Boston College men’s basketball entered the season in an interesting position, with eight players getting their first taste of college basketball, a mix of true freshmen and previously injured players. Clearly a program at the bottom half of the ACC, this could have been seen as another difficult year for the Eagles, but the youth gave them hope.
Not only is this BC team young, but the freshman class is more talented than many of the recruits who came to Chestnut Hill before them. AJ Turner is the first Rivals150 recruit to come to BC since 2007; Jerome Robinson is a long, talented guard who Jim Christian snuck out of North Carolina, right under the nose of the many conference rivals in and around the Research Triangle; and Matt Milon is a Florida kid with a deadly spot-up jumper. The list of talented youngsters goes on, but why isn’t Coach Christian using them?
Yes, this year also brought graduate-transfer Eli Carter, and center Dennis Clifford hung around for a fifth year, but the young guys should still be the focus. I hate to say this to those who have not already realized, but BC isn’t going to be an option when you fill out your bracket come March. After last night’s loss to Miami, the Eagles sit at 7-11, with a long, treacherous ACC schedule still in front of them. This season should no longer be about winning games, but rather developing the freshmen for next year when the Eagles could, and should, be a much better team. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the game plan that Coach Christian and co. draw up each night.
Eli Carter has taken 262 shots this season—around 15 per game. Behind him, the highest freshman is Jerome Robinson with more than 80 shots less. Milon, a dead-eye shooter from long range, has put up 43 shots from behind the arc; Carter has taken 119. Over 37% of the shots BC has attempted have come from Clifford and Carter, two guys who won’t be around next season when the Eagles will have a chance at being competitive.
Coach Christian deserves credit for getting these guys on the court. Usually two of three freshman start—Turner, Robinson, or Ervins Meznieks—and they play extensive minutes, but that isn’t enough. Standing around watching Eli Carter shoot step-back jumpers from 35 feet won’t make the young players better. It doesn’t count as game experience if you aren’t involved in the game.
I understand that it is a wildly difficult balance for a coach to achieve, choosing between immediate results and building the future, but thus far, Coach Christian hasn’t been close to distributing the shots throughout the offense in a way that is best for this program. The guy who is said to be the best freshman at BC in eight years takes well under seven shots per night, while Eli misses more than that in the first half of many games.
Christian obviously can’t let the season totally tank, but when you look at the stat sheet after a 20-point loss and see a graduate transfer going 5-for-22 and a Rivals150 recruit only taking two shots, it is a bit perplexing.
The Eagles need to come to terms with the fact that this season won’t be the year they cut down the nets, but with some adjustments in game planning and coaching, the remainder of the year can be used to put them one step closer to being a legitimate contender.
Follow @BCGavelSports on Twitter for the latest updates on Boston College athletics.