacific and a second round win over Montana.

The Eagles had played their way to a new school record in wins with 28 and a return to the Sweet 16 after a 12 year absence. The 20 win season marked the fifth time in six years that the Eagles had won 20 games.

In the Sweet 16 the Eagles would lose a heartbreaker to Villanova in overtime on a Sean Williams goal tend. BC had jumped out to a 9-0 lead to start the game and led by as many as 16 points, but Villanova came storming back to take out the Eagles.  

Highlights from the Eagles inaugural ACC season.

At the conclusion of the season, Craig Smith was named to the All-American Team and he departed for the NBA.

The schedule, results, and game recaps of the season are available.  

2006-07 Season

The Eagles entered the season as an ACC title contender. They were picked third in the conference and ranked 15th in the nation. They were returning four-year starters Sean Marshall and Jared Dudley, along with John Oates and Tyrese Rice who had an outstanding freshman year.

The Eagles did lose Craig Smith and Louis Hinnant, but Sean Williams and Tyrese Rice were ready to step into the spotlight. 

This year’s team would be one of the more versatile teams in the league. Tyrese Rice could play the point, but also had an innate ability to score off the dribble. Sean Marshall was big for his position at 6-6 and gave the Eagles an advantage on the defensive end. He would also be able to shoot over his opponent much easier.

Jared Dudley was known for being a power forward, but with the resurgence of John Oates, the Eagles moved Dudley to small forward where he was more effective.

John Oates was a 6-10 power forward who could score inside and out. And the big man Sean Williams was a defensive animal and block shot machine. 

Again, the Eagles had high expectations for the season, but a rocky start was caused by injuries and suspensions, which plagued the team. An 1-2 start and losses to Providence and Vermont dropped the Eagles out of the rankings. 

In their first ever Big 10/ ACC challenge game, the Eagles would strike revenge on Michigan State. The win sparked a six game win streak. During that streak BC would defeat number 23 Maryland giving them 1-0 start in ACC play. 

It seemed as if the Eagles had finally settled in after not having their whole team together early on, but the Eagles were handed a beatdown from Kansas and then returned home where they lost in overtime to Duquesne. Sean Williams’ triple-double wasn’t enough to lift the Eagles.

After that loss, BC won six straight games giving them a 5-0 record in the ACC. It seemed that the Eagles were on their way to another tournament run. Those hopes took serious blows when center Sean Williams and reserve forward Akida McLain were expelled from school.

For more on Sean Williams, you can check out my article on him.   

The result of this news did not help the Eagles, who would fall way off finishing 5-6 in remaining ACC games

Despite the crushing news, BC was still able to maintain its national attention. ESPN College Gameday showed up at Chestnut Hill for the showdown against the No. 4 Tar Heels. The Eagles lost the game by five points. 

In addition to Gameday, the Eagles also added a third uniform for the first time since the 1995 season. The Eagles brought in new gold uniforms, which were to be worn on Saturday home games.  

The Eagles finished fourth in the ACC regular season and reached the ACC tournament semi-finals. BC received a seven seed and defeated Texas Tech in the first round, but were bounced in the second round by a tough Georgetown team. Many wondered what BC could’ve done had Williams and McLain remained on the team.

Jared Dudley was named to the All American Second Team and became the first Boston College player to win ACC Player of the Year. Sean Williams and Jared Dudley were both drafted in the first round of the NBA draft, joining Craig Smith in the league. 

Season highlight clip on youtube.  

 The Eagles lost more than ever after that season. They had signed five recruits and were hoping that Tyrese Rice could lift the team back to the NCAA tournament.

A link to the schedule, results, and game recaps can be found here.

Hope you’re enjoying the articles! Part three is up next so stay tuned. FYI, part four will be a review of the decade including team records, rankings, player honors, a ranking of the teams this decade, along with the all decade team.

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