Those BC Interruption guys in Chestnut Hill...they know their hoops.
BC's 2012-13 squad was the youngest in the ACC, and among the ten youngest in the country. Given that, how does your fan base feel about last year's results?
Cautiously optimistic. All of the ingredients are there for the Eagles to take a big step forward this year, but we still need to see it happen. Last season, the team did a lot of things that young teams do. They came oh-so-close to upsetting Duke and were *way* better at home than they were on the road. In order to take that next step, they need to finish games better down the stretch and be able to play at a consistent level on the road. Last year felt like a necessary step and the emergence of Olivier Hanlan (more on him in a minute) made it all worth it. But I think BC fans aren't focused on the results of individual seasons. We know it's a rebuilding process, so as long as it works out in the end, we'll be okay with how we got there.
What's the biggest piece you've lost since last season?
I legitimately had to pull up our roster from last season to see who we lost because I couldn't immediately think of anybody. I guess the biggest loss would be Andrew van Nest. Who? Exactly. This team is basically bringing everybody back.
Who is the player who needs to step up the most this year?
Ryan Anderson. I'm not sure if most BC fans would agree with me on this one, but let me explain. I know that Anderson was the Eagles' second best player a year ago and will likely be the second best player once again. But he needs to be most consistent. He needs to become a better and more consistent shooter. Now that he's a junior, he can't disappear against bigger opponents and he needs to be somebody that Steve Donahue can rely on to get big rebounds and hit big shots down the stretch. I have very few worries about Hanlan building off his awesome freshman season, but Anderson needs to step up and join him to create a truly electric guard-big man combo for the Eagles.
Who is the player UVa fans ought to look out for the most?
Olivier Hanlan. He's the Eagles' best player and he announced his arrival when he dropped 41 points on Georgia Tech in the ACC Tournament last season. He'll be a sophomore this year and hopefully that means he grows as a leader both on and off the court. He's reportedly been working hard on his outside shot (which was already pretty good). I don't know that you need a star player in college basketball, but it probably doesn't hurt. Olivier has all the tools to be the star player that BC can ride during rough patches and the kind of guy that can singlehandedly win you a basketball game. I assure you that every opposing coach's defensive game plan starts with how they expect to limit Olivier Hanlan.
What's your outlook for the season? What's a success, what's a failure, and what's something you can live with?
The outlook is pretty exciting. Another year of development for Hanlan, Anderson, Rahon, Heckmann, Odio, and others will be good. Hopefully Dennis Clifford can stay healthy and contribute something this year. BC doesn't bring in the big name recruits, but there are some intriguing freshmen on the squad. Garland Owens stands out because he's immediately the best athlete on the team and could be a real spark off the bench with his huge dunks and defensive potential. Will Magarity is 6-11 and offers the kind of size that BC expected to get from Clifford. Alex Dragicevich is a transfer from Notre Dame. He had to sit out last year, but will hopefully fit right in since he's been around Donahue and the team for a while now.
I think most BC fans want to make the NCAA Tournament. Anything short of that is likely considered a disappointment. I don't necessarily need the Eagles to win a game in the tournament to be satisfied. Just getting into the tournament means that you have a chance to win it. Crazy stuff happens in college basketball. Falling short of an NCAA berth would be a downer, but not the end of the world. Virtually all of BC's key players figure to be back next season as well, so Donahue has two shots to make something memorable happen with this core of players.
I think this team has a chance to be really exciting, shock some people, and get BC fans excited about college basketball again.