The script is starting to change on the fly for this BC hoops team. After beating Providence in December the story was that the Friars are in rebuild mode and had their mind on Christmas break. After beating Syracuse the narrative was that ‘the Orange were a dumpster fire and are one of the worst teams in the ACC (since then ‘Cuse has defeated Miami and Pitt). Now after beating a squad that granted is coached by a guy who would probably find a way to lose with the 1992 Dream Team, BUT has two projected NBA first round picks on it, the Eagles are starting to get some real national praise.
CBS’s Doug Gottlieb was calling for BC coach Jim Christian to get national recognition
Jim Christian for coach of the year. #BCEagles— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) January 12, 2017
Meanwhile, Scott Spinelli’s "best friend" Jeff Goodman was singing praise for the dynamic BC backcourt
Jerome Robinson and Ky Bowman. Love this young BC backcourt.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) January 12, 2017
This BC team might have lost to Nicholls State, Hartford and Fairfield this year, but I’m only hanging one of those losses on the team when I evaluate where the program stands right now. The truth of the matter is that since the light went on for Ky Bowman in New York City against Auburn this is a drastically different team, and dare I say a team that has the look of a NIT team since that time. Just a couple stats about the Eagles since that victory over Auburn:
-The Eagles are 5-3, with three of those wins coming against KenPom Top 100 teams. A fourth win came against Auburn who is at 102
-Bowman is averaging 19.7 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 3.6 APG and 2.0 SPG in that time
-The team is averaging 79.25 points per game during this span which compared to overall statistics on the season would put the Eagles in the top 20% of scoring offenses in the country.
-In ACC play BC is shooting 55.3% on two point attempts which is tops in the ACC. On the flip side, BC is shooting only 35% from three point land. The narrative that this team "lives and dies by the three" just isn’t accurate
-In ACC play the Eagles are 5th best in offensive rebounds allowed as opponents are only getting to 28.4% of offensive rebound attempts. Not bad for a team that is mostly thought of for its good guard play.
-Ky Bowman is getting a lot of the credit for the turnaround and rightfully so. However, AJ Turner has had a huge role as well. Since the Auburn win, Turner is averaging 11 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.75 assists and 0.8 turnovers per game while shooting 41% from three. Those stats actually mesh well with his overall season stats but the difference here is that he has given BC double digits in scoring in 7-of the-8 games. Prior to that time he was very much up and down with his scoring on a night to night basis.
For the cherry on top when Bowman and Robinson are playing at an elite level and I mean with a Steve Addazio voice EEEEELITE level, and Turner is consistently being the 3rd scoring option and the defensive specialist, it amplifies the intangibles that Connor Tava brings to the table. Instead of a glue guy on a team that’s losing most of the time he turns into the veteran guy that makes smart basketball decisions and does all of the little things to help you win. Freshman Nik Popovic is also showing flashes that he can be a reliable ACC center in the coming year or two.
We know that this team has the talent to compete with the bottom of the ACC and even the middle tier of bubble teams like Syracuse and NC State. As far as projections go, the Eagles actually haven’t yet done more than I predicted them to do at the start of ACC play, which was to knock off ‘Cuse at home, grab two from Wake/GT and then catch a team by surprise during a midweek game at Conte. With Syracuse looking for revenge on deck and Virginia and UNC at home to follow it’s time to see if we need to re-evaluate where this team is headed in 2017.