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 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.
BC Squeaks By Auburn
By Chris Marino, Assoc. Sports Editor
On Wednesday, the Boston College men’s basketball team pulled off a close 50-49 victory against the Auburn Tigers at Conte Forum. The Eagles were led by their freshman backcourt of Olivier Hanlan and Joe Rahon, while scoring leader Ryan Anderson struggled to overcome a lingering foot injury. Hanlan ended with a game-high 19 points, while Rahon was equally as pivotal to the outcome with 15 points. While the home squad led by as much as eight in the second half, the contest proved to be a battle of wills until the final buzzer.
“At the team meeting yesterday, we talked the things that winning teams do,” Rahon said. “We talked about making tough plays, and giving it for all 40 minutes. Then we all went home last night and watched Butler give it to North Carolina. They played hard. They did all the little things. They battled on the boards. They were able to beat a team that’s more talented than they are. We started texting each other, texting around, saying, ‘That’s how we have to play.’ So we came out here with a bulldog mentality, and hopefully we’re going to keep that for the rest of the year.”
The first half saw Hanlan and Rahon act as the main catalysts behind the BC scoring effort. The squad’s typical scorers—Anderson, Dennis Clifford and Lonnie Jackson—went a combined 0-for-10 from the field, while their freshman teammates combined to go 7-for-13 from the floor and 4-for-6 from beyond the arc. The Eagles struggled to penetrate the lane in the early portion of the game, and were forced to play mostly around the perimeter.
Head coach Steve Donahue was impressed with the pair’s leadership today, and believes that they will continue to contribute to making the offense more effective.
“Our guards had great confidence,” he said. “They have really good basketball IQ. The thing I asked them to do today was manage the game. I think they have the ability to do that for us, and it’s going to keep getting better. We still don’t have an identity sometimes on the offensive end. The ball gets moved around and we wonder why that guy takes a shot. I think everybody occasionally does that. Where’s the flow? Where are our roles? That comes with times and chemistry. These two guys, I just think, are all around basketball players that are going to be terrific in this league.”
Hanlan contributed early, hitting two straight 3-pointers to start the Eagles’ scoring. Rahon added a few outside shots himself, while the rest of the starters were unable to get anything going from the field. Despite a lack of size for Auburn, Clifford only attempted one shot in the half, and looked to pass before shooting on most possessions. Anderson, despite going 0-for-5 and 1-for-4 from the free throw line at the half, finished with six of his seven rebounds.
“I think Ryan had a lot to do with us winning,” Donahue said. “It could’ve been easy for him not to play. Obviously, he was nowhere near 100 percent, but he competed, and got seven rebounds. We just don’t have the depth to do that and win this game. I know it looks in the box score like he didn’t do much, he’s just not healthy. Obviously foul shots and not shooting well from the field, but seven rebounds in limited minutes is huge in a game like this.”
The half saw 12 lead changes, but it appeared that the Eagles would finish on top after Rahon drilled a three from the corner to give his team the 22-19 advantage and then followed with a midrange jumper to extend the lead. With one second left, however, the Tigers’ Frankie Sullivan sank a 3-pointer to give his team the 26-25 halftime lead. The Eagles finished the half shooting 32 percent from the floor, but were 41.7 percent from three-point range. Auburn shot 46 percent, however it was 2-of-7 on 3-pointers.
In the second half, Hanlan continued to control the game with a strong shooting stroke. There were large lulls in the scoring from both sides. With 15 minutes left in the half, Clifford backed his defender in the paint and spun around for the hook shot and put his team up 35-28. The Eagles would not score again for five minutes. The Tigers were stagnant during this period as well, helping BC maintain its lead.
With the minutes winding down, Auburn finally began to mount the comeback. Sullivan proved to be a formidable scoring option against the Eagles. He finished the game with 23 points, including 15 in the second frame. The Tigers got the score to within three, but then Anderson hit two free throws and Hanlan hit a jumper to extend the score to seven. A 3-pointer by Noel Johnson and two successful free throws for Rob Chubb lessened the deficit to two for the visiting squad.
After some more back and forth from both sides, Sullivan went for the three-point shot with his team down by four. Rahon came up too aggressively on his man, and knocked Sullivan down. The shot was good, and Sullivan made the foul shot to tie it up.
“I was mad at myself about that,” Rahon said. “The kid hit a great shot. I just wanted to go down, and either make a play for a teammate or make a play for myself or do something for redemption.”
On the next play, Hanlan drove to the lane and was fouled on the drive. He made the first free throw but missed the second, giving his team the one-point lead. Sullivan let the clock wind down before taking a desperation three, but the shot was no good.
“I thought it was a physical game for sure, and I thought we played hard with the little things that for us are important like outrebounding a team like that,” Donahue said. “I think that’s a typical, physical ACC team that we face. We outrebounded them, and turn it over 12 times. I thought we really competed with them physically. We just weren’t making shots, although I think we had a lot of open ones. For the most part, I thought we really competed.”
The Eagles entered the game with a three-game losing streak in the Charleston Classic, and were attempting to head into the Thanksgiving break with a win. For Donahue and his team, this win was much needed after such a challenging stretch.
“Obviously, it’s tough to go anywhere and lose three straight, but I think we’ve made great progress,” Donahue said. “We’re going to have failure. This isn’t going to be easy, but what I like is that these guys were really determined to try to get a win. Anytime you get a win it’s huge but I just don’t want to get caught up in the results. It’s still not there yet.”
Spaziani Trying To Get The Right Mentality Back To BC
By Greg Joyce, Sports Editor
Yesterday, fifth-year captain Emmett Cleary said that much of the Boston College football team’s struggles over the past two seasons could be attributed to a lack of seniors and fifth-years. Multiple players from Cleary’s class have left, either for personal or academic reasons.
Today, head coach Frank Spaziani tried to put into words the effect that the attrition has had on the Eagles and their downfall in recent years.
“It was something that you would rather not have happen,” Spaziani said about the players leaving. “You would rather have those guys being fifth-year seniors or seniors now. That would be more of a strength, but it just wasn’t. You worry about who’s here rather than who’s not here.”
Spaziani has been a coach on the Heights for 16 years, but he said it wasn’t always the case that this many players left BC.
“There weren’t many people leaving,” Spaziani said. “In the first 8 to 10 years I was here, there weren’t many people transferring out, I don’t remember any. And then did we lose somebody academically? I don’t remember any of those.”
The perfect example of the kind of player that made BC what it was during its successful years a few years ago is BJ Raji, Spaziani said. The night before Raji was set to begin his fourth year on the football team at BC, he was declared academically ineligible for the season.
“He could have just went, ‘I’m going to the NFL,’” Spaziani said. “But he went, ‘Okay. I’m going to class, I’m going to scout team, and I’ll play next year. That was the quote ‘attitude.’ That’s what we need.”
Asked if that “attitude” has changed or if it is not present among the current group of players, Spaziani backtracked a little.
“Attitude wasn’t the right word,” Spaziani said. “It’s just what the place represented and why you came here and all of those things. The guys, even though maybe it wasn’t working out for them—because it doesn’t work out for everyone. You recruit 20 guys, you don’t have 20 starters in four years. It doesn’t work out that way. But they liked it here. They came here for the education, the community, and that blend. It was worth it to stay here for them. And then it got changed. “
Why did that mindset get changed? Spaziani paused for some time, then chose his words carefully.
“Recruiting…three coaches in four years,” he said. “Different stuff.”
Despite the change, Spaziani said he thinks it’s moving back to BC getting the right players—the ones who want to be in Chestnut Hill for the right reasons.
“I think so,” Spaziani said. “You’ve got a constant. Whats been the constant?”
Pointing to himself, Spaziani answered his own question.
A Walk-On, Jacobs Giving His Best Effort
(Photo by Graham Beck/Heights Editor)
By Chris Stadtler, For The Heights
Drew Jacobs of Mendham High School walked off the court in Plainfield, N.J. after a crushing 74-36 loss in the New Jersey SIAA tournament championship. After a State Championship his sophomore year, two Morris County Championships, and over 1,000 points scored, the point guard had been relegated to a non-athletic regular person (N.A.R.P.). In just seconds, the first team All-Morris County athlete went from the biggest game of the season to being finished with competitive basketball.
Late in his senior spring, however, Jacobs’ N.A.R.P. status began to lose its certainty. “I really didn’t have college basketball on my radar. I was extremely lightly recruited and was expecting to go to college as a student,” said Jacobs, who had already chosen Boston College for school in the fall.
Then his coach Jim Baglin sat down with Jacobs and said he’d like to put him in contact with BC’s Director of Basketball Operations Izzi Metz. Jacobs credits Baglin for giving him the goal to walk on to the Eagles’ basketball team.
“My high school coach was the one who convinced me to give it all a shot,” Jacobs said.
Over the course of the summer, Jacobs remained in contact with Metz and met with head coach Steve Donahue during orientation. His fate hardly sealed by a phone call, Jacobs had a lot to prove.
Jacobs is not your typical Division I recruit. He’s a pale guy, and at 6-foot-1, he’s nearly the shortest kid on the team. He is a far cry from the highly recruited Ryan Anderson or the athletic fellow freshman guard Olivier Hanlan. Jacobs did not even receive more than a passing mention in The Heights’ Basketball Preview last week. Most unlikely of all for a DI basketball recruit, he was put on Newton Campus.
Taking just this into consideration would be short-sighted and naive. Last season, Jacobs averaged 22 points per game. He was the only returning starter on a team that had won four Morris County championships in a row, and led his inexperienced team to a share of the NJAC division title.
“Drew is a great leader and a great all-around player,” former teammate David Yee said. “He always takes charge. If you give him the ball, he will do something special with it.’’
If you give Jacobs just about anything, it seems he will do something special with it. Without a guaranteed roster sport, but just a potential tryout, Jacobs was up at 6:30 a.m. every morning preparing for just three practices with the team in September. Between pool workouts in the morning and individual basketball skill training sessions in the afternoon nearly every day over the summer, Jacobs was hardly the average freshman college student. Even on Newton Campus, Jacobs took advantage of what some consider second tier to Upper Campus. While most people were playing Xbox after dark, “that kid,” as he was affectionately called, could be seen seemingly chasing the shuttles up the parking lot until he reversed direction for the last leg of his suicide sprint.
For a potential walk-on at BC, though, this has to be the attitude. Jacobs’ learning curve will primarily involve adjusting to the quickness of the college game. He calls it his biggest obstacle.
“I had to overcome the difference in the pace and speed of the game,” he said. “I have never faced athletes even remotely close to the ones I have seen and am seeing now. The moves that worked in high school, where the biggest guys were 6-foot-3, simply don’t work at the DI college level.”
In late September, Jacobs did his best to take advantage of his small sampling of play. In early October, he was told that he had earned a spot on the 14-man roster. When asked if he ever had doubts, Jacobs said, “I tend to overthink a lot of stuff, but my personal philosophy has been that, if you doubt yourself as a player, you’ll never be successful and able to reach what you’re capable of doing.”
Currently, Jacobs’ role on the team is that of a practice player. In the season opener against FIU he remained in sweats during the game. Despite the lack of early action, the walk on might gain some unlikely minutes. After the transfer of sophomore Jordan Daniels, Jacobs could see some time. Donahue likes to have two point guards on the floor at times—Daniels and Hanlan would have run that scheme. With the departure of Daniels, Jacobs could find a few minutes as one of the other point guards on the team. Additionally, he could also see time as a quick-fix defender, given the defensive skills he honed over the summer.
“Over the next four years, I plan on helping the team out in any way I can,” Jacobs said. “I plan on playing as tough as possible during practice and helping everyone prepare for high-level competition. I feel like if you are working your hardest and pushing everyone to reach their potential, good things will happen.”