A Popular Preseason Dark Horse Pick, Boston College Has Failed to Live Up to Expectations

Posted by Chris Kehoe on December 31st, 2013

Boston College has had a resoundingly disappointing season, to say the least. Coming into the year with elevated expectations based on their youth and potent inside-out combination of Olivier Hanlan and Ryan Anderson, the Eagles have not even held a .500 record yet. Their defense is porous, ranking an astonishingly bad 298th in the nation out of 351 Division I basketball teams. They also haven’t shot the ball well from deep, yet have persisted in making it a staple of their offense. A top-40 schedule with games against UConn, Providence, UMass, USC, Maryland, Toledo and VCU have all resulted in losses. At some point this team needs to win a few marquee games in order to thrive in a top-heavy ACC, and although they won’t lack for those opportunities, it seems like the rest of the season will be spent in hopes of securing a non-NCAA postseason bid and building for the future.

Olivier Hanlan, Boston College

Olivier Hanlan is shouldering a large burden this season. (Boston Globe)

Boston College fans had good reason to believe in this squad coming into this season, as the Eagles returned all of their major players including the ACC ROY Hanlan, versatile big man Anderson, and guard Joe Rahon. The team finished the 2012-13 season relatively strong, winning four out of its last five games with an extremely young team that lacked depth and ACC experience. Much was made out of the momentous leap expected from Hanlan, the seemingly unstoppable Canadian guard who dropped an ACC freshman record 41 points in the first round of last year’s ACC Tournament.

While Hanlan has improved his scoring from 15.4 PPG to 19.8 PPG this year, he has lost some of his accuracy, dropping 1.3 percent in field goal percentage and 6.9 percent in three-point percentage. Hanlan and Anderson are required to play a lion’s share of the minutes and this must be wearing on the duo, with Hanlan playing 35.4 and 34.2 minutes per game in consecutive seasons, and Anderson averaging about 30 minutes per contest in his three years on campus. It is abundantly clear that Anderson and Hanlan (and to a lesser extent, Rahon) are struggling to carry this Eagles team against a tough schedule. Significant expectations could have been a partial reason for that, as living up to the hype can weigh heavily on a young team not used to success. Boston College has not finished a season at .500 or above in the past three years, which is coincidentally the same amount of time that the team’s ‘senior citizen’ Anderson has resided at the Chestnut Hill campus.

Ryan Anderson (12), Patrick Heckmann (33), & Joe Rahon (25)

Ryan Anderson (12), Patrick Heckmann (33), & Joe Rahon (25).

While BC has stumbled to a 4-9 record out of the gate, things won’t exactly get any easier for the Eagles. The ACC microsite had high hopes for Steve Donahue’s team, picking them to finish seventh in league play and projecting as a possible NCAA Tournament team. That now looks rather ambitious. They will face Syracuse twice for two almost-guaranteed losses, Notre Dame twice, Pitt, Virginia, Duke, a dangerous-looking NC State team, and a road test at North Carolina before their disappointing season comes to a close. Ken Pomeroy simulates the Eagles’ schedule and right now projects a dismal 8-23 overall record, including a 4-14 mark in conference play. I still personally haven’t completely lost faith in Boston College, but this season looks beyond salvage at this juncture. Still, with a driven coach like Donahue and tenacious competitors like Anderson and Hanlan on the roster, the Eagles may be able to throw a wrench or two in some ACC teams’ NCAA Tournament aspirations this season.

Christopher Kehoe (42 Posts)

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