Thursday, October 30, 2008

season preview: Boston College

Basketball season is nigh upon us, and this being the ACC, we certainly won't neglect the hardwood on these pages. As with football, I plan on a season preview of each ACC team; this is the first. Unlike football, there won't also be a season preview for all of our nonconference opponents, because there are like fifteen of them and that would be ridiculous, and frankly most of them are the same anyway: mid-major schedule fluff that exists to get crushed like bug. So first up we have Boston College, taking the honors for being first in the alphabet.

Media selection: 11th

ACC schedule:

Twice: Georgia Tech, Miami, NC State, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest
Once: Clemson (H), Duke (H), Florida State, (H), Maryland (A), North Carolina (A), Virginia (A)

2007 All-ACC:
First team: G Tyrese Rice
Second team: None
Third team: None
Freshman: None
Defensive: C Tyrelle Blair
HM: None

(italics: returning)

Projected starters:
PG: Tyrese Rice (Sr.)
SG: Rakim Sanders (So.)
SF: Corey Raji (So.)
PF: Joe Trapani (So.)
C: Josh Southern (So.)

G Biko Paris (So.)
G Dallas Elmore (Fr.)
G Reggie Jackson (Fr.)
F Tyler Roche (Jr.)
F Courtney Dunn (So.)
C Evan Ravenel (Fr.)

Coach: Al Skinner (12th year)

(italics: returning starter)

Boston College is pretty much an afterthought in the always-loaded ACC. It's not hard to see why: a roster consisting entirely of underclassmen save one senior and one junior is never a formula for ACC success.

The senior, however, is probably worth a few conference wins all by himself. BC's extremely young team is going to look to Tyrese Rice whenever the going gets rough. Rice was the conference's second leading scorer last year and would be considered far and away the standout player in the conference if not for UNC's Tyler Hansbrough. Playing alongside Rice is Rakim Sanders, not too shabby a player himself as he was the team's second-leading scorer as a freshman last year.

Sanders, at 6'5", 225, is a big boy for a guard, and that's where Reggie Jackson comes in. The Eagles are thin in the frontcourt, and Jackson is the team's star recruit. Reviews on Jackson were slightly mixed, and although BC was his only BCS offer, even the most critical of scouting-service grades were not too shabby. Rice, Sanders, and Jackson would have made a pretty fearsome early-'90s NFL lineup; BC fans are hoping this version can be a three-headed monster in the backcourt. Jackson, however, will have to battle sophomore Biko Paris to be the first guy off the bench. Paris has a year on Jackson and was one of five players to appear in all 31 games for BC last year.

The frontcourt is hurting from the loss of Shamari Spears, who had a mutually unhappy relationship with Coach Skinner and transferred to Charlotte. Tyrelle Blair graduated, leaving the frontcourt even thinner. But BC gets a transfer of their own in Joe Trapani from Vermont, and he is probably good enough to bump Tyler Roche out of the starting lineup; Roche was a starter last year but marginal and saw fewer minutes per game than some of the reserves. The roster's biggest player is 6'10", 242 pound Josh Southern, so by default, he's your center. Cortney Dunn was one of those guys that gets in a few early games, then glues his ass to the bench when things start heating up, but Skinner calls Dunn his best defensive player, which is the sort of thing that's always good for playing time.

So. One brilliant, superstar guard, a young cast of players more or less evenly talented, and a thin frontcourt. Remind you of anyone you knew last year? Boston College will probably see similar results. Tyrese Rice by himself is probably good enough to run roughshod over the likes of Loyola (MD) and South Carolina-Upstate, and the Eagles will almost assuredly have a good winning record entering ACC play, but they open the New Year and the conference schedule with a trip to Chapel Hill, which is going to bring them down to earth, fast. For every game they win because of the brilliance of Rice, they'll lose one thanks to inexperience. They could slide into the lower reaches of the NIT, but more than likely if there's any postseason play to be had in Chestnut Hill, it'll be the CBI.

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