It may not be the NBA, but at this point, it's the next best thing. Boston College men's basketball team unofficially opens its season on Saturday afternoon when it hosts the American International Yellow Jackets in a scrimmage at 1:00 p.m. EDT at Conte Forum.
Boston College is coming off a successful season, according to second year head coach Steve Donahue, in which it 21-13 (9-7 ACC) and narrowly missed out on an NCAA Tournament bit. However, the Eagles did make the National Invitational Tournament, winning their first game against McNeese State (82-62) before losing to Northwestern (85-67).
The Eagles are predicted to finish 12th - dead last - in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season after losing most of their team to graduation. Reggie Jackson will be the toughest player to replace for BC, as the All-ACC first teamer from a season ago led the team in scoring (18.4 PPG), assists (4.5 APG) and steals (1.1 SPG).
Jackson's loss along was tough, but the Eagles lost their top five scorers from a season ago (Jackson, Joe Trapani, Corey Raji, Biko Paris, Josh Southern), with sophomores Danny Rubin (4.1 PPG), Gabe Moton (2.5 PPG) and Peter Rehnqist (0.6 PPG) being the only returning players from last year's team.
However, all hope is not lost, as Oregon transfer Matt Humphrey is expected to be a major contributor for the Eagles this season after sitting out all of last season due to NCAA regulation for a player that transfers. Humphrey, a junior, reportedly took over the Eagles' secret scrimmage last Saturday with his scoring, and is expected to lead BC on offense as it continues to rebuild post-Al Skinner.
American International was 20-9 (16-6 Northeast-10) last season, but the Yellow Jackets' season ended on a low note after two losses - a 55-52 loss to No. 7 Adelphi in the quarterfinals of the Northeast-10 Championship Tournament and then a 100-96 loss to Bloomfield in the Regional Quarterfinal round of the NCAA Championship Tournament.
AIC has played one game already this season, a scrimmage against the defending national champion and No. 4 ranked Connecticut Huskies. Needless to say, the Yellow Jackets didn't fare very well. AIC missed its first five field goals and only made five field goals - all three-pointers- in the opening half to fall behind UConn 28-15 at halftime, but the Huskies put up 50 points in the second half to walk away with the 78-35 blowout win on Nov. 2 in Storrs, CT.
The Huskies grabbed a 14-0 lead early on following AIC's ineffective start from the floor. The Yellow Jackets didn't get score their first bucket until Braxton Gardner's three with 13:51 left in the opening half. AIC finished the game a mere 10-of-50 from the field.
"We knew we had trouble scoring and they certainly proved that tonight, didn't they?" AIC coach Art Luptowski said about UConn (via ESPN). "Good teams accentuate your weakness, and they certainly do that."