(An outsider’s observations about what is happening at Boston College, AKA The Heights)
This could come back and bite me very quickly, but here’s a startling admission and observation as the college basketball season gets into the heart of conference play.
Boston College is a good team. Really.
I say this with a touch of surprise since there were few indications that Coach Jim Christian’s Eagles were going to be significantly better than the team which produced a mind-boggling 2-34 record in Atlantic Coast Conference games during the past two seasons.
But the numbers posted by the Eagles’ thus far suggest something else. With Monday’s 81-75 win over Florida State, BC is now 13-6 overall and 3-3 in the ACC. The Eagles already have played almost everyone they have faced on an equal basis, including a win against Duke, when the Devils were ranked No.1 and a one-point road loss to Virginia, which is currently ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press poll. At Conte Forum, which has hardly been a significant home court edge for BC, the Eagles are 10-1. Only a 30-point loss at North Carolina has spoiled the picture of a tough, competitive ACC team.
At just past the halfway point of the season, BC is doing the right things at the right time. The Eagles will get tested again in their next two games–both on the road–against Louisville and Syracuse. But, considering the way they are playing, there isn’t anyone left who appears to be an over match.
In Ky Bowman, Jerome Robinson and Jordan Chatman, BC has an ACC quality backcourt good enough to produce victories against any team remaining on the Eagles schedule.
The magic number for BC is 4. Four more wins will guarantee that the Eagles will finish above .500 for the season, which would almost guarantee that BC will be playing in a post season tournament for the first time since 2011. If that happens Christian, who was hired in 2014 after Steve Donahue was fired, deserves some Coach of the Year votes.
I didn’t think Christian was going to make it at BC. The Eagles seemed over matched with no visible plan other than using graduate transfers to fill holes. I was wrong.
With Bowman and Robinson’s three point range and a front court that is at least providing moments of support, BC can match up with the best teams (and has already done so), which means the Eagles can play “big boy” Top 25 basketball.
Against FSU, which is a marginal Top 25 team, BC took the lead in the opening seconds and never trailed the remainder of the game. They did what good ACC teams must do, which is to establish control at home early and never let up.
And what makes it even more interesting for BC fans is that the Eagles are fun to watch.
There are, of course, potholes remaining for a team that may still be overachieving. Without a front court presence, there appears to be a ceiling for how much BC can accomplish.
The key question, of course, is whether they can do it on a game-after game basis. Some answers to that question will come over the next few weeks.
BC still must find ways to win games on the road, but even if that doesn’t happen, BC has five home games remaining, which means that 17 wins is a realistic goal.
But ACC basketball is life in the fast lane. BC hasn’t been there for awhile. It will be Christian’s job during the next several weeks to keep his team in an up tempo mode.
After three long years of having to explain loss after loss, Jim Christian is now explaining why the Eagles won.
That has to be so much more fun.