As the Division 1 College Basketball tournaments begin this week and Boston College sits on the outside looking in once again, we look back at the season that was and towards the future that lies ahead.
First, a look at what happened this season:
Final Record: 9-23
Out-of-Conference Record: 7-6
In-Conference Record: 2-17
Wins over NCAA Tournament Teams: 1 (Providence, pending play-in game)
Wins over NIT Tournament Teams: 1 (Syracuse, #1 overall seed in NIT)
RPI Ranking: 219 (NC State is next closest ACC team at #142)
Home/Road Splits: 8-10 at home, 1-13 away
Points: Jerome Robinson at 18.7 and Ky Bowman at 14.3
Assists: Jerome Robinson at 3.4 and A.J. Turner at 3.0
Rebounds: Mo Jeffers at 5.6 and Connar Tava at 5.4
Ky Bowman, Nik Popovic, and Ty Graves began the season as the 3 true freshmen for the Eagles. Two came out as consistent contributors, with Bowman obviously leading the way, while Ty Graves decided after just 11 games to transfer to Saint Louis.
Ky Bowman is Jim Christian’s best recruit outside of Jerome Robinson, and he has a chance to become even better as he tries to rebound next year from the end-of-season leg injury. Bowman made the ACC all-freshman team this year after posting 14.3 ppg on 49% shooting from the field and a 45% 3-point percentage. He was a revelation this year on a team that needed someone not named Jerome Robinson to make a splash. Highlights from the year for Ky are a 33-point outburst against Fairfield, a 30-point showing in a win over Syracuse, 19 points against both Duke and NC State (in a win), and 33 more in a close lose against North Carolina. That North Carolina game, played in front of a rare packed Conte Forum, proved to me that this kid is a true star for Boston College and can certainly be a future NBA player. After the UNC game, Bowman went on an 11 game streak with double digit points. Despite enduring mostly losses in ACC play, Bowman flashed speed, athleticism, and tenacity that gave BC fans much-needed hope for an otherwise frustrating program. The knee injury appears to only need minor surgery and although it was a tough way for him to go out, Bowman proved without a doubt that he’ll be the catalyst for this team moving forward.
See above: Bowman, Ky.
Also, Jerome Robinson. His play this season was probably overshadowed by Bowman’s freshman campaign as well as the losing streak that BC ended the season on. But his sophomore year is a potentially ACC player of the year type season if BC had competed more in conference. Robinson carried the Eagles through their non-conference slate and, barring a couple of duds early in ACC play, he was a consistent baller for BC, able to create his own shot both inside and out. He was also the best facilitator on this team and the only time the offense didn’t run through him was when Bowman had the ball. Robinson finishes the season with 18.7 ppg, 3.9 rbg, and 3.4 apg. Those are really solid numbers, especially on a team deficient of talent around him. He played hard, shot fairly well, and consistently made plays for BC. Freshman year was good and sophomore year was very good. If the trend continues, we could see great things out of Jerome Robinson next year.
Jordan Chatman also deserves mention here for his emergence as a 3rd offensive option. He wasn’t some amazing offensive catalyst by any means, but his three-point shooting and intelligence on the court helped keep BC in games they probably would have been otherwise blown out in (see: Virginia Tech, 1/29, Wake Forest, 1/31).
Honestly, the positives are hard to find after that trio. Look, BC did have a couple nice wins over Syracuse, Providence, and NC State. Problem is, those were their only decent wins, and only 2 of them ended up being against teams still playing now.
I will say this: Boston College played very tough against ACC teams that now have a chance for glory in the NCAA tournament. They lost by 1 point to Miami, 6 to Virginia Tech, and 5 to Wake Forest. They also played competitive against two of the favorites to win the national tournament this year, losing by 11 to Duke and 8 to UNC. The Eagles’ ability to at least compete against high-level ACC talent is something to be happy about as we look back at the season.
In order to keep your attention, I won’t make this section as long as it could be. But there are serious problems on this team that Jim Christian must address before it’s too late.
The Bigs: Jim Christian brought in two transfers to fill out the BC’s frontcourt this season. I don’t think we expected Mo Jeffers of Delaware and Connar Tava of Western Michigan to light the world on fire against ACC talent, but Christian’s plan went down in flames once these two were asked to do more than just be big bodies in the paint. Jeffers finished with 5.5 ppg and 5.6 rpg while Tava had 5.9 and 5.4. For two players that averaged more than 20 minutes each, that’s not going to get the job done in this conference. Freshman Nik Popovic was the other big asked to step up this season, and he played fairly well in his 14 minutes per game. He led the bigs in scoring at 6.1 on 49% shooting. But overall, the frontcourt was more of a defensive liability for Christian this year than anything else.
The Bench: Depending on the day’s lineup, BC’s main bench contributors were Chatman/A.J. Turner, Popovic, Garland Owens, and Johncarlos Reyes. Chatman and Turner played well at times, but neither had good enough years to view this past season as a huge success. And the rest of that bench combined for a whopping 10 points a game (I’m rounding up). BC can occasionally compete in games when Robinson and Bowman are at their best, but without depth the Eagles are never going to be consistently good. Christian needs to work harder than ever before to recruit big-bodied forwards that can make an immediate impact.
Returning players (as of now): Jerome Robinson, Kyran Bowman, Jordan Chatman, A.J. Turner, Nik Popovic, Johncarlos Reyes, Mike Sagay, Ervins Meznieks, Aser Ghebremichael, Gordon Gehan, Matt Diluccio.
Departing players: Mo Jeffers, Connar Tava, Ty Graves (already gone)
Incoming Players: Luke Kraljeciv, #57 power forward on ESPN out of Don Bosco Prep in Crown Point, IN is the only commit so far, but Christian is working on others around the country, including Howard Washington, a promising point guard out of Buffalo.
These next couple months will be very important for Christian. If he can’t snag any more recruits, he’ll need to go back to the transfer well. That didn’t work out great this year, to say the least. He’s got a solid young core in Robinson, Bowman, Turner, and Popovic, but this team needs good frontcourt players as much as BC football needs a competent quarterback. Without those, next year won’t be much different than this 9-23 campaign.
Boston College basketball can be great again. Whether that’s under Jim Christian remains to be seen, and that will probably be answered when a new athletic director is hired in the coming months. My guess is that Christian will be given another year to continue what he’s been doing, but if they can’t at least go .500 in-conference next year, the outlook may be bleak for the coach.
As for this team’s players, you have to respect what Robinson and Bowman did this year. If Boston College can have just a couple more players of their caliber in the coming seasons, they’ll be back in real contention sooner than later.
The question is: when?