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Takeaways: BC (finally) takes down the Orange, Looking ahead to FSU

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Game Recap:

Last Tuesday, for the first time in nearly six years, the Boston College Men’s basketball team was able to take down the Syracuse Orange. The Eagles beat the Orange by a score of 80-75, thanks in large part to a 21-0 run spanning the two halves, and 14 second-half points from Claudell Harris Jr. After the Eagles jumped out to a 7-2 lead, they subsequently let up an 18-4 run, as it looked as if the Orange were poised to pull away. However, thanks to some timely three-point shooting, the Eagles went into the half with a 37-30. 

The Eagles carried this momentum into the second half, scoring the first seven points of the half and going up 44-30. However, the Orange would not go away quietly. After converting on ten consecutive field goal attempts, Syracuse cut the BC lead to just two, and looked poised to retake the lead. Unfortunately for the Orange faithful, Harris Jr. had other ideas. The transfer guard scored all 14 of his second half points in a 3:37 span. Suddenly, the Eagles were back up double digits, and were able to secure their fourth ACC victory in the process. 

Weathering the Storm:

My first takeaway from this game was how well the Eagles were able to weather the storm in the first half. Once Syracuse went up 20-11, and BC was struggling to get anything going on offense, many viewers (including myself) might have expected the Eagles to let another winnable game slip away. But, thanks to the longest offensive run in the Earl Grant Era (21-0!), BC completely flipped the script and retook control. 

In addition to their furious scoring run, I was also thoroughly impressed by how BC responded to Syracuse’s comeback efforts. With the Orange chipping away, and a newly energized majority-Orange crowd in Conte, the Eagles found themselves in a dangerous spot. However, the Eagles never allowed the Orange to regain the lead, and were able to close the game out. 

Standings Check:

While the Eagles will take any conference victory they can get, this victory against Syracuse was particularly important in terms of the ACC Standings. Had they dropped this game to the Orange, they would have dropped to 3-7 in the ACC, tying them for 12th in the conference. Instead, at 4-6, they are tied with Pitt for 11th. While this may not seem like a huge difference, this victory over Syracuse keeps them in contention for a first round bye in the ACC tournament. 

As it currently stands, there are six teams with five or six losses. So, with ten ACC games to play, the middle of the ACC standings is completely up for grabs. Given the Eagles’ remaining schedule, there is a great chance they could be competing for a 7th-9th place finish. If the Eagles can find themselves right in the middle of the ACC, they should be in great position for an NIT bid, which is looking like the ceiling of the team right now. 

Resurgence of Claudell Harris Jr. :

Prior to Tuesday’s game, Claudell Harris Jr. had been riding the coldest stretch of his career. Over his last four games, the junior guard shot just 10-37 from the field, and 5-22 from three. After a couple of tough shooting performances, Coach Grant made the decision to move Harris Jr. to the bench in favor of Chas Kelley III. When asked about the move, Grant said he hoped the change of pace would settle Harris Jr. down. 

Well, after two straight wins, Grant seems to have made the correct call. In their second win against Notre Dame, Harris Jr. had a crucial 9 points on 3-7 shooting. And last Tuesday against Syracuse, he led all scorers with 19 points on 7-11 shooting (off the bench!). And I’d be remiss not to reiterate Harris Jr.’s game-sealing 14-point stretch. The Eagles were in real danger of letting Syracuse come all the way back, but Harris Jr. shut the door on the Orange, and saved the day for the Eagles. 

Turnover Struggles:

The Eagles’ first game against the Orange might have been the most frustrating Boston College basketball game I’ve ever watched. BC turned the ball over a shocking 22 times, Jaeden Zackery and Quinten Post were both held scoreless, and the Eagles still led late in the game Yet, Grant’s squad was unable to close it out. This time around, while the end result was different, BC was still plagued by the same problems. Syracuse’s length continued to bother the Eagles, who committed 21 turnovers. For reference, the Eagles have only been averaging about 10 turnovers per game throughout the season, good enough for 51st in the country.  

And, for the second consecutive game, the Orange did a fantastic job of limiting Quinten Post. While he was not scoreless, the big Eagles’ leading scorer only scored 9 points on 3-5 shooting. Post’s more glaring issue was his seven turnovers. Post has proven that he can be a great passer out of the post, as well as a solid ball handler. But something about the length and quickness of Syracuse’ frontcourt just gives the big man fits. 

If the Eagles want to have a chance against a much-improved Florida State team, they will have to figure out how to better handle length and quickness, as FSU boasts both at each position. 

What’s Next:

After consecutive wins against Notre Dame and Syracuse, the Eagles will return to action next Tuesday, when they will take on Florida State in a 7 PM matchup. The Seminoles have been somewhat of a surprise team in the ACC, as they currently sit at fourth in the ACC standings, after finishing just 12th last season. FSU could pose a particularly tough matchup for the Eagles, as they play a similar style to Syracuse, but at a considerably higher level. 

With a win, the Eagles would improve to 5-6 in the ACC and leapfrog Clemson for 10th in the standings. Should they fall to the Seminoles, the Eagles would fall to 4-7 in the ACC, and risk falling below Pitt to 12th in the standings. A win would put BC one step closer to a coveted first-round bye in the ACC tournament. With the Eagles staring down an away matchup to 7th-ranked Duke following the next game, a win against FSU would go such a long way for the Eagles. 

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Eagle in the NBA! Quinten Post selected 52nd Overall by the Golden State Warriors

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QP working in the Post against Regional-Rival Harvard

For the first time ever, the NBA Draft was held over a two-day span, with the first round occurring last night at 8 PM, and the second taking place earlier this afternoon. And for Quinten Post, this meant that he had to wait an extra 20 hours for the most tumultuous event of this basketball career.

Quinten Post played three seasons under Earl Grant, who found the big man in the transfer portal prior to his inaugural season coaching the Eagles. Under Coach Grant’s tutelage, Post developed tremendously, transforming from a 2.8 point per game scorer at Mississippi State to an NBA prospect. Last season, Post averaged a 17/8/3/2 on 51% shooting from the field and 43% from behind the arc, good enough to earn the Dutchman a spot on an all-ACC team.

Throughout the 2023-24 season, everyone around the Eagles’ program knew Post would play professional basketball at some level. After all, he declared for the 2023 NBA Draft following his junior year. However, most mock drafts had Post going undrafted. But Post performed well at the NBA Combine, measuring in as the third-tallest player (behind just Zack Edey and Donovan Clingan), and impressing teams with his outside shooting.

Post was then invited to work out for Utah Jazz, Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, and the Oklahoma City Thunder. So, QP’s draft stock continued to rise leading up to the draft. Fast forward to Thursday afternoon, and the second round was underway. 

The second round of the NBA Draft is always unpredictable, with first-round talent falling well past their projections; teams taking chances on high-upside, yet unproven talents; and GMs looking to make moves heading into free agency. And in classic second-round fashion, Quinten Post was selected 52nd overall, with a pick originally owned by the Warriors, traded to the Trail Blazers, then to the Thunder, and then finally back to the Warriors. So, Post will be packing his bags, and heading for the Bay Area, joining Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green on the Golden State Warriors. 

Post will likely sign a two-way contract, and see time with both the Golden State and Santa Cruz Warriors. This marks Boston College’s first NBA Draft pick since Jerome Robinson went 13th overall in the 2018 Draft, and first under Coach Grant. Best of luck in the league, QP!

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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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