After three games, Boston College looks to be in store for a long season.
With nine freshmen on the roster, no one in Chestnut Hill entered this season with ACC title expectations for the Eagles. In fact, anything short of a finish near the bottom of the season would solidify Steve Donahue’s status as a brilliant coach.
That would require quite turnaround.
The Eagles didn’t do anything particularly well in two blowout losses to Holy Cross and Massachusetts and a three-point win against New Hampshire. As Donahue’s teams are wont to do, the Eagles shoot lots of 3-pointers, with 44 percent of their shots from the field coming from behind the arc. But those shots aren’t falling frequently, as the team is shooting 31 percent from behind the arc.
One player who won’t be living behind the arc is Patrick Heckmann. The freshman guard from Germany has been a bright spot for Boston College, with 30 points and 13 rebounds in two games. He missed the team’s loss to Holy Cross with a sprained ankle. Heckmann is only 1-of-5 from 3-point range, but he’s 6-of-14 inside the arc.
Heckmann’s willingness to battle for boards at both ends of the court is good to see, and he could help set a tough tone for the Eagles, who will need to grind out victories this season. One negative trend in Heckmann’s game right now is his propensity to commit turnovers, as he’s got six turnovers compared to four assists. Of course, after only two games, it’s too early to be overly concerned about that.
The road won’t get much easier for Boston College this week. The Eagles are heading west to Anaheim, Calif., for the 76 Classic, and they’ll start the three-game tournament on Thanksgiving against Saint Louis. The Billikens have one of the toughest defenses in the country — again it’s early, but that’s true thus far — holding opponents to 34.2 percent from inside the arc and 26.5 percent from outside. As a team that already struggles to shoot, the Eagles figure to be in for a tough day. Cracking 50 points could be difficult.
But win or lose, Donahue needs his team to compete during each possession. The youngsters will improve only with hard work and game experience. That experience figures to feature plenty of losses for now, but that could start to change by February.