After a season without a conference win, Boston College men’s basketball will play their first exhibition game next Thursday, November 3. An influx of new talent will give the Eagles a new look and Coach Jim Christian should have more depth than he has had in his two previous seasons at BC.
Roster turnover has struck BC hard for the second year in a row. Of the seven new faces donning the maroon and gold, there are four freshman and three transfers. Freshmen include Ky Bowman, Nike Popovic, Mike Sagay, and Ty Graves. Bowman is an extremely athletic combo guard who plays excellent defense and is highlight-reel material on offense. Popovic is a seven-footer from Bosnia who could really help a thin BC front court. Sagay is a strong wing who should spend time at both forward positions.
Perhaps the most exciting member of the freshman class is Graves, an undersized point guard from North Carolina who possesses a set of skills the Eagles have lacked for the better part of a decade. Graves gives the Eagles a true point guard; he is lightning quick and has excellent court vision. While he might not be a stopper on defense or a knock-down shooter, he has the ability to be the floor general for a team that has stagnated in years past due to the lack of a true point guard.
BC has also added some experience to their young lineup. Sophomore Jordan Chatman joins the Eagles after spending one year at BYU. The 6-foot-5 point guard brings excellent ball handling skills and takes some minutes at the point away from Jerome Robinson and Graves. Two graduate transfers will fill most frontcourt minutes for the Eagles. Forward Mo Jeffers comes from the University of Delaware with some much needed muscle and rebounding, and Western Michigan forward Connar Tava is an able scorer around the rim.
With these new additions surrounding focal points Robinson and AJ Turner, the Eagles should show improvement. Gone are the possessions that ended with Eli Carter missing 30-foot jump shots. Fans should expect this season to be the first real look at Christian’s offense, as no one ball handler should dominate the shot total for BC.
Returning rotation players also include Ervins Meznieks and Garland Owens. Meznieks should be one of the better shooters on a team that often struggles from behind the arc, making him a valuable option off the bench again for Christian. Owens, in his senior year, is expected to continue to be one of the most passionate players on the roster. Owens is invested and focused on every possession, and what he lacks in ball handling and jump shooting, he makes up for in athleticism and defense. Owens will again be asked to guard some of the best talent in the ACC as he is Jim Christian’s go-to stopper.
Despite their improved talent, the Eagles' schedule will be as difficult as ever. The ACC is deeper and stronger at the top than previous years, and the out-of-conference schedule is a tough one yet again. While it may not have any matchup as daunting as Michigan State from last season, BC will make two trips to the Big Apple this year. First, the team will travel to Brooklyn for a preseason tournament involving Kansas State and possibly perennial powerhouse Maryland. Then the Eagles will visit Madison Square Garden for a special Under Armour sponsored game against Auburn. These venues are some big stages for a young team looking to find how they mesh together, but securing wins in a recruiting hotbed like New York could be huge for attracting talent in the off-season.
This season won't likely be free of difficulties, but the Eagles will be playing a far more entertaining brand of basketball in comparison to last year. Christian’s third year at the helm should yield a team game. With a starting lineup unlikely to feature two freshmen again, this team will be more poised, organized, and selfless than the debacle that was last season. Hopefully, the new talent and maturity of Robinson and Turner will lead BC to a more prosperous season than last, and to their first ACC win since March 10, 2015.
The Eagles play an exhibition game against Stonehill in Conte on November 3, and the season kicks off at home against Nichols State on November 11.
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