Their last victory came three weeks ago. Their next win might not come until—next season.
If you are an optimistic person–and Boston College basketball coach Steve Donahue falls into that category–you could look at the 6 remaining games of the regular season and feel that the Eagles still can build a foundation for next season.
If you are of the “glass is half empty” mind-set, you might see a 6-19 overall record and a 2-10 mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference and wonder when, or if,y3 win No. 7 is going to occur.
And if you are Boston College athletic director Brad Bates you must ask yourself this question. Will it be better next season?
That answer is the hash tag to Donahue’s future at BC, which is now nearing the end of its fourth season without visible signs of progress.
Does Bates stick with Donahue through the fifth year of his contract, hoping that the turnaround does come?
If Bates does not make a move and the Eagles have a repeat of this season, they will have squandered another year in what must again be a rebuilding program.
This was going to be a “break through” season at BC. The Eagles looked like they were ready to make a move forward. Donahue had all five starters returning from a team which finished with a 16-17 record and was regarded as “dangerous” in the sense that they had the ability to beat almost everyone they played.
Included in the returning package were two all ACC caliber players in guard Olivier Hamlin and Ryan Anderson. The Eagles were a favorite “sleeper” selection of many prognosticators.
But a slow start out of the gate because Donahue admitted he overscheduled his team has turned into a slower pace in the ACC season. Going into Wednesday night’s game at No. 1 Syracuse, BC has beaten only Virginia Tech in the last two months. The losing streak is now 5 games, but three of the five losses were by 6 points or less.
Donahue’s backers said that given time, he will turn BC into a team which can compete in the ACC. But how much is enough time?
At Cornell, Donahue went through seven consecutive losing seasons before he hit a recruiting class lode that produced a Sweet 16 team—almost unheard of at the Ivy League level.
The ACC is big boy basketball and will get even tougher next season when Louisville completes the Big East infusion of talent which includes Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame. Throw Duke and North Carolina into the mix and you are looking at No. 7 in the rotation.
Bates did not hire Donahue, just as he didn’t hire football coach Frank Spaziani, who bottomed out in his fourth season at the Heights with a 2-10 record which got him fired.
Donahue has had enough time to build a program with the players and the style that he wants. But he also is a coach who has no pedigree beyond the Ivy League level.
If BC were a school and a program where basketball was high profile, the questions about Donahue’s future and the direction of the program would be much frequent and no doubt louder.
But the football season is over–for the time being–and spring training has begun. The start of the regular season is only six weeks away. BC hockey is chasing another national championship for Jerry York. There are other items of interest for Boston sports fans.
BC basketball? Does anyone outside of a small group inside the confines of Conte Forum really care.
The bottom line is that the Eagles are simply a bad basketball team having a bad season. One statistic leaps out. Of the 351 schools who play Division 1 basketball, the Eagles are nestled in at No.343, ahead of only such schools as Wright State, Wyoming, UC Davis, Southern Utah, Hartford, Montana, Eastern Kentucky and Denver.
Among the major conferences, the next worst rebounding team is Seton Hall from the Big East and Washington State of the Pac-12 at No. 282.
There is still time for a late winter surge which could Donahue and the Eagles something to take out of this season.
But time is also running out on the season and perhaps Donahue’s tenure at BC.