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St. Francis At Boston College: Eagles Host Terriers In Season Opener

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.

The Eagles are returning standouts Joe Trapani, Corey Raji, Reggie Jackson, Biko Paris and Josh Southern in an attempt to make some noise in the Atlantic Coast conference.

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).

Boston College has four newcomers, sophomore Matt Humphrey (transfered from Oregon) and senior Chris Kowalski.

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.

Gabriel Moton and Danny Rubin are the only freshman on the roster.

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.