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Takeaways: BC Defends Homecourt against Louisville and Miami

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Mason Madsen hitting one of his seven threes. Photo Courtesy of Canes County

Recap:

Last week, the Boston College Men’s Basketball team was able to defend home court twice: on Tuesday night against Louisville, and on Saturday afternoon against Miami. Late Tuesday night, the Eagles were able to overcome a sluggish start, and an empty Conte Forum, and beat the last-place Louisville Cardinals 89-77. The Eagles saw six players reach double figures in scoring, led by Claudell Harris Jr.’s 20 points,  Devin McGlockton’s 19 points, and Quinten Post’s 17 points. This win was especially crucial for BC, as they were coming off consecutive losses to FSU and Duke, and allowed the Eagles to stay in contact with the middle tier of the ACC. 

After taking down Louisville in a desolate Conte Forum, the Eagles returned to their home court on Saturday to a much different scene. With a much more fan-friendly tipoff time of 4PM, Conte played host to an excellent crowd for their matchup against Miami. And, to the delight of the Eagle-faithful, BC got off to a scorching hot start, taking an 18-7 lead early on. While the Hurricanes were able to even the score at halftime, and take as much as a five-point lead late in the second half, Mason Madsen’s hot hand, and Post’s dominance in the paint were enough to propel the Eagles to an 85-77 victory. 

Offensive Excellence:

After scoring just 62 against FSU and 65 against Duke, I was beginning to lose faith in Coach Grant’s offensive system. However, these past two games have been excellent offensive showings for the Eagles. Against Louisville, BC scored a remarkable 89 points on 56.7% from the field, and 47.8% from behind the arc. And it wasn’t that the Eags were knocking down uncharacteristically difficult shots. Grant’s offense was actually able to generate great looks for open shooters, racking up 21 assists in the process. 

While it might not have been surprising to see the Eagles rack up 89 points on the last place team in the ACC, it was certainly encouraging to see them follow up with a similar performance against Miami. In Saturday’s game, the offense put up 85 points on similarly efficient splits of 47.5% from the field and 50% (15-30!) from three. Madsen and Post led the way offensively, accounting for 15 of the Eagles’ 28 converted field goals. If Grant can keep the offense humming the way it has for the past two outings, each of the six games remaining on the schedule look very winnable. 

Madsen Madness:

Since being inserted into the starting lineup against Duke, Mason Madsen has been an absolute revelation for the Eagles. In the past three games, the Eagles are 2-1, with their lone loss coming away at Duke. Throughout that three game span, Madsen has led the Eagles in scoring, averaging 17 points per game. And the highlight of this stretch came in his 25-point performance against Miami, where he hit (possibly) the most important three-pointer of the Eagles’ season. 

Madsen absolutely torched the Hurricanes from behind the arc, knocking down a career-high seven three pointers en route to the win. With Madsen’s latest hot streak from three, he is now shooting 45.8% from beyond the arc, which is well above the 90th percentile in Division One. With Madsen now in the starting lineup, the Eagles now have three serious threats from behind the arc, with Post hitting 46.1% of his attempts, and Harris Jr. hitting 38.9% of his. The spacing and offensive flow of Grant’s new-look starting five is enormously better with Madsen in for Aligbe, but we will see if the Eagles can survive without Aligbe’s size and added rebounding. 

Defensive Concerns:

While the offense was clicking on all cylinders last week, I cannot help but be a bit concerned about the Eagles’ defense. In an interesting contrast to Grant’s first two seasons, where the Eagles hung their hats on their ability to defend, this iteration of the Eagles’ roster is much more capable offensively, but has shown some cracks on the defensive end. For example, BC gave up 47 first half points on 51% shooting against Louisville. While Louisville has shown some ability to score, there is no legitimate reason to allow the last place team in the ACC to run up the score like that. Thankfully, the Eagles woke up on defense in the second frame, only allowing 30 second half points. 

Next, against Miami, at times it felt like the Hurricanes could get whatever look they wanted on offense. The Hurricanes shot 56% in the first half, and frankly, it could have been much worse. The Eagles seemed flummoxed by the Hurricane’s pick and roll, and whenever Post was switched off of Miami’s Norchad Omier, it seemed to always result in an open shot. Though I will give Grant credit for switching to his “amoeba” defense down the stretch. While Miami was able to exploit the Eagle’s man-to-man defense, they struggled with the matchup-zone look in the waning minutes. BC’s defense down the stretch was the key to igniting their 17-4 run to end the game. 

Outlook on the Remaining Schedule:

Thanks to the Eagles’ 2-0 homestand, they are now in contact with the middle of the ACC. After falling to 13-10 (4-8 ACC) after Duke, they were in real danger of dooming themselves to the basement of the ACC. But, with eight teams within two games of each other in the ACC standings, the Eagles will have several opportunities to continue climbing the ladder. BC’s remaining schedule consists of road games against Florida State and NC State, a homestand against UVA and Pitt, and a pair of road games against Miami and Pitt.

The good news for the Eagles? All six of these games are extremely winnable. The bad news? All six of these games are also losable. The margin for error is razor thin in this final stretch of the regular season. But, if the Eagles can find a way to win 3-4 of these games, they could be in contention for a first round bye in the ACC tournament, and perhaps a bid to the NIT. 

What’s Next:

Boston College returns to action Tuesday night at 7PM, when they will take on the aforementioned Florida State Seminoles. After losing a gut-wrenching 63-62 game to the Seminoles in Conte Forum, the Eagles will be looking for revenge. This game also has severe implications for the ACC standings, as FSU holds a one-game lead over BC in the standings. The Seminoles open as 4.5-point favorites against the Eagles. 

A win would go a long way towards securing that first-round bye, but even more so for the energy surrounding the program. We just saw what a packed Conte Forum can look like against Miami. So it is imperative that the Eagles return home with some kind of momentum, and get fans invested in the team’s stretch run.

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Boston College basketball roster turnover

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Coming into the offseason for Boston College, there was plenty of speculation as to what carry over there would be from the present roster to next season’s. After losing five players and as well as a graduating Quinten Post the answer is simple – not much.

There has been plenty of speculation as to whether or not Jaeden Zackery would return for his senior season. After scoring a career high in points, (11.3) and a strong showing in post-season play, it became evident there would be other suitors. He ultimately became the first to enter the portal.

The next player, Claudell Harris, was certainly a surprise. The junior guard, who originally transferred in this past season from Charleston Southern, and became a key scorer for BC. He integrated himself quickly within his new team, and higher level of competition, to the tune of 13.7 points per game, good for second on the team in scoring. His sudden departure completely vacates the backcourt, joining fellow starter Zackery, in the portal.

Not too long after, the originally prized recruit, Prince Aligbe announced his intentions to transfer as well. This was not much of a surprise, and good for both parties, as the 6’9″ wing struggled to find a place in the offense. Aligbe lost his starting spot in early February, and subsequently saw his minutes drastically reduced.

Mason Madsen, who took over for Aligbe in the staring five, enjoying great production over a six game stretch. Madsen went on to experience some shooting woes down the stretch, but still providing really good play for the Eagles, finishing his career high in points per game (8.1) and shooting just under 40% from three. It should be of note, his twin brother Gabe is currently at Utah and the two could be seeking to pair up again.

Finally, back up big man Armani Mighty was the fifth guy to announce his intention to leave the Eagles. The sophomore forward never was able to carve out consistent playing time in Earl Grant’s rotation, averaging 3.9 minutes per game as a freshman and 5.6 in his second season.

The five players, along with graduation senior Quinten Post, BC now has six scholarship players remaining in Chas Kelley, Fred Payne, Donald Hand Jr, Elijah Strong, Jayden Hastings, and Devin McGlockton. The two incoming recruits, both guards, are Luka Toews and Nick Petronio. McGlockton is now the last retainer starter left on the roster. Grant and his staff will now have four spots to fill with transfers of their own.

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Jaeden Zackery enters transfer portal

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Boston College point guard becomes the first Eagle to announce his decision to enter the transfer portal. The junior guard, who originally hails from Salem, Wisconsin will have one more year of eligibility.

Originally coming to Chestnut Hill by way of junior college in Chipotle College, Zackery introduced himself to Eagles fans early, providing a steady guard play and shooting an impressive 47% from 3-point land. He finishes his BC career with 102 games, averaging just under 11 points per game, including a career-high 11.3 this past season. Zackery also belongs in BC’s top 10 career steals all-time.

There will be plenty of interest in the now former Eagles’ three-year starting point guard.

“BC Nation, I cannot possibly thank you enough for all the love and support you have given me the last 3 years. From the love of all the fans/sickos, to the coaches who took a chance on me, to all the teammates I can now call family, and to the entire BC community, it has truly been an honor to be apart of this program. Boston College will always feel like home to me and have a special place in my heart.

With that being said, I have made the decision to enter the transfer portal to explore other options for my last year of eligibility.”

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Boston College 70, UNLV 79: Eagles’ Postseason ride comes to an end in Las Vegas

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Photo Courtesy of the Las Vegas Review

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – After extending their season into the fourth week of March, Boston College’s basketball season finally came to an end tonight, as the Eagles dropped the second round NIT matchup to UNLV by a score of 79-70. After going into the locker room tied 37-37, the athleticism of the Running Rebels proved to be too much for the Eagles, as UNLV turned the game on its head with a 15-3 run in the second half. After going down by as much as 10, the Eagles made their best attempt at a comeback, cutting the UNLV lead to 70-66 with just over 3 minutes to play. However, UNLV’s Justin Webster and Keylan Boone proved to be too much for the Eagles to handle, as the pair put the game, and the Eagles’ season, on ice.

As he has throughout the season, Quinten Post led the Eagles in scoring and rebounding, dropping 22 points and grabbing 9 boards. The big man did all he could to keep the Eagles afloat, getting buckets at all three levels, including a late three pointer from nearly 30 feet. Jaeden Zackery and Devin McGlockton each added their steady doses of scoring, adding in an efficient 10 and 11 points, respectively. McGlockton also did more than his share of playmaking, picking up 5 assists on the night. Zackery did his work on the glass, securing 6 rebounds and dishing out 3 assists of his own.  

The two other starters for the Eagles, Claudell Harris Jr. and Mason Madsen, each ended their seasons with some tough shooting performances. After they each hit early shots from behind the arc, the guard duo struggled from the field, combining to shoot 6-25 from the field (6-17 from three) on the night. Since his hot streak in February, where he was arguably the Eagles’ best player, Madsen has been on a bit of a cold stretch, and couldn’t right the ship in Las Vegas. And after keeping the Eagles’ season alive with his huge 17-point performance against Providence last Tuesday, Claudell Harris Jr. just did not have the shooting stroke tonight. 

Coach Grant got 10 excellent minutes from Elijah Strong off the bench. The freshman forward carried his momentum from the Providence game, scoring 7 points tonight in Vegas, including a highlight-worthy coast-to coast drive off of a steal on the defensive end. Strong accounted for 7 of the Eagles’ 9 bench points, as Donald Hand Jr. added a pair of free throws, and Prince Aligbe and Armani Mighty were each held scoreless. 

The Eagles finished Year 3 of the Earl Grant era with a 20-16 (10-13 ACC) record, tying their best win total since the 2010-2011 season. While this year was filled with its ups and its downs, its triumphs and its frustrations, Earl Grant’s job appears to be safe for the time being. The Eagles have seen their win total steadily rise since Grant’s hiring. After taking over a gutted 4-16 (2-11 ACC) Boston College team in 2021, Grant has led the program to 13-, 16-, and 20-win seasons. With the departure of all-ACC forward Quinten Post and the transfer portal looming, it is not clear if fans can expect this trend to continue. But Grant seems to believe that the rising win total, combined with their new facilities, will be enough to attract a new crop of talent to the Heights. 

With the transfer portal being open for the next few weeks, fans can expect some potential turnover within the Eagles’ roster. So, stay tuned to Eagles Daily for the latest news, as Boston College Basketball now looks ahead to the 2024-2025 season!

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