Get it? Fresh start?? Because we have a lot of freshmen?? Yeah, you get it.
"After a while, it was just fun...it was a really nice feeling."
Those are the words of Patrick Heckmann -- number 33 on the court, number 1 in our hearts. The freshman guard from Germany posted 19 points and 8 rebounds in his first collegiate game, leading the Boston College Eagles to a 67-64 win over the University of New Hampshire. His post game quote pretty much summed up opening night for Steve Donahue's squad. The first ten minutes of the game were made up of air balls, botched passes, and moving screens. It was quite apparent that these were two teams playing in their first games of the season. Furthermore, it was rather apparent that BC has an abundance of freshmen. There were turnovers galore and no sense of an organized offense. It was basically just bad basketball.
None of this should have been surprising to you, however. We knew how young this roster was and we knew that there would be much coaching to be done. Fortunately for this particular program at Boston College, we have a competent head coach. More than that, I expect Coach Donahue to show us just how good he really is as the season progresses. This is not an easy task. There's no status quo among players and the on-court chemistry is still a work in progress. But this team is in good hands. The game remained close through much of the first half and was tied at 23 with 2:26 remaining. In a game so sloppy, it was clear that the Eagles needed someone to step up their game and start making plays. Patrick Heckmann was that guy. He drove to the basket and hustled for every offensive rebound. As the clock winded down in the first half, Heckmann brought the ball up the court and heaved just as he crossed half court. Swish, naturally.
The whole game consisted of ebbs and flows. Freshmen Ryan Anderson and Dennis Clifford each powered BC through stretches. At some points, they looked brilliant, talented and filled with potential. At other times, they looked like they had never played with one another before. But that's what we signed up for when we trotted 9 first year players out there. There will undoubtedly be a plethora of highs and lows throughout the entire season. Monday night there were just enough highs. Most of the scoring was provided by Heckmann and his fellow freshmen, but perhaps the most crucial play came from a familiar face. The Eagles opened up an 11-point lead in the second half only to see it dwindle to a 1-point lead with 1:19 remaining. Missed free throws kept UNH in the game and made it much closer than it should have been. On the most vital possession of the game the Eagles managed some quality ball movement and got it to John Cahill for an open look. Cahill drained the corner three and caused Conte Forum to actually make some considerable noise. Jordan Daniels, who ran the point rather well when he was in, hit the free throws to ice the game later.
As UNH pushed the ball up the court to try a last second three-pointer to tie the game, Donahue's defense forced a turnover as time expired. As if we needed one more reason to love Heckmann, he took the ball and threw down a thunderous dunk after the buzzer to put the final exclamation point on the Eagles' win.
There was really no way to know what to expect from this team going into tonight. Growing pains were inevitable. This is a team full of freshmen and the start of the season will be rough. It is clear, however, that these guys have a lot of talent. I was pleasantly surprised with how the team started to gel as the night went on. Donahue is still getting to know his players and will be adjusting their minutes throughout the season. The early stages will be sloppy and hard to watch but with Donahue at the helm and his recruits on the floor, after a while it could be just, well, fun.