I thought it would be an interesting exercise to take a look at each of the new coaches in the ACC and their performance thus far. It's pretty clear that Steve Donahue is not only getting the most out of his players, but overachieving as well, with great wins over IU, Texas A&M, Cal, Providence and Maryland. Clemson has had a tough road, but have no bad losses (all to teams in the top 75 in KenPom, and all from BCS conferences). Brownell doesn't have much to work with as well, and has already signed his first 4* recruit. Wake, well we all know the story there.
Steve Donahue's team was picked to finish near the bottom of the ACC before the season began, and a 75-67 home loss to Yale in the second game of the season seemed to confirm those suspicions. Since then, though, the Eagles have gone 7-1 -- their only loss coming to Wisconsin -- and racked up some reasonably impressive wins in the process. Consider Sunday's effort in that vein: Boston College's offense was good enough to beat a very capable Maryland team in the Terrapins' building. BC scored 1.14 points per possession and gave up 1.08 in 63 possessions Sunday. That's not exactly legendary defensive performance, but this is what Boston College does. It scores enough to erase the problems that might arise when you allow opponents to average more that a point per possession.
"[Leading scorer] Reggie [Jackson] putting his head down and dribbling the ball is not what we want, and he knows that," Trapani said. "Me taking contested shots or putting my head down and making plays for myself, that's usually not in the best interest of our team, and we need to be mindful of that and get it completely out of our system because … [Donahue] is not going to accept it anymore, and I don't think we're going to accept it anymore, either.
"That Yale game was a wakeup call," Trapani added. "I think it was the best thing for us."
On his first day as BC coach, Donahue reached out to some of the most influential figures in New England youth basketball, hoping to repair crucial relationships that frayed during Skinner’s 13-year tenure. The list of elite Division 1 players from New England who have shunned BC in recent years include Erik Murphy (Florida), Nate Lubick (Georgetown), Jordan Williams (Maryland), Alex Oriakhi (Connecticut), and Carson Desrosiers (Wake Forest).
"Some terrific players have left the region, for whatever reason,’’ Donahue said. "That’s why I wanted to reach out to those guys.’’
"He’s doing all the right things,’’ Gassnola said. "Without a doubt, he’s going to change the impression some of us had of BC basketball.’’’
I would say it's one of the few places in America that I feel is one of the best academic institutions, that can compete for a national championship in basketball. So I think I don't have to take any shortcuts, and I can do everything that I've always done to recruit great kids with academic desires and then get an opportunity to play in what I consider to be the best basketball conference in the country.
When I thought about leaving Cornell, I always thought it could only be something like this. I didn't necessarily think I was going to leave Cornell, but I said if it had to be, it had to be this kind of situation where it's just so good academically and so good basketball-wise, in a great city, that that's probably my best move.