Boston College men’s basketball had their season come to a close last week when they lost in the second round of the ACC Tournament to UNC. Despite the loss, Eagles fans have a lot of optimism for Earl Grant’s squad after they won 9 ACC games in the regular season, BC’s most conference wins since 2010-11. We asked our writers to recap how the program is doing:
How did this season compare to your preseason expectations?
Fred: Record-wise, I think this is about what I was expecting. Obviously, I didn’t see them beating UVA and losing to UNH, Maine, and Tarleton, but overall 16-17 (9-11) was probably a pretty realistic expectation for this year. It would have been nice to reach the quarterfinals again, but they ran into an unconscious UNC team, and I don’t think you can really hold it against them.
Curran: In my preseason round table I said the Eagles needed to show improvement on last year’s squad, while improving their consistency. The highs in Earl Grant’s second year (9 regular-season ACC wins, 3 ranked wins) were certainly promising, and glimpses of where Grant wants to take the program. The consistency piece, however, is still missing — we have all, by now, been sick of hearing about UNH, Maine, and Tarleton, but those three losses really hurt the Eagles.
Curtis: Back in October on BCI, I said I expected “9ish” ACC wins, and they did exactly that. The very bad losses at the beginning of the year against Maine and UNH also aren’t a total shocker. It’s BC after all, and Earl Grant’s squad plays with a methodical pace that can make games vary wildly. But they need to take care of it before they can take the next step.
Do you feel that this season was a success?
Fred: I think that if you take into account the injuries that derailed the early part of the season, you have to look at this season as a step forward overall. A couple more wins at the end, and it would feel even better, but even so the Eagles vastly improved. They notched 3 ranked wins against Virginia, Clemson, and Virginia Tech, and had their best ACC finish since the 2010-11 season.
Curran: Yes. Prior to Earl Grant, BC basketball had been mired in years of irrelevance and was directionless as a program. While BC basketball is by no means a powerhouse team, Grant has established an identity, proven his ability to develop players and teams over the course of a season, and ultimately provide some hope for this program. While the second-round blowout to UNC was a disappointing way to go out, I nevertheless think this was a successful season.
Curtis: Yes, overall, I feel it was successful. This program has been stagnating in the ACC’s basement for over a decade. While there is still certainly a lot to improve, this team got some big wins and showed signs that they are developing. That could be attributed to how bad the ACC was this year... but I’ll take it.
Who is your team MVP?
Fred: Clearly, this was a different team with Quinten Post on the floor. Not only did he always get his, but he improved the spacing on offense immensely. This team looked lost early in the season on that side of the ball, and his consistent three point shooting, and domination down low proved to be crucial. If he was available the entire season, I truly believe we would be talking about an NIT team. I don’t see teams like UNH and Maine slowing him down, and with that early season momentum, who knows where the Eagles could have gone.
Curran: Quinten Post. Who else could it be? He transforms the Eagles. I am praying he returns to BC next season.
Curtis: Quinten Post was huge and turned around the trajectory of this team when he returned from injury halfway through the season. He led the team in PPG and his ball movement helped spark so much more of the offense. Makai Ashton-Langford also deserves an honorable mention for his great play and leadership.
How are you feeling about head coach Earl Grant after season #2?
Fred: This team has an identity, which is much more than you could say in many previous seasons. The team has bought into Grant’s “gritty not pretty” philosophy and have seen it work. This is not a team you want to play when everyone is bringing the defensive intensity that Earl expects. With more of his guys coming in (and getting healthy), I expect this to only get better. I think he needs to improve as an in-game coach, but already in year 2 he seems to be building something.
Curran: I think he has done a good job so far. He faces a big offseason, however — lead guard Makai Ashton-Langford, a stalwart of the program for the last few years, is gone. Post could leave, and no doubt the transfer portal will allure a few players on the roster. How he replaces the losses, continues to develop players such as Aligbe, Kelley, and McGlockton, and leads BC to the next step as a program will be very interesting to watch.
Curtis: I’m not ready to crown him as the savior of Boston College basketball just yet, but his work shows a lot of promise. He clearly knows how to establish a culture and identity better than BC’s two previous head coaches, though the X’s and O’s can be rough at times. The development of this freshman class will be crucial for his continued success.
What’s something you wish would’ve went better this year?
Fred: You have to take care of home games against Maine and UNH. The injuries hurt, but even so, if BC ball wants to be taken seriously they need to notch wins early against inferior opponents. With close ones against Cornell, Detroit Mercy, and Stonehill, it is clear that these weren’t fluke losses either. The outlook of this team is much different if they take care of business early on.
Curran: I mentioned it earlier, but those terrible losses early in the season were terrible. If BC wins those three, they have a 18-13 record heading into the tournament. In Year 3 of Earl Grant, those bad losses need to be turned into Ws.
Curtis: Obviously the offense needs a lot of work. This team did not have enough shooters this year and they went on way too many 5+ minute stretches without sinking a bucket. Some of that is on the roster, some of that is on the coaching. Changes should maybe be made to both.
Early gut feeling: is this team on the upswing next season?
Fred: I think so.. I say that very cautiously, but if QP stays then there is no reason why they would not improve. There should be some continuity with this squad and with continued improvement from guys like Prince, Chas, JZ, and the added ammunition of Fred Payne and DHJ, I don’t see how they don’t improve. I think they just need guys to stay, and then they can hopefully add some much needed shooting through the portal
Curran: Yes. Maybe this is just wishful thinking, but Quinten Post will come back. Donald Hand Jr. — a highly touted 4-star who is supposedly a dangerous shooter and scorer (exactly what this team needs) will be healthy. Aligbe, Kelley, and McGlockton continue to improve, and Earl Grant continues his revitalization of the Eagles.
Curtis: A lot of this rides on if Quinten Post returns next season. My gut tells me he won’t. The loss of Makai is also rough but we have some young guards that can step up in his place. My early prediction is that they have a similar record next season, maybe slightly worse, or slightly better with QP.