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COLUMN: New Year Brings New Optimism

Associate Sports Editor

Published: Thursday, January 16, 2014

Updated: Thursday, January 16, 2014 03:01

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Emily Fahey / Heights Editor

Around this time of year, you’re probably feeling pretty good. Maybe you’ve already made it to the Plex twice this week like you resolved to, or maybe you haven’t lost a game since the start of 2014. It could be that you haven’t let that first sip of Diet Coke slip past your lips, or that by some unexpected twist of fate you managed to hang with and even lead the No. 2 team in the country for most of your game on Monday night.

The beginning of January allows for a lot of optimism. The mistakes that we made during the previous year haven’t vanished, but there is a sense of a new beginning that can be revitalizing.

While you’re still feeling the twinges of your Diet Coke addiction born from a highly-caffeinated finals week, or carrying some extra weight from an indulgent fall, the start of 2014 and the spring semester still feels fresh, motivating you to stay on top of your new habits.

If you’re the Boston College men’s basketball team, the end of 2013 is probably still weighing on you. It’s impossible to erase or even to forget losses to mediocre opponents like Auburn, or the 4-9 start to the season. The team that entered the season riding a wave of optimism after showing promise in last year’s ACC schedule transformed into the target of cynicism as it struggled through early season play. All of a sudden, though—call it a New Year’s miracle—there was Monday night.

Well, no. First there was Sunday, when the Eagles snapped a four-game losing streak—which doesn’t sound that bad until you hear that the last win was over Division II Philadelphia University, and that before that win, BC had dropped three straight—with a win over Virginia Tech. Do I think that the Eagles somehow managed to gain that much confidence going into the Syracuse matchup with their win over the Hokies? Hardly, but it was a sign of life in their third game of the new year.

Then, there was Monday night in sold-out Conte Forum. It wasn’t pretty—BC was 16 for 26 from behind the line and gave up 16 turnovers, but the Eagles somehow managed to keep pace with the Orange, the tremendous favorite, right up until the last 10 minutes of play. While BC eventually fell by a 10-point margin, it definitely outperformed expectations for the night. The Eagles, a team that has seemed lackluster at times in its young season, actually showed some renewed intensity.

Similar stories can be told for the men’s hockey team and even the football team. While it would be hard to argue that the Eagles had a weak start on the ice—as they finished 2013 with a record of 10-4-2—bumps along the road such as a loss to Michigan in the season opener, the failure to win a game outright at Minnesota in late October, and, most recently, a Hockey East loss to Maine kept the Eagles from cementing themselves at the top of the Hockey East for much of the beginning of the season.

Even the football team, which saw so many positives during 2013 with bowl eligibility and Andre Williams’ outstanding season, has plenty that it would hope to leave behind after an embarrassing shutdown at the AdvoCare V100 Bowl.

The hockey team has yet to lose a game in 2014, and the football team is already introducing new blood to BC for a spring semester of practices and preparation, but these positive starts are just the beginning of a long year.

For the hockey team, the next few weeks produce significant hurdles. BU comes to visit on Friday night, and while the Terriers are hardly the toughest team that the Eagles will face this year, the rivalry will make the game intense and physical. The next day, BC will face Maine, hoping to turn around the result from earlier in the season, and the rest of the schedule doesn’t provide much respite.

Under the bubble, the Eagles will have to work to fill significant holes that Kasim Edebali, Ian White, Alex Amidon, Chase Rettig, Nate Freese, and Williams left in their wake.

On the court, the road ahead is full of potholes, twists, turns, and even downright obstacles, with the bulk of the men’s basketball team’s ACC schedule ahead of it.

You’ll start the semester feeling great, but slowly, too much homework and not enough sleep will draw you closer and closer to the soda fountains and farther and farther from the Plex. It’s one thing to start the year off with high expectations and commitment to your goals. It’s entirely another to make those last.

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