Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009, part III: Hoops and hockey

The final part of our three-part Boston College mini-series involves the basketball and hockey programs. I put these two together - and put them last - because they make my life very difficult when trying to do a year-in-review article. At the start of 2009, it wasn't even the same season as now for either one of these sports, so I have to draw parts from both.

We start with the women, who started their basketball 2009 off with a win at home, and ended it yesterday with a loss in San Diego in the Surf 'N Slam tournament (whatever that is). In between, Sylvia Crawley and the Eagles won 8 ACC games, including their first-round conference tournament game, and were invited to the WNIT. While there, they surged into the Final Four.

Many names returned for the 2009-2010 season, and BC is off to a 7-6 start with ACC play beginning on January 10th. Like the men, the ladies won their ACC-Big Ten Challenge game this year, and after a three-game losing streak to start the year, there will be some raised expectations for this team in 2010 on the heels of their postseason run. The out-of-conference results, however, have been mixed.

The women's hockey team won the Beanpot on February 10th and let it propel them into the NCAA Regionals in March. The ladies lost that game and finished their season at a strong 22-9-5.

In 2009-2010, however, things have not been nearly as rosy. With their last game of the calendar year having been played on December 11th, the Eagles tied Providence on their home ice to go to 5-7-7. Of particular note, however, is that Kelli Stack and Molly Schaus were chosen to represent the United States in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver on the women's hockey team. This is quite an honor for these two ladies, and it is so far one of the lone bright spots at the end of 2009 for this team.

To the men we go now, and we start with hockey who have gone the opposite direction of the women. The year 2009 saw the men's hockey team start off with a disappointing finish to their previous (2008-2009) season, in defense of their national championship and Beanpot crown. They defended neither, getting nuked in the first round of the Beanpot and having to settle for a close win in the consolation game. Their record in Hockey East play was decidedly average, and once they flamed out in the Hockey East tournament, there were no NCAA playoffs in sight.

This new season, however, looks far better for the men. The Eagles have finished 2009 at 10-3-2 and are #5 in the country, looking to make another strong push to the Frozen Four.

Finally, our men's basketball team began the calendar year with a big bang, but nobody named Sheldon was involved. The very first game they played in 2009 was their stunning upset over #1 North Carolina at Chapel Hill, sending shockwaves through college basketball and briefly putting them in the rankings before the first of back-to-back ankle-grabbings against Harvard. That UNC win, plus Duke, and the other conference wins helped put BC back in the big dance after a one-year absence. Unfortunately, they faced a red-hot USC team and went home early.

Their new campaign is off to a slightly slower start than the last one, but there are still positives to take from it. BC has a record of 9-4 and has gotten significant contributions from Corey Raji, Joe Trapani, and Reggie Jackson, to name a few. For this team, despite some questionable losses, there is still plenty of time in 2010 to make another NCAA Tournament bid. Their decade-ending win over South Carolina will be good for the resume, as will victories over Michigan, Providence, and Miami (although Michigan and Providence have started a downslide, and Miami's OOC schedule was very weak).

In sum, across all sports, BC's athletics program has had some things to please its fans this year. Our football team and basketball teams overachieved or met potential, our hockey teams have been good at one point or another, while others have made runs at national championships and played in some unforgettable games. I am proud to be a fan of the Boston College Eagles, both in 2009 and in the future.

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