Gritty BC Effort Downs Providence
By Greg Joyce, Heights Senior Staff
On a day when Boston College was hurting in size, the battle in the paint is what earned the Eagles the win. Ryan Anderson turned in a gutsy performance with 17 second-half points to give BC a 71-68 win over Providence at Conte Forum.
Freshmen Olivier Hanlan and Joe Rahon both played the entire game and contributed in major ways, as Hanlan recorded his first collegiate double-double (17 points, 12 rebounds) and Rahon shut down the Friars on the defensive end.
The game featured 14 lead changes throughout the 40 minutes, and in the end, the Eagles came out on top.
“I thought it was a well-played game,” said head coach Steve Donahue. “Neither team could shake the other team.”
It was BC that finally shook off the Friars, as a 3-pointer from Patrick Heckmann with 5:59 remaining gave the Eagles a 59-56 lead that they would never relinquish.
BC hit seven 3-pointers on the day, but it was the play in the key that gave the Eagles the edge over Providence. With time winding down and the Friars hanging around, Rahon found Anderson underneath the basket twice in the final minutes to keep BC ahead.
“[Providence] had a lot of size on their team and with Dennis being hurt and Andrew Van Nest being out with a concussion, I just took it upon myself to be the force in the paint for us tonight,” Anderson said.
The second play from Rahon to Anderson came with the shot clock in its final seconds, as Rahon made something out of a broken play to find his big man for two points.
“I thought it was incredible—end of the shot clock, staying poised, finding [Anderson] in a tight spot and Ryan’s so good at finishing those with his hands,” Donahue said.
Donahue said he trusted Rahon more than anyone else in that situation to handle the ball, and his guard came through for him.
“I just have so much respect for Joe and his understanding of the game,” Donahue said. “He’s just a winner. You gotta make game-winning plays. Someone’s going to have to step up and stop him because he doesn’t lose his poise. He stays with it.”
The Eagles committed a season-low eight turnovers, as taking care of the ball down the stretch allowed them to hold off Providence in the waning minutes.
“It’s huge for us every game,” Donahue said of the low turnovers. “We’re not necessarily going to be the most athletic and physical team, so we got to be great with the basketball. We were great with the ball today. I don’t think there was any bad decision.
“We have to get less than 10 turnovers [per game] in this league if we’re going to be competitive this year.”
Dennis Clifford returned to action for the first time since Nov. 28 in limited playing minutes, still battling an ankle injury and sore knees. But the big man contributed four points and five rebounds, and more importantly, was a force on the defensive end for BC.
“I think a big lift we got was from Dennis,” Donahue said. “I know it doesn’t show too much, but he hasn’t played basketball, literally—except for a couple of games—in two months. He’s not healthy. He’s hurting. His knees are killing him. And his ankle’s not good. But he thought he could help us bang some bodies and I thought he did a great job.”
Hanlan’s 12 rebounds were a career-high for him, and his effort in the paint helped Anderson control Providence’s forwards. Rahon guarded LaDontae Henton—who came in averaging 16.6 points per game—and held him to just four points on the day. The play of the guards helped Anderson slow down the Friars down low, especially when Clifford wasn’t in the game.
“I thought a lot of the guards came in and helped me out on the rebounds,” Anderson said. “I don’t know how many Olivier and Joe had but they were really in there battling for a lot of rebounds for us. I thought it was a team effort of combating their size and strength inside. That was the key to the game.”
The win got the Eagles above .500 going into their small Christmas break, and was a big step forward in the team’s progression. Providence resembles the kind of team that BC will be facing in a lot of its ACC competition, and a win against the Friars did a lot for the young squad’s confidence.
“To pull [the win] out,” Anderson said, “is just big for our program moving forward to continue to grow as a team.”
Brown and Day Announced As Defensive and Offensive Coordinators
By Greg Joyce, Sports Editor
Don Brown has been named the new defensive coordinator at Boston College, head coach Steve Addazio announced today.
“We’re very excited to have Don Brown joining our Boston College family,” Addazio said in a statement. “Don is a New England guy who has tremendous ties and relationships in the Northeast to go along with a great coaching resume. He has tremendous character and is a great family man who is a perfect fit here at Boston College.”
Brown most recently held the same position at the University of Connecticut from 2011-2012 and the University of Maryland from 2009-2010. Prior to that, he was the head coach at UMass from 2004-2008.
“Coach Addazio has presented me with a great challenge – one that I am very excited about,” Brown said in the release. “I’m excited to be back in the ACC. “The positive thing for me is that I’m a New England guy. I’m from Massachusetts. Coaching at Boston College has always been a wish of mine.”
In 2012, Brown’s defense at UConn was ranked 10th nationally in total defense, while BC placed 101st in the same category. Most notably, the Huskies’ defense allowed just 97.92 rushing yards per game this year (seventh in the FBS), as opposed to the 214.08 rushing yards per game that the Eagles allowed—112th in the FBS.
“I’m a firm believer that you play the game on the balls of your feet, not on your heels,” Brown said. “From day one, we’re going to be aggressive. We’re going to attack the line of scrimmage. We’re going to get after the quarterback. We’re going to play with our hair on fire on defense. I’m a big believer in playing for tackles for loss and being disruptive and making life difficult for the quarterback. We’re going to attack. That’s the style of defense that I’ve employed. We’re going to fly around and attack the pass.”
Brown, 57, will take over at DC for Bill McGovern, becoming the second official hire by Addazio.
During his time at UMass, Brown coached a team that won 43 games, as he compiled a .694 winning percentage—the best in UMass history.
BC also officially announced that Addazio has named Ryan Day the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
“He [Ryan Day] played for me and I coached with him,” Oregon head coach Chip Kelly said in the release. “He was a great kid and one of the bright minds as well as one of the best players I have ever coached. I think he is one of the best young coaches in the country and it was just a matter of time before he was running the show, offensively, somewhere.”
Eagles Allow Second Half To Snowball Out Of Control In Fifth-Straight Loss To Harvard
(Graham Beck/Photo Editor)
By Austin Tedesco, Asst. Sports Editor
When head coach Steve Donahue sees his team shoot almost 60 percent from the field, he expects them to win. Despite the apparent offensive efficiency on Tuesday night, the Boston College men’s basketball fell to Harvard 79-63 in the program’s fifth straight loss to the Crimson.
“It’s hard to imagine you shoot 58 percent and lose by 16 pretty handedly,” Donahue said. “There’s a mental toughness side on both sides of the ball that they had and we didn’t. That was, I’m sure, apparent to everybody. In particular, when they pressured us – even though we were scoring we were never understanding and staying poised and confident in our offense. But when we pressured them they just moved like clockwork to the next thing. And like I said it’s kind of mind-boggling to put up those kinds of numbers and lose pretty handedly.”
Ryan Anderson opened the game by scoring 11 of the Eagles first 13 points and it looked as though the Crimson didn’t have an answer for the BC forward, but after the first five minutes his offense began to fade.
“Part of our offense is everyone moves and everyone touches the ball,” said freshman guard Joe Rahon. “Looking back we probably should’ve tried to make more of an effort on the court to try to get it to him when he was hot, but they did do a good job of keying on him. When we were driving they were shading him a little bit more than they did at the start of the game, but looking back we probably should’ve tried to ride him a little more there.”
BC kept the game in reach until the second half, when Harvard went on a run that the Eagles couldn’t match.
“The Achilles’ heel for us is that we allow a play that just happened to snowball to the next play, and it happens in all facets of basketball,” Donahue said. “It’s something that I can’t tell you how many times we talk about it, we harp on it, and we show it to them on film.”
The Harvard players methodically attacked the BC defense on their way to tying their highest point total of the season so far. They made BC defend for the whole shot-clock before finally finding a clean look that consistently fell through the net.
“That’s the two hardest things to do in basketball,” Donahue said. “Is to push it early on and stop them, and then to have the poise and toughness and confidence at the end of the shot clock, and they exploited both ends of that.”
On the offensive end, BC was flustered by the Harvard pressure which broke the rhythm of the motion offense.
“They did a great job of pressuring us and trying to deny easy swing passes,” Rahon said. “I think we didn’t handle it as well as we needed to. We knew they were going to do it. We knew it was coming and we were trying to just get backdoor cuts, get sharp cuts, and move the ball, but they did a good job of taking us out of our rhythm there for a little bit, and we were never really able to turn it around and get over the hump.”
Donahue wouldn’t chalk up the loss to experience, though.
“Can’t say experience anymore,” Donahue said. “I’m done with that. The defense was poor. It’s got to get better. We’ll work at it, but the defense was really poor.”
Although many of the Eagles looked out of sync and worn down during the second half, Donahue said it wasn’t an issue with effort.
“It’s not effort,” Donahue said. “It isn’t. We have to, my staff and myself, get them playing at a certain high level, consistently, all the time, and not missing a beat. It appears at time that it’s effort, but I just think it’s the mental toughness part of it that the guys don’t have the ability to fight through. These guys will continue to get better at it, we’ll continue to bring people into this program that understand it, and we’ll build a culture similar to what we did at Cornell and similar to what Harvard has – but to say they’re not trying? No, they try. They try really hard.”
His players need to be more mentally tough, and he says that will come through failures like this as he continues to build the program.
“I love these guys, as I say all the time,” Donahue said. “I have great confidence that they’ll get it and we’re going to work extremely hard to do it. Unfortunately, and I know I sound like a broken record, but we’re going to have failures here. We’re going to have some extreme frustration, but that to me is the only way you can be successful.”
UPDATE: Steve Addazio Hired As New Head Football Coach
By Greg Joyce, Sports Editor
Steve Addazio will be the next head coach of the Boston College football team, athletic director Brad Bates announced today. Addazio will leave his job as head coach at Temple University to take over for Frank Spaziani, who was fired just nine days ago.
“I’ve only been here six weeks,” Bates said. “I’m looking for a partner who I can be joined at the hip with and really strive for excellence in Boston College athletics. [Addazio] is a key leader in this department.”
Bates interviewed Addazio on two separate occasions before making the hire official today. Addazio will be signed to a six-year contract, though the money was not disclosed.
“The process, as I’ve said all along – I wasn’t really strictly adhering to a timeline,” Bates told The Heights, just after he met with the team to announce the hire. “We had to make sure we got a perfect fit. The process was meticulous and deliberate enough that there’s no question in my mind we were able to accomplish that.”
Bates met with the media on Tuesday night to further discuss the hiring.
“I really believe that Steve Addazio is a great coach who is a great fit for Boston College right now,” Bates said.
Since he met with the players nine days ago and talked about what they wanted in a new head coach, Bates knew that he needed to hire a coach the players could build a strong relationship with.
“Everything in Steve’s background demonstrates that he’s going to create a family culture in the program that’s a team,” Bates said.
Secondly, the team wanted a coach who brought great passion to the locker room and the field, and Bates said he found exactly that in Addazio.
“You’ll see [Addazio] has incredible passion and energy,” Bates said. “He is one of the most energized, passionate people I’ve ever been around. His enthusiasm is contagious. Just sitting around him, you’re going to feel more inspired. So imagine that playing out in a coaching methodology.”
The third factor the team wanted in a coach was someone who was going to win, and Bates said that Addazio “certainly has a background in competitive success and winning.”
During the search process, Bates talked to NFL owners, NFL coaches, commissioners, college head coaches and assistant coaches, executive directors, and more. He reached out to those people he trusted in order to figure out if certain candidates would be a good fit at BC.
At the end of the 2012 season, multiple BC football players came out and said there was a lack of accountability on the team. While the players said the responsibility falls on them to change that, Bates believes that Addazio can help improve that attitude as well.
“He’s got a plan, he’ll be a disciplinarian,” Bates said. “He will be incredibly demanding on and off the field, but at the end of the day, the students are going to know he genuinely and sincerely cares about them.”
Bates told the players in a team meeting at 5 p.m. today, and wanted them to hear the announcement from him first.
“We wanted to make sure the players heard it from us,” Bates said. “We try to do everything we can to make sure they’re not hearing it secondhand. We tried to be as stealth as possible so that they’d hear it from us.”
Though he didn’t want to put words in their mouth, Bates said the players’ reactions “seemed to be a general level of excitement and enthusiasm.”
While the coaching carousel in college football is ongoing and unpredictable, Bates made it seem like he didn’t think Addazio would use BC as a stepping stone in his career.
“This is a guy who grew up in the Northeast and has dreamed of being at Boston College,” Bates said. “He is thrilled to be here and he’s already hitting the ground running. We bounced over a lot of things today in terms of what needs to be prepared and what he’s already getting into.
“Who can predict the future? Is any place a destination anymore? The landscape of college athletics is evolving so quickly, and there’s so many different variables that are involved in how people choose jobs and their longevity. I can’t predict the future completely. But here’s a guy who’s incredibly enthusiastic to be at Boston College.”
Bates said he was looking for a coach who would provide some stability in a program that has had a lot of attrition in recent history.
“Continuity is an incredible cohesive force in building a team,” Bates said. “And so having attrition is disruptive. This team has had a lot of disruption in terms of that continuity.”
Bates said that Addazio has been on his list of potential coaching candidates “for a number of years.”
Addazio compiled a record of 13-11 at Temple in his two years there—9-4 in 2011 (as a member of the MAC) and 4-7 in 2012 (as a member of the Big East). Prior to that, Addazio was the offensive coordinator at Florida in 2009 and 2010, and an assistant at various spots from 2005-2008. While at Florida, Addazio was part of a staff that won the BCS national championship in 2006 and 2008. He served as a mentor for the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Tim Tebow during that time.
Bates first got to know Addazio when he was at Florida, and has been watching and studying him since then. He also got to see Addazio firsthand when Temple faced Miami in a game during the 2011 season.
“I saw him firsthand two years ago because I was at Miami University and Temple was still in the MAC,” Bates said. “I had actually gotten to know him a few years ago when he was at Florida, and I have been really watching him since his work at Florida and [I have] been studying him. So that’s why he was on my shortlist to begin with.”
Former BC assistant coach Ryan Day worked under Addazio at Temple this year, and Bates said that while he didn’t talk to Day directly, he did get Day’s take secondhand.
“I talked to a lot of people, but not directly,” he said. “I didn’t want to do things … there are two ways of approaching it. You can have trusted colleagues make calls so there’s no direct communication, but people that you know and trust, you can call directly. I don’t know Ryan personally, so there was communication that was taking place, but it was secondhand.”
Regarding the current BC coaching staff, Bates said it is something that has yet to be decided in terms of who will stay and who will go.
“All of that’s undecided,” he said. “We’ve certainly had conversations, but nothing that would be definitive at this point. We’ve talked in general terms. He clearly has some ideas of what he wants to do, but he’s going to research the context. He’s going to visit with the team, he’s going to visit with the staff.
“This is a well-connected guy in the football community. He’s going to have an amazing collection of coaches that he can assemble. The key is going to be making sure that he gets a group that has diverse skill sets and experiences so that they compliment one another.”
Speculation had surfaced this morning from outlets including ESPN that the three finalists were Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, Ball State head coach Pete Lambo, and the New Orleans Saints’ offensive line coach Aaron Kromer. Addazio’s name had not come up as a candidate throughout the process, and in response to the supposed list of finalists, Bates said it was “interesting.”
“Honestly, I don’t know what the speculation was,” Bates said. “Steve was actually someone on my short list from the beginning. He’s got a tremendous reputation, people speak very highly of him. People that I respect in the industry have enormous regard for his talents and what he’s done in his coaching background.”
Addazio, 53, will be introduced in an official press conference at 3 p.m. tomorrow in the Yawkey Center at BC.
Eagles End Season With Sense Of Uncertainty
By Greg Joyce, Sports Editor
RALEIGH — It was never about the game. It was never about what happened on the field at Carter Finley Stadium on Saturday afternoon. It was never about whether Boston College could end its season with a win against North Carolina State.
Instead, it was about the uncertain future of a fallen program.
To many, that meant it was about one man who paced back and forth on the BC sideline for 60 minutes—head coach Frank Spaziani.
The Eagles lost their tenth game of the season, 27-10 to the Wolfpack, but most of the conversation after the game wasn’t about where the game was lost or what personal achievements were recorded.
Instead, the conversation honed in on the uncertainty surrounding the program—who will be the head coach next year? Where does the team go from here? How do you fix what went wrong this season?
Spaziani was first. He entered the room to give his press conference, a white towel around his neck. He was offered a stat sheet, but turned it down, saying he already had it all in his head. He congratulated NC State, talked about how turnovers and penalties killed his team, and answered a few other questions about the course of the game.
Then it got down to what everyone wanted to know: what’s next? Spaziani was asked if he would have a meeting with Athletic Director Brad Bates in the coming days. He paused, then faced the reality of the situation.
“Um, I would think I would,” Spaziani said.
And in that meeting, if he was given the chance to make a case for why he should be kept for a fifth year as the head coach in Chestnut Hill, what would he say? Spaziani kept his thoughts mostly to himself, as he has throughout his tenure, especially this year.
“It wouldn’t be here right now,” Spaziani said. “I wouldn’t be stating it right now for public laundry.”
“I do have a case.”
Beyond that, Spaziani was not up for talking much about his future.
“It is not to be discussed right here,” he said. The rest of the questions he answered by telling reporters they should probably ask Bates directly. That’s because at this point, it’s out of Spaziani’s hands. His work over the last four years speaks for itself, mainly in his 22-28 record as head coach. There are positive intangibles that he brings to the job, but at the end of the day, those will be outweighed by his win-loss record.
And for that, Spaziani days in Chestnut Hill are likely numbered.
Pushed one last time for whether Bates had asked to meet with him, Spaziani deferred the question again, before giving one last answer under his breath.
“I don’t even tell my wife that,” he said.
While Spaziani kept his thoughts on the future close to his chest, his players were more willing to talk about next year, knowing they’ll still be around.
Quarterback Chase Rettig took a beating in the game, but still came out with a positive outlook.
“I can promise everyone that this offseason, I’m going to do a lot to improve,” Rettig said.
Rettig had a tough game, but it did not reflect the leaps and bounds he’s taken this year as a college quarterback. In the second quarter, he surpassed 3,000 yards passing for the season, becoming the fourth Eagle to do so, but the first non-senior to pass that mark.
Yet that record doesn’t mean much for Rettig in a season like this. He had his head down the whole time after the game, clearly emotional after the loss and the end of a trying season.
“It gets emotional for guys,” he said. “We had some opportunities to maybe have a better day today, we just didn’t get it done. But there are bigger things in the scheme of life for those guys that are leaving, and you just got to go tell them how much they mean to you and how much you’re going to miss them.
“You just got to talk to all the seniors. Those are your brothers and your friends. Regardless of the talk, it always ends whenever the last game of the season or postseason is. You just go talk to the guys you’re not going to be around next year and hug them. Everyone worked so hard, it just didn’t happen for us this year. Those are our closest guy friends and you want to send them out with a win. But unfortunately we weren’t able to tonight, so now we got to go and do something next year for them.”
In the end, Rettig left it up to the media to sum up the season. He gave his piece—one of hope despite the plight of the program—but seemed to know it might be painted in a different light.
“I think you guys know how we feel,” Rettig said. “I think it’s pretty obvious. There’s just a million different—I wouldn’t say negative feelings, but … we had a lot of hope this season in different times. You can break down the season however you want. But we had opportunities and obviously we didn’t take advantage of them. However you want to write that, that’s how we feel.”
Another player who set a record on the night was wide receiver Alex Amidon, who became BC’s single-season receptions leader. That achievement does not mean anything to Amidon right now though, as he’d rather have the wins. Despite the tough season, he has a message for next year, and it starts with him and his teammates.
“We’re going to turn it around,” Amidon said. “It’s on the players. It’s on me. I take responsibility for a lot of what happened this year—not being a leader, not stepping up, not holding people accountable. The kids coming back next year—we’re going to change it. We’re all going to change it.”
Amidon talked more about a need for leadership and coming together as a team to hold each other responsible for playing up to their potential.
“We’re not going to let people slack off anymore—not that that necessarily happened, but we need to step up as leaders,” Amidon said.
The one player who won’t be around to see the future unfold is Nick Clancy, the fifth-year middle linebacker who rose to the starting spot in training camp and took full advantage of his opportunity. He was the last player out of the locker room to talk to the media, almost in fitting fashion. He won’t get to suit up in the maroon and gold next year, but he had five years to look back on and think about what he’d change if he had the chance to do it all over again.
“Personally, my leadership role would have been more vocal, in terms of pulling guys aside and letting them know the right way of doing things,” Clancy said. “I feel like that was something we missed this year in terms of leadership, was guys not calling other guys out. That’s just how it is on a team. You can’t be afraid to call somebody out when he’s not doing something right. On the other half, the guys getting called out should be man enough to know that what he’s doing is wrong and he needs to change it for the betterment of the team. That’s one thing I wish I could have done a better job of.”
He won’t get a chance to fix that, but the underclassmen on the team will. They’re planning on it, and Clancy will remind them of it.
“I’m going to definitely reach out to a few individuals,” Clancy said. “It’s going to be the guys that I think have leadership qualities, guys that are going to be older guys next year. What the message from me is, ‘Hey man, you just need to go out there and you need to lead by example. You need to do what’s right. You can’t be afraid to call anybody out because that’s just the way it is.’
“Iron sharpens iron. If you’re going to say you want to be the best, then you have to perform like you’re going to be the best. You can’t just BS people—you gotta be about it, you can’t just talk about it.”
Right now, all the Eagles can do is talk. They won’t get a chance to prove themselves again until September of 2013. Until then, all they can do is go back to work, and take each day to get better.
Who their coach will be next September is uncertain. That’s out of their control, and it’s out of Spaziani’s control. Bates will likely make that decision in the coming week.
But what is certain is that there is a renewed sense of urgency in the locker room. The players are tired of losing. They saw what brought BC to a 2-10 season, and they’re ready to correct it. They’re not playing for the name on the back of their jersey—the records they set meant nothing to any of them. They’re playing for the name on the front of their jersey—Boston College.
They want to win. They want to revive a falling program. And now, it seems they’re ready to hold each other accountable for doing just that.
A little over nine months from now, they’ll get another chance to prove it.