Basketball Mid-Season Review
By Mark Beluk
Sitting at 7-7 the Eagles look to upset the Fighting Irish this Thursday in their second ACC game of the season. It’s a good time to take a look back at non-conference play and peer towards the tough road ahead.
Overall, the team has played about as expected. They’ve lost some winnable games and they haven’t yet had that surprise upset.
The Eagles started the year with 3 straight wins, including an impressive win over Harvard. At that point it appeared as though BC would be traveling to their Thanksgiving tournament with a little bit of confidence and swagger.
Tom Izzo and the Spartans had other ideas.
In their first away game of the year, the Eagles played then-3rd ranked Michigan State and lost big. MSU is one of the best teams in the country and this game was a huge blow to the psyche of the team. They departed California 3-3 after losing 3 straight.
Losses hurt, but none of these games were very close. The games were nationally televised and it was a chance for BC to prove itself as a young and emerging team, but unfortunately they didn’t produce.
“Ugly Christmas Sweater” Wednesday was an equally ugly game to Penn State.
Shep Garner got hot for Penn State, going 8-12 from deep with 30 of PSU’s 67 points. When a player heats up like that it’s hard to defend against, but BC did not have an offensive response. This was a big moment for the Eagles as it became clear that Eli Carter may have games where he won’t shoot the lights out.
The next game against UMASS Lowell will go down in infamy as the “Chipot-loss.” Carter and Dennis Clifford were out sick having horrible things happen to their stomachs. Coach Christian later acknowledged that other players called in sick but played through the norovirus.
After a tough loss to then-No. 15 Providence, BC moved to 3-5. With five straight losses it was hard to keep faith in the team.
Luckily for the Eagles, they reached a break in the schedule, playing Maine, Delaware, Fordham and UNH. With each win they seemed to regain confidence and gel as a team.
UNH seemed like a step in the wrong direction as Eli Carter needed 28 to lead BC to an overtime win. The Eagles limped into ACC play at 7-6 and promptly faced one of the most storied programs of all time.
The Duke matchup on January 2 showed a glimpse of what the Eagles could accomplish. They started the game hot and played together, however they ultimately lost by double digits.
Looking down the ACC schedule is daunting. Notre Dame, Syracuse, Pitt, Miami, then Notre Dame again. The entire ACC schedule is full of tough games. It would take something special to end the season above .500 but with a team this talented it is certainly a possibility.
In short the team needs consistent play from their starters. Clifford seems to have on and off games and Eli Carter either seems to be on fire or ice cold. A 70% free throw percentage also is subpar for a point guard.
AJ Turner and Jerome Robinson have been great additions to the team as freshmen but turn the ball over too much and need to mature. Overall, I am excited to get back to the Heights to watch the boys play. I expect them to play in some close games and upset a team or two.