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Takeaways: BC Basketball goes 3-0 in a busy week

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Recap:

The past week for the Boston College Men’s Basketball team can’t be described as anything other than a success. The Eagles played three games, and came away with three wins. On Tuesday, the Eagles took on Central Connecticut State, taking them down by a score of 82-68. However, this game did not have the makings of a 14-point victory, as BC led by as much as 33 points in the second half. Bench guards Donald Hand Jr. and Mason Madsen led the team in scoring, putting in 16 points and 15 points, respectively. On Friday, the Eagles took on cross-state rivals Holy Cross. After a first half that was far closer than anyone expected, the Eagles won the contest in convincing fashion, taking down the Crusaders 95-64. Jaeden Zackery led the Eagles with 18 points, and Madsen had another big game, putting up a season-high 17 points. 

Lastly, on Sunday, the Eagles had their toughest matchup of the week against Saint John’s in what was effectively a road game. The Red Storm came into the game rated 52nd on NET, far better than any team BC had previously beaten this season. So the table was set for a tough, competitive game. After a back-and-forth first half where BC took a two-point lead into the locker room, the Eagles went down 10 points early in the second half. However Grant’s squad stormed back with a 19-4 run, and executed down the stretch en route to an 86-80 victory over the Red Storm. BC received contributions from the entire roster, as Quinten Post had an absurd 14/11/9 statline, Zackery had an efficient 14 points, and Harris added 14 key points off the bench. 

Season-Altering Win in Brooklyn:

With their win in Brooklyn, Boston College now sits at 8-3 on the season. While this has been the Eagles’ best start in years, keeping postseason hope alive relies on dominating out-of-conference. After BC gave the game to Loyola, they could not afford many more non-ACC losses, and the difference between 8-3 and 7-4 is miles wide. Outside of wins and losses, the Saint John’s win also gets fans back on board with what Grant is trying to build. The Eagles had momentum after starting 4-0, but many fans might have written this season off after bad losses to Loyola and NC State. But a gritty win against a storied Big East opponent is going to turn the heads of a lot of local fans and alumni.

Taking Care of Business at Home:

The main takeaway from the Eagles’ first two games this week is that they simply took care of business. Fans have seen far too many instances of the Eagles playing down to their out-of-conference competition. Last year alone, BC lost a pair of buy-games to Maine and New Hampshire, and only beat Stonehill by a mere 7 points. These games against lower-level competition are games where you just want to see the Eagles dominate. And, contrary to last season, the Eagles were able to do just that. 

On Tuesday, the Eagles outplayed Central Connecticut right from the jump ball, only letting up once Grant put the walk-ons in the game. Then, on Friday, the Eagles played as horrible a first half as they have played all season, allowing Holy Cross a glimmer of hope going into the locker room. But, once the second half began, BC convincingly slammed the door shut on Holy Cross, extending their lead by as much as 31 points. 

Bench Got Deeper:

One thing Coach Grant emphasized in his post-game press conferences was how the games against Central Connecticut and Holy Cross provided opportunities for the bench to get deeper. As previously mentioned, Madsen and Hand Jr. led the Eagles in scoring against Central Connecticut. This is huge for the bench duo, as they had been coming off some down games from the past few weeks. What’s most encouraging for these two is how they both followed up big games on Tuesday with great games on Friday and Sunday. Madsen put in 17 points against Holy Cross, and a pivotal 7 points against St. John’s. Hand Jr. followed up with 13 points against the Crusaders and 11 against the Red Storm. 

Lastly, Chas Keley III had a fantastic game on Sunday. The sophomore guard came into the game struggling, averaging just 2.7 points on 30.6% shooting. But with Harris Jr. facing a minor injury, Kelley IIIwas pushed into a starting role against Holy Cross and Saint John’s. And on Sunday, the young guard far exceeded expectations, scoring 13 points in his 24 minutes. With Madsen, Hand Jr. and Kelley III all rounding into form before conference play, the Eagles are starting to see some legitimate depth in the back court. If the reserve forwards can make the same leap in productivity, this has the makings of a very deep roster.

Nitpicking:

If you wanted to nitpick on the past three games, you certainly could. Some might say the Eagles needlessly messed up their NET rating against Central Connecticut, when the walk-ons allowed a 14-0 to end the game. Some might say the first half against Holy Cross was entirely too close, and far beneath the dignity of a Power-6 basketball team. Some might say, free throws and turnovers are still very real concerns after the Saint John’s game. These are all very real and valid cancers. However, at the end of the day, the Eagles won two games in dominating fashion, gritted out a physical win against a good Big East team, and are carrying momentum into a much tougher portion of the season. 

With their last out-of-conference game coming at home against Lehigh, the Eagles are in a position to finish their pre-ACC slate at 9-2, which is as good a record as any fan could have expected. This BC team is far from a perfect one, as seen in their breakdowns against Loyola and NC State. But 8-3, with ample room for improvement, is a great play to be through 11 games. 

What’s Next: 

After their busy 3-0 week, the Eagles have an 11-day break before they return to action on Thursday December 21st against Lehigh. The Thursday night slate in Conte serves as the Eagles final game before the bulk of ACC play. With the Mountain Hawks currently sitting at a 2-7 (0-5 away) record, the Eagles should be heavy favorites. Given the way BC dominated lower-level competition this week, fans should not have to be as worried about a potential “What the Heck” loss, but the possibility always looms. Following their matchup with Lehigh, the Eagles will not play again until the new year, when they will take on Wake Forest at home on Tuesday January 2nd.

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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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