Boston College Basketball: The Upset, The Hot Seat and The Future

For Boston College fans the recent upset over undefeated number one Syracuse was like discovering an oasis in the desert, a welcome quenching of our thirst for a victory, albeit an unexpected one.

Although this may have been a shocking upset to those only peripherally knowledgeable of Boston College’s season this year, it was only a moderate surprise to loyal fans of BC.  Despite their lowly 6-17 record, (2-10 ACC ), the Eagle have been in just about every game they’ve played this year, and could have had several more wins. In fact, they were leading The Orange by eight points in the second half of their first matchup a couple of weeks ago in Chestnut Hill.

Having said that, it’s been somewhat perplexing why BC has been unable to seal-the-deal at the end of games this year. In the upset win, there was something noticeably different about the Eagles as the game was winding down. Instead of folding, they became more confident and assertive, and seemingly could smell victory.

They played with a looseness and confidence that has been missing all year.

For one game, they caught lightening in a bottle, something we know won’t last. For whatever reason, BC has underachieved this year, and their coach Steve Donahue is on the hot seat. A big part of the reason there is so much disappointment on the part of  the Boston College Nation this year, is because of the way they finished last year.  Last season, they finished almost .500 and had several nice wins during the conference season, thus hopes were high coming into this campaign.

It was a natural progression given it was Coach Steve Donahue’s fourth year, and he appeared to be building a nice program after the departure of Al Skinner.  He had a star player in Olivier Hanlan, who had dropped 41 points on Georgia Tech in the ACC tournament breaking an ACC record for freshman scoring. He had a talented supporting cast including a decent seven foot rim-protecting center in Dennis Clifford, a versatile power forward in Ryan Anderson, and a couple of solid role players and bench players who contributed to a nice rotation. So what went wrong? The first thing was an injury to Dennis Clifford which occurred last season, but never healed properly and forced him to red-shirt this year. Given that BC does not have a suitable backup center, this loss has left them playing small-ball much of the time which has translated into them losing the rebounding battle most nights, and without a rim protector, has resulted in giving up a lot of uncontested layups.

Despite this, if BC had played with the poise, energy, and confidence on display versus Syracuse, they no doubt would have several more wins.

The bottom-line for BC fans is that they want a winning program again, and instead see a team that in its coach’s fourth year appears headed in the wrong direction. Regardless of whose fault it is, the coach has to shoulder much of the blame, thus it’ll be no surprise if Coach Donahue is fired shortly after the season ends. This may not be fair, and he may possibly earn another year, however with a new athletic director at the helm, it’s highly likely he’ll want to choose his own coach. To his credit, the team has never stopped competing and playing hard, and he seems like a genuinely likeable guy, however at the elite division one college level, winning is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.

At least for one night, BC fans could bask in the spotlight of a major win, rekindling hope, that BC’s Eagles can once again soar.