That's gonna leave a mark. - USA TODAY Sports
Eagles have shown marked improvement over the last four games. Can Boston College translate that into a strong finish down the stretch?
Jeff: Tuesday night's victory over Maryland gave the Eagles their fourth conference win of the season which matches their conference win total for last season. With the longer conference season this year, the Eagles are likely to finish with five or six wins and might even finish with seven.
Last year the Eagles got their fourth conference win on their final home game of the season against Georgia Tech. This year, the Eagles have only lost at home to the top 4 teams in the ACC and taken care of the other teams who have come to Conte. At the same time, BC also picked up one road victory at Virginia Tech versus no road wins last season. We all know about the close losses -- "moral victories" -- this team has had so are you ready to say the basketball team is showing significant improvement from last season? Or do you need to see some more victories including one in the ACC Tournament?
Brian: This team is clearly improved from this time a year ago. There's no question. The better question is if the year over year improvement is substantial enough to lead you to believe that Donahue is on the right track with this group of players.
A little over two weeks ago, coming off the loss at Miami, I would have told you the program wasn't where I would have liked it to be. The defense was still pretty brutal. The team wasn't shooting the ball well nor were they making free throws. There were tons of mismatches on the floor. Something has clicked though over the last two weeks and Donahue has the team playing much better basketball. Perhaps its the emergence of Eddie Odio as an energy guy / one-man dunking crew. Maybe the team has done nothing but shoot free throws in practice for two weeks. Or maybe we changed up the defensive scheme to the point where it's finally working out.
Whatever the case may be, this has been a starkly different program the last two weeks. A one point loss at home to #4 Duke, followed by a close victory over Wake, a three-point road loss to Florida State (where BC shot lights out from three) followed by an 11-point home victory over Maryland (highlighted by shooting better than 95% from the line).
There's no question now that the team is on an upward trajectory to the point where you can reasonably hope that some postseason tournament will be in play for Boston College in 2013-14.
As for this season, there are five games left in the regular season -- @ Duke, @ N.C. State, Virginia, @ Clemson and Georgia Tech -- followed by at least one in the ACC Tournament. As many have said in the comments section, BC will arguably be one of the toughest first round outs in the Tournament. How do you see the final five games of the regular season playing out? What would you be happy with as a final result over the final 6+ games of the year?
Jeff: First, I think yes, the improvement is substantial enough to feel good about Donahue. He is playing entirely Freshman and Sophomores right now so I like where things are headed. However, that does not mean that if the progress doesn't continue next season, Donahue won't be on an extremely hot seat at the end of next season and may even find himself unemployed.
The rest of this season I want to see BC win a game in the ACC Tournament to be happy. Right now they appear to be headed to the 8-9 game against Clemson and I will be disappointed if they cannot get a win in that game. If the Eagles manage to win three of their next five but lose in the ACC Tournament first round, I will be disappointed.
Brian: So much of the ACC Tournament is luck of the draw though. I would be happy with three wins in the final six any which way they come. I'm hopeful that BC can hold serve at home, beating both Virginia and Georgia Tech. I'll take a third win any way BC can get it -- at Duke, at N.C. State, at Clemson or in the first round of the ACC Tournament. With the way the Eagles have been playing over the last four games, if they can keep the momentum going, BC will be an extremely tough out in the ACC Tournament.