BC Hoops Preview

Confidence is high for the Boston College men's basketball team on the heels of last season's success. A season that resulted in the team winning 22 games, going 9-7 in ACC play, and advancing to the ACC quarterfinals, losing by one point to eventual champion Duke. However a first round loss in the NCAA tournament against the Trojans leaves the team hungry for this season to get underway.

BC only loses one scholarship player from last season but, that one player happens to be dynamo guard Tyrese Rice. Junior Biko Paris that will replace him in the starting line-up at point guard. He can penetrate, he can shoot the three, but most importantly he can run the offense and get everyone involved. He is also the team's leader, being named a team captain as a junior. Sophomore guard Reggie Jackson will also see his role expanded with some minutes at the one. He played his entire basketball career with the ball in his hands until last season, so that shouldn't be a problem.

Junior Rakim Sanders returns as the team's leading scorer at 14.6 points per game. That was good for 18th in the ACC. He was also eighth in the league in field goal percentage, an impressive feat when he seemed to hoist up a lot of three pointers last year. With Rice gone, Rakim's big shot opportunities will only increase, and as an experienced and extremely talented junior he should be ready. Rakim will see time at the wing playing both the two and the three.

Junior Corey Raji is back starting at the small forward position as a do-it-all stat stuffer who can score, rebound, and play good defense. Corey's specialty is crashing the offensive boards for put-backs, even at a lean 6'6" Corey was eighth in the ACC in offensive rebounds.

Junior Joe Trapani is back as the starting power forward. He is the team's most polished offensive player with a very nice stroke from behind the arc, a solid mid-range game, and an impressive ability to get to the basket for a big man. His ability to rebound and play defense down low will go a long way in determining how well the team does this year.

Lone senior Tyler Roche, recently named the team's other captain, is back for his final season. He is a streaky shooter from three and doesn't do much else to catch your eye. But he plays depending on match ups and because he knows the offense and knows where to be on defense.

The main area of concern for the Boston College team is their big men. Junior Josh Southern is a 6'10" center with skills, which is not something BC has every year. However Josh's skills haven't developed as expected. He only shows his offensive talents on occasion and doesn't see as many minutes as he should due to foul trouble and conditioning. If he becomes the player people thought he would become, this team can really be a load to handle.

Backing up Southern at center will be fellow junior Cortney Dunn and sophomore Evan Ravenel. Cortney Dunn is a tough, hardnosed player who will rebound the ball and play solid post defense. Evan Ravenel is the wild card. He has the talent but, he was unable to get much playing time due to his conditioning and inability to grasp the schemes. As a freshman that isn't uncommon, as a sophomore that is no longer an excuse and it is his time to make an impact.

Schedule Breakdown: This team is going to be better at the end of the year than the beginning. The team has four returning starters and a team loaded with juniors, but the team will have to find its new identity without Tyrese Rice. They have plenty of talent and depth to find that identity, but it may take a little while and may result in a couple losses earlier on that may not have had same result later in the season.

BC opens up with two home contests versus Dartmouth and St. Francis (NY) in preparation for the Paradise Jam tournament down in St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. In that tourney ,they open up against St. Joseph's. If BC fares well they would play the likes of #7 ranked Purdue and maybe even #10 ranked Tennessee. Missouri Valley Conference powerhouse Northern Iowa is a more likely opponent than Tennessee.

If BC lays an egg against St. Joseph's in the first round they will play South Dakota State and then likely East Carolina or Big East doormat DePaul. So it will be extremely important for BC to win the first round match up against St. Joseph's if for no other reason to help their RPI due to strength of schedule by getting in the winner's bracket.

The tough match ups won't ease up after the Paradise Jam. BC returns from the islands to travel to Providence against a team that did surprisingly well last year finishing with a 10-8 record in the ultra-competitive Big East. Then a trip out to Ann Arbor, with a match up against Michigan in the ACC/Big 10 challenge. Michigan made the NCAA tourney last year and upset Clemson in the first round. Following Michigan is Boston College's first ACC game, with Miami traveling to Conte Forum.

The schedule then lightens up with seven out-of-conference gems at home, six of which are versus inferior opponents, the seventh is South Carolina who went 10-6 last year in a down year in the SEC and just missed out on a NCAA bid.

In mid-January the ACC conference schedule gets into full flow with 15 games over two months. The in-conference schedule couldn't start any tougher in 2010, with road games at #24 ranked Clemson and #9 ranked Duke. The ACC schedule the rest of the way is highlighted by Maryland, Duke, and North Carolina coming to Conte and BC traveling to Wake Forest.

Prediction: 20-9 overall (9-7 in ACC play).

This Boston College team was picked to finish ninth out of twelve teams, by the ACC media a couple weeks ago. That seems to be the usual preseason disrespect that BC gets in the ACC, and is also a result of all-ACC performer Tyrese Rice graduating. Anyone who really knows Al Skinner and his program, and has watched this team the past couple years, knows this team will finish better than that in the ACC. Another 5th-6th place finish like last season is more likely. Expect this team to be challenging, late in the season, for a first round bye in the ACC tourney and also to make another appearance in the big dance in March.

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