Monday, June 1, 2009

Boston College sports: 2008-2009 in review

With the end of the baseball team's run on Sunday, the 2008-2009 Boston College athletics season has also reached its completion. It was another solid year for the program with many of the big-ticket sports reaching postseason play, and there is certainly hope for 2009-2010 in some areas. While it would be hard for me to evaluate every single one of BC's 31 varsity teams, there are a few I can for sure.


It was certainly an interesting season (might be an understatement towards the end) for Eagles football. This team lost Matt Ryan and was forced to play a senior at quarterback with virtually no experience as a starter at this level, and expectations were pretty low. BC was picked close to last in the Atlantic Division. Despite losing this quarterback, Chris Crane, to injury and having to play a freshman with no college football experience at all, Dominique Davis, the Eagles won the division for the second straight year with some last-minute heroics and a late-season run. Once again, however, Virginia Tech throttled them in the championship game and they lost in a bowl game for the first time in a very long time. Then it became clear that Jeff Jagodzinski and the Athletic Department did not get along, and we ended up with Coach Frank Spaziani. In any event, this BC team outperformed expectations and I hope we see more of the same in 2009 (because I bet expectations will be even lower).

Men's Basketball
Al Skinner and the guys got right back on the NCAA tournament horse after taking a bad year off in the previous season. This team showed flashes of brilliance, most notably with ther wins over North Carolina and Duke, but also demonstrated that they can play equally as horribly, like in the home loss to Harvard. BC surprisingly got into the big dance as a 7 seed, but got smoked by USC in the first round (despite BC leading at the half). Still, we can take some lessons from this season, the most important of which is that BC can and will survive without Tyrese Rice. He's a great college player no doubt, but BC has other talent. I think most people were hoping BC could be an NIT team after a dismal 2007-2008 campaign, but this is another Eagle team that exceeded expectations. Next year, despite the loss of Tyrese, I think Superfan hopes for this team will be higher, as in making the tournament again.

Men's Ice Hockey
This is the only major BC team that seemed a little disappointing at first glance. The Eagles were the defending national champions but they lost some talent on the ice, most notably Nate Gerbe who went to the NHL. In addition to having won the national championship, they also won the Beanpot in 2008, but they didn't last very long in that, either. It wasn't a bad season at 18-14-5, but it was a bad season for BC, a program which expects to contend annually. I have no doubt that Jerry York will get the Eagles back on track as he always does.

As we've just seen in the last few weeks, Boston College's baseball team has experienced a bit of a renaissance under Mik Aoki. For the first time in 42 years, the BC Eagles qualified for the NCAA Tournament under his guidance, and they also made the ACC Tournament for the first time ever. BC had its first winning season since 2006 and were nearly even in conference play (with the ACC being one of the toughest conferences in the country). This team racked up some impressive wins along the way, including a win over North Carolina and being the first team ever to win FSU's ACC-opening series. Of course, the game everyone will remember from this season was the 25-inning NCAA Tournament match with the Texas Longhorns. Despite the fact that the Eagles eventually lost, it showed that this team has great heart, and I expect them to contend again in 2010.

Other Notes
*The co-ed sailing team defended its national championship this season by winning again, making it now three titles they have brought home.
*The women's ice hockey team won the 2009 Beanpot title over Harvard and qualified for the NCAA Tournament before losing in the first round.
*The men's fencing team won the 2009 New England Fencing Championships; the women took 2nd place.
*The men's soccer team qualified for the NCAA Tournament yet again, but lost on penalty kicks in the 2nd round. The women's team made it as far as the 3rd round of the tournament.
*The men's tennis team qualified for the NCAA Tournament but lost in the first round.
*Women's basketball made the WNIT for the second straight season and got all the way to the final four this time.

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