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Birdball’s New Era: Previewing the Eagles’ schedule ahead of the 2024 season

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Joey Vetrano is gone. Travis Honeyman is gone. Mike Gambino is gone.

It’s a new era on the Heights as Todd Interdonato looks to establish Boston College as a New England powerhouse and a nationally relevant program.

The Eagles rode a ten-game win streak, including a win over #2 Tennessee in Knoxville, all the way to the program’s first ever top-ten ranking and an eventual ACC and NCAA tournament bid.

There’s no time to rest for a new look Birdball as they play one of the toughest non-conference schedules in school history. The action gets started at the MLB Classic down in Scottsdale, Arizona where they’ll play three games. Teams are yet to be announced but last year’s field was deep, including Arizona, Michigan State, and Fresno State, and San Diego. The road starts there but big time games will continue throughout the spring, both in and out of New England.

Battle for Boston

The Eagles will look to defend their Beanpot Title in a rematch of last year’s championship game on April 2nd when they face Harvard. Boston College won the title game last year on a Nick Wang walk-off home run to give the Eagles the 5-4 victory. The Crimson finished the season with a record of 20-24 (15-6, Ivy), good enough for a berth in the inaugural Ivy League tournament as the two seed. They would place third in the tournament, defeating Princeton in the first round before falling to top-seeded Penn and then losing the rematch with the Tigers.

Boston College will then face whichever team has the same result as them in the second round, either for the Beanpot Championship or in the third place match. The other semi-final pits Northeastern vs UMass Amherst, with the Minutemen traveling to Boston for the matchup. UMass replaces Boston University in the Baseball version of the city’s championship due to the Terriers dropping the program in 1996, after going 12-100 in the programs final three varsity seasons from 1993-1995. Northeastern is coming off of a 44-16 season which saw them reach the CAA Title Game and receive a bid to the NCAA tournament. The University of Massachusetts Amherst continues their rebuild, hoping that key incoming transfers can help them improve off of their 14-35 record last season.

Regional Rivalries.

Unlike most sports and regions, baseball programs in New England can not load their schedule with regional opponents, largely due to the necessity of playing games down South due to the weather. Still, BC made a concerted effort to get as many regional opponents on the schedule as possible. This season they’ll play ten games against schools from across five of the six New England states (No school in Vermont has a D1 baseball program).

In your snow-out favorite of the year, Boston College is currently slated to have their home opener against Maine on February 28th. Yes, we are scheduled to get baseball in Boston in February. Last season’s home opener was not until March 22nd against Sacred Heart (BC did play in Boston the previous day, traveling to Northeastern). They’re original home opener against Holy Cross was snow/rain/winter-weathered out on March 14th.

Maine made a run all the way to the NCAA tournament last season by winning the America East Tournament. The top seeded Black Bears (32-21, 19-5) ran through the bracket, defeating #5 UMass Lowell, #2 UMBC, and #3 (and hosts) Binghamton en route to the title. They return first baseman Jermiah Jenkings, who should be one of the region’s best bats after hitting .362 while driving in 76 with 21 home runs.

In the event the Maine game gets canceled, Merrimack on March 12th will likely serve as the home opener. While not quite the heavyweight matchup it is in hockey, it’s a matchup that still has potential to be exciting. Both teams won their most games in years, with 2023 being the first time the Warriors crossed the 20 win mark since 2019.

Northeastern has built itself into one the top programs in the region and are coming off of a season which saw them finish at 44-16. The Huskies return one of the most talented rosters outside of the power conferences, headlined by potential top-ten selection Michael Sirota who put together an impressive season, batting .346 with 18 home runs and 54 RBIs. The center fielder’s best tool is his plate discipline and eye, boasting one of the nationals lowest chase rates. Fellow Hyannis Harbor Hawks (CCBL) Dennis Colleran is back in the mix at Northeastern and looking to be a top-100 pick after missing 2023 due to Tommy John surgery. The right hander sits in the upper 90s, with potential to run it up near 100, and mixes in a changeup and slider. The Massachusetts native projects as the Huskies closer but could also be a multi-inning option, out of the bullpen. A pair of rising sophomores could also make some noise this season. Cam Maldonado led the team with a .353 average and was named a Freshman All-American, an impressive campaign highlighted by a cycle against UMass in the Beanpot. Aiven Cabral, while unlikely to pitch in the midweek, was impressive last season as the ace of the staff, posting a sub-2.6 ERA (team leader) and a WHIP just north of 1.

Two teams that were in contention to be the first ever school to host a regional in New England will face off in a home and home series spread across March and April. Boston College will travel down to Conneticutt to open the season series on March 26th, before hosting the Huskies April 17th in the return game. UConn finished last season at 44-17 and earned an at-large bid after being shocked by Xavier in the Big East Championship. Paul Tammaro is back for his fifth year after leading the Huskies with a .389 batting average and a .504 on-base-percentage.

Rhode Island will make the short trek up I-95 for an early April matchup. Rhody finished 2023 with a 23-29 record and a 13-11 record in the Atlantic 10, where they qualified for the conference tournament for a third consecutive season. Sophomore two-way player Michael Anderson projects to be a top player in the conference. He was one of two Rams to bat over .300 last season and led the team in doubles (18), while finishing second in runs batted in (43) and third in home runs (10). He is expected to take on a bigger pitching role this season after being used sporadically in 2023.

Dartmouth will be the second Ivy that BC hosts in just over a week stretch when the Big Green come to town on April 10th. Dartmouth look to bounce back from an embarrassing 2023 where they finished just 3-38 (2-19). Lone bright spot in the lineup, Elliot Krewson returns for his junior season. He led Big Green with a .309 average (only player over .250) and was second in RBIs (14).

Finally, UMass Lowell come to town on the last day of April, sandwiched between two big ACC series (Virginia and Louisville), as part of a ten game home stand. The Riverhawks finished last season 20-35 (11-13) and qualified for the America East tournament, winning their first game against Bryant before falling to eventual champion Maine and host Binghamton. Fritz Genther looks to provide some senior leadership as he returns to the lineup after leading the team with a .324 average, 9 home runs, and 47 runs batted in..

B1G Clash In Chestnut Hill

Boston College will welcome 2022 Big 10 Champion Maryland for a two game series in the middle of May. The Terrapins finished last season at 42-21 (17-7) which was good enough to earn the #1 seed in the conference tournament, where they would go on to sweep their way to a perfect 4-0 record and the conference crown behind a pitching staff that had a combined ERA of just 1.22 over the week.

Maryland will be tasked with replacing seven draft picks, none more impactful than 13th overall pick Matt Shaw, who became the programs highest ever draft pick. The shortstop compiled one of the best seasons in program history, batting .341 with 24 home runs and 69 RBIs, on his way to being a consensus first-team All-American and Big 10 Player of The Year. He also had won the Cape Cod Baseball League’s Most Valuable Player award, where he hit for a .360 average and led Bourne to a league title.

The Terrapin roster is still loaded with talent, highlighted by southpaw Kyle McCoy. He was relied on heavily as a true freshman, throwing the fourth most innings on the team (53.1) and strikeouts (39). The New Jersey native is a projected first round pick in 2025 due to his upside and command. If the lefty can bulk up this off season (currently 6’6 195 lbs) and add a few miles per hour to his impressive pitch mix, low 90s fastball paired with a slider and changeup in the low 80s, he could be in line for a breakout season with the potential to be one of the nations best starters for the next two seasons.

In terms of bats, outfielder Elijah Lambros is expected to be the star of the lineup. The rising junior arrived in College Park from the University of South Carolina prior to last season and was one of the most impactful transfers in the country. He reached base at a clip of over .400 and added some much needed pop to the lineup, finishing third on the team with fourteen bombs as well as ten doubles and a pair of triples.The former blue chip recruit out of Virginia also has an above average arm and run tool, allowing him to be a difference maker defensively in center field and on the base paths.

Stay tuned for Part Two: ACC Schedule.

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Basketball

DiMauro: All in all, a solid year for BC sports

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If you are reading this, chances are your primary means of remaining connected to Boston College runs through athletics.

Oh, and we’ve been tortured souls, too, especially in recent years. We are idealists and fatalists, demanding yet forgiving, loyal and resilient, even if sometimes it feels as though we make the long trek up the cliff to Lovers Leap … only to get shoved.

All of which makes the sports year of 2023-24 a time to celebrate. Boston College did itself proud, no small occurrence given that in this unsteady (perverse?) time of expansion and realignment, schools like BC must always look their Sunday best, with no overt warts or love handles.

Women’s lacrosse, BC’s working definition of pride and joy, capped the sports season with the national championship Memorial Day weekend in Cary, NC. It was the program’s second natty in four years, a three-hour infomercial for the entire institution and more proof that, yes, it can be done at BC with the right coach.

Acacia Walker-Weinstein – you’ll note that only the letter “W” separates her from “Einstein” – not only hung a banner, but helped BC earn a distinction few other athletic programs in the country could trumpet. How many other schools made national championship games (both televised by ESPN) in two different sports fewer than two months apart?

Think about that one: Men’s hockey, during an otherwise memorable season, fell short in the national championship game. But the Sons of Greg Brown did the school proud all season. Not a bad accomplishment to see “BC in the national finals” on the ESPN scroll in mid-April (hockey) and late May (lacrosse). It’s hard to buy that kind of advertising, particularly when and if realignment and expansion happen again.

Football won a bowl game over a ranked team at Fenway Park, returns a dynamo in Thomas Castellanos and then made the splash of a cannonball, hiring Bill O’Brien as head coach. Three other women’s sports showed promise as well: field hockey (11-7, made the ACC Tournament); softball (30-24, made the ACC Tournament) and volleyball, which continues to improve steadily under coach Jason Kennedy, finished 19-13 and made the ACC Tournament.

Otherwise, baseball gets a pass as new coach Todd Interdonato assimilates to the ACC and establishes his culture; the soccer programs (3-9-5 and 3-9-6) were lousy; and I remain concerned about men’s and women’s basketball. Put it this way: Sure feels as though better players are leaving than are entering.

Off the field, “Friends Of The Heights,” BC’s Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) collective, grew massively, keeping BC competitive in a cutthroat environment. Friends Of The Heights also homered into the upper deck, hiring veteran athletic administrator Jim Paquette as its new Chief Development Officer. Paquette will advise the Board on overall development strategies, using his 16 years as an administrator at BC that specialized in fundraising.

BC’s overall cachet also made a splash on social media when Forbes Magazine named it one of the country’s “New Ivies.”

Based on its researchForbes, the century-old national business magazine, reported that American companies are souring on hiring Ivy League graduates, instead preferring high achievers from 20 other prominent universities – “Private and Public New Ivies.”

BC joins private school “New Ivies” Carnegie Mellon, Emory, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Rice, Notre Dame, Southern California and Vanderbilt. Ah, to be judged by the company one keeps.

One school year hasn’t produced this much for BC in years. And it’s significant. The idea now is to build, not regress.

Full disclosure: There are many things I still don’t like. I’m told Father Leahy neither attended the Frozen Four nor the lacrosse Final Four. It is disrespectful to the players, coaches and alumni to have a leader who acts as if so much about what makes BC great is beneath him. And we still seem to have these spasms of tone deafness, such as patrolling the parking lots like stormtroopers the day of the spring football game.

But 2023-24 was an encouraging year for BC in many ways. Yes, we always want more. But we were getting less for a long time. Not this year. A tip of the cap to athletic director Blake James, his staff, the coaches and the kids.

We pause now to enjoy summer and await Labor Day night in Tallahassee. Here’s to 2024-25, hollering “Mr. Brightside” again with the kids from the crowded bleachers.

Mike DiMauro, a columnist in Connecticut, is a contributor to Eagles Daily and a member of BC’s Class of 1990. He may be reached at m.dimauro@theday.com or @BCgenius 

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Boston College lands commitment from transfer Roger McFarlane

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Earl Grant and his staff continue to rebuild the roster, landing their fourth commitment from the transfer portal in Roger McFarlane out of SE Louisiana. The guard comes to the Eagles with one year of eligibility and posted an impressive 14.8 points per game to go along with 8.6 rebounds a contest. Additionally, McFarlane impressed with an early season matchup with Auburn, posting 25 points and 11 rebounds. The Fort Lauderdale native recently visited Temple before ultimately choosing Chestnut Hill as his final collegiate destination.

Additionally, McFarlane now becomes the third guard BC has signed through the portal, joining UMBC’s Dion Brown and Clemson’s Josh Beadle. Rounding out the transfer class is center Chad Venning out of St. Bonaventure. Along with three incoming freshman, there is now one remaining scholarship spot left.

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Roster Revamp: Kany Tchanda’s Late Commitment Nearly Completes the Eagles’ 2024-25 Team

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Tchanda Showcasing his Elite Athleticism for Sunrise Christian Academy

After a wild couple of weeks in the world of college basketball, with thousands of players leaving their schools, the transfer portal buzz has finally started to cool down. And the Boston College basketball roster has undergone some major reconstruction, even by today’s standards. The Eagles saw six of their key returners enter their name in the portal: Jaeden Zackery, Mason Madsen, Claudell Harris Jr, Prince Aligbe, Devin McGlockton, and Armani Mighty. And, in relatively short order, brought in three names to replace them: Chad Venning, Josh Beadle, and Dion Brown (and nearly one more that I won’t mention). However, after the flurry of transfers in and out, the Eagles were left with three roster spots yet to be filled. 

And earlier this evening, one of those three spots was filled, as Boston College landed a late Class of 2024 commitment from Kany Tchanda, a forward from Wichita, Kansas. The 6’9 forward adds depth to the Eagle front court, with some much needed length and athleticism. 247Sports has Tchanda as the 3rd-ranked player from Kansas, the 31st-ranked center, and 205th-ranked overall player for the Class of 2024. For reference, 247 gives Tchanda an 88 “Player Rating”, which would put him right between Chas Kelley’s 86 and Prince Aligbe’s 89. While recruiting rankings are by no means a reliable predictor of collegiate success, Tchanda certainly has the potential to be a contributor down the line. 

In his three years at Boston College, Coach Grant has shown a willingness to take on long-term projects in the front court. Most notably, under his tutelage, Quinten Post became an NBA-caliber talent and Devin McGlockton went from an unranked recruit to one of the better forwards in the ACC. But even freshman Elijah Strong exceeded his (albeit low) preseason expectations, and has many Eagles fans excited about his future with the program. And last season, Grant red-shirted Jayden Hastings, the highest-rated recruit in the Eagles’ 2023 Class, opting to give him a full year of development before trotting him onto the court. Perhaps Grant has similar plans for Tchanda, who certainly looks the part of the slept-on, high-upside forward.

With Kany Tchanda’s signing, the 2024-25 Boston College roster is starting to take shape, as they have just two scholarships remaining. Last season, the program opted to use just 12 of their 13 scholarships, so don’t be shocked if they bank on this season in hopes of a larger 2025 Class. 

For more Boston College Hoops updates, follow along @EaglesDailyBC and @JackPSeiberlich on Twitter, as we eagerly await the final pieces of the Eagles’ 2024-25 roster to come together. 

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