A Decade of Boston College Basketball: Part Three
If you are reading this article, then I am going to assume that you enjoyed the first two parts of this four part series. However, if you haven't read part one and/or two, they can be found here:
Part One : 2000/01 - 2003/04
Part Two : 2004/05 - 2006/07
Part Three: 2007/08 - Present
Part Four: Review of players and coaches honors, team records and rankings, and my choices for the all-decade team.
Now, let’s continue where we left off...
Al Skinner's coaching reign at Boston College (BC) would continue for another five years after he accepted a contract extension that would keep him with the Eagles through the 2012-13 season. The extension marked the fourth time that Skinner received an extension since being named Eagles head coach back in 1997.
This season will be Skinner's 10th at Boston College.
It was the first time in three years that the Eagles expectations weren't running high. The team had lost two players to the NBA and had brought in five freshmen. It would be a rebuilding year for Boston College.
The Eagles were picked to finish eight in the preseason conference polls, but they still hoped to be a competitive team.
BC started the season 5-0 and remained perfect in the Big 10/ACC Challenge by defeating Michigan on the road. A few days later, the Eagles would drop a game to Providence College in overtime. The Eagles took their 6-1 record into Maryland for their first ACC game of the season.
The game marked the emergence of freshman forward Cory Raji who scored 16 points. Senior and three-year starter Tyrese Rice added 19 points. The win was somewhat of a shocker around the ACC, but Rice's performance was not. That week, Raji would take home ACC Rookie of the Week honors.
The Eagles would stay hot, starting 3-0 in conference play.
The young freshmen were looking like juniors, and BC was turning heads in the ACC. Their third win of the ACC season was over 21st ranked Miami. Their record stood at 12-4 (3-0) in the ACC and the Eagles were looking like the team of the future.
The young season appeared to be better than they had anticipated, but things would turn south for the Eagles very fast.
BC would lose their next six games, three of which the Eagles had remained in the game until the end.
They would snap the losing streak with a home win over NC State, but by then, any attention surrounding the team was gone. After the win, the Eagles would lose another six games in a row.
In what was the highlight of the year for BC, Rice poured in a career high 46 points in a losing effort to North Carolina. He had 34 at halftime, and BC blew a 19-point lead. The Eagles lost the game 90-80 in front of a sellout Conte Forum.
Their regular season ended on a poor note.
The Eagles were 13-16 (4-12) overall. Rice had taken home several honors, but his efforts weren't enough to lift the young Eagles.
BC would go 1-1 in the ACC tournament to finish the season with a 14-17 record. It was the first time the Eagles finished with a losing record since the 1999-00 season.
Here are some highlights from the 2007-08 season:
Although the Eagles would be losing their two big men down low, John Oates and Tyrelle Blair, they still would be returning All-ACC guard Rice and several key role players.
If the Eagles missed anyone during this season it was Marquez Haynes who had opted to transfer at the end of the previous season. Following him at the conclusion of this season was key reserve Shamari Spears.
The Eagles had lost two key players within the last two years. Haynez was certainly a major loss as it reflected in their record, but BC was able to move forward. This was certainly a rebuilding year for the Eagles. Headed into the 2008-09 season, they would have just one senior and one junior.
There was a definite buzz surrounding this team despite their 14-17 showing in the previous year. Rice had received preseason All-American honors, and the Eagles would have several returning sophomores, including Rakim Sanders, Raji, Biko Paris and Josh Southern, who all gained valuable experience in their freshman year.
In addition, the Eagles added Vermont transfer Joe Trapani.
The Eagles were invited to participate in the pre-season NIT. They were paired in the same bracket as Purdue, who was tabbed the ninth-best team in the nation. The Eagles defeated Loyola (MD) and St. John's to advance and play Purdue in the NIT preseason tournament.
The Eagles played a tough hard fought game against the Boilmakers, but fell short. The loss set them up with a game with UAB. The winner would take home third place. BC would take out UAB and put together an impressive showing at the tournament.
The Eagles' third place finish led them to an 8-2 start. To begin the ACC season, the Eagles would head down "Tobacco Road" to take on the No. 1 team in the nation and eventual nation champion North Carolina Tar Heels.
The game served as freshman Reggie Jackson's coming out party. He added his name to the elite list of outstanding BC freshman with the likes of Craig Smith, Jared Dudley, Sean Marshall and Tyrese Rice.
Rice continued to be a problem for UNC. The senior captain poured in 25 points, and sophomore Rakim Sanders added 22. UNC stormed back to steal a win from the Eagles the previous year, but this time around, BC was sure to secure their lead.
Jackson finished with 17 points. A game recap along with video highlights can be found here.
The win gave the Eagles a 13-2 record and a 1-0 start to conference play. BC would soar back down a week later when they fell to Harvard. The losing continued for the Eagles who dropped games to ACC foes Miami, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech.
BC was able to keep their hopes alive with an overtime win over Georgia Tech. The victory sparked a four-game winning streak to get the Eagles ACC record to 5-3.
During that streak, the Eagles had a crunch time win over Virginia Tech at home. Rakim Sanders scored a put back basket with 0.4 seconds left in the game to lift the Eagles.
After a road win at Virginia, the Eagles were just a half game out of first place with a 6-3 record in the ACC and an 18-6 overall record, but BC was heading into the toughest stretch of their season.
Back to back losses to Top 25 teams Wake Forest and Clemson took the Eagles out of the regular season title chase. The schedule didn't ease up when BC was set to host No. 6 Duke University. If the Eagles could win this game, they could all but secure their NCAA tournament bid.
BC defeated Duke for the first time since 1984. The win marked their first ever ACC win over the Blue Devils. Duke was the only team that BC had yet to defeat since joining the league in 2005. After the game the fans stormed the court.
Highlights from this game can be found here.
Rice scored a team high 21 points, putting him over the 2,000 career-point mark. The victory gave BC wins over North Carolina and Duke, which was a sign that BC had returned to respectability in the league.
After the victory against Duke, the Eagles lost their next game to Miami. After the setback loss, BC went 2–1 down the stretch with home victories over No. 25 Florida State, and another Sanders buzzer beater lifted the Eagles over Georgia Tech.
They finished the regular season 21–10 (9-7). The 9-7 conference record was good enough for sixth in the ACC.
In the first round of the conference tournament, BC beat Virginia 76–63 and moved on to play No. 8 Duke in the second round. BC lost to the Blue Devils 66–65 on a last minute heart-breaker and was bounced from the tournament.
The Eagles finished the season 22–11 (9–7). Rice was named 2nd team All-ACC after being on the 1st team All-ACC the previous year.
BC received a seven seed and a date with USC in the NCAA tournament. However, that was the last game Tyrese Rice ever played in a BC uniform. The Eagles weren't able to finish the job after leading by four at the half. The Eagles lost 72–55.
Rice would depart after this season, but the Eagles would be returning a team loaded with juniors and sophomores. Expectations remained high after the experience that was gained by this young team.
Many thought this would be the year that the Eagles would return to an elite level. They were returning four starters from an NCAA tournament team a year ago, but the one guy they lost was Rice.
As a result, the Eagles lack of leadership has shown in losses to Maine, Rhode Island, Harvard and St. Joseph's. With Tyler Roche being the only senior, three-year starter Sanders was expected to step into the leadership role.
Sanders has yet to do so. After missing several games early in the season, he was taken out of game shape.
All this aside, it's safe to say that the Eagles have greatly underachieved to this point.
If you look back at Skinner's teams, they all had young guys that enjoyed success early in their careers. As a result, they carried it through their careers and passed it on. This year's team hasn't really experienced a successful season like teams in the past had.
I hope everyone enjoyed looking back on the 2007-10 seasons and remembering some of the great wins, names, and faces of the decade.
However, we aren't through yet!
Part four is set to come out, and it will include a recap of the decade including, player/ coaching honors, team records, rankings, video links, game recap links, the decades top games, and my choices for the all-decade team...looking forward to seeing you all back!
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