December 10, 2007

Hoops team surprising

Notice something missing from the BC scene at this time of year?

With all the coaching changes and non-changes going on around the country, with guys going and guys staying and telling some big program thanks but no thanks, it's kind of refreshing to not have to deal with that around here.

Think about it. For the last several years, every time a job popped open in the country, Tom O'Brien seemed to be a candidate for it. Heck, even one of the jobs that was just filled - Paul Johnson taking Chan Gailey's place at Georgia Tech - was one of O'Brien's jobs that didn't pan out. He was close on that one.

As you know, there were others. And then came North Carolina State, in an almost surreal situation last year at this time that saw TOB finally leave - and go to a team in the same division as the Eagles. The situation with O'Brien and Gene DeFilippo had apparently reached the point that O'Brien was going somewhere. DeFilippo wasn't leaving and there was only room for one of them.

O'Brien left, and with him went all the speculation about his future, the annual rite of winter, where we all wondered where he was going (heck, it drove the Globe crazy).

Now, he's finally gone. For a year now. And while there's never any such things as a sure thing, it looks like Jeff Jagodzinski is going to be here awhile - not a terrible thing when you consider the guy is 10-3 as he takes his team to another bowl game.

Aside from the wins and losses - and 10-3 is one of the best records in the country - Jags' BC tenure can't really start to be judged until it's HIS players down the road. Next year might be tough because of the loss of Matt Ryan and the running backs, but that still won't be Jagodzinski's guys. That will come and that's when you can really judge him in terms of what he's done for the program.

For now, just be content that he was able to step in and make the transition seamless - and while the disappointment of losing in Jacksonville is still there, 10-3 IS 10-3 and there's every reason to believe these kids will get that 11th win down in Orlando and ease the pain - some, anyway - of not playing in an Orange Bowl that seemed to be all theirs if you watched the first half of that game against Virginia Tech.

Having just watched the Heisman production and read a bunch on it the past couple of days, it really was humorous to watch the players go in and out of the race for that coveted trophy. I think the right guy won, but how did Oregon's Dennis Dixon go from the frontrunner to not even making it to New York after getting hurt late in the season? Seemed strange, but, then again, there were so many strange things that happened in college football this season.

Sorry, I'm just not pumped up for the national championship game. LSU belongs there. Ohio State? Nope. How about USC? Or Oklahoma?

I keep hearing people tell me the system worked this year. But can you imagine how even an eight-team playoff would be? Now that would be true theater.

The basketball team opened its ACC schedule Sunday night with a special win at Maryland - and I think we've already seen enough of this team to know it is going to win more games than people might have thought. We all should know by now you don't take anything for granted when it comes to Al Skinner.

These kids will have speed bumps the rest of the way - maybe even a lot of them (some as painful as what they went through against Providence, and almost went through Sunday night). But you're looking at a rebuilding year that's just not going to be as bad as many thought. And you are also, assuming Tyrese Rice doesn't go anywhere, looking at something that could be fun next season.

One thing though - it's a shame Tyrell Blair won't be around. He's blocking shots the way that kid now in New Jersey used to block them.

Well, almost.

Well, maybe not so almost.

I lost track - wouldn't this have been Sean Williams' senior year? Now THAT would have been fun.

Blair has turned into a real force - and John Oates even made his first real contribution Sunday night.

Man, these freshmen are fun to watch.

Next up is UMass. Let's hope there's a BC crowd in the building. This is a tough game and one that could really put this team on the map. Winning at Maryland would lose some of its luster if the Eagles don't beat the Minutemen Wednesday night.

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