BC steps up in win over Bryant
They are programs in transition.
Bryant University, coached by former Boston College player and assistant head coach Tim O’Shea, is in the process of moving from Division 2 to Division 1, and will be a fully eligible member of the Northeast Conference next season.
Boston College is moving forward under second-year coach Steve Donahue with nine freshmen on the roster - four of them starting - which isn’t a formula for success in the Atlantic Coast Conference, which the Eagles must begin dealing with in a few weeks.
Yesterday the 3-7 Eagles met Bryant, which entered having lost nine of its first 10 games. Not surprisingly, the matchup at Conte Forum hardly created a ripple.
With the holiday looming, and it being the end of the semester at BC, the crowd was announced as 3,563 and it hardly could have been described as raucous as the Eagles broke from a 2-point halftime lead to a 75-55 triumph.
Yet the game was not without highlights, or indications that progress is being made - even if in baby steps - for the Eagles.
Start with freshman Lonnie Jackson. The 6-foot-3-inch guard from Valencia, Calif., was bumped to the starting spot at shooting guard as Donahue, whose team was coming off a 66-51 win over Stony Brook a week ago, continued to fiddle with his rotation.
Jackson, whose career high had been 12 points, pumped in 26, going 7 of 11 from 3-point range.
Many of those points were set up by freshman guard Jordan Daniels, who had nine assists.
Add the 12-point, 12-rebound effort by freshman forward Ryan Anderson, and the continued improvement of first-year center Dennis Clifford (10 points, 6 rebounds), and BC had a formula for success.
“It was a good second half,’’ said Donahue, who watched the Eagles break from a 34-32 halftime lead to a 15-point bulge midway through the second half. “In the first half, we played good in stretches.’’
Jackson played well in both halves, particularly from beyond the arc.
“My teammates were doing a good job of finding me,’’ said Jackson, who scored 17 points in the second half. “I was in a good zone. Jordan did a great job of finding me. Our chemistry is pretty good.’’
The chemistry for Bryant is still being worked on. O’Shea, who was on the bench next to Al Skinner through the early years of BC’s hoops revival more than a decade ago, watched his team misfire at the start of both halves. The Bulldogs improved in the second half, but they could only cut the deficit to 10 before falling back into another big loss.
“It’s a challenging situation,’’ said O’Shea. “My No. 1 job is to hold it together. I have no seniors, and sometimes it gets away from you. That’s what happened today.’’
O’Shea, like Donahue, sees a BC team that is young and learning as it goes. “Steve has a good system, he’s a good coach,’’ said O’Shea. “The last two games, they have played better. It’s going to take time.’’
Donahue said he has started to see signs of people filling the roles they have been assigned, especially Jackson and Daniels in the backcourt. “It’s starting to build,’’ the coach said. “Chemistry is a combination of a lot of things. Jordan did a good job of finding Lonnie.’’
It certainly has worked the last two games for the Eagles, and it may work against Sacred Heart Wednesday.
But when you are just learning to walk as a team, which the Eagles are doing, sometimes baby steps work as well.
Mark Blaudschun can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.