It is still February and the madness of March and post season basketball is still 3 weeks away from beginning, but if you are a team in the Atlantic Coast Conference and need a boost in the ACC tournament to elevate your post season status, the one team you don’t want to see as an opening round opponent is…Boston College.
Don’t laugh. Yes, we know that Miami, Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina all appear to be more dangerous. And on any given evening or afternoon Florida State and Clemson can pose all sorts of problems.
What is different with those squads is that all of them had or have great expectations this season. Or greater expectations.
BC has not. Not yet at least, as Eagle coach Steve Donahue goes about his business of reconfiguring BC basketball into a competitive force.
I will argue that the Eagles have already landed in that area, the 69-58 win over Maryland on Tuesday night the latest example. A three-point loss to FSU that was an open three-point basket away from going into overtime. a 62-61 loss to Duke, a 60-59 loss to Miami were signs that the Eagles were getting close.
Yes, I know, there is a home loss to Bryant, and a 16-point home loss to Harvard on the Eagles’ resume. But that was December basketball for a freshmen and sophomore dominated team.
The Eagles’ are still dominated by freshmen and sophomores, but they are much older now in experience and attitude.
BC can compete with ANY team in the country–and in case you didn’t know it, Miami is No. 2 and Duke is No. 6 in the latest national polls and. in the less subjective, more numbers oriented RPI rankings, Duke is No. 1 and Miami is No. 2–that would be nationally.
What the Eagles’ can’t quite do yet, is play 40 minutes of that type of basketball, which would no doubt have turned the losses to FSU, Miami and Duke into wins. If that had happened, BC’s record in the ACC would be 7-6, they would be 15-11 over all and already eligible for post season play.
One of the favorite sayings that the coaches of elite teams use is that, “we get the best effort from every team we play.”
In Boston College, that has often been the opposite. Both Miami and Clemson, who the Eagles beat by 7 points three weeks ago at Conte Forum, looked almost disinterested at times.
Maryland showed similar tendencies, coming to Conte Forum after an uplifting win over Duke over the weekend. The loss to BC left Terps’ coach Mark Turgeon perplexed and frustrated.
“I just don’t get it,” said Turgeon after the game. “I just don’t understand. We’re right here. It’s a big game. It’s not a hostile environment (Conte Forum seldom is for visiting teams). You just got to want it. And it seemed like we were standing in quicksand all night, standing and watching.”
For BC, it was the opposite. Donahue who has preached patience all season, contends the Eagles are close to making the switch from bad to good. “”I think we’re playing good basketball,” Donahue said. “It’s close. We haven’t come in and just been not ready, like, “Where was that effort.” We haven’t done that once this year. I thought we competed every night.”
Yes, they have. And Donahue and his staff deserve the credit for that. The Eagles are no one’s easy out.
They hit the road in the next few days for a tough stretch of games at Duke and at North Carolina State.
But then comes the final three games of the regular season against Virginia, Clemson and Georgia Tech, with the games against Virginia and Tech at Conte Forum.
The Eagles could lose all five of their games and dive into the tank and then make a one and done appearance in the ACC tournament and call it a season.
I’m saying that won’t happen. I’m saying that two and even three wins is possible now. The Eagles might have indeed crossed into the next zone where they can even pull off an upset on the road.
That makes them dangerous now and it will make them even more dangerous at the ACC tournament in Greensboro next month.
And for the small group of BC hoops fans, waiting to hear some good news that is hardly a bad thing.© Copyright 2013 Mark, All rights Reserved. Written For: A Jersey Guy