A BC-BU Rivalry: Cold as IcePosted by Patrick Prendergast on December 5th, 2011
Patrick Prendergast is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from Saturday’s game between Boston College and Boston University.
A fierce rivalry exists between Boston College and Boston University… at least when it comes to the puck dropping, anyway. Even people on the west coast know about “that Beanpot thing.” Ironically, the intensity and interest cool once the rivalry slides off the ice and onto the hardwood for the room-temperature edition.
The Terriers and Eagles renewed roundball acquaintances on Saturday at Conte Forum on Boston College’s campus, raring to go with that last meeting in 2004-05 fresh in their minds. Wait, two schools separated by less than a four-mile stretch of Commonwealth Avenue have not played in seven years? We get that Boston traffic can be brutal, but c’mon now. Yes, Boston is known as a notoriously pro sports-centric town with seemingly little mainstream regard for collegiate athletics, but, as proven by hockey, an appetite exists. However that interest cannot be cultivated unless and until there are actual games played on a consistent basis.
Now is the time to stoke up the hoop rivalry. The increased local exposure created could help both schools nationally. One program is working to make its second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, while the other looks to build around its young pieces to get to the next level. While you may be thinking BC is the established tournament-ready squad and BU is in rebuilding mode, think again.
Despite the loss of senior leader and big man Jake O’Brien to injury, BU (4-4) has a solid core and a backcourt that can rival any in 6’0″ sophomore point guard and catalyst D.J. Irving (13.9 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 5.1 APG) and senior shooting guard Darryl Partin. Partin came into Saturday’s action fifth in the nation in scoring and saw his average increase to 23.9 points per game after shaking off a tough first half shooting display (3-10 FG). He warmed up to ultimately drop 27 on the Eagles, including seven in a game-breaking second half run where he scored on three straight possessions over a span of 1:35 to expand a three-point lead to 10, ostensibly securing what would become a 14-point victory, and the fourth in a row for first-year head coach Joe Jones’ Terriers.
BC (2-6) is trying to adjust to life without last season’s top performers — Reggie Jackson, Corey Raji and Joe Trapani — and it has been tough sledding thus far. Second-year head coach Steve Donahue is starting three freshmen while another four have logged at least 80 total minutes of playing time. Donahue has some talent to build upon, including 6’5″ guard Patrick Heckman (11.1 PPG) and 6’8″ forward Ryan Anderson (7.6 PPG, 5.4 RPG), but he will need to continue to develop and add talent to be competitive within and outside of the ACC. To that end, Donahue is working the recruiting trail hard and has two solid commitments from the class of 2012: point guard Oliver Hanlan (New Hampton Prep – NH) and shooting guard Joe Rahon (Torrey Pines – CA).
Word is that no playing agreement between BC and BU exists beyond this year, and that is a shame. Not only should the schools work to play each other on an annual basis, some of those games should take place at BU’s Case Gym. Better yet, get Northeastern and Harvard involved to form a basketball Beanpot. Obviously BU, Harvard and Northeastern love to get regular cracks at the big fish, Boston College, so any possibility of this happening would largely depend on BC’s willingness to get involved in such a thing. That said, BC should welcome the opportunity. The other three schools run successful programs and there is no shame in taking a loss to them here and there in the interest of developing local basketball. On the flip side, since there are no also-rans in the mix, any wins BC earns would be value added. Further the New England prep scene is one of the most fertile recruiting grounds anywhere, and it is all right in BC’s back yard. Cultivating local rivalries while being the kingpin of a citywide showcase that would provide easy access to some of the nation’s top recruits could help Donahue and company build a steady pipeline for years to come.
While there are various ancillary benefits to making Boston College – Boston University basketball games regular events, but the bottom line bears itself out at the purest level. They should continue to play because it simply makes no sense not to.