Hoops Season Wrap Up

The men's basketball season came to a disappointing end with a first round loss to USC. The team now heads into the off-season, looking to build on a surprisingly good 2009 performance. With that in mind, let's take a look at what has to be done to make a return to the NCAA tournament.

The saga of the 2008-2009 Boston College Men's basketball team came to a close with a first round loss to USC. It was a fitting end to a truly erratic season. The highs and lows were highlighted by memorable wins over North Carolina and Duke and forgettable showings against Harvard and St. Louis. . Overall, with 22 wins and a winning record in the ACC, Boston College surpassed expectations this season, taking fans and opponents by surprise.

We also say goodbye to a BC great Tyrese Rice. Regardless of how you felt about his performance this year, Tyrese was a great asset to this program and he leaves his mark on the school record book: 5th all time scoring leader (2,099), 3rd all time in assists (594) and 2nd in games played (132).

Fortunately for BC, Coach Skinner loses only one senior from this year's squad. Replacing Rice's scoring will not be an easy task, but with the young talent currently on the roster developing and improving, they could be on the verge of yet another successful season. Let's take a look at all of the returning players and what areas they must improve upon during the off-season.

Rakim Sanders: Sanders has all the physical tools to be a force in the ACC, but right now the sophomore is lacking consistency. Next year Sanders will be relied upon to be a consistent scorer night in and night out, which is something he has yet to prove.

He must learn to mentally prepare for each and every game and be the leader of the team on the court, at least from a scoring perspective. If he can develop some consistency, the sky is the limit for him. He would also benefit from working on his handle, which has been erratic at times. As a two guard, Sanders must prove he can handle the ball and limit his turnovers if he wants to be the star of this team.

Joe Trapani: Trapani adapted to the level of play in the ACC much quicker than most. He showed the ability to knock down the trey, but he was often overmatched down low. With this team's lack of size, Trapani must continue to add strength to his frame. He did manage to lead the team in rebounding, but with more strength he will be better prepared to hold his own against bigger bodies in league play.

Trapani faded towards the end of the season, which may be partly due to fatigue. That was likely due to the year off after he transferred. If he adds some muscle he should be better suited to finish off the year strong. Trapani must also develop his ball handling skills as he turned the ball over too often against the press. He is a key man in BC's press break and he has to hone his ball handling skills.

Reggie Jackson: Jackson showcased his potential and athleticism in big games this year against North Carolina and Duke. With only one natural point guard on the returning roster, Jackson will likely be relied upon to share point guard duties. He has a shot to be the starting PG, assuming he can build on a fantastic freshman season.

Reggie has to improve his ball handling. He has an unusually high dribble and sometimes gets into trouble in traffic. He must also develop his outside game. He has a tendency to fall away from the basket when he shoots. If he can improve his perimeter game he will be a very tough assignment for opposing guards.

Josh Southern: Josh showed little improvement from his freshman to sophomore seasons. He is frequently in foul trouble and struggles against more athletic big men (see Taj Gibson). He did play with more confidence and tried to assert himself defensively in ways we did not see last season.

Southern must improve his conditioning in the off-season. Most of his fouls occurred because he has slow feet and gets out of position defensively. Better conditioning should allow him to stay in games longer and become a bigger factor on the defensive end.

Tyler Roche: Like Trapani, Roche is not a classic forward. His game is about hitting threes and that's mostly as a bench player. He did improve this season, becoming more reliable from the outside and playing better on defense. He was not, however, a great asset inside.

Like Trapani, Roche needs to work on his body in the off-season. He will never be able to out-jump opponents, but with more toughness he will at least be able to scrap and fight for rebounds and loose balls. The team's lack of size means they need someone to become a junkyard dog fighting inside against other bigs to give Southern and Dunn some help.

Courtney Dunn: He made big strides this year after seeing almost no action as a freshman. Dunn will see plenty of time again next season, but he is still a long way away from becoming a significant contributor offensively. He was exclusively a defensive player this season, filling in for Southern as the main man in the paint.

Dunn has to keep working on his body by adding some size. At this point Courtney is so raw he has no offensive game. Opponents would literally leave him wide open when he caught the ball away from the basket. If he develops some type of post move, a baby hook or a turnaround jumper, he could become a factor offensively. Dunn provides a big body this team desperately needs, but he still needs to add strength.

Biko Paris: Biko should be the guy to run the offense next year. With two years in the system, he has a pretty good understanding of what Skinner wants. In year one he showed some flashes. This year he showed much more of his overall game. He has the skills to be an effective point for this team, as long as he continues to mature as a basketball player and leader.

That means Paris has to improve his decision making with the ball. There were too many forced passes that lead to turnovers. As the only true point guard on the roster, Biko has to play smart and take care of the ball when distributing to his teammates. He does not need to be a scorer like Rice, but if he has to become the floor general for this team to improve next season.

Corey Raji: Like the other forwards on the roster, Raji is not a classic big man. He is a small forward who has the instincts of a power forward. That has allowed him to be a tenacious rebounder and play some surprising solid defense. But, he lacks the size to be a true PF in the ACC.

The key for Raji is to develop his mid-range jumper. He will often be matched up against bigger forwards and forcing them outside to guard him will open up the paint. Against USC, he showed he can hit that shot. If he can develop that into a regular part of his game, he becomes matchup problem for other teams, either as a starter or off the bench.

Evan Ravenel: Evan is a mystery to many BC fans at this point. He provides the size this team needs, but he was less than impressive in his brief minutes this season. The rare times he was on the court, he did very little to show he is ready to become a regular part of the rotation.

The situation with Ravenel is simple. He must shed his excess weight and improve his defensive fundamentals. Simply being a big body is not enough at this level. Big men have to be able to move their feet and move without the ball. There is a huge hole at PF on this team and Ravenel can fill it if he gets in better shape and concentrates on his defense.

Dallas Elmore: The guy with the biggest challenge in the off-season is Elmore. He saw just nine minutes this season and is buried deep on the bench at guard. With Paris, Sanders and Jackson likely to eat up most of the minutes next season, finding a place in the rotation will be tough.

The key for him will be finding a role he can play off the bench. That means picking one area of his game and making it a specialty. Whether it is his three point shot or defense, it is his clearest route to playing time.

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