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.

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ACC/Big Ten Challenge Presents Giant Opportunity For Michigan

Posted by Bennet Hayes on December 2nd, 2013

What to Make of Michigan Heading to Duke in the Headliner of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Nobody ever said life after Trey Burke was going to be easy. Despite entering the season with both a top 10 ranking and preseason All-American (again) to lead the way, John Beilein had to know that this group of Wolverines would be a work in progress. Gone was not only the transcendent Burke, but also backcourt mate Tim Hardaway, Jr., a highly accomplished player in his own right. Also of concern: The fact that this year’s preseason All-American, Mitch McGary, entered the season on the mend. The bruising sophomore is recovering from a back injury, and even with a (relatively) healthy back a season ago, he had averaged only 7.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game as he got acclimated to college basketball. Was he really ready to deliver All-American type production? Every team entered this season with question marks, but Michigan faced as many as any of their preseason top-10 cohabitants.

Michigan And Mitch McGary Will Attempt To Reassert Themselves At Cameron Indoor On Tuesday Night

Michigan And Mitch McGary Will Attempt To Reassert Themselves At Cameron Indoor On Tuesday Night

The Wolverines are now seven games into the season, and the top-10 ranking is gone. The same cannot be said for those pesky preseason questions. Michigan is 5-2 on the year, with an overtime victory over Florida State ranking as its lone victory of consequence (seriously, the average Pomeroy rating for the other four Wolverine conquests is 297). The back injury ultimately caused McGary to miss just two games, but his production since returning has hardly been like that of an All-American: 8.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.0 BPG in 25 minutes per game. I’m not in the habit of judging a guy off of five post-injury games, but the jury remains out on whether McGary can live up to those expansive preseason expectations.

Nor has a verdict been offered on the Michigan point guard situation. Nobody expected Derrick Walton to become Trey Burke, but the freshman has averaged nearly as many turnovers (2.4 per game) as assists (3.3 per game), while also ceding crunch time minutes to backup Spike Albrecht. In the two Michigan losses (to Iowa State and Charlotte), Walton has averaged just 19 minutes a game. Clearly John Beilein is not ready to fully hand over the reins to the talented youngster, but like McGary, there’s still plenty of time for Walton to grow into his expected role.

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The ACC’s Soft Middle Tier: Time to Panic Yet?

Posted by Chris Kehoe on November 14th, 2013

We are less than one week into the start of the 2013-14 college basketball season and the median of the ACC is nearing panic mode. Maybe not quite yet, but things certainly could have started better for the NCAA’s mightiest conference. To date, N.C. State has lost to Cincinnati by 11, Virginia lost to in-state rival VCU (displaying the power shift between traditional Virginia basketball schools), Miami barely squeaked by Georgia Southern in overtime and posted an inexcusable overtime loss to St. Francis (NY), and Boston College suffered an opening defeat to Providence and followed that up with a 13-point shellacking at the hands of a game Massachusetts squad. What does this all mean for the ‘almighty’ ACC as the nation’s premier basketball conference? Does this, for one, quiet the whispers of the ACC as the greatest basketball conference of all-time?

Boston College

BC has little to celebrate after an 0-2 start (Michael Ivins/US Presswire)

A lot of a conference’s overall reputation and greatness has to be attributed to its depth and the overall quality of teams across the board. Now VCU happens to be a top-25 team that has largely surpassed the Virginia basketball program of late under Shaka Smart, but a team that has ACC title aspirations and is laden with senior leaders needs to win games versus A-10 programs, especially if it doesn’t wish to find itself on the bubble again. N.C. State is in what most people consider a rebuilding year under Mark Gottfried, but Cincinnati is not a powerhouse and the middle of the league must prove formidable for the ACC to solidify its place in history. Last Friday night, Maryland lost to a top-25 Connecticut team boasting one of the best backcourts in the nation by only a single point, but the Terps walked away with a close loss rather than gloating about a big win on their non-conference résumé. Miami wasn’t expected to have a great year after losing Kenny Kadji, Shane Larkin, Reggie Johnson, Durand Scott and the rest of its roster from last season, but losing to a NEC foe is a humbling step backward, to say the least.

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Reflections on ACC Media Day: Operation Basketball

Posted by Christopher Kehoe on October 20th, 2013

The Atlantic Coast Conference hosted its annual media day for college basketball last Wednesday and each school brought along its head coach and two player representatives. The event was held in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the heart of ACC country, and had it’s own television special on ESPNU, the network’s specific college sports channel. While ESPN analysts like former Duke star Jay Williams took to the blacktop to showcase special moves from the player representatives, they also had group interviews indoors with the coaches and the players. Here is a team-by-team look at some of the highlights from ACC media day:

Note: All quotations and highlights were provided by full transcripts from ACC media day from the conference website.

The 15 Coaches and Mascots Assembled at ACC Media Day Last Week (credit: ACC)

The 15 Coaches and Mascots Assembled at ACC Media Day Last Week (credit: ACC)

North Carolina head coach Roy Williams: Williams is playing it safe with his young team by not presenting outrageous expectations and seems to be standing behind his star P.J. Hairston. Interestingly, he has problems with players on very different ends of the weight spectrum, while his deep but very young and inexperienced frontcourt will be intriguing as will the drama surrounding Hairston.

  • On creating new rivalries: Syracuse and North Carolina will form a rivalry quickly, won’t ‘have to wait 10-15 years.’
  • On P.J. Hairston: “He’s done enough to come back to practice” and has been sensational so far in practice and with conditioning.
  • On replacing Reggie BullockLeslie McDonald must be a better defender and J.P. Tokoto must not turn the ball over as much.
  • On ACC supremacy (a continuing theme throughout, you’ve been warned): “I think it will be the greatest basketball conference ever.” He goes on to mention depth of the league and Tobacco Road going beyond just Duke and Carolina.
  • On rules about going pro: He would prefer a rule where players stay in school for at least two years, but acknowledges some players can go pro right away like Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant.
  • On Marcus Paige: Can play him simultaneously with freshman Nate Britt, he is one of two leaders on the team along with James McAdoo. Has increased his weight from 154 to 170 now.
  • On Kennedy Meeks: Needs to lose weight, has already dropped from 317 to 285 pounds. Brice Johnson on the other hand needs to gain weight. Williams compares Kennedy Meeks to former UNC great Sean May.
  • On the ACC Tournament changing locations: Likes the idea of Madison Square Garden but cannot forget the North Carolina roots of the ACC, likes the idea of keeping the location moving around.

Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey: I found his comment on overcoaching very refreshing and unique from a coach, but then again Brey has a uncommon mix of talent and experience on hand with his backcourt of Eric AtkinsDemetrius Jackson and Jerian Grant. He will give the players free rein and a lot, if not all, of their season will depend on how these players handle that kind of responsibility and freedom. It will be a fun season for Notre Dame basketball fans; if nothing else they may get to see those horrifyingly bright adidas uniforms the recruits are so keen on.

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ACC Summer Recess: Boston College Eagles

Posted by mpatton on July 11th, 2012

Over the next four weeks we’ll be taking a step back and looking at each team in the ACC to assess where each program — and the conference as a whole — stands before we totally turn our attention to the 2013-14 season later this fall. Today’s targe: Boston College.

Where They Stand Now

The bottom of the ACC was a dumpster fire last season. Think of an acclerant cocktail of mediocre coaching, inexperienced youth and genuine lack of talent to make it extra volatile. Somehow Boston College, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech all finished conference play with four wins. However, if forced to pick the team occupying the lowest point in the conference cellar, Boston College would steal the honor. It wasn’t entirely the Eagles’ fault: Steve Donahue was in his second year of coaching and saw his roster truly gutted, leaving a motley crew of freshmen, transfers and walk-ons. To make matters worse, Donahue’s best player — Patrick Heckmann – went down with mononucleosis in January. The good news is that Donahue is a very capable coach. He stole a win against the eventual ACC Champion Florida State Seminoles, and his team significantly improved over the course of the season.

Patrick Heckmann Led the Eagles During Nonconference Play Last Season (AP/A. Gallardo)

Who’s Leaving?

The Eagles lose six players, including transfers Matt Humphrey (who is transferring to West Virginia, the second transfer of his career) and Gabe Moton. While the losses won’t help the Eagles, Humphrey didn’t fit well with Donahue’s system and Moton managed less than 20 minutes of playing time for a team that should only get better. The four departing seniors combined to play just over 23 minutes a game, contributing a combined 2.6 points and 1.7 rebounds a game.

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RTC 2009-10 Impact Players – Wrap-Up

Posted by rtmsf on November 8th, 2009

impactplayersOver the course of the last ten weeks we’ve broken down sixty players from around the country whom we expect will have the biggest impact on college basketball this season.  We performed this exercise geographically, choosing five high-major and one mid-major player from each of the somewhat arbitrary ten regions of the country.  If you’d like to read through the individual regions (and we highly encourage that), you can check all ten here.

impactcountry(2)

If you don’t have the time or inclination to read through all of the previous posts, we’ll summarize here for you by rating the strongest to the weakest regions.

(ed. note: we started this so long ago that Binghamton still had a promising basketball program, and DJ Rivera still had a place to play)

1.  Lower Midwest Region (OH, IN, IL, IA, NE, KS)

lower mw summary

Overview. This seemed pretty clear just at a first glance.  Aldrich, Collins and Harangody are three of the 1st team AAs on the RTC preseason list, and Brackins and Turner are on the 2d team.  This group has unbelievable scoring ability, size and experience.  The only weak link is the mid-major inclusion of Eldridge, who is a fine player, but not in the class of the rest of these superstars.  The nation’s heartland is the epicenter of college basketball talent this year.

Best Players Left Out. Where to start?  The depth in this region is incredible.  Gordon Hayward and Matt Howard at Butler, Robbie Hummell and E’Twaun Moore at Purdue, even Lance Stephenson at Cincinnati.  The #6-10 players in this region would probably be better than all but a few of the other regions.

2.  Mid-South Region (KY, TN, MO, AR, OK)

mid-south summary

Overview.  It was a very close call between this region and the South Atlantic, but we felt that the guard play of Warren and Wall with Anderson on the wing would compensate for what this team gives up in size.  And it doesn’t give up much, considering Patterson, Smith and Jordan are all exceptional inside.  Tough call, but Wall is the likely #1 pick, so he’s the x-factor.

Best Players Left Out.  Plenty of raw size here, including Samardo Samuels at Louisville, Michael Washington at Arkansas and DeMarcus Cousins at Kentucky.  Throw in the skilled size of AJ Ogilvy at Vanderbilt and Wayne Chism at Tennessee and this area will punish you on the interior.

3.  South Atlantic Region (DC, VA, NC, SC, GA)

s.atlantic summary

Overview.  This is the third region that’s chock full of NBA talent – each of the rest below have smatterings of it, but not nearly as much.  Aminu, Booker and Singler all define skilled versatility, while Monroe could end up the best big in the entire country if he wants it enough.  Sanders is a little undersized but relentless as well.

Best Players Left OutEd Davis at UNC was a lighting rod topic, as some felt that he’d be an all-american this year with his length and skill set.  Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal are two others.  A good argument could be made that this region had the best players left out, but it sorta depends on how this year plays out due to their relative youth and inexperience.

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