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MEN'S BASKETBALL: Point / Counterpoint - Will BC Men's Basketball Make The NIT?

Eagles Still Have Rebuilding To Do

Heights Staff

Published: Monday, January 28, 2013

Updated: Monday, January 28, 2013 01:01

 

The 2012-2013 Boston College men’s basketball team will not make the NIT tournament.

The Eagles are currently 9-10. No college with a losing record made the NIT field last year. And besides Iowa at 17-16, each of the remaining 31 teams were at least four games over .500.

BC is 1-5 in the ACC. Yes, the team has had a number of close losses, but Saturday they were blown out by 14 at Virginia. Plus they haven’t even reached the toughest part of their schedule, which features games against UNC, a home and home against No. 1 Duke, and two more ranked teams on the road.

The Eagles, like most other teams, inflated their early season win total by loading up on victories against the bottom dwellers of Division 1. But BC barely got by Providence, who’s 2-6 in the Big East, and needed overtime to defeat the University of New Hampshire. Take note that UNH is 4-14 and has not won a single game in the America East. Did you know that was a conference? 

So if the Eagles struggled in their early season schedule, how should we expect them to blow by powerful ACC teams? The Eagles lost by 16 to Dayton earlier in the year. Dayton is 1-3 in the Atlantic 10. The A-10 is no ACC. 

Last year, five ACC teams made the NCAA Tournament, with Miami making the NIT. The Hurricanes were 9-7 in the conference for an overall record of 19-12. Meanwhile, Clemson finished 16-14 overall and played .500 ball in the ACC, yet were shut out of postseason play.

Let’s predict that 9-7 league record for BC to make the NIT. Give the Eagles a win among their games against Duke twice, No. 25 Miami and No. 18 NC State. They’d then have to win their remaining eight conference games to finish with a winning record in the league. There’s no evidence the Eagles will be able to go even near that given their performance so far. Sorry fans—the Eagles aren’t touching the postseason.

What’s made the Eagles suffer through a losing season so far? The biggest factor is age. BC starts two freshman guards. No other team in the ACC can make that claim. The rest of their rotation is made up primarily of sophomores. Andrew Van Nest is the only player on the team to see regular playing time that’s not an underclassman, and he clocks in at a robust 12.1 minutes a game.

The youth movement is by design. The team wasn’t destined to win this year. After the mass exodus of players after former coach Al Skinner left, head coach Steve Donahue had to build from scratch. He’s done a decent job so far. BC’s not a place that attracts one-and-doners or even McDonald’s All-Americans, and neither does Donahue. His teams at Cornell succeeded because his fast-paced offensive system that focuses on ball movement and 3-pointers was executed to perfection by veteran players.

That’s not what this BC team currently is.

It will take time for them to win. Some talk about the players continuing to improve this year, and a few close games in ACC play did prove the Eagles were better than their early season results indicated. But those people should also consider the young players’ propensity to wear down. Remember, the two freshman guards who do the ball-handling are a year out of high school. They’re coming from dominating their high school games against inferior players where they could relax on defense. You won’t find that playing in the ACC.

BC’s lack of size and physicality also hurts. The Eagles’ best player, Ryan Anderson, just doesn’t have the strength to compete in the low post for entire games. Though he put on weight in the offseason, he’s still only 220 pounds on a 6’8’’ frame. Dennis Clifford has been given time for defensive reasons this year, but the Eagles are essentially playing offense four on five when he’s in the game. That’s not all his fault though, as he’s had health issues all year.

There’s certainly a chance BC makes the NIT. This team has shades of UConn in the late ’80s, when Jim Calhoun came over from Northeastern. In his first year, Connecticut went 9-19. But three years later, they were 31-6 and made it all the way to the Elite Eight. 

That sort of season could very well happen when Donahue’s initial class are seniors. But let’s be realistic in the present day. These Eagles aren’t going to the postseason. 

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