We’re just a few weeks out from the start of basketball season, and this should be an interesting year for a Boston College women’s team whose 2021-22 season was filled with ups and downs. The Eagles seemed to be flying high, just nearly missing the NCAA Tournament as one of the last teams out, and making the WNIT. Then, before the Eagles’ WNIT run was even complete, players started announcing that they would be transferring out of the program. While this was the largest group to leave the program under Coach McNamee, she has seen players transferring out with some consistency over her time at BC, including Allie Palmieri, who departed the team mid-season last year. McNamee also has an almost entirely new coaching staff this season.
Last season’s mass exodus of players has left BC with no seniors or grad students on the roster, and has taken away the bulk of BC’s scoring in players such as Taylor Soule, Cam Swartz, and Marnelle Garraud. If even one or two of these players had stayed with the program for their final year of eligibility, BC would likely be in the conversation as a potential tournament team again. Instead, the Eagles once again find themselves in a position where they’re going to have to prove themselves to a lot of doubters.
Whatever success the Eagles have this year will likely be led by the sophomore class, specifically Maria Gakdeng and Ally VanTimmeren. Gakdeng was one of the top freshmen in the ACC last season, and led the Eagles in rebounds (207) and blocks (73) and was third on the team in points (294). Gakdeng is a star on both offense and defense, and can be expected to put up impressive numbers regardless of whether or not the Eagles are winning. On the flip side, if she gets injured or has an off game, BC will be in a lot of trouble. Gakdeng’s fellow sophomore, VanTimmeren, has a little bit of extra NCAA play under her belt since she joined the program a semester early. VanTimmeren is going to be BC’s best chance at replacing some of the 3 point shooting the program has lost with the departure of Swartz, Garraud, and Makayla Dickens.
Juniors Kaylah Ivey and Dontavia Waggoner also have the opportunity to be impact players for BC this season. Ivey will likely be taking over Garraud’s spot as BC’s main playmaker, and she does have the capability to make smart passes and set up good plays, especially if she can limit her turnovers. Like VanTimmeren, Ivey also has a solid 3-pointer and could be a big impact player in that regard if she ups her consistency. Waggoner, a BCI favorite, is going to have the biggest impact on defense. She’s an aggressive, high energy player whose shooting was also starting to improve as last season wound down.
The Eagles also have some fairly highly regarded freshmen coming in this year, namely Taina Mair and T’Yana Todd, and on such a young team that has lost so much of its star talent, they’re going to have to adjust to college play without any bumps along the way if BC wants to start the season out with some wins.
The biggest question facing BC this year is really going to be what the vibe is in the locker room and on the bench. We know that the Eagles have one star player in Gakdeng and some talented players who need to make a jump in consistency this season. We also know that any program that loses the bulk of its scoring and its starters is in for a challenging year. Whether or not the players can rise to the challenge of defying everyone’s expectations comes down to some degree to coaching. There have been lots of questions swirling about the culture of a program that sees so many transfers, particularly with the two players who entered the transfer portal mid-WNIT, and this year is going to be important as to whether or not fans lose their confidence in this coaching staff.