ACC Team Previews: Boston College

Boston College will go as far as Ryan Anderson can take them. - USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles return just about everybody from a team that was solid offensively last year, but struggled to stop anybody. They'll need to learn to play defense if they are to improve on their 7 conference wins. In 3 seasons under Steve Donahue, they've yet to reach even "decent" defensively. So that improvement would be quite a shock.

Last Season Record: 16-17 (7-11)
Preseason ACC Media Poll: 8th


Projected Starters:
Olivier Hanlan, G, Sophomore
Joe Rahon, G, Sophomore
Patrick Heckmann, G Junior
Ryan Anderson, F, Junior
Dennis Clifford, F, Junior

Key Reserves:
Alex Dragicevich, F, Junior
Lonnie Jackson, G, Junior
Eddie Olio, F, Junior
Darryl Hicks, G, Freshman
Garland Owens, F, Freshman

Boston College did a lot of things well last year. They shot the ball pretty well (44% FG). They shot the 3 very well (35%). They didn't turn the ball over much (just 17.7 per game). They got to the free throw line a lot (75th in the nation in FTA/FGA).

However, there were also a number of things that BC did not do well. The things they didn't do well can collectively be called "defense". They pretty much didn't defend. Teams shot over 45% against their defense. They did not force many turnovers or block many shots. One positive to not playing much defense is that they didn't foul very much. This is often a side effect of poor defense. It is difficult to foul an open man.

The Eagles were one of the youngest teams in the nation. In fact, just 7 teams were younger than the Eagles. The only player they lose is big man Andrew Van Nest. However, they replace him with former Notre Dame big man Alex Dragicevich, who sat out last year after his transfer. Dragicevich should easily replace Van Nest's 3.2 points and 1.8 rebounds per game. He put up better numbers than that as a sophomore at Notre Dame, in fewer minutes.

Hanlan and Anderson are the stars of this team. The two combined to average over 30 points per game. Anderson is also one of the top rebounders in the ACC. Anderson's 15 ppg would improve greatly if he could get his FT% up from the 62% that it was last year. He is a bit lean for a 6'9" forward, at just 216 pounds (Akil Mitchell, also pretty lean, is 235 pounds). He's a good rebounder because he's quick off his feet and he's so mobile. But he's not going to succeed when banging inside against the big boys in the ACC. His game is mostly a face up game, he's got a good shooting touch. He shot just 3/14 on 3s last year, but he does have range out there. The Eagles will go as far as Anderson will lead them.

Hanlan is nominally the BC point guard, but he's more of a combo guard and looks for his shot first. Rahon led the team in assists, even though Hanlan was the primary ballhandler. That could continue this year.

If the young guys improve as expected, and head coach Steven Donahue can get them playing some defense, they could make a run at the NCAA tournament. Ranking them 8th is just stupid. They could finish as high as 5th if things go right. At the very least, they'll be over .500 and make the NIT. They could be very dangerous in 2014-15, assuming Anderson doesn't go pro (which seems unlikely).

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