The Bowl Games of Basketball Season: Part II – BC’s Young Stars Take to the Barclays Center and Defeat Fordham
By: Stephen McAlee
I had been to the Barclays Center, the home of the Brooklyn Nets and New York Islanders, one time prior to Tuesday’s doubleheader. It was three years ago as I watched the St. Joseph’s Hawks defeat Notre Dame in overtime in a college basketball season kick-off tournament. That was a great game, and I hoped for a similarly-competitive match-up as the Eagles faced the Fordham Rams. In my one prior trip to the Barclays Center, I was in awe of the arena’s configuration and style. Simply put, for a basketball fan, it is a cool place to be, and I had a good feeling that the very young Boston College Eagles would also be pretty pumped to be playing in such a unique venue, the newest arena in the NBA, the sight of the 2013 NBA Draft, and the host to last year’s NBA All-Star Game.
But enough about how cool the Barclays Center is. It is a great arena, and it was a huge privilege for WZBC Sports to add it to our already phenomenal list of visited away venues. This game, though, the second match-up of the ACC-Atlantic 10 Double Header, was of great importance to the Eagles if you ask me. Not only was it the team’s second-to-last game before the brutal ACC schedule starts, but it was in the home of an NBA team! A year or two ago, I doubt that these nine freshman or two sophomores could have imagined that getting the change to play on such a stage could be commonplace. While this is the first trip to an NBA arena this year for the Eagles, being in the ACC makes these sorts of games normal.
It is no secret that coach Jim Christian, in his second season as head coach, is in a rebuilding mode. His squad came into the Fordham game as the only ACC team with a losing record, and the rest of the season will not get any prettier. Virginia Tech, who was down by nearly thirty at points in the second half to St. Joseph’s in the first game, Georgia Tech, and Wake Forest are also rebuilding. There are ups and downs for even the teams in the nation’s best conferences. From 2006-2010, North Carolina State failed to make the NCAA Tournament. It has since been in the tournament every year. Just last year, they knocked off top-seeded Villanova as an 8-seed, advancing to the Sweet 16. For most of the 2000s, Florida State had been an ACC afterthought. Now it sits at 9-2 and are a favorite to be playing in March. Even in a conference as great as the ACC, programs have ups and downs, but in a conference this good, every team will find its way back to prominence, and so will BC. Mid-major and small conferences nationwide line up to have the chance to play an ACC opponent, just as St. Joseph’s and Fordham did in Brooklyn. The ACC has that mystique. Jerome Robinson, who posted 19 points against Fordham and was the game’s MVP, and AJ Turner, who posted 7 rebounds and 6 points in a very complete performance, saw this in choosing BC. They, by coming to the Heights, were going to play in NBA arenas, travel to places like historic Cameron Indoor, be on ESPN, and most of all, turn a program around, just as TJ Warren of the Phoenix Suns did for NC State. That is what an ACC team offers to its recruits, and in time, every ACC team will return to its rightful place in the NCAA Tournament.
If one game so far made this bright future clear, it was Fordham. The Fordham game was a great day for the team. The young guys carried the team, gritty senior Steve Perpiglia was given a scholarship for his final semester, and the team most importantly won to get back to a .500 record. The Eagles go 1-1 in the bowl games of the basketball season, as they enter the Barclays Center and hand Fordham only its second loss of the season. As I said in my previous article, in a few years, it will be BC entering conference play with only a loss or two, ready to compete for an ACC crown. That time is not now. Now is about recruiting and developing. They are the main objectives this season, but along the way, winning a few games on a big stage doesn’t hurt.