The future of Boston College basketball established itself in the present in one brief sequence on Saturday afternoon.
In his own defensive zone, freshman A.J. Turner slid in to help on defense and pickpocketed St. Francis Brooklyn’s Dagur Jonsson. He snagged the loose ball from the hardwood and, all in one motion, wrapped the ball around his back to avoid the desperate reach of Yunus Hopkinson.
Exploding up the floor with agility that few 6-foot-7 collegiate players possess, Turner looked up to see his roommate, Jerome Robinson, streaking down the opposite sideline. With a smooth flick of the wrist, Turner snapped off a cross-court pass with ultimate precision as he neared the center of the floor. Robinson caught the ball in stride just outside the 3-point line. Without taking a dribble, he sprung from the floor and rose up toward the rim.
St. Francis forward Jon Doss should have known what was about to happen. He could’ve saved himself (and his team) some embarrassment by just getting out of the way. But Doss did not get out of the way—he challenged Robinson at the rim, and Robinson made him immediately regret as he flushed down an emphatic one-handed jam.
Foul. Count the bucket. The crowd at Conte Forum was sent into a frenzy.
In the first half of its first game of 2015-16, BC’s future had arrived.
Not much is expected from the Eagles (1-0) this season, but they gave fans a few reasons to be hopeful in a 75-48 victory over St. Francis Brooklyn (0-1) on Saturday. Everyone, from leading scorer Eli Carter to bench mob captain Steve Perpiglia, made tangible contributions at some point in the contest.
“For the most part, everyone who got in the game did something well,” BC head coach Jim Christian said. “That’s something you can build off of, and that’s a good sign for us.”
The biggest contributions on the scoreboard came from Carter and Robinson, who had 23 and 19 points, respectively. The duo took 32 shots, four more than the rest of the team combined.
Based off last week’s scrimmage against Bentley University, it was expected that Carter would take the lion’s share of BC’s shot opportunities, so his scoring output was not exactly surprising. But Robinson’s contributions, while not necessarily surprising, were particularly impressive.
In addition to the 19 points, Robinson had five assists, splitting ball handling duties with Carter, as well as six rebounds. The assist total is more impressive considering the freshman only had two turnovers.
St. Francis was decimated by a dreadful shooting performance in the opening minutes. The Terriers didn’t get on the board until there were 11 minutes left in the first half—by that time, BC had already built up a 13-point lead.
While St. Francis didn’t present much of a challenge to the Eagles on Saturday, BC came out ready because, as Christian said, any team presents a major threat in the modern college basketball landscape.
“There are no bad teams anymore,” Christian said. “Those days are gone. If you watch college basketball, there are no bad teams. We had to play really well against a team that won 23 games last season.”
While it might have had a lot to do with the opponent and the score—BC never trailed at any point in the game—this looked like the most fun that a BC basketball team had on the court in a number of years. Players on the bench hopped up and celebrated any time a freshman scored his first collegiate bucket. Hustle plays on the defensive end resulted in high fives for everyone, and strong finishes around the rim were met with enthusiastic chest bumps. Even Christian seemed to crack what might have been a smile during BC’s first-half run.
All that can be attributed to BC’s youthful energy. The new guys brought life and excitement not only to their fellow teammates, but to the fans at Conte. Eight players made their collegiate debuts on Saturday, and five of them played more than 10 minutes. Carter, who was making his third debut at his third school in five years, said he has never been on a team with so many freshmen before.
“I’ve never played with this many young guys before,” Carter said. “It’s good though, and I like it. The guys are fresh.”
Despite having been around the college game for some time, Carter said he couldn’t sleep last night. He was at the gym an hour early for shootaround, and the extra looks this morning looked like they paid off.
Carter is undoubtedly the team’s “present”—he’s the most reliable scoring option and most experienced ballhandler for the Eagles. Robinson and Turner represent BC’s “future,” with elite athleticism, well-balanced games and tremendous upside.
Well, on Saturday, the present and the future came together and merged. That could spell trouble for the Eagles’ upcoming opponents.
Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor