Boston College eager for young stars to emerge
BOSTON (AP) Olivier Hanlan was drafted by the Utah Jazz. Patrick Heckmann signed in Europe. Aaron Brown and Dimitri Batten have also finished school.
Only Dennis Clifford will be back.
The 7-foot center is the lone returning starter for Boston College this season. But coach Jim Christian is optimistic: After all, last year’s team went 13-19 and 4-14 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, missing the NCAA Tournament for the sixth straight year.
”People always talk about what you lost,” Christian said after running his players through a modified scrimmage in the first of a two-a-day weekend practice. ”It’s not about that. It’s what you add.”
Coming to Chestnut Hill this season are graduate transfer Eli Carter, a guard who scored more than 1,000 points at Rutgers and Florida. He’ll be joined by nine freshmen and sophomores.
”We’re where nobody knows who you are,” Christian said.
Here are some things to look for from the Eagles this season:
SCORING: Hanlan (19.5 ppg, 4.2 apg) left school early and was drafted with the 12th pick of the second round of the NBA draft. Brown (14.8 ppg), Heckmann (8.4) and Batten (7.3 ppg) are also gone.
A.J. Turner, a 6-foot-7 forward, is the top recruit among the freshmen. Idy Diallo, a 6-foot-11 redshirt freshman, also gives the Eagles some height.
HOPE: The Eagles won four of their last five ACC games after starting 1-13 in the conference, but that might have been more about the schedule. BC again has a front-loaded calendar, opening the ACC schedule against Duke and Notre Dame and also playing Miami, Virginia and Louisville in the first half of conference play.
Christian said stringing some wins together at the end of 2014-15 doesn’t mean much, because most of those players are gone. ”But it does give us something to build on from a culture standpoint,” he said. ”The culture has changed.”
COME ON DOWN: Christian only closes practice on rare occasions, and it’s not just the media that’s welcome. He hosted a local youth team on a recent Saturday, when he brought in referees for a workout that was just short of a scrimmage. It’s all part of an effort to make the basketball team relevant in a way it hasn’t been during some seasons.
Conte Forum was at least half-empty for many games last season, including the last two home games against Wake Forest and North Carolina State.
”We want people coming to games, getting to know our kids,” Christian said. ”We have to stick ourselves out there.”
EXPERIENCE: Clifford averaged 25 minutes per game last season a year after playing in only two games. Carter averaged 14 points over two seasons for Rutgers before dropping off (8.9 ppg) last year for Florida. In his third school, Carter joins Clifford to give the Eagles experience and leadership that the young team will need.
”They’re acting like they should be as fifth-year guys,” Christian said. ”They actually speed up the learning curve.”