BOSTON (AP) – It’s time for Boston College to turn the corner.
The Eagles finished with their second straight losing record last year in their third season under coach Steve Donahue. But the team of underclassman won four of its last five games and is hoping its experience will pay off this year.
The playing time Donahue gave his freshmen and sophomores now has the Eagles as one of the most experienced teams in the ACC.
Reigning ACC rookie of the year Olivier Hanlan is back, looking to improve on a season in which he averaged 15.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Junior Ryan Anderson had almost 15 points and eight rebounds last season.
Here are five things to look for from BC this year:
ROOKIE’S RETURN: Coming off a year in which he set a freshman record for the conference tournament with 41 points in a first-round game, Hanlan was invited to the summer skills camps run by NBA stars Chris Paul and LeBron James. If the Canadian guard continues to develop, he will be a steadying force on the court for the Eagles. Another sophomore, Joe Rahon, is a point guard who was seventh in the ACC with 3.7 assists per game.
THESE JUNIORS CAN PLAY, TOO: Ryan Anderson had the most rebounds and was second in points last year on a team otherwise lacking much height. A 6-foot-8 forward, Anderson was fourth in the league with eight rebounds per game and eighth with 14.9 points per game. Lonnie Jackson and Patrick Heckmann also return from last year’s starting lineup. And Dennis Clifford, the team’s only 7-footer, is back after being hobbled by a knee injury last year that cut his minutes in half (though he still played in 30 of 33 games).
DON’T I KNOW YOU?: Last year, freshmen and sophomores contributed a total of 95 percent of the scoring, 94 percent of the rebounds, 93 percent of the minutes and 97 percent of the assists. But that means this year the Eagles among the most experienced teams in the ACC. And they are the only team in the league to return seven players with 20 or more starts.
HIT THE ROAD: Donahue didn’t pad the non-conference schedule with cupcakes, as the Eagles will play only four non-conference home games. Instead, BC will travel to play Providence, Connecticut, Purdue, Southern Cal, Auburn, Virginia Commonwealth and even Harvard, which has beaten the Eagles five times in a row. That sets up for an ACC schedule that includes ranked teams Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse and Virginia.
RECRUITING DIVIDENDS: This is Donahue’s fourth season at BC, and the former Cornell coach is no longer leading a program in transition. All five starters return from last year, and every player on the roster was recruited by his staff. Look for the Eagles to improve over last year’s 16-17 overall record (7-11 ACC). The Eagles are also 1-13 against teams in the AP Top 25 under Donahue, with the lone win coming against Florida State in 2011-12.