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Open Practice and Final Preseason Thoughts

As many of our readers likely know, in less than a week, the Boston College men’s basketball team opens its season in Conte Forum. With the whirlwind that this football season has been, the mind of the BC fanbase has been primarily on the gridiron. So, in an effort to garner some buzz around Eagles basketball this season, here are some notes from the team’s recent open practice, as well as some general thoughts on the upcoming season.

Conte Forum played host to the Eagles basketball team’s recent open practice right before the football team kicked off against UConn. Despite the tough timing and activity around campus, Earl Grant’s squad drew a decent crowd. Admittedly, this writer was only able to catch the final 30-40 minutes of practice, but there was a lot to take note of.

First, the roster seemed to be divided into three groups: the main rotation, bench, and walk-ons. The main rotation consisted of the projected starting five Jaeden Zackery, Claudell Harris Jr, Prince Aligbe, Devin McGlockton, and Quinten Post; plus Mason Madsen and Jayden Hastings. The bench unit featured Fred Payne, Chas Kelley, Donald Hand Jr., Elijah Strong, and Armani Mighty. And, lastly, the walk-on group was led by fan-favorite Abe Atiyeh, and included freshmen Asher Jackson, Jack Didanno, and Ethan Soares.

The last 30 minutes of practice featured a three-point shooting contest between the starters and the bench, a full-court fast-break drill, and a scrimmage between the starters and the bench. Coach Grant’s focus on the three-point shot and transition offense was notable, as last season’s team was not particularly known for excelling in either area. However, between transfer Harris, increased roles for sophomore guards Kelley and Hand, and Madsen coming into this season much more healthy than last season, the Eagles could very well see a significant increase in three-point production.

Another positive development is that unproven forwards Hastings and Mighty appeared to be much more polished than many fans might have expected. Those who watched Mighty’s limited minutes last year saw how raw he was on both ends of the floor. And, as with most freshmen, the Eagles don’t know what they will get from Hastings. This basketball team will only go as far as Post will take them, but the big man obviously cannot play 40 minutes a game. So being able to get 10-12 serviceable minutes from Hastings/Mighty would go a long way for a team that clearly lacks depth in the frontcourt.

With the season less than a week away, there is much reason for optimism. The Eagles’ out-of-conference schedule is not particularly grueling and is a big opportunity for the team to get as far over the .500 mark as possible. If this team wants any shot of making the Dance, a dominant OOC performance is a necessity. Of the eleven games on the OOC schedule, the Eagles should be heavy favorites against Fairfield, The Citadel, Richmond, Central Connecticut, Holy Cross, and Lehigh. If they can take care of business in these six games, and remain competitive in their remaining five, an 8-3 OOC performance is well within reach.

As for league play, the Eagles will be shooting for double-digit conference wins for the first time since Jared Dudley and Matt Ryan were on campus. Coach Grant surpassed expectations in each of his first two seasons with the Eagles, going 13-20 (6-14 ACC) in year 1 and 16-17 (9-11 ACC) in year 2. Should the Eagles take another step forward in the ACC, they very well could find themselves “on the bubble” come March. Grant has mentioned many times how his third season at a program has always been a “breakout year”, and looks to take the Eagles to new heights in his third year on The Heights.

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