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Toppin Off: It’s Time to Move On

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Things Fall Apart

NCAA Basketball: N.C. State at Boston College Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

I know I’m late to the party for a lot of you. I’m sorry. I’m afraid to take hard stances because, unlike Stephen A Smith, I actually care about my record on them. It’s who I am. I like to hedge bets unless I know for sure that they’re right, and I don’t ever loudly state my opinion on something unless I am utterly convinced of its value and truth. But it’s time for me to face the facts and admit that Jim Christian and BC Basketball should part ways.

In a lot of ways, this article is similar to the one I started Toppin Off with. But even in that one, I hesitated by saying, “it is probably time to say that this Jim Christian experiment has failed.” ‘Probably’ is no longer a consideration.

This program has stagnated. A year ago, or perhaps even at the beginning of this year, I would have told you that JC had dealt with otherworldly attrition, an empty cupboard, and horrific injury luck. That might still be true, but it can’t be an excuse forever. Still, there was momentum: the 2017 season, which featured Jerome Robinson and Ky Bowman, showed that the team was heading in the right direction. But since then, there is nothing to back up that arguement. This team has flatlined at mediocrity despite solid recruiting and undeniable talent on the court.

Jim Christian has done hardly anything with that talent. He and his staff remain good at recruiting across the board and developing guards. Like, really good. But when you exclude the guards, most of Christian’s players have made little progress. Steffon Mitchell, for whom I have undying love, has only now started to develop an offensive game. Nik Popovic should (and can be) be an absolute terror in the post, yet there were multiple times last night where his first touch in the possession was at the three point line. Jairus Hamilton is only now starting to be a physical presence after being a 6-8, 234lb Kyle Korver for a year and a half. These players (and the rest) have talent – yet it’s never resulted in consistent wins. Why?

Because this team refuses to change. How many times in JC’s tenure have we watched the same script as last night (blown leads, sloppy defense, scoreless stretches and opposing runs, etc) in the past few seasons? This might be on the players, but we have seen the same issues through multiple cycles of Jim Christian teams. They lose focus in the second half. They get caught ball watching on defense and on rebounds. They remain streaky shooters prone to hero-ball. These are excusable in bad games and occasionally bad seasons (see: UNC this year). They are not excusable for eras.

They typical reasoning for keeping JC this year centers almost entirely on his incoming recruiting class, currently ranked 59th in the country (and the highest in recent BC history). And make no mistake: losing Demarr Langford on the recruiting trail would be a huge loss. But adding a borderline 5* guard doesn’t turn this team into a contender or even a NCAA bubble team. It would put them in good position… eventually? Maybe 3 years from now, when Langford is a sophomore or a junior? Is that really worth it? No it’s not. So fire Jim Christian and hope that the familial ties and BC’s top-shelf education has enough pull to keep Demarr in orbit.

Ultimately I don’t know if BC has the will to fire both of their head coaches in the same year. But Jim Christian is no longer defendable in my mind, and its clear that the status quo is not worth keeping around.