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ACC Basketball Previews: Boston College

The Eagles were bad last year, and head coach Steve Donahue paid the price. Jim Christian was brought in from Ohio University to right the ship. His job won't be easy, as two of his best players have transferred.

Oliver Hanlan will need to have a big year to keep BC in the NCAA tournament picture.
Oliver Hanlan will need to have a big year to keep BC in the NCAA tournament picture.
Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Last season: 8-24 (4-14), 14th in ACC, 138th KenPom, 206th RPI

Projected Starters:

Olivier Hanlan, G - 6'4" 184, Junior
Lonnie Jackson, G - 6'4" 182, Junior
Patrick Heckmann, F - 6'6" 208, Senior
Eddie Odio, F - 6'8" 209, Senior
Dennis Clifford, C - 7'1" 250, Senior

Other Contributors:
Alex Dragicevich, F - 6'8" 222, Senior
Garland Owens, F - 6'5" 210, Sophomore
Dimitri Batten, G - 6'3" 205, Senior
Aaron Brown, F - 6'5" 215, Senior
Idy Diallo, F - 6'11" 240, Freshman

After a disappointing season, head coach Steve Donahue was shown the door and Ohio University head coach Jim Christian was hired. Christian has also coached at Kent St and TCU. Virginia fans may recall the early season 2011 loss to TCU in the Virgin Islands Paradise Jam. Christian coached that team.

His teams tend to be solid defensively and average offensively. That would be quite a change from last year's BC squad, which was terrible defensively and pretty darn good offensively. They were also one of the slowest teams in the nation (although only the 5th slowest in the ACC). Christian's teams tend to play faster (although not necessarily "fast"). In the aforementioned 2011 loss, TCU played a very up-tempo style and forced 19 turnovers. That TCU team finished 43rd nationally in adjusted tempo. In the 3 years prior to that (all under Christian), they were 150th, 276th and 267th. His first team at Ohio was 85th in tempo and his second team was 203rd.

What does all of that mean? It means that Christian plays with the cards he's dealt. Well, unfortunately for him (and for BC fans), he hasn't been dealt a winning hand this year. Hanlan, the team's leading scorer, returns. But Ryan Anderson (Arizona) and Joe Rohan (St Mary's) both transferred, and they were 2nd and 3rd, respectively. Anderson, in particular, is a big blow. He was the team's leading rebounder (by a big margin). Rahon led the team in assists.

Getting Clifford back is a big boost to the team's defense. The 7-footer played in just 3 games last year, after boasting one of the top block rates in the nation over the prior two seasons. If he is healthy, BC could improve immediately on the defensive end.

With Hanlan leading the pack, the Eagles offense should remain pretty good. The loss of Anderson will hurt, but they have shooters everywhere and Hanlan is very good at getting to the rim.

BC also brought in two senior transfers in Brown (Southern Miss) and Batten (ODU). Both of these guys are wing players who will likely spent time rotating between the 2 and 3. This means BC will probably spent a lot of time with 3 wings on the floor, especially as they do not have a true PG. That will put even more pressure on Clifford to anchor the paint. The other newcomer is Idrissa Diallo, a big man from California. Diallo is raw, but he's talented. He may not get much playing time on this veteran team, but he'll be a force for the Eagles in the future.

If Clifford stays healthy, the transfers mesh quickly and Hanlan plays as he's capable of, BC could surprise some people. They aren't likely to compete with the upper echelon of the ACC, but they could find themselves on the bubble come March.