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Takeaways: BC drops to Virginia Tech, letting another one slip away

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Recap:

Last Tuesday night, Boston College had yet another game escape their grasp, losing to Virginia Tech by a score of 76-71, falling to 11-8 (2-6 ACC) in the process. The Eagles followed the same script they have for most of ACC play: going down double digits in the first half, fighting nearly all the way back in the second half, but, in the end, coming up just short of a win. This game was an extremely winnable one, as BC’s front court was able to impose their size. Devin McGlockton and Quinten Post led the way, with 19 and 15 points, respectively, shooting a combined 16-23 from the field. Prince Aligbe added 9 points on a perfect 4-4 shooting, and Armani Mighty had a career-high 6 points. However, it was the back court struggles, and turnovers that hindered the Eagles. The Eagles turned the ball over an astounding 15 times, and the five Eagle guards that saw the floor combined for just 22 points on 8-30 shooting, with 14 points coming on Claudell Harris’ 16 shots. 

Postseason Slipping Away:

With the Eagles’ most recent loss, they now drop to 2-6 in the ACC, which is tied for 12th in the conference with Notre Dame and Georgia Tech. What has been billed as a potential “breakthrough” year for the Eagles, is quickly slipping away from them. After getting off to their best start in years, with a 9-2 out-of-conference record, BC is now rapidly approaching the .500 mark. At this point, an NIT bid would be pushing the Eagles’ luck, much less an NCAA Tournament bid. 

After, in my opinion, overachieving in his first two seasons at the helm for the Eagles, Coach Grant is in danger of taking an ill-afforded step back. The Eagles came into this season primed for a shot at playing big games in March. By no means was March Madness the expectation, but it certainly was a real possibility. And to see that possibility slipping away before the end of January is extremely frustrating for fans that believe in this team’s talent. 

BC’s last shot at making the tournament is likely the path taken by Virginia Tech two seasons ago. This path would dictate the Eagles fighting to a top-nine place in the ACC standings, thereby securing a bye in the ACC tournament, and, finally, running the table. Four wins in four days. It’s not a path frequently traveled, and it’s not a path that’s extremely likely, but it’s the only remaining path for BC. 

The Eagles will likely fall short of this path, and that would not make the season a disappointment. But, a step back from last season’s improvement, with a roster as talented as this one, would be enough to make the season a disappointment in my eyes. Thankfully, for us fans, there’s a lot of basketball to be played, with 12 remaining ACC games. The Eagles should have a chance to win nearly all of these games, and thus, still have chance to make something out of this season 

Same Old, Same Old:

What is especially disheartening about the season thus far is how the Eagles seem to be playing the same game, over and over again. Of BC’s six losses in the ACC, four of them have come in shockingly similar fashion. Going down 10+ points in the first half, storming out of the locker room and fighting all the way back, yet coming up short in the end. NC State, Wake Forest, Syracuse, and now Virginia Tech, all within reach. It’s understandable to drop a couple close games every year, but to go winless? Not exactly ideal for a “breakthrough” season.

It’s almost unsettling to play the what-if game, and think about the outlook on this season had the Eagles merely split those four close losses. BC would be sitting at 13-6 (4-4 ACC), with a close loss to the 3rd-ranked team in the country. Fans would be through the roof, and excited to see what the remaining 12 ACC games have in store. Though, in fairness, the same could be said for both of the Eagles’ ACC wins, as they trailed both Notre Dame and Georgia Tech by double digits. However, after this most recent game, fans are left dreading that the Eagle’s end-of-game woes will never end, and that they are doomed to be a perpetual bottom-five ACC team.

This BC basketball team is far too talented for fans to simply accept these results as part of a developmental process. Post is as talented as any big man in the conference. Zackery has shown he can be elite as a facilitator and a defender. A month ago, Harris Jr. was looking like BC’s best pure scorer since Ky Bowman. And Devin McGlockton will be in talks for the ACC’s most improved player of the year. Yet, through eight ACC games, they are in the exact same spot as they were last season. 

Holding Down the Paint:

If there’s any positives to be gleaned from last Tuesday’s loss, it’s the stellar play of the Eagle front court. In the first half, the quartet of Post, McGlockton, Aligbe, and Mighty were responsible for 30 of BC’s 33 points. Post was looking like himself, scoring 15 points on an efficient 7-10 from the field. Though, some fans might have wanted to see BC’s leading scorer take more than just ten field goal attempts. While Post played up to his standard, it was McGlockton who looked like the best Eagle on the floor in Blacksburg. McGlockton scored his 19 points on 9-13 shooting, and made his lone three-point attempt. McGlockton has been averaging 13.8 points per game in the ACC, and has been BC’s most efficient scorer by far, shooting 59.8% from the field. BC’s next most efficient starter is Post at 50.4%

After his 14-point performance against UNC, Aligbe had another solid offensive performance. Aligbe got his 9 points on 4-4 shooting from the field, and made his second three pointer in as many games. After seeing the sophomore forward struggle offensively, it was refreshing to see him have a second consecutive game where he looked comfortable. Lastly, sophomore center Armani Mighty had the best game of his young BC career. Mighty’s stats don’t jump off the sheet, only putting up 6 points and 2 rebounds. But, the young center continues to look better and better as the season progresses, and he has been allowing Post to get some much needed rest on the bench. 

Suspect Perimeter Defense:

My final takeaway from this game against the Hokies is that the Eagles desperately need to defend the three point line. BC is ranked 294th nationally, and dead-last in the ACC in opponent’s three-point percentage. As it stands, the Eagles’ opponents are converting on 35.7% of their attempts from beyond the arc. While this may be due, in part, to sheer chance, it’s not difficult to notice that the Eagles have given up far too many open looks from three. The main reason BC went into the locker room trailing the Hokies by eleven is that the Hokies shot 6-10  from three. Admittedly, Hunter Cattoor and Sean Pedulla are among the best three point shooters in the ACC, but Grant has to adjust for this, and limit their open looks. 

And unfortunately, defending the three point line was not a struggle unique to last Tuesday night. There have been several key possessions where the game outcome was largely determined by the opponents knocking down wide open threes late in the game. Looking back on some examples: Up two points in OT against NC State, the Eagles allowed Casey Morsell to knock down an open three to regain the lead. Down one point against Wake, the Eagles’ defense broke down and allowed Wake to extend their lead to four points on a wide-open three from Andrew Carr. Up two points against Notre Dame, the Irish got an open look in the corner out of a timeout (which Carey Booth thankfully missed). So, if the Eagles want to actually come out on the winning side of these close games, defending the three-point line has to become more of a priority. 

What’s Next:

After taking consecutive losses, the Eagles will travel to South Bend, Indiana, for a Saturday afternoon matchup against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Boston College took the win in their first matchup against Notre Dame, and will look to sweep the Irish for the second straight season. The last time Boston College traveled to South Bend, Quinten Post scored a career-high 29 points, and led the Eagles to an 84-72 victory. With a win, the Eagles would bump their record up to 3-6 in the ACC, and likely improve to 11th place in the standings. With a loss, BC would fall to 2-7 in the ACC, and fall to 13th or 14th in the standings.

Despite the growing frustration around the Eagles’ team, the next game against Notre Dame remains an extremely important one, as there aren’t many games remaining more winnable than this one on the schedule. Seeing as the Eagles have dropped their last few “must-wins”, I’m not going to label this game as one. But, if BC wants fans to stay bought in, and to keep packing Conte, they’re going to need some sort of momentum before they return home to face Syracuse next Tuesday night.

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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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