“It was good to watch these guys smile today. It’s fun to send seniors out the right way.”
– Boston College head coach Jim Christian
“The show about nothing.”
That phrase is the famous tagline for the show Seinfeld, a 1990s sitcom that followed the fictional endeavors of a comedian and his three best friends. It seems like an apt description—the problems faced in the show are often trivial, and the characters rarely achieve any of their goals. Yet, the series kept puttering along in a consistent manner: the characters seem ready to achieve something new, but they fall back to their original state by the end of each 23-minute episode.
Boston College men’s basketball’s season could be one of Seinfeld’s. For almost two full months, BC held its own against talented ACC competition, but couldn’t find a way to win. Several games appeared destined to be BC victories but were cut short by unusual, unfortunate circumstances that occasionally felt more like fiction than reality. It didn’t matter how many points Olivier Hanlan put up or which star the Eagles would shut down. BC would take a loss, and everything would stay the same.
At least, it appeared to. The average fan of either season likely missed some of the more important points beyond the surface. The creators of Seinfeld, for instance, never considered the subject of their series to be “nothing.”
“The show about nothing was just a joke in an episode many years later, and Larry [David] and I to this day are surprised that it caught on as a way that people describe the show, because to us it’s the opposite of that,” Jerry Seinfeld, star of and namesake for the show, said in an AMA chat on Reddit in Jan. 2014.
BC head coach Jim Christian feels the same way about his team’s performance. After struggling through a 2-14 stretch that dated back to a Jan. 3 loss to Duke, BC (12-18, 4-14 ACC) fought its way to a 79-61 victory over Wake Forest (13-18, 5-13) in the regular season finale on Saturday to break off the script. This concluded a three-game win streak for the Eagles, their best in-conference stretch since they won the final three regular season games of 2013.
“Seven seniors, who could have easily rolled over, played harder than they’ve ever played in their whole career,” Christian said. “They’re helping me change the culture.”
This culture has been a losing one on the Heights since after the 2010-11 season, the last time the Eagles had a winning record in the ACC and seriously contended for an NCAA Tournament berth. In the four seasons since, BC has amassed a 45-81 record overall, and a 19-51 record in the ACC. Christian began his first year as head coach with not only seven seniors, but five other returners who have now suffered through more than one year in the basement of the ACC. As Christian said, the effort has been there—rarely this season has the team looked unfocused or lazy, more often simply overmatched—but the results have not.
In the past three games, the effort put in by these seniors finally translated to the scoreboard. BC shot over 50 percent in both halves against Wake Forest, and shot over 40 percent from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, the Eagles held Wake under 42 percent from the field and below 30 percent from three. BC also snagged six more rebounds than its opponents and four more points in the paint.
While Hanlan put up 21.9 points in 38.8 minutes in ACC play, he yielded some shots and minutes (he finished with 19 points in 35 minutes) to the seniors, who combined to go 17-for-32 with 51 points. Eddie Odio and Patrick Heckmann especially shined in their final regular season hurrahs. Odio hit two 3-pointers, had two big blocks, and finished a full-court break with a powerful slam, while Heckmann drove hard to the hoop several times and finished 5-of-6 from inside the arc.
Codi Miller-Mcintyre, meanwhile, did all he could to keep Wake Forest in the game. He finished with 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting. Dinos Mitoglou, however, was the only other Demon Deacon to finish in double figures—he had 10. Wake Forest never held a lead for the final 34 minutes.
This hot stretch could not have come at a better time for the Eagles, who will compete in the first round of the ACC Tournament on Tuesday. In fact, even before this game had begun, BC had its playoff slot set. The team had clinched the No. 12 seed in the ACC tournament earlier in the week, and Wake had locked up No. 11. Once Miami had completed a rout of Virginia Tech in a noontime game on Saturday, the Eagles even knew who they would face in the first round: Georgia Tech, a team they defeated 64-62 back in January.
The outcome of the BC-Wake game, in other words, could change nothing. The only way the Eagles could reach the NCAA Tournament would be to win the ACC Tourney, which would likely mean defeating three or four Top-25 teams. And yet, even in a game that meant “nothing,” every man on BC was still out there, hustling and fighting for a win.
Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Editor