BOSTON (AP) For Boston College forward Ryan Anderson, the team’s biggest win of an awful season coming just a few days after a loss more painful than any game was no coincidence.
On Tuesday morning, a funeral was held for BC’s longtime basketball media contact and sports information assistant Dick Kelley, who died last week after a two-year battle with ALS.
On Wednesday night, the Eagles stunned No. 1 Syracuse 62-59 in overtime, becoming the third sub-.500 team to beat the AP’s top-ranked team on the road – and the first since Georgia Tech beat Kentucky in 1955.
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”It’s been a crazy week. I was telling somebody yesterday that it’s not a coincidence that we went to Dick Kelley’s wake on Monday, the funeral Tuesday and we beat the No. 1 team on Wednesday,” Anderson said after practice on Thursday. ”There’s no luck. Things go into that. It’s the way things kind of should have gone for us. It feels good.”
Boston College (7-19, 3-10 Atlantic Coast Conference) rallied from a 13-point second-half deficit to pull off the improbable upset. And it came after a longer-than-usual , 7-hour bus ride through the snow from Chestnut Hill to Upstate New York.
BC coach Steve Donahue was inspired by how his team could bounce back.
”I’d be honest with you, it’s hard for a 51-year old guy,” Donahue said. ”Maybe their resilience is a lot better than people my age. I’ve been amazed. They visited Dick when he was in his condition. The funeral, they were obviously very emotional, but I just sense a resilience in their youth and their enthusiasm.
”I think Dick’s way of how he handled that and the courage that he dealt with really resonated with those guys,” he said. ”To watch him go through that. Every time he came in here he was happy. He was saying things to them that it was all right to move ahead. Life goes on unfortunately and I think those guys sensed that through Dick’s courage.”
The Eagles’ upperclassmen knew Kelley as one of their main contacts within the college. They’d visit his apartment, as a team, about a quarter-mile away from Conte Forum.
”The coaches introduced me to him right away,” said Patrick Heckmann, a junior forward from Germany. ”We talked a lot about my experiences. About how things were going with classes and things. He helped me with everything. We had a great connection.”
Heckmann finished with nine points in the game, five coming in OT on a key 3-pointer from the left corner and a reverse layup. He was just glad the team could get back to the court after experiencing so much.
”I think it was important with us. We had so many emotions stored up inside of us,” he said. ”They came out yesterday. We came out with great determination, emotion, spirit. It was all about DK. We took so much inspiration from him. From all the things he did with his courage. We tried to embrace that.”
For the second straight game BC’s players – like all of the school’s sports teams – wore black patches on their jerseys with white initials `DK.’
Anderson felt as if the team not only grew up on the court, but learned some life experiences as young adults.
”Yeah. It was interesting because this week was the first time I’ve seen a lot of these guys cry,” he said. ”It kind of just took our relationship to another level, especially with all the failures that we’ve experienced so far. We’ve been so close so many times and things just didn’t go our way. It just has really brought us closer.”
Now they hope to build for the rest of the season.
”That’s the whole goal. I think we’re a good basketball team. Everybody’s making a big deal about the record and how bad we are to beat the No. 1 team,” Donahue said. ”We’ve played good enough to win a lot more games. Our goal now is to play well enough to make a run in the ACC tournament.”