BOSTON — Steve Donahue knew early last season that his young Boston College team would be overmatched in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
In his second year as the Eagles basketball coach, he relied on freshmen to play the biggest roles and the result was predictable. BC went 9-22, its most losses in school history, and 4-14 in the ACC.
“When I saw how young we were and how inexperienced we were,” he said, “to think that we have to play the ACC with that team is pretty daunting.”
This season the Eagles certainly aren’t up there with North Carolina State, Duke, North Carolina and most teams in the conference, and they were picked to finish last in a poll of media members. But the experience of last season and progress in the offseason give Donahue hope.
“I’m much more comfortable (that) we’re able to compete,” he said. “We may not be great for 40 minutes in 10 games in a row, but this is a group that’s much more consistent, just way better to be competitive for longer than we were last year.”
The Eagles tied for last in the ACC and were outscored by an average of more than 11 points per conference game. Five of their top six scorers were freshmen. Four of them started at least 24 of the 31 games. The other regular starter, Matt Humphrey, transferred to West Virginia.
But BC added two promising freshman guards, Olivier Hanlan and Joe Rahon.
“Both are good sized, have good overall toughness and really good skill levels,” Donahue said. “I think both of them are able to step into this league physically and compete more than the group could last year.”
The frontcourt should be a strength again with freshmen Ryan Anderson, a 6-foot-8 forward who led the Eagles with 11.2 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, and 7-foot center Dennis Clifford, who was third with averages of 9.1 points and 4.7 rebounds.