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CHESTNUT HILL - St. Francis was never expected to be able to compete with Boston College entering Friday night's season opener.
But it takes two to tango in basketball, and the Eagles still needed to do their part to avoid an early season upset.
Thankfully, they did.
Joe Trapani scored a game-high 20 points as Boston College took care of business against St. Francis of New York, winning 79-49 in their regular season opener in front of 3,740 fans at Conte Forum.
"I thought the overall effort was terrific," said Eagles head coach Steve Donahue, who won his first game at Boston College. "I thought we brought great energy throughout the 40 minutes. I thought our mental toughness was great. We did a lot of good things that, if we do it every game, I think we'll be very successful."
Naturally, that first win is always the goal for any coach, but it wasn't the first thought on Donahue's mind.
"I don't really concern myself with what it means," said Donahue. "I think it's really important for this group to get off to a good start. We've done a lot of work for six months. I thought they've done everything we've asked as a staff to try to get ready, and I want them to be rewarded for that. That's a good sign, and they should feel good about themselves."
Corey Raji and Reggie Jackson each scored 17 points for the Eagles, with Raji grabbing nine rebounds and Jackson dishing out four assists.
Boston College (1-0) opened the game on an impressive 24-2 run that lasted for 14 minutes and eight seconds.
During that span, the Eagles' defense was stellar, holding St. Francis (0-1) to 5-of-27 shooting (18.5%) from the field and 2-of-13 beyond the arch (15.4%).
"I thought we were playing with good intensity," Trapani said about the Eagles' first-half defense. "I think that's kind of what our mindset was coming in, play good defense, play intense defense, try to take baseline away. As long as we play good defense, hopefully we'll be able to execute and get our points on the offensive end."
The Eagles carried themselves very well on the offensive end in the first half, making 14-of-29 shots (48.3%).
However, they couldn't carry over the success from the perimeter during last Saturday's tune-up against Philadelphia (Boston College made 15-of-33 three-pointers), only hitting 2-of-14 three pointers (14.3%) in the half.
The Eagles didn't have any more luck from deep in the second half, either, finishing the game having hit just 4-of-21 three pointers.
"I thought they were rushed," Donahue said. "I thought we were maybe open, but we just didn't give it a chance. A lot of times three-point success is based on passing, and I thought we didn't do a great job of moving the basketball."
"Obviously, they were a more intense defensive team than Philadelphia," added Trapani. "But I think it had a lot to do with passing. We weren't setting our teammates up as well as we were in the first game, and those extra passes weren't as much, so we weren't getting as good of looks. So, our perentage obviously dropped."
Raji led all scorers with 15 points at the half for Boston College. Jackson had 10 points and two steals and Trapani added nine points and five boards before the break.
The Eagles opened up the second half on a 17-5 run that lasted nearly 10 minutes, spoiling the hopes of a Terriers comeback. Boston College continued its strong play , taking a 60-28 lead with 8:40 left in the game, officially putting the last nail in the coffin.
Boston College received solid contributions from its youngest players. Freshman Danny Rubin scored nine points in 22 minutes off the bench and fellow freshman Gabriel Moton four points in 20 minutes.
"It's nice to see that they're coming in with a little confidence, making some shots, making some plays," said Trapani. "Obviously, they're freshmen; they're going to make some mistakes with shot selection or keeping their head down and dribbling too much. But those are things that, as freshman, you kind of expect and they can learn from it. It was definitely a confidence builder for them."
It wasn't all smooth sailing for the youngsters, though. On a play midway through the first half, Trapani passed to Rubin with the intention of getting a pass back. Instead, Rubin hesitated and put up a bad three-point attempt.
"I think I just told him to calm himself down," said Trapani. "What coach has taught me, which has helped a lot, is when I catch the ball try to relax myself first and see the floor instead of just rushing all the time. I think that's helped me a great deal. I was just trying to remind Danny of that: look, see if there is an open cutter, and is that really the best shot at that time."
But in the end, Trapani only wanted what was best for Rubin.
"If he passed it to me, I draw his man and kickit right back to him for an open shot," Trapani said. "So it just works hand in hand."
Biko Paris, who was coming off of an 18-point performance against Philadelphia in an exhibition last Saturday, scored only four points and had five rebounds. Cortney Dunn started the game in place of injured senior center Josh Southern, but did not score a point and had three rebounds. Dallas Elmore also scored four points.
For the game, the Eagles made 26-of-54 shots (48.1%) and connected on 4-of-21 outside shots (19.0%). In addition, they amassed 38 rebounds, 14 assists, four steals and had nine turnovers.
The Terriers were led by Ricky Cadell, who scored a team-high 14 points. Akeem Bennett was the only other player to score in double-digits for the Terriers, totaling 11 points and also grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds.
As for St. Francis, it hit 16-of-58 shots (27.6%) and 7-of-27 shots from beyond the arch (25.9%). The Terriers had 34 rebounds, seven assists, five steals and turned the ball over 18 times in the loss.
Even with the convincing win, there's always something to work on.
"Obviously, the disappointing thing is that our execution wasn't as sharp as I would hope," said Donahue. "I thought St. Francis did a good job getting in passing lanes and taking us out of things. In turn, we didn't show great poise and we really didn't execute the way I know we can. Obviously, that's what we're going to work on."
Boston College will look to notch its second win of the young season when it host Yale at Conte Forum on Thursday, November 18th at 7 p.m. ET.
CHESTNUT HILL – Boston College opened the game on a 7-2 run in the first five minutes and never looked back, ultimately taking a 38-15 lead into halftime.
The Eagles opened up the game on a 24-2 run that lasted nearly 15 minutes. St. Francis went on a 7-4 run late in the half to bring the score to 28-9 with 3:30 remaining.
Danny Rubin was the only other Eagle to score, scoring his first career points on a jumper from the corner.
CHESTNUT HILL – Boston College senior center Josh Southern did not dress for tonight’s season opener against St. Francis and is expected not to play.
Southern missed Boston College’s exhibition game last Saturday while recovering from minor surgery.
CHESTNUT HILL – Boston College’s probable starters for tonight’s season opener against St. Francis are as follows:
Here are the probable starters for St. Francis.
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. EST at Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, MA. The game can be heard on Sports Radio 850 AM WEEI.
The wait is finally over, and head coach Steve Donahue and his Eagles are ready to embark on a new journey.
Donahue will issue in a new era of Eagles men's basketball when he makes his official Conte Forum debut on Friday night as Boston College hosts St. Francis of New York in the regular season opener at 7 p.m. ET.
Boston College leads the all-time series against St. Francis 4-3. The two teams first met in the 1920-21 season. The Eagles won their last meeting against the Terriers 72-44 on Nov. 17 of last year.
Donahue made his unofficial debut at Conte Forum last Saturday when the Eagles defeated Philadelphia 85-58 in an exhibition.
Trapani, a senior, led Boston College is scoring last season with 14.1 points per game in 30 games. Trapani also led the team in rebounding, averaging 6.4 boards per game.
For his size (6-8, 232 pounds), Trapani is an excellent 3-point shooter. He made 51 of 145 attempts from deep last season to shoot 35.2%.
Expect Trapani to be looked to as the Eagles' number-one option, as he will be a force in the paint and from deep as the season progresses.
Raji has become a very valuable swing-man in three seasons at Boston College. Entering his senior season, Raji averaged an impressive 11.4 points and 5.8 rebounds last season. While he is known more as a mid-range jump shooter and a solid inside player, Raji surprised many in last Saturday's exhibition, making 3 of6 three-pointers and scoring 15 points.
Donahue expects to use Raji in both roles, scoring inside and out, to help spread the defense. There's no doubt that Raji is ultra effective and can take over any game at any time.
Jackson, who is entering his junior year, wasn't far behind Trapani in scoring, averaging 12.9 points. Jackson led the team in assists with 4.5 per game.
Paris, who is also a senior, led Boston College in steals per game, averaging 1.03 per game in 31 games, but struggled on the offensive end, averaging only 4.8 points.
However, Paris looked very strong offensively in the Eagles' exhibition last Saturday, leading the team in scoring with 18 points (4 of 6 from 3-point range). If Paris can find his stride on offense, he will certain boost the Eagles and could be considered an all-around threat.
Josh Southern is one of Boston College's biggest question marks coming into the new season. Southern missed the team's exhibition match on Saturday while recovering from minor surgery, and his status is not known for Friday night's season opener.
Southern played in all 31 games last season and averaged 4.4 points and 3.2 rebounds in 16.4 minutes per night. Southern's low rebound total was concerning for someone his size (at 6-10, he is the tallest player on the roster).
If the Eagles are going to have a breakout year, Southern will need to step up his game on the offensive and defensive boards.
Other returning players include senior Nick Mosakowski (averaged 0.5 points last season), junior Peter Rehnquist (averaged 1.0 point in six games in '09-'10) and junior Dallas Elmore (averaged 3.9 points in 31 games last year).
Humphrey averaged 5.4 points and 2.5 rebounds in 19 games last season for Oregon, but he missed 12 games with a knee injury.
As for Kowalski, who played on the Eagles' baseball team for the past four years, he joined the men's basketball team during the offseason.
Moton was named to the All-Pinellas County first-team and the St. Petersburg Times All-Suncoast second team while playing at St. Petersburg High as a senior guard last season. He averaged 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists in '09-'10.
Rubin was a senior guard at Landon School in Bethesda, Md., last year, averaging 18 points per game and connecting on 52 3-pointers. He was named to the All-Gazette and All-Montgomery County Sentinel teams.
The Eagles will look to rebound from a disappointing 2009-10 campaign in which they posted a 15-16 record and missed out on an NCAA tournament bid.
After the season, head coach Al Skinner was fired after posting losing record in two of his final three seasons. Skinner led the Eagles to a 14-17 mark in 2007-08 and a disappointing 4-12 record in the ACC.
Boston College rebounded the next season, going 22-12 overall and 9-7 in the ACC. The Eagles earned an NCAA tournament bid, Skinner's seventh at Boston College, but they were displaced in the first round.
Skinner and company followed that up with last season's sub-par performance, forcing the school's Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo to end Skinner's tenure at Boston College.
In 13 seasons at Boston College, Skinner had a record of 247-165 (.600 win percentage) but was dead even in ACC play at 106-106. Skinner led the Eagles to seven NCAA tournament appearances and took them as far as the Sweet 16 round in the 2005-06 season.
As for Donahue, he begins his new journey with over 20 years of coaching experience under his belt. Donahue graduated from Ursinus in 1984 and served as an assistant coach at Springfield High School (1984-1987) and Monsignor Bonner High School (1987-1988).
After that Donahue served as an assistant at Philadelphia University (1988-1990) and held the same position at Penn for the next ten years.
Donahue finally got a shot as a head coach when Cornell hired him in 2000. In ten seasons at Cornell, Donahue had an overall record of 146-138 and went 78-62 in the Ivy League.
His coaching career was highlighted by three successful seasons in a row, starting in the 2007-08 campaign. Donahue guided the Big Red to a 22-6 record (14-0 Ivy League), a first-place finish in the Ivy League and an appearance in the NCAA tournament.
The following season, Cornell went 21-10 and went to the NCAA tournament again, but lost in the first round as they did the year before.
Donahue's career year came last season when the Big Red shocked the college basketball world and made it to the Sweet 16 before losing to No. 1 Kentucky. Cornell finished with a 29-5 record (13-1 Ivy League) and won the Ivy League crown for the third consecutive season.
Now, Donahue has a chance to make some noise at the biggest stage of his coaching career. With a pocket full of knowledge and a heart exploding with passion, Donahue will try to transform Boston College into one of the top basketball programs in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
It won't be an easy task, but Donahue is up to it, and he'll take the all-important first step on Friday night.