The Boston College men’s basketball team’s ACC tournament run ended in heartbreak.
Miami just barely passed the red hot Eagles with a buzzer-beater layup, and a win would have sent the Eagles to their first ACC tournament semifinal since 2006. But, this is just the beginning of BC basketball’s rise, as Earl Grant and his program look to return BC basketball to the heights it once was at.
It should already be a given that Jim Christian’s tenure had to end, as the Eagles consistently failed to close out games and the program was dying. Long gone are the days of Sean Williams, Jared Dudley, and Reggie Jackson and the more recent memories of Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson. Don’t forget about the days of consistently making March Madness and always being in contention for the ACC title too.
But Grant, with seven new players on the squad that replaced the 11 players leaving last year’s team, might be revitalizing those memories.
Granted, the ACC is not at the heights it was a few years ago, but with a young and much different squad than the previous year, Grant’s run in his rookie year as BC’s coach is still quite impressive. BC nearly went to it’s first conference tournament semifinal in 15 years, in a season that was projected to be worse than the last.
Grant accomplished more in one season than Christian was able to accomplish than any of Christian’s teams during his seven-year tenure, matching Christian’s tenure-best six ACC wins, and going further in the ACC tournament than any of Christian’s teams did.
In 2017, the only winning season under Christian, he did lead the team to an NIT appearance — but it was a team led by Bowman and Robinson, not by a freshman in Jaeden Zackery that spent his previous season at a JUCO.
While it was a rough decade for Eagle hoops, and while the Conte Forum is often practically empty for basketball games unless Duke comes to town, a vibrant community on social media still remains — and it’s only growing.
The “Defend The Nut” slogan, which refers to the town of Chestnut Hill, and the term “sicko,” which is what you are if you are a fan of BC basketball, has been embraced by the small community that still exists — and even BC’s sharpshooter Brevin Galloway, among other players.
The slogan has even turned into a clothing line, where the 1.0 and 2.0 drops both have every item sold out on DefendTheNut.com.
“I think the BC community has grown because the program has been neglected for the past 14 years,” Ethan Conley, an Emmanuel College freshman who has been a Boston College fan since birth told Boston Sports Wave. “The community has really rallied in trying to get the word out that BC was once a well-known basketball program.”
The future is bright for the Eagles, despite losing 11 players last season (six transfers, five graduates). They were led by the freshman guard in Zackery — who spent last season with a JUCO, and averaged 34.5 minutes a night during the season.
BC also has youngsters Devin McGlockton and Kanye Jones, who were strong in the limited minutes they had this season.
“I think it’s definitely helped through the fan pages on Twitter and Earl Grant who has definitely changed the atmosphere around the team,” said Evan Applebaum, a BC fan from Haverhill, MA, when asked how the community has been able to grow despite consistent losing seasons.
“We’ve sort of embraced being not very good, and being in a rebuild,” an anonymous BC fan said. “The community has grown so much so quickly and everyone loves and interacts with each other on Twitter. I bought a Defend The Nut sweatshirt and flag, and it’s awesome how the community is so close despite us consistently having losing seasons. We now just need people to show up to Conte every night.”
With four commits coming in for the class of 2023, including the 6-foot-10 Armani Mighty who does not have a star rating, three-star recruits in 6-foot-5 guards Chas Kelly and Donald Hand, as well as 6-foot-6 four-star forward Prince Aligbe, Grant’s culture that he’s built around the team only means this team is on the rise.
Join our daily newsletter, BSW Daily, to receive our coverage, right in your inbox! Sign up for our daily newsletter to receive all the stories from the day It is a free and easy way to get real and original Boston sports coverage sent directly to your email. Click here to join BSW daily today!
You can also follow us on Twitter to get stories and highlights on your feed: