Reggie Jackson #0 of the Boston College Eagles shoots against Jerai Grant #45 of the Clemson Tigers during the first half in the quarterfinals of the 2011 ACC men's basketball tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum on March 11, 2011 in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Brian: Reggie Jackson leaving the program early will significantly lower expectations for the Eagles basketball program in 2011-12. But just how low will expectations for next season be?
The departures of Jackson (NBA Draft), Elmore (transfer) and the graduation of eight seniors including Joe Trapani, Corey Raji, Biko Paris and Josh Southern, leave Donahue with a roster full of walk-ons, freshmen and transfers. The only players who saw any significant playing time last year were freshman Gabe Moton and walk-on Danny Rubin. Yikes.
Even though the Eagles have what appears to be a manageable ACC schedule next season, I'm wondering whether Donahue will have enough talent to contend in the conference and make a return trip to college basketball's postseason.
Where should the bar be set in terms of expectations for next season?
Jeff: If we look back to this time last year expectations were real low for the 2010-11 Eagles and we were pleasantly surprised to see them compete for a berth into the NCAA tournament, ending up just one win short. Here we are again and I think we need to set the exact same goals. We should be very happy if BC makes the NIT. BC has less talent returning but a better recruiting class coming in.
If this were football, we'd be doomed. But in basketball, freshmen sometimes turn out to be the best players on a team, in a conference or in the nation. A winning record and an NIT berth might be a stretch for Donahue's team but I think it is attainable. The team might actually not have a let down loss to a team like Yale this season and if they can manage to win all those games that they should win, they'll just have to steal a few here and there to make some form of the postseason.
If Donahue's team can show improvement throughout the season next year, even if we fall short of our goal, we should have some good seasons to come. It also helps in recruiting when a player feels they can earn a starting position right away. At BC right now, Donahue can say that in every living room he sits in.
Brian: I agree. I think that any sort of postseason should be the goal for Donahue's team. The NIT would be gravy, but playing in one of the other tournaments (CBI, CIT) would only help this team develop further and play more basketball in March and/or April.
I think the schedule will be much more manageable next season. The ACC schedule lightens considerably, and there's obviously a reason GDF will likely duck Harvard this season. I think the AD will put together a much easier non-conference schedule knowing that this will be a rebuilding season for Donahue and the Eagles. I actually don't think a winning record is a stretch for this team, and Gene will put BC in a position to succeed with an easier sched this year. I think the Eagles will face more than just a couple RPI Top 200+ teams as they did this season.