Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Numerous questions heading into the BC Men's Basketball season

The pandemic saved Jim Christian's job. Instead of using the first few days after the ACC Tournament to finalize a decision and set the course for a new hire, the College Basketball world shutdown and the whole college industry followed shortly thereafter. Despite a strong desire from some, BC leadership decided times and finances were too uncertain and decided to keep Christian around for another season. If someone had come in to cover the expense of a coaching change like Wake Forest did, would BC had made a move? Maybe. If an A List coach like John Beilein had real interest, would BC have made a move? Maybe. But those are just "what if"s. Jim Christian is back and our new AD Pat Kraft has to evaluate what he has done and where the program is heading...all while both men try to navigate the uncertainty of another COVID season.

What's new?

Christian primarily rebuilt the roster with various bodies from mid-majors. This gives him depth and versatility. While all the guys would be contributors on mid-level ACC teams, none are program changers. The big new name freshman is DeMarr Langford Jr (his brother Makai Ashton-Langford is one of the transfers mentioned). Langford could be the type of piece that makes a difference. He's local, his father is connected on the AAU scene and he has enough upside to tantalize any ACC team. BC needs Langford Jr to succeed and then find a New England player like him every year.

What can we expect out of Tabbs?

Aside from the transfers and recruits, Wynston Tabbs is another talent infusion. The challenge is no one knows what to expect. Will he be the player he was two years ago? Can he be better? All the gossip has been good. Now we just need to see it on the court and pray he stays healthy.

What are the expectations for the season?

The basketball world expects very little of BC this year. We were picked 14th in the ACC preseason poll. Kenpom has BC as 86th. ESPN's BPI has BC at 87th.  Bracketology has BC out of the tournament. No one expects BC to do anything this year. I guess that helps, in that a .500 year in ACC play might be a good storyline. 

How does COVID factor into the season?

No fans will be at home games (but that doesn't feel new). Any outbreaks will create schedule changes. BC elected to play in a preseason bubble which means we have our toughest non-conference slate in years.

What does Christian have to do to keep his job?

I have no idea and anyone who claims they know is speculating. Pat Kraft worked at a series of basketball schools in Loyola-Chicago, Indiana and Temple. He knows basketball can make a difference to an Athletic Department and University. Kraft has a front row seat to the energy and excitement Hafley brought to the football team. Regardless of some institutional issues, BC Basketball remains an underperforming source of revenue and a missed opportunity to promote the school and engage the alumni. A coaching change can make a difference. Even the Women's program showed that things can get better prior to a new arena or practice facility. 

But regardless of all the reasons there might be to make a change and all the underachieving prior to this year, no one knows what BC can afford. Revenue is down in all areas, including Athletics. I have no idea if BC leadership will have an appetite to make a change this year, especially if Christian and crew exceed the low, low expectations for the year. 

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