Men's Basketball, Featured Story

Fried Friars: Heart And Hustle Lifts BC To Unlikely Upset Of Providence

The entire bench erupts. Every player, even those in sweatsuits, jumps up to congratulate Will Magarity.

Magarity must have knocked down a big three or completed an and-one in dramatic fashion to evoke such a reaction. Instead, he had dove to the floor and swam past a Providence player to collect a loose ball.

“I think the moment we revealed our identity was after that, when the entire bench ran out there and picked him up,” Jim Christian said. “They appreciated the identity plays, and they’re learning to know how important those plays are.”

So much can be said about the game—be it Hanlan’s incredible offensive performance, the overall play of the guards versus the big men, or the shortness of the bench—but the emergence of a team spirit and character trumps all.

The players have bought into Christian’s belief system since day one. Now, a month into the season, the results are finally tangible.

The Eagles showed the heart and attitude, hustle and defense, and overall tenacity to compete with a team like Providence, who had already beaten two ACC teams this season. In a time-travel back to the ‘80s—the glory days of the Big East—BC and PC put on a show at Conte, and the home team came out of the battle on top.

Against tough competition, like UMass and West Virginia, BC had played exceptionally well in the first half, only to fall apart in the second and lose the game. But against Providence, BC showed up for the full 40 minutes.

Throughout much of the game, the Friars always seemed to have an answer. A Hanlan drive orAaron Brown 3-pointer would be negated by Ladontae Henton or Kris Dunn on the other end.

Then, with BC up by three, the clock winding down in the first half, and the Conte crowd getting loud, PC’s seven-footer Carson Desrosiers knocked down a three at the buzzer to tie it up.

Yet the Eagles never backed down, showing an incredible ability to bounce back. Even as the Friars did their best to neutralize Hanlan, BC’s grit and determination prevailed and carried the team to victory.
“Every time we made a mistake, every huddle the guys would say, ‘Next play, next play,’” Christian said.

While Hanlan continued to make big plays, Pat Heckmann’s defense provided the backbone of the team’s identity.

Tasked with guarding Henton, PC’s leading scorer who came in averaging over 21 points per game, Heckmann had a major role to play. He exceeded expectations, limiting Henton to just nine points on four-for-16 shooting.

The German highlighted what his head coach has been preaching since day one: defense, defense, and more defense.

“I thought Pat was a good guy to guard him because he’s our smartest defender,” Christian said. “He’s not the most explosive guy, but he’s smart.”

Players like Heckmann are what make this team what it is. Aside from Hanlan, they aren’t the most talented guys on the floor, but they have the smarts, the belief in the system, and the willingness to do the dirty work to win big-time matchups.

After all, BC basketball grew up in the Big East, where coaching and winning the physical battles trumped individual talent.

“We were doing the little things, like Will diving on the floor, that change the complexion of the game,” Brown said.

Magarity’s hustle play was just one of those many “Identity Plays” that have come to define this BC team’s style of play.

“We had a million of those tonight, the most of any game,” Brown said.

The Eagles will need a million more to succeed in the ACC and beyond, but the win over Providence is a huge step in the right direction.

This win stands for more than just another tally in the win column—it’s a sign of who this team really is.

Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Staff

December 8, 2014