Key Losses: C Nate Doornekamp (5.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg), G Steve Hailey (3.4 ppg, 2.7 apg), G Jermaine Watson (9.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg)
Postseason: NCAA: Defeated Penn 85–65, lost to Wisconsin-Milwaukee 83–75 in the second round
Raleigh, NC/Word of God Academy
Chesterfield, VA/L.C. Bird
Rice will be counted on to emerge as the perimeter scoring threat the Eagles lacked last season. A strong defender, Haynes adds speed and athleticism that could earn him a look as a potential sixth-man replacement for Jermaine Watson. Neisler won't likely press for much playing time right away but will provide much-needed frontcourt depth.
To order your 2005 Athlon Sports annual and receive $1 off plus free shipping courtesy of SI.com, click here.
When Boston College announced its decision to defect from the Big East for greener pastures in the Atlantic Coast Conference two years ago, the shocking development was met with a casual shrug by Al Skinner. "It was purely a football decision," surmised the BC men's basketball coach. "It had nothing to do with me. We'll just go and play wherever they tell us to play."
Big East. ACC. At that time, Skinner said it honestly made no difference to him.
They both represented great basketball conferences. They both represented great challenges for his basketball team, which last year established itself as one of the Big East's upper-echelon teams, going 25-5 overall (13-3 in conference play) to earn the top seed to the league's tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York and a No. 4 seed to the NCAA Tournament.
Now, in their inaugural campaign as the 12th and newest member of the ACC, the Eagles will be starting all over again with a team that should be a factor in the league title chase.
Craig Smith, a bullish 6-foot-7, 250-pound power forward from Los Angeles, will be back for his senior year after briefly contemplating coming out early for the NBA Draft. The Eagles, as they have in the past, will look to run much of their offense through Smith, who led the team last year with 18.0 points and 8.5 rebounds. Smith, though, will have frontcourt scoring help from his Cali connection: junior forwards Jared Dudley, from San Diego and Sean Marshall, from Rialto, who ranked last season as BC's second- and third-leading scorers, respectively.
Dudley, an All-Big East first-team selection who was recognized as the league's co-Most Improved Player, established himself as a crafty scorer and rebounder. Marshall, meanwhile, was the team's top threat from 3-point range and averaged 11.1 points despite playing under 25 minutes per game.
BC's interior defense proved quite effective last year, largely because of the presence of 7-0 senior center Nate Doornekamp. With Doornekamp gone, the Eagles were expected to lean on Sean Williams, a 6-10 shot-blocking phenom who earned All-Rookie honors in the Big East last year. But Williams, who had twice been suspended during the season for reported academic problems, ran afoul of the law in the spring for marijuana possession on BC's campus and was indefinitely suspended from the school and the team. He could rejoin the team in January if he meets a series of conditions outlined by the school.
With two of its frontcourt enforcers gone, BC will look to Akida McLain, a 6-7, 215-pound sophomore who played well in a limited role as a freshman, and 6-10 John Oates to step up and help fill the void. Incoming freshman Evan Neisler could also play his way into the rotation.
The Eagles will have considerable turnover in their backcourt with the departures of Jermaine Watson, who provided BC with a jolt of energy off the bench as the sixth man, and point guard Steve Hailey, who transferred to Iona. Hailey averaged 18.1 minutes per game in an injury-plagued 2004-05 season, but his role would likely have been reduced due to the arrival of highly touted freshman guards Marquez Haynes and Tyrese Rice.
Louis Hinnant, who averaged 5.3 points, 4.8 assists and 2.3 rebounds last season, provided the Eagles with a steady hand at the point. Hinnant's role this season will grow to include serving as mentor to Haynes, whose athleticism will likely help him replace Watson as BC's defensive pest, and Rice, who was named Virginia's co-Player of the Year after averaging 27.0 points per game as a high school senior.
Senior reserves Tyler Neville and Ted Dunlap will be on hand to lend Hinnant some veteran assistance in the backcourt.
The Eagles have enough talent from last year's 25-5 squad to make a smooth transition from the Big East to the ACC. But Skinner knows if BC is to showcase itself as a worthy addition to the storied ACC, significant contributions will have to be made by its underclassmen, particularly those in the backcourt.
Given that, Boston College should have an excellent chance to be competitive in its new conference and contend for its third consecutive NCAA Tournament berth, and fifth in the last six seasons.