Hello readers, this is Siqi and I am back with another article about my weird obsession with BC basketball. I thought it would be fun to do a second annual Boston College Men’s Basketball player review. Since last year, the team has gone through a period of transformation. Only four scholarship players from last season are still with us. The 2016-2017 team snatched a couple of big wins from top teams like Auburn and Providence and also secured some ACC wins. However, this same team lost to Nicholls State, Hartford, and Georgia Tech (when GT had 16.7% FG in the first half). One change in my life is that I am officially a student manager for the team this year, so I finally have a legitimate reason to talk about BC basketball all the time. This new position also provides me with a deeper and closer look at the team. Although the team’s record looks pretty bleak as the season is finishing up, the improvements these players have made since last year is tremendous and I still have hope that they will shine in the ACC tournament and in the future.
The NC Attack – Jerome Robinson and Ky Bowman
Even though he never really shattered any backboards during games, I still like to use “Send it in, Jerome!” as my snapchat caption when he dunks. There are so many articles about Jerome hitting a slump, but I think that’s a little bit harsh. This kid racks up almost 20 points every game and is number four in the ACC for points per game. Cut him some slack! All this pressure is not healthy for him and I honestly believe this is why he misses free throws and is in foul trouble in recent games. He is extremely tired, injured, and needs someone to help him. Luckily, Ky, the other star player from the 252, is by Jerome’s side. That redheaded kid can make some amazing shots. Although Ky still needs to work on his handle, he’s had a great season. I was not surprised that he out-performed Ty Graves and remained a starter. Can you believe how many North Carolina schools passed on this gem? Also, I think it is time for sports commentators to stop mentioning that he de-committed from football. Talk about his hair color or something, that’s more interesting. NC schools did us a big favor by letting these two come up north and I can’t wait to see how many more points they score.
The Keys – A.J. Turner, Garland Owens, and Ervins Meznieks
I genuinely believe that people don’t give Turner enough credit. Last year it was all about Eli Carter and Jerome, and this year it is all about Ky and Jerome. I do not know how the media can stand to neglect this catalyst on the team. Maybe I am just saying this since I have been on Team Turner since my junior year of high school, but he is one of the most hard-working players I know. It is just shameful how commentators still mistake him for Robinson during games sometimes. His talent needs to be under the spotlight more. The Syracuse game and the U Miami games prove this point. He is a key player on the team, but if he doesn’t play well enough, Chatman will take his starting spot permanently. A.J. needs to be more confident and aggressive with his shots and remember that he is the captain of this team. G and Ervs were out of the rotation for a long time this season, but we got to see more of Meznieks starting in the Louisville game. Coach C gave Ervs a chance, and then he took that opportunity and made those 3s that he is supposed to make. And now he is back in the rotation. That’s the spirit! If G wants to play more and make the last couple of games in his college career worthwhile, it is important for him to show that his mind is still in the game. In the beginning of the year, I tweeted “G’s dunk makes me tear up” and I hope that he can give us another one of those monster dunks to complete his senior year.
The Big Men – Mo Jeffers and JC Reyes
Our 6’9″ transfer from the University of Delaware has been big on the board and has shown some heart while playing the game. Jeffers is averaging 5.9 rebounds this season, which is his career high. Even though this is his last year of eligibility, I can see how much he has grown as an Eagle. He made all four free throws in the Notre Dame game. Let me tell you, Coach C was so impressed and was even joking about it with the bench. Mo’s only problem is his inconsistency. He shows a lot of heart and is leading the team with passion, but we need him to get those rebounds every game and make some dunks (like the one he almost made in the GT game) to pump up the team. Unfortunately, JC is still not logging in as many minutes as some fans would hope. As a redshirted freshman, it is definitely very hard for him to sit on the bench and watch others shine. With Luka Kraljevic being added to the roster next year, the road ahead for JC will only get more difficult.
The Wise Ones – Jordan Chatman and Connar Tava
These 23-year-old and 22-year-old players are two of the oldest players on the team. They lead the team not with athleticism, but with their calmness and hard-working attitudes. When everyone freaked out over Chat’s 9 three-pointers, I was not surprised. Practically cutting basketball out of his routine for two years made him realize what he is lacking. He made up for it by staying long after practice to work on his shooting. He knows what he is doing and will continue to do better. He is also fluent in Chinese, which makes me happy since I get to speak to him in Chinese whenever I talk to him. On the bright side, we will still get to see him play for another two years. In the beginning of the season, Tava intimidated me so much because to me, he’s a 6’6″ grad student who never smiles. But as time passed, I realized how much he cares about the game. He lost his starting position since the GT game, but that doesn’t mean he will stop trying hard. Yes, he shoots 3s that don’t go into the hoop sometimes, but those are reasonable shots. Stop counting how many he missed! When he’s open, he gets to shoot it! Connar is a smart player and we are very lucky to have him on the team.
The Future – Nik Popovic and Mike Sagay
Niko is our tower in the paint and Mike is getting a lot more opportunities to show his talent. I cannot explain how excited I was when Niko tipped in the ball at Madison Square Garden. I swear my roommates almost kicked me out of the room because I was screaming like a crazy person. It is easy for Niko to get frustrated on the court. Being a young player who gained nearly 30 pounds over the summer, Niko still has a lot of adjustments to make so he can perform to his full extent. Mike, another rising star, faces the same problem. Mike was a little lost in the beginning compared to his fellow freshmen, but in the game against Notre Dame we saw how his exceptional athleticism could help the team a lot in the future. Whenever I see Mike, I see so much youth and potential in him and that makes my heart pump harder because I know he will grow into such a great player in the next three years with the Eagles.
Jimmy C – Coach Jim Christian
I LOVE Coach Christian SO MUCH. He is probably one of the sweetest people I have ever worked with. He genuinely cares about everyone on the team. More importantly, as a coach, he is willing to take responsibility and admit when the team has problems. He even answers all of the questions during post-game press. More than once he has said that being young is not a reason for this team’s poor performances and has stated, “It’s my team, it’s on me.” That’s exactly what I expect from a coach, someone who understand what his job is and is not afraid to say so when his work is not the best. Coach C can be too nice sometimes and I am honestly surprised that he hasn’t lost it yet in post-game press after so many games that we ultimately lost but could have won. Also, if you happen to read this, Coach C, I really am trying my best with rebounding. I’m just not coordinated enough for this sport. I’m sorry.
Honestly, I have to say that I am totally biased. I love this team. I loved them when they had no conference wins and I definitely love them more as they are growing into a much better team and getting those upsets and wins. Being one of the student managers this year gave me a new perspective on BC basketball. Being there at practices and behind the bench (or mopping the floor) at games are the highlights of my week (actually probably not the mopping part). However, I am disappointed with BC fans. Our team is not the best, so I totally understand why we don’t sell out every game, but it would still be nice to see at least some students willing to come fill the student section and not leave until the game is actually over. If Isaiah Thomas can make it to the game, you can too! We have one more home game left on 2/25, so I am begging all of my readers to come to Conte one more time this year and show some support to these young men. They deserve a packed student section.
All photos courtesy of the BC Men’s Basketball Twitter.