Building a house takes a lot of work. You can't just throw all of the parts and supplies onto a lot and expect them to erect themselves. It takes a lot of planning and architecture to create the final product - a sturdy structure that can stand alone.
Likewise, the building project that Steve Donahue and his Boston College Eagles are undergoing takes time. Boston College is just 3-7 on the season, and it's clear that there have been growing pains with this team of nine freshmen.
Slowly but surely, they are making progress, and that fact has been confirmed as of late.
BC (4-7, 0-0 ACC) has won its last two games, marking its first winning streak of the season, and has played well in its last three games. The Eagles cruised past the Bryant Bulldogs, 75-55, behind a career day from Lonnie Jackson (26 points, five rebounds) on Sunday after coasting to a 66-51 victory over the Stony Brook Seawolves on Sunday, December 11. Prior to those two wins, the Eagles hung around with the Providence Friars for the majority of the game before ultimately falling short, 64-57.
In those three games, Boston College has averaged 66 points per game while shooting 43 percent (28-for-59, 23-for-48, 17-for-51) and allowing 54.3 points. In the Eagles first eight games, they averaged 58.2 points and allowed 568 points (an average of 71 points per game). The numbers don't lie, they are definitely improving.
However, it isn't like the Eagles have played any premier opponents in the last three games - their three opponents have a combined record of 13-18. Providence is 9-2 while Stony Brook is 3-6 and Bryant is a lowly 1-10 overall.
Still, you can't argue with success. On a rebuilding team, success is relative. While Donahue and the Eagles place a lot of value in winning, they know it isn't feasible to win every game, especially in their current state. Instead, Donahue finds his victories in other areas -- improvement in particular areas, margin of losses shrinking, etc.
Patrick Heckmann has been the team's most consistent scorer through 11 games. Even that isn't saying very much, though, as the freshman forward has had games with three points and others with 32. Heckmann is averaging an even 12.0 points and also a team-high 1.9 assists in nine games.
Matt Humphrey has been a solid contributor as well, but entered the season with higher expectations. Humphrey hasn't lived up to the hype just yet, and the junior is averaging 10.1 points and 3.3 rebounds in 10 games. Ryan Anderson (8.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.4 APG) and Dennis Clifford (7.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 0.8 BPG) have also been consistently producing.
Boston College ranks dead last (12th) in the ACC in seven statistical categories, including scoring offense (58.9 PPG), scoring margin (-9.4) and team field goal percentage (192-for-496; 38.7 percent). That being the case, the Eagles find themselves last in the conference standings.
As we approach the midway point of the college basketball season, Donahue has been able to whittle his rotations down to the most consistent core of Heckmann, Humphrey, Anderson, Clifford, K.C. Caudill, Jordan Daniels and Jackson.
BC's improvement may appear to be short-lived, however, as the Eagles only have one more game against a mediocre opponent in the Sacred Heart Pioneers before the toughest portion of their schedule begins. The Eagles host the formerly-ranked Harvard Crimson before again playing host to the Rhode Island Rams.
Then, it begins for real. Boston College travels to take on No. 6 ranked North Carolina in the start of its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule. Afterwards, the Eagles face the Clemson Tigers, Virginia Tech Hokies, N.C. State Wolfpack, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Virginia Cavaliers, Miami Hurricanes, Wolfpack (again), Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Florida St. Seminoles, Hokies, Maryland Terrapins, Duke Blue Devils, Deacons, Jackets and Hurricanes in their finale.
All things considered, the Eagles' ceiling for wins is likely around eight (with 10 wins being a real stretch). If you are going to judge BC's success this season off of their win total, then you definitely won't see success. This year is all about growth and experience, and that's how this team should be judged. Wins are certainly nice, but Donahue has his plan and is building this program into a sturdy structure.