Sunday, March 31, 2013

Don't forget about The Boston College Hockey Blog

With the Hockey season's abrupt end, I wanted to thank The Boston College Hockey Blog for their coverage this year. The blog is consistently the best source for BC hockey news.

This offseason should provide plenty of news as we learn more about who comes back and track York's recovery. I am sure The Boston College Hockey Blog will have solid opinion, news and analysis along the way. I don't give hockey enough attention, but fortunately these guys do.

Union ends Hockey's run

Like many I now take Frozen Four appearances as a given. After Union's 5-1 over the Hockey team, we won't be going anywhere. Union's dominance was the culmination of a few weeks where everything just seemed a bit off. First York dealt with another eye surgery. Then we lost in the Hockey East. Now were are out of the NCAAs after one round. 

The game really turned on penalties. BC kept getting whistled and Union kept converting their chances. We scored a late goal to break up their shutout, but after their first goal we really lost momentum.

Now BC is left to regroup and get ready for next season. The biggest questions isn't roster or defense, but York's health. For those who watched the game, you probably saw York's eye-patch. Let's hope the tie off leads to a full recovery.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Momah gets his NFL shot with Philly

The other Eagles signed Ifeanyi Momah to a three-year deal. Because he was not draft eligible, Momah was free to sign whenever and with whatever team he wanted. After his strong showing at BC's Pro Day, Momah had multiple options.

Philadelphia made sense for a lot of reasons. They are changing offenses, so Momah will be learning a new system at the same time his teammates are (which levels the playing field). There are many BC ties and coaches he knows so they will make sure he gets a fair shake.

Because NFL deals are not guaranteed Momah could still be let go before the season starts. But as long as he stays healthy, I think he will play. Congrats to him and I hope he shines.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Tweets of the Week

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Addazio goes local again with second verbal

It didn't take Isaac Yaidom long to decide BC was the place for him. It was only early this week that BC even offered him. Yaidom can play either WR or DB. I am sure they will give him looks at both sides of the ball. He's not a highly-rated prospect yet, but there is a lot to like about the commitment.

All politics recruiting is local
There was a lot to criticize Spaz for, but one of the most legitimate complaints was his inability to close out local kids. New England needs to be the base of our recruiting and a guy like Yaidom is a good sign that we can turn the tide among local prospects and coaches.

Yaidon is originally from Virginia and recently called Virginia Tech his "dream school" and the Hokies had interest. Addazio and staff did enough to change his mind. That's good selling/recruiting.

Closing on early targets
Under Spaz BC had a terrible time converting their early targets into commitments. I don't know if Yaidom is a legit prospect but BC thinks highly of him. Now instead of the kid slow playing us, he committed right away. That is a big difference. Hopefully this leads to better roster management and more recruiting momentum.

This is a big class and there is an eternity between now and signing day. It will take many twists and turns, but the early signs are very positive.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Change is about more than tailgating

BC announced their 2013 Football tickets sales Wednesday. The prices are unchanged and the school is opening up new parking spots and rolling out a "You're No. 1" theme intended to change the whole BC-fan experience. I am not a season-ticket holder so it is easy (but slightly uniformed) for me to rail against what BC does and doesn't do on game day. But the reality is demand and attendance dropped the past few years.  Even outside of the lackluster product on the field, BC is now facing the changing marketplace for sports. These are a few suggestions.

1. Keep the action constant. I actually got this idea from Mark Cuban. He says his worst nightmare is seeing people looking down at their smart phones during games. I understand that BC cannot have a juggler running out on the field during every TV timeout, but there has to be something to fill the breaks in the action. Give people a reason to be there in person. If all they are getting is the game action, you will lose them to the TV experience. This probably means a significant upgrade in the scoreboard and the scoreboard features.

2. More dynamic pricing. The internet has already done this to a certain extent on the reseller's market, but  I think BC should test new ideas. The Army game is not as valuable as the Virginia Tech game. They should probably be priced accordingly. Even if it is net-revenue neutral for BC, the perception of the customer changes. They don't feel they are being "ripped off" by a less-exciting home slate.

3. Market and communicate culture changes. The two big ingrained fan behaviors need to change. The first is the late arriving crowd. The second is the fans who get mad at other fans for standing and cheering. BC has tried a few things here and there to change both, but nothing took hold. I think BC has to communicate its desire to change both and change the marketing around it. For getting to the seats on-time, that involves adjusting the tailgating policy in a friendly way, but also creating some sort of "must see" tradition to get people to their seats (a live eagle, maybe). For the "down in fronts" I think BC needs to potentially segregate the crowd. Ask people when they renew if they want a "loud" or "reserved" section. It might be weird to have whole sections sitting while others stand, but at least the fans will be with others like themselves.

What other ideas do you want to see?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Recruiting challenge reminder

Kentucky combo-guard Darryl Hicks committed to BC Tuesday. He's well-regarded and should provide some nice relief to both Rahon and Hanlan next year. Hicks represents a solid recruiting job by the Donahue staff and would be a nice piece in a stable program. BC's not a stable program and that is where Donahue's challenge comes into play.

We ended the season on a high note. Hanlan exploded and the team proved they could play good defense and hang with some of the best teams in the country. With our core coming back and maturing a year, next year should be a turning point. To break through we probably need one big man. A Center/Power Forward type would give us size when we face bigger teams and provide an insurance policy if Clifford never regains his old form. Hicks and his fellow incoming freshman Garland Owens are nice to haves but still leave us with a hole on the front line. And with two commits and the megaclass becoming Juniors, Donahue now only has two scholarships to work with and no impact big man on the horizon.

Donahue has to win next year. But at the same time he has to plan for life after the Anderson/Clifford/Odio class. Taking Hicks is a move to solidify the program.

Donahue has a few options. With two scholarships open he can still add more pieces to his current recruiting class. While that might create more imbalance, a betting man would guess we will have more attrition (Caudill?) freeing up other scholarships for next year's class. Or he can look for another 5th year like Van Nest who gives him size for one season. Or he can wait for an elite big man to come along and make the most of the guys he has now.

My hope is that he finds a big man for next year. Whether it is a 5th year, a Juco (highly unlikely) or a freshman. While scholarship balance is a good thing, I don't think we should take this year's finish for granted. We have a window next year. Win now and figure the rest out later.

Monday, March 25, 2013

ACC Helmet Hullaballoo

Take a look at Wake's new helmet. Nothing special, right? Fits in with their current style but adds a new dimension with the white base.

Now check out the other side.

Ugly. Tacky. Over the top. It is not Wake Forest, but it is the trend in college football. 

I've addressed the helmet and uniform issue millions of times, but if conservative Wake Forest can come out with a "cool" look, we can try something different and better than the white-stripe nonsense.

Wake will also use a matte look this season.

If all the cool kids are doing it, hopefully this gets BC one step closer to my "eagle wings" design.

Best news of the Day

This is very good news. I don't know how much the eye surgery will slow York down or if he'll be able to travel the following week (assuming we win), but I am happy for him that he'll be part of this tournament.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hockey to face Union in Providence

As expected BC earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. We will play Union this Saturday night. The winner faces the winner of Canisius and Quinnipiac. The good news is that the game is in Providence so any BC fan wanting to go can. We also got a decent bracket and have a very good chance of advancing to another Frozen Four.

BC provided no guidance on Jerry York's status. I would find it hard to imagine him coming back this week.

For more on the tournament, check out USCHO's bracket breakdown.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Baseball loses and other links

Weather forced the Baseball team to move their series with North Carolina to Chapell Hill. As you can imagine, that didn't make things easier. They lost a doubleheader on Saturday. The teams wrap up the series on Sunday. 

Greg Brown will be an assistant on the U.S. National Junior Team in 2014. This is a type of experience that will boost Brown's resume and may lead to him being the favorite to replace York whenever York decides to retire.

The Women's Lacrosse team lost to North Carolina too

Friday, March 22, 2013

Not our night

It wasn't supposed to be like this. We were supposed to build on our momentum, beat BU and send Jack Parker into retirement. It was going well. BC was up 2-0 and putting the pressure on. Then things all fell apart. BU tied the game quickly and then went ahead and won 5-2. BC really hurt itself with dumb penalties. This leaves us out of the Hockey East Tournament. Let's hope everyone regroups for the NCAAs.

The BC Women will break through at the Frozen Four...just not this year. They lost to Minnesota in OT. It is a tough pill to swallow, but it doesn't dampen another strong season.

Tweets of the Week

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Digging into the BC Baseball team's issues

By any measure the BC baseball team is having a rough start. It wasn't supposed to be this way. To get a handle on what is going wrong I asked Brian from College Baseball Daily some questions. His answers are below.

1. The season got off to a terrible start. They've even had a rough time with the baseball equivalent of mid-majors. What's gone wrong?

Brian Foley: Everything possible without major injuries. The Eagles can't pitch or hit. They are currently ranked 279th in team ERA at 7.07 with the nearest team in the conference 2.6 runs ahead of them. They are ranked 288th in team batting average at .212. There is ONLY 296 Division 1 college baseball teams so it isn't like they can get much worse.

2. After last season you said BC would have a winning year this season. Can they rebound and have a respectable finish?

Brian Foley:  If Boston College wins more then five games in the ACC this season, I would be stunned. This team is a mess right now with no pro prospects besides Tommy Bourdon.

3. The team is young. What are your early impressions of the freshmen?

Brian Foley: They haven't lived up to expectations at all. Chris Shaw right now has been a disaster as he has started 17 out of 18 games while hitting now .123 heading into this weekend. He was the second best prospect in the Futures League this past summer and hasn't lived up to his billing at all.

4. I have no idea where baseball is on Brad Bates' radar, but at what point does Gambino get put on the hotseat? Does his relationship with DeFilippo impact his status positively or negatively in any way?

Brian Foley: I think Gambino will get another chance after this season then the seat will get warm. There is some major issues at Boston College with the baseball team but they have all the scholarships possible but they don't have a paid second assistant coach. Of course, the facility is an absolute joke!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Gaudreau award and other links

The Hockey East media voted Gaudreau the Player of the Year. Whitney, Mullane and Matheson also earned all conference honors. Whitney also earned the Walter Brown award on Tuesday.

William & Mary hired Kevin Rogers as their Offensive Coordinator. Even though he is tight with Addazio, returning to BC wouldn't have been a good idea for either side.

The ACC Coaches also thought Hanlan was the Rookie of the Year.

BC target Nick Carovillano is getting attention from MAC schools.

The Rangers recalled Chris Kreider.

BC sailors are a critical part of the national team.

Rooting for the long shots

Pro Day is about the guys entering the NFL Draft, but every year there are a handful of BC football alums that also work out. The older guys are not eligible for the Draft. Instead they are using this as one last chance to catch the eye of an NFL scout. This year's returnees were Lars Anderson and Ifeanyi Momah.

Everyone knows about Momah's health and eligibility issues. Anderson -- who had a fairly productive BC career -- hurt himself at last year's Pro Day ruining any outside chance at getting drafted. A year later both of these guys still want to play. I am a blatant homer, but I actually think both could be NFL contributors. Anderson was a good blocker and there are many teams that could use a hybrid TE/FB/Special Team. For someone like Anderson the more hats he can wear, the better. Momah is a different case. He has all the tools to be a good, maybe great NFL WR. But no one knows if he can since he never got to show it at the college level. Our offenses and his injuries neutered any potential showcase. Now that he is healthy, someone will invite him to camp. His height alone is attractive enough and he'll get good recommendations on his personality (he's the type coaches like to have around). The question then becomes can he catch enough balls and turn enough heads to stick with a team. I think and hope he can.

There a little secret about college football players. A lot of them don't like playing football. Playing is a grind and for many a means to an end. But for guys like Momah and Anderson -- who still want to play -- this is a tough time. Do they give up their dream or keeping grinding? Our two guys will probably never play in the NFL, but they and I can still hope for one last chance. 

Momah talking to the media.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Thoughts on Spring Practice

BC opened its Spring Practice season Tuesday. The Heights provided coverage too. But not much is going to come out of the first practice. Addazio said as much himself. The roster is the roster. There is no influx of talent. So it is all about making the talent we have better and changing the culture around the program.

We won't know much until the Spring Game but the secondhand stuff I am hearing about Addazio is positive. He's saying the right things to the players. He's leaning on the Seniors and getting them to buy in. Some coaches might cast Spaz guys aside and focus on his own players. The fact that Addazio is not speaks to his need to win right away and his willingness to work with the pieces he has.

Unlike past seasons, I think this Spring Game will be very telling. I know Rettig will start and get most of the snaps, but will we pass the ball much and what will our tempo be?  I also want to see how aggressive we are on defense. Long-term I am not worried about Don Brown's schemes or play calling. But short term there could be some growing pains.

If you think skepticism is natural among the fanbase, think of what it is like for these jaded players. Even if we don't come out as a crisp football team, Addazio's final goal should be to have every remaining players buy in.

(It is nice to have hope again, isn't it?)

Monday, March 18, 2013

There's no real QB competition and other links

Spring Practice starts this week and the forced narrative is that everyone including Rettig is battling for his job. We don't know that much about Addazio yet, but I know he's not going to totally ruin this season based simply on systems. He can talk about Chase competing, but he and his staff are planning on Rettig being the No. 1 QB next season. He is also passing on assurances to Rettig and the WRs that we will pass the ball and he needs them.

BC also updated the Spring Roster. The big news is that we didn't keep that many potential 5th years. Shinskie is gone and so is Marscovetra. Richardson and Andre Lawrence are not listed either and presumably gone. Kaleb Ramsey is still listed so it looks like he's getting his sixth year. 

The ACC coaches named Ryan Anderson third team all conference. Hanlan made the All Freshman team. 

Jim Irsay says that he has "two tackles that we can win the Super Bowl with." Would it have killed him to throw in a BC reference too with that quote?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Weekend roundup

Baseball had another winless weekend in ACC play. On Sunday they lost to Georgia Tech 9-1.

Olivier Hanlan made the All ACC Tournament Second Team.

Softball had a good Saturday winning their games against LIU and Radford.

Lacrosse lost to Maryland.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick window at BC

BC's flikr account posted this today.

(For those of you who are still students, please appreciate your surroundings while you can.)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Hockey advances despite York's absence

The good news: the Hockey team handled Vermont 4-2 to win the series and advance to the Hockey East Semis. Of course we will face BU in what could be Jack Parker's final game.

The disconcerting news is that Jerry York missed the game with another detached retina. I know nothing about eye issues beyond what you can read on WebMd. BC announced that he will have another surgery on Monday. Can he recover in time for Friday's game against BU? I have no idea. I know we are in good hands with the assistants, but I am not really concerned about the team. I want a speedy and full recovery for York. Keep him in your prayers.

Women headed back to Frozen Four

The Women rallied to beat Harvard 3-1 in the NCAA quarterfinals. It is on to the Frozen Four in Minnesota next week. The Women's Frozen Four begins next Friday.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Over for now

BC lost to Miami to finish the season 16-17. The losing record means we are not going to the NIT and as Donahue made clear, we are not paying to play in the CIT or CBI. This is the end of this season, but perhaps the start of something bigger. I will have more in the coming days and weeks on the basketball team's progress and future, but this game was a pretty good microcosm for the season. BC started slow, played long stretches of great basketball but made enough mistakes to let the game slip away. Other thoughts:

-- Heckmann's offense. He was my whipping boy for most of the season, so credit should go where it is due. He finished the year strong. I like his willingness to beat his man off the dribble and he knocked down some big shots.
-- BC attacking the basket. Against a big team like Miami you wouldn't expect us to drive and cut so much, but it worked well in the first half.
-- Anderson's defensive work. He did a great job moving his feet and fronting Miami's bigs.

-- BC's inability to exploit the double. Miami doubled Hanlan with a big man and a guard and we didn't consistently convert. Hanlan will see more doubles next year so we need to work on this area of his game.
-- Missing FTs. A recurring issue in many of our losses.

In-game comments post: BC vs Miami ACC Tourney

Yesterday turned out to be historic. Winning today would be equally big and probably get us into the NIT. Let's hope it is another fun game.

Go BC!

Tweets of the Week

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Friday ACC Tourney Game Watches

The noon start for BC's rematch against Miami is perfect for those on the East Coast. Turn your lunch into a game watch. Here are official watches. Post any other watches in the comments section.

Boston Game Watch
Battery Park
33 Batterymarch St
Boston, MA 02110

Washington, DC Game Watch
Irish Whiskey Public House
1207 19TH Street NW
Washington, DC

Addazio on recruiting and other links

Addazio is taking his pitch to the recruiting writers. Fair or not, the positive coverage will help our recruiting efforts.

Hanlan's shot chart.

The ESPN ACC Blog people think we will be pretenders next year.

ESPN wrote the oral history of the Big East Tournament without interviewing one BC guy. 


The image above is from Olivier Hanlan trending nationally on Twitter. A 41-point game will do that. I didn't expect that and I don't think anyone expected it when BC fell down 15-0 early in the game. But improved defense and a lights out day from BC's freshmen turned the game on its head. There will be plenty of superlatives for Hanlan in the next few hours. Let's start with the most points by a freshman in a ACC Tournament game. It was also the most points a BC player has ever scored in a Conference Tournament game.

-- Hanlan obviously. The scoring is going to get talked to death, so let's focus on the defense. Hanlan had three steals and his pressure helped turn the momentum in the game.
-- Contagious scoring. One player can lift the other players in so many ways. Other guys started knocking down 3s too. We converted 58% from beyond the arc.
-- Ryan Anderson stepping up. I don't know if he didn't want a freshman showing him up or wanted to get in on the fun, but Anderson broke out a few tricks today too. Donahue didn't like the hotdogging, but you have to like his ability to get his shot off.

-- The start. Georgia Tech got a little lucky on some shots, but I still didn't like that the guys came out in a fog. Great teams don't do that.
-- The refs. Complaining about the refs is lame, but I am going to do it anyway. Georgia Tech kept hacking our guys near the basket. The same thing happened last weekend. Donahue needs to work the refs a bit.

In-game comment post: ACC Tournament Opener

Since so many of you are at work, I thought it might make sense for a comments post. Leave your thoughts on our game below.

Go BC!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Recruiting roundup

I think Massachusetts recruiting will be a big litmus test for Addazio. Spaz couldn't keep homegrown talent interested in BC for a variety of reasons. If Addazio can start keeping local kids, it will be a sign that he's won over local coaches and made players and coaches with options via BC as a destination. One local target is Lubern Figaro. BC was his first offer. Because he just has "interest" from other programs, I would love to see BC lock him up now.

BC has been very active in Georgia (Al Washington doing work!). We have offers to Quarterback Price Wilson and have interest in WR Collin Lisa.

Our pitch is also working with another Georgia prospect Terry Googer.

Here is more on Andrew Ford. While 247 has him as 4 stars, the other services still have not rated him.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Huckaby's rise and other links

As soon as I heard Malcolm Huckaby on BC's radio broadcast last year, I thought he was going places. He's got the voice, the look and provides good analysis. Unlike a lot of analysts he's not just tossing our cliches, but actually making observations and using stats. It only took him one season with us to break into the ESPN family. I bet within two more years, he will be getting prime spots.

The Colts will now have BC guys at both Tackle spots now that they've signed Gosder Cherilus. In less than surprising news Notre Dame will join the ACC next season.

Dallas/FT Worth BC will be in a St. Patrick's Day Parade

This might be a bit random, but I try to support our Alumni network whenever possible. This plug is for those in the Dallas area. Every year the Dallas/Fort Worth BC Alumni Chapter participates in Dallas' St. Patrick's Parade. They are trying to raise awareness for those BC affiliated folks in the area who might want to join in on the fun. They decorate a float and throw out beads and I am sure drink a beer or two.

If you are in Texas and interested in joining go to the parade staging area this Saturday. Look for maroon and gold near Park Ln. and Greenville Ave.

Hanlan named ACC Freshman of the Year

The ACC media voted Olivier Hanlan Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman of the Year. This is quite an honor and our first major piece of basketball hardware in the Donahue era. I know during the second Duke game there was talk of a two-man race with Duke's Rasheed Sulaimon, but the vote wasn't even close.

In the past people have taken me to task over using conferences awards as an indicator of greatness. I realize that awards are not completely objective nor a guarantee of any future success. But they are a benchmark of accomplishment and winning them is never a bad sign. Congrats also need to go to Steve Donahue. While we are still waiting for all the pieces to fall into place, Hanlan is validation that he can recruit ACC-level talent.

Congrats are also owed to Ryan Anderson who also earned conference honors.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Skinner and Donahue are separate issues

Jared Dudley's defense of Al Skinner in the Herald resparked the argument of where our basketball program is, where it should be and where it might have been had Al stayed. While we will know more about the state of the basketball program a week from now, dragging Donahue's progress in with Skinner's situation is not fair to Donahue.

I love Al Skinner. He's a fantastic coach who earned a better ending at BC. I am on record stating that any program that doesn't hire him is foolish. Dudley is right that "BC hasn't been the same since he left." But saying it now was probably not the best timing.

Steve Donahue is trying to build something. It's been fits and starts but we might just be turning the corner. I want Donahue to succeed and hope that he will, but Donahue's mission is why BC hasn't been the same since Skinner left. He is not trying to emulate Al or carry on Al's vision for the program. He made sure of that when he churned the roster quickly and changed the style of play.

We don't know where the program would be under Al now. And it doesn't matter since the guy who fired Skinner is no longer making decisions for BC. Steve Donahue has another week and then another season to show he has the program headed in the right direction. He should be given that time. We gave it to Al and it paid off in a big way.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Weekend roundup

Johnny Gaudreau exploded for six points (two goals and four assists) and BC throttled Vermont. The victory secured a 2 seed and a rematch against UVM next weekend in the opening round of the Hockey East tournament.

This weekend marked the conclusion of the ACC regular season. As expected BC and Georgia Tech remained in the 8th and 9th spots respectively and will play each other again in the first round of the ACC Tournament. The game will start at noon and the winner faces Miami on Friday.

The Women's Hockey team earned a 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament and will play their opener at home this Saturday.

Baseball fell to 0-3 in ACC play after losing again to Florida State. Not a great start to the season.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Still streaking

We needed a statement game and we got one. The team earned their seventh regular season ACC win by defeating Georgia Tech 74-72. But as we measure the team's progress and growth, it wasn't just the win that was so important. It was how they won. They overcame their own mistakes and deficits. They dictated the pace and scoring in the final minutes and then -- when Tech made a go of it in the final seconds, they held on despite some cringe worthy mistakes. Here are some other thoughts.

-- Rahon driving. He was able to convert and Tech never really adjusted or backed off.
-- Another Odio spark. The 3s, the dunks, the block...all were big momentum plays. He was also fouled repeatedly on drives in the first half that weren't called.
-- Disrupting the passing lanes. BC's picked up a couple of key steals when guys anticipated long passes by Tech and just moved into the pass. Those sorts of plays are signs that the guys are "getting it."

-- Free Throw Shooting. The only reason the game got as close as it did was due to some missed free throws in the second half.  
-- Return of the careless turnovers. BC had gotten better at protect the ball and the possessions, yet in this game some of the same issues game into play. Tech converted many of these mistakes into quick points.
-- Half court defense. I tweeted during the game that I thought the pace would favor BC. But Tech's scoring wasn't all pace. There were many times where we played too off of guys leading to some surprise scoring from the Jackets.

Friday, March 08, 2013

The importance of the 7th ACC win

As BCI laid out already, Saturday's basketball game against Georgia Tech has huge ACC Tournament implications. But in my opinion the seeding issues are secondary. Regardless of who we open up against we are not winning the tournament. What is important is getting to seven regular season conference wins.

One more win does three things. First it keeps us out of the bottom third of the conference. That is smalln but perception around the league matters when it comes to end of season awards and future TV schedules.

A seventh win would also gives Donahue the chance to end the season with a mini win streak. It is something to build off of with the players and his own staff. It is the type of confidence booster that seemed lacking at times this year.

Finally another win would be a clear sign of progress to Bates and the basketball fanbase. Going from four to six wins with a bigger ACC slate (18 games compared to last year's 16) is not great progress. Getting to seven is better. 

Next year Donahue is going to be under tremendous pressure to turn the corner. Starting that turn with a win on Saturday would be nice.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Take part in the Mark Herzlich Golf Tournament

Although he has moved onto the NFL and although his battle with cancer was very personal, I think Mark Herzlich and the Herzlich family would gladly acknowledge how important the BC community was to them during the ordeal. There is no clearer sign of that than Mark holding his annual golf tournament in Massachusetts and passing on the proceeds to a BC charity.

This year's event will take place July 1 in Plymouth.  In addition to Mark, there will be other New England sports heroes and BC guys. Foursome and hole sponsorship opportunities are still available. For more information or to sign up go to and go to the Boston College chapter.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Bring on the MEGAplex!

The winter has not been kind to BC's facilities. First a pipe burst in the Yawkey Center. Then the bubble collapsed due to snow. The final nail in the coffin was Syracuse announcing they were building an indoor practice facility. The sport facilities issues keep mounting for BC. Regardless of how you prioritize, most agree that BC needs the following:

-- Reconfiguration/renovation of Conte
-- Renovation and upgrade to Alumi Stadium (sound, scoreboard, seeting, etc)
-- Hockey practice rink
-- Indoor Practice Facility (primarily used for football)
-- More parking
-- A new Olympic length pool
-- A modern student athletic complex

That is an expensive tab. But I don't think money is our biggest challenge. Space is the primary issue. I also think the University has other priorities, so sports facilities always get a band-aid approach instead of a multi-year methodical solution. That needs to change. We need all of those things listed. We need elite facilities. And we need to break ground soon. In order to overcome the space issue, I think we should demolish everything we have and rebuild on the current footprint (look at the map above). It would take years and create a lot of juggling but it could be done. Georgia Tech -- another city campus with some land restrictions -- just demolished their basketball arena and built a new one on the same site. Alumni and Conte already share walls, so the concept of a dozen sports sharing an interconnected complex is not new to BC. By thinking of it as all one project, you can start to get creative with space and avoid duplicative areas.

I don't think the teams would suffer as we could find temporary homes for most of them (football at Fenway, hockey and hoops at the Garden). The biggest loser would be your average student who uses the current Plex. But missing out for one or two school years can be justified by the long-term needs served by the MEGAplex.

If we had some sort of historic gym or stadium I would be the first one in front of the bulldozer. But that is not the case. Alumni has moved locations and changed its look and configuration. As long as the Football portion of the complex is called Alumni, all will be happy. I don't know if we would still need basketball and hockey to share an arena. Maybe smaller, sport-specific locations would serve both programs better. But that sort of idea cannot happen as long as you view Conte as a stand-alone project.

BC has a master plan with some band-aid solutions for sports. I don't see a champion for my complete knock down idea, but Bates needs to at least consider something big. The same old approach will leave us behind the ACC and wondering what to do next.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

BC (finally) wins at Clemson

It was the Olivier Hanlan show tonight.  After BC played an uninspired first half, Hanlan took control of the offense in the second.  In the middle of the second half Hanlan was our offense, and BC scored seemingly at will possession after possession while Clemson went stone cold.  BC went up by 9 with under 5-minutes left, but things got scary as turnovers let Clemson back in the game.  Clemson was within 3 late, but Hanlan shown brightest and hit a clutch jumper with under a minute left with the shot clock winding down to open the lead up to 5.  And thanks to some Hanlan FT shooting from there on out, that was all the cushion the team needed to come out of Clemson with a win 68-61.

This is BC's:

  • 2nd road conference win (the first being the opening conference game @VT)
  • First time winning back-to-back conference games this season
  • 5th win in the last 8 games
  • 1st win at Littlejohn (!!!)

Hopefully the team can keep this momentum going when they close out ACC play at Conte vs. GT on Saturday.

-- Hanlan taking control of the offense - He was quiet through the first, but midway through the 2nd Hanlan put the offense on his shoulders with consistent confident drives to the hoop.  And then he mixed in a deep 3 to keep the Clemson defense honest.  Hanlan carried the offense through the middle of the 2nd through the end of the game.  After scoring only 3 points in first half, Hanlan scored a whopping 21 in the 2nd and lead all scorers with 24 points.  He had a phenomenal game.
-- Taking the ball to the hoop - The first half was filled with a lot of timid perimeter play littered with bad perimeter shots.  In the 2nd, we started driving to the rim, and good things happened.  It wasn't just Hanlan who did it.  Rahon and Anderson also had success driving to the hoop in the 2nd, and their play contributed to the run that put BC up for good in the 2nd half.

-- Heckmann moving without the ball - Heckmann showed a little bit of how to run that modified Princeton offense tonight.  He had a few cuts to the undefended hoop for easy layups in the first half.  It really seems as if he's starting to figure out how to be an asset in this offense.

-- Breaking the press - We were holding a 9-point lead late in the 2nd half.  But the game started looking like the Penn State game down the stretch.  BC got sloppy breaking the press and turned the ball over too many times.  We also pressed on offense.  Before you knew it, the 9-point lead was whittled down to 3 with 90 seconds left in the game, and we needed that Hanlan jumper to stop the bleeding.
-- Not converting easy opportunities - When you play on the road, you need to take advantage of every high scoring chance presented to you.  As a team we missed way too many shots right under the rim, especially in the first half.  Another example of missed easy opportunities - the team has been shooting well from the line in the last few weeks, but tonight that wasn't the case for anyone not named Olivier Hanlan.  Take out Hanlan's FT shooting, and we were a very pedestrian 7-13 from the line.  The bottom line is that we left way too many easy points on the floor.
-- First half from beyond the arc - We threw up way too many poor threes in the first half.  Heckmann from NBA range, Rahon rushing a shot out of the beginning of an offensive set, Jackson from the top of the key without his feet set, Van Nest from the wing, Jackson again from 3-feet behind the line at the beginning of the set.  As a team we were 2-10 from beyond the arc in the first half.  A lot of those misses were simply due to poor decisions being made.
-- Bigs shooting from the perimeter - This is a little nit-picky since we did win the game.....but here it goes anyway - yes, Van Nest hit one long range jumper in the first.  And yes, this offense is supposed to be built around the supposition that anyone can hit a shot, but these bigs just aren't connecting right now.  Anderson missed two from the top of the key.  Odio and Van Nest both missed 3s.  It's painful to watch these guys shoot and miss extended jumpers....especially while BC is trying to put together a run (e.g. -  Odio's three point attempt in the middle of our big 2nd half run).

How its death might save Men's Lacrosse

Brad Bates hasn't even been around a full school year and he's already been peppered with the Men's Lacrosse question. This is not new. The most predictable thing about any online chat with former AD Gene DeFilippo was a question about Men's Lacrosse. There is a group of supporters who won't rest until BC brings back a Lacrosse team. I've always been indifferent towards the movement and the sport but as I see Bates face the same line of questioning, I've come to the realization that BC Men's Lacrosse is more popular dead than it ever was alive.

First let me clarify for those who don't follow the sport: BC still has a Men's Lacrosse team. They play BU, Northeastern, UConn, and UNH. They travel to Florida and Texas. They wear Under Armour gear and have their own twitter feed, but you won't find an official mention of them on This is because we don't have a varsity (i.e. scholarship), NCAA sanctioned team. Our guys are technically club and play in the MCLA. We have a team and it is thriving, even as it is on the periphery of BC sports.

For a long time no one really cared about Men's Lacrosse at BC. We had some decent teams and some passionate Alumni, but the sport was never a priority. Lacrosse -- although firmly entrenched in New England -- was still a regional, preppy game. It didn't do much for the school on a national level. When Gene cut the program in 2002, there was some outrage from the Lax Alums, but most people following the situation understood that Title IX compliance was probably the biggest factor in its demise. BC Wrestling and Water Polo had their supporters too when they got cut during the same process.

Unlike the other budget and politics victims, Lax won't really go away. The Alumni still do their part. The media keeps mentioning how BC would be the perfect Lacrosse school. And of course the fans won't let our AD forget that we don't have a Varsity program. This persistence is making BC Men's Lacrosse more relevant than they ever were in the old days.

I feel for the guys currently representing BC on the field. They deserve financial support and the chance to compete at the sport's highest level. But I don't think anything is going to change. In order for Lacrosse to return, BC would either have to cut other active men's teams or create more women's teams to offset the reborn Men's program. But the only reason why there remains a sliver of hope is the passion still being shown for our Men's program. The fans may be a minority, but they are vocal. And then there is the actual team. Bates recently said that sports is the biggest marketing vehicle the school has. If the Men's team can become a MCLA power, that will get noticed by the right people. Michigan turned their MCLA run into a move to DI NCAA lacrosse.

I don't know what the future holds for men's team. I can't fake some sort of passion for the game, but I do have begrudging respect for the ardent supporters. They are annoying but at least they care about something.   I do have one suggestion for them if they are serious about a full return of BC Lacrosse: change the narrative.  Stop pestering Bates with questions about reinstating the sport. Instead use the chats and town halls to ask him what he thinks of the club team. If he plans on attending the games. If he'll go to the MCLA playoffs. Get media interest on the team. Get an article in BC Magazine. See if you can get local media to do stories. And it shouldn't be about "boo hoo" BC needs a lacrosse team. It should be about how great our team is. Positive attention and national success will push the right buttons. That is the next step.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Which FCS teams should BC play?

Playing an FCS team is a necessary evil of big time college football. The financial incentives are too strong not to play one. It is also nothing new for BC fans as we played Holy Cross long after they stopped giving scholarships and we instituted the "good for New England" game early in TOB's tenure. The problem of late is the type of FCS team we are playing. You can mask some games under the guise of geography or history, but the Weber States of the world are not going to fool or excite the most passionate BC fan. There are only a handful of FCS schools BC should play and I've grouped them for this purpose into two categories.

Regional games
New Hampshire
Rhode Island

Playing regional opponents was the intent of the good for New England game. Because Northeastern dropped football and UMass and UConn jumped to FBS, there are fewer options in this category. But that doesn't mean we should stop playing these teams. 75% of the time, these three teams should be available. BC doesn't offer the big pay day they might get elsewhere, but that is somewhat offset by the travel costs. I don't think New England is ever going to become a hotbed of football, but it is important that these schools maintain healthy, scholarship-supported FCS-level programs. Coaches from those programs will coach at our clinics and keep football relevant in the region and among high school. Regional games are good for both sides.

Catholic games

We a quick to remind the media that we are the only other Catholic school playing FBS football. It is part of our identity. Therefore playing other Catholic schools should be important to us. BC has long used football as a tool to associate with like-minded Universities (think Northwestern, Stanford, etc.). Playing other Catholic schools reinforces that idea. Plus we have a football history with these programs.

Candidates who move up to the full allotment of scholarships
Holy Cross
Central Connecticut State
Sacred Heart
San Diego
St. Francis

BC cannot count an FCS win towards bowl eligibility if the school does not offer a full allotment of FCS-level scholarships. That leaves out the Ivy League and puts the future games with Rhode Island in jeopardy. But all the schools listed above have explored using 63 football scholarships. If any do make the commitment we should support them under the same reasoning I stated before. I don't think Bryant or St. Francis will excite many people, but that is the right thing to do. Playing Holy Cross and Georgetown on a regular basis would be ideal. 

Sunday, March 03, 2013

A close win at Conte

The curse of beating Duke lives on.  Back in February, Maryland beat Duke and then went to Conte and BC won.  This afternoon Virginia arrived at Conte coming off a win vs. Duke on Thursday, and BC won this one as well 53-52 thanks to some last-second heroics from Joe Rahon.

For 38 minutes, the game had been looking as if it could be another cookie-cutter Conte game this season....BC was hanging tough against one of the better teams in the conference, but like the previous close games at home versus the likes of NC St., Miami, and Duke this one seemed to be shaping up to be yet another close loss.

But with the game on the line, the defense tightened up and Odio had a nice block which turned into a Hanlan fast break layup to pull us close.  UVA couldn't convert both FTs to give themselves a 3-point lead with 30-seconds left, and Joe Rahon made them pay by hitting a big three with 8-seconds left in the game to get us the 1-point lead and the win.

Here's hoping we can use this exciting win as a springboard to close out the regular season.

-- Rahon bounces back - after a couple previous outings with subpar shooting, Joe Rahon was a solid offensive contributor this afternoon.  He hit a couple threes in the first half to keep us in the game, had a nice set play on a baseline drive to get us back into the game with about 8 minutes left, and hit the clutch winner with 8-seconds left.  He lead BC with 15 points on 5-9 shooting.
-- Hanlan creating on offense - at times, he shows you a great ability to get himself open looks.  Because of that, I wish that sometimes he would take more control of the offense...especially in games when the team is struggling to penetrate off the perimeter like today.  There are stretches where he seems like too passive a participant in the game plan.  Still, his creative play towards the end of the first half and beginning of the second kept BC within striking distance.
-- Anderson vs. the double team - he had a poor first half handling the double.  But in the second half Anderson was able to distribute really well including finding Heckmann for a clutch three and Odio under the basket for a dunk with time on the shot clock expiring.

-- Another slow start - BC opened up the game shooting 1-6 from the field with 3 turnovers in the first 7 1/2 minutes of the game.  These slow starts are unfortunately becoming the norm more than the exception.  
-- Scoring droughts - UVA went on 8-0, 9-0 and 10-0 runs during the game.  We have to do better at letting teams make runs like this against us.  Just a little more offensive consistency would mean a comfortable win vs. needing a last-second shot to win it.
-- Perimeter defense - Joe Harris didn't have his best game by a long shot (4-11 from the field).  But the UVA team as a whole still shot almost 50% from three, and that in turn lead to a lot of easy Akil Mitchell baskets.

The Eagles don't have a lot of time to enjoy this win.  The team's next game is Tuesday at Clemson.  BC hasn't won a road ACC game since the conference opener at VT, and we've only won two road  games all season (the other being the Penn St. win in November) .  Beating Clemson would be nice way to build on today's win.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Hockey night! and other links

Both the men's and women's teams picked up big wins on Friday night. The women put up a barrage of shots on Maine and finally broke through in OT. With the win, they advance to the Hockey East Semis. The men beat Providence 3-2.

Baseball's rough start continued. They lost to Georgia State to fall to 1-6.

Former Eagle Stephen Gionta is excited about playing his first NHL game in Buffalo. It will be a homecoming of sorts for the Upstate New York native.

Get ready for lots of stories on Chase Rettig adjusting to another offense.

Pennsylvania QB Andrew Ford visited BC this weekend.

Blog stuff

Over the next few days you'll get to read a new contributor to Fellow member of the Class of 1998 Will Beekman will be pinch hitting a bit, covering basketball and breaking news while I travel. I will still have blog posts, but unfortunately due to schedule and internet access issues, I won't be able to see our next two basketball games. 

Will is an avid BC fan and has been leading offline conversations among BC fans and Alumni for years. In addition to sharing the same first name and graduation year, Will is also fair-skinned and hails from New Jersey, so you know you are in good hands. I thank him in advance for his help.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Tweets of the Week