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Takeaways: BC drops a heartbreaker to FSU, looking ahead to Duke

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Photo Courtesy of BC Athletics

Recap:

Last Tuesday night, the Boston College Men’s Basketball Team suffered a loss to a tough Florida State team, by the closest of margins. After allowing the Seminoles to get out to a 19-4 lead early, the Eagles were able to claw their way back into the game, eventually tying the game at 52. However, the Eagles were unable to carry their momentum through the end of the game. In fact, they were never even able to take the lead. After a Devin McGlockton layup cut the FSU lead to 63-62, and the Seminoles’ Darin Green Jr. missed the front end of a 1-and-1, BC had 5.8 seconds to draw a play to win the game. 

And, to the chagrin of the dozens of students in attendance, the Eagles were unable to get a shot at the rim. In an especially pivotal game, where BC had the opportunity to make up significant ground in the ACC standings, they instead fell back to their usual 12th place. For a team that’s said time and time again that they want to be playing their best basketball in February and March, it was especially disappointing to witness the same story we’ve been seeing for the past two months. 

Same Old, Same Old:

Go down big early, fight all the way back in the second half, and come up just short of a win. Unfortunately, Eagles’ fans have had to witness this formula unfold several times throughout the course of BC’s ACC schedule. We saw it happen in the ACC opener against NC State, when the Eagles fought back from an 11-point deficit, just to lose in overtime. We saw it again against Syracuse, when Boston College went down 28-9, yet somehow were able to take a lead late in the second half, just to come up short of the W. Then, like clockwork, we watched them go into halftime against Virginia Tech down 44-33, cut the lead to just two points down the stretch, and then immediately give up five straight points to push the game out of reach. 

So, after a whole week’s rest after their win against Syracuse, one would hope that Coach Grant is able to have his team come out with a bit more fire. Instead, the Eagles spotted the Seminoles a 15-point lead before the second media timeout. It’s just incredibly frustrating to see the same story unfold for a fourth time. This is certainly not to say that all four of these games should have been Eagle wins because that’s just plausible. But, BC’s slow starts continuing to be a trend this late in the season is a real issue. 

To be fair, the Eagles have shown they can overcome these early deficits. In three of their four conference wins, they trailed their opponents by nine or more points. They trailed Georgia Tech by 16 early in the second half, Notre Dame by 12 in the first half, and Syracuse by 9 in the first half. So, they might be able to get away with it against the worse teams in the ACC, but against teams the Eagles are supposed to be competing with, it’s just not going to fly. All fans can do is hope that Grant figures out a way to shake the sluggish starts, but, with just nine games remaining on the regular schedule, patience is running thin. 

Final Play and Post-Game Quotes:

As mentioned in the recap section, despite going down 19-4 early in the first half, the Eagles still had a chance to win the game late. Trailing 63-62, BC rebounded an FSU missed free throw, and had a chance to draw up a play to win the game with 5.8 seconds remaining. Grant decided to inbound the ball to Quinten Post at the top of the key and trust his senior leader to make the right play. Unfortunately, the play was promptly shut down, and the Eagles failed to even get a shot at the basket. While I don’t think this was squarely on the coaches or players, it is still a pretty abhorrent way to end a basketball game at home. 

It was pretty clear that the coaches and players were not on the same page. When asked what they were looking for in the postgame presser, Post gave a jumbled answer that included “I couldn’t exactly tell you” and “…we wanted a good shot… I don’t think we got a good shot”.  Grant gave a much more in-depth answer to the question, explaining how they wanted Post to go to either Jaeden Zackery or Claudell Harris Jr., and if all else fails, drive to the hoop seeking contact. 

FSU pressured Post immediately on the catch, so the big man passed to Zackery, who was promptly doubled, before turning the ball over. Given how the Seminoles defended, the Eagles’ coaching staff likely would have preferred Post to take it to the basket himself. Regardless of the outcome, I’m of the opinion that giving the ball to your 7-footer 25 feet from the basket might not have been the best idea with just 5.8 seconds on the clock. 

Key Performers:

With all my negativity from this game, I would be remiss not to shoutout some key individual performance that allowed the Eagles to stay in this game. First, Post had a phenomenal game, putting up an efficient 21 points and 12 rebound stat-line. The Dutchman converted on 9 of his 13 field goal attempts and went 3-5 from behind the arc. But despite this fantastic performance, the big man was still visibly frustrated with himself, and the team, for allowing FSU to escape Chestnut Hill with a win. 

After Post’s performance, the Eagles’ second leading scorer actually came off the bench. And no, his name was not Claudell Harris Jr.. Mason Madsen had himself a very solid game, scoring 12 points on 5-11 shooting, including a pair of timely three-point baskets. While Madsen admittedly air-balled a wide-open shot with under a minute remaining, he still turned one of his better performances of the season. While Madsen is known for his prolific three-point shooting, the junior guard had a couple of tough finishes at the rim. 

What’s Next:

The Eagles return to action against an absolute buzzsaw of opponents. Grant’s team will be traveling to famed Cameron Indoor Stadium, to take on the 9th-ranked Duke Blue Devils. The Eagles will obviously be underdogs in this matchup, as the Blue Devils are 3rd in the ACC, and boast one of the most prolific home court advantages in college basketball. However, I do not think the Blue Devils pose a particularly bad matchup for the Eagles. While BC was obviously not comfortable with Florida State’s noticeable length and unusual playstyle, this Duke squad is built in a much more traditional in its playstyle. 

Lately, Duke has been starting three guards (Roach, Proctor, McCain), an athletic forward (Mitchell), and a dynamic center (Filipowski). With Aligbe’s recent injury, I think it is more than likely that Grant will start Zackery, McGlockton, Post, and two of Kelley III/Harris Jr./Madsen. So, while the Blue Devils are clearly the more talented team, in terms of matchups, I don’t think the Eagles will be terribly overmatched. Obviously, with a statement like that, I am setting myself up for disappointment. But, with the weekend that BC Athletics is having, why can’t the Eagles pull off the upset?

With a win, the Eagles would improve to 14-9 (5-7 ACC) on the season, and likely rise to t-10th in the conference standings. With a loss, the Eagles would fall to 13-10 on the season, and remain in 12th place in the conference standings, regardless of how teams below them perform. While I’ve had this matchup penciled in as a loss all season, I don’t think this Duke team is invincible to bad losses. This Duke team has lost to Pitt at home, to Georgia Tech in Atlanta, and let a bad Notre Dame team stick around for 38 minutes. So, looking at the ACC standings, a loss to BC would certainly not be their worst of the season. 

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Basketball

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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