Ryan Anderson shook his head in disbelief. Where has all the time gone?
“The freshmen come in and we think – dang, we’re juniors now,” Anderson said. “We feel like we’re just like them. We’ve had so many experiences, but we feel like we’ve just gotten here. It’s weird just to feel like we’re halfway done already. Everything that we’ve dreamed about – like ‘we’re going to be good, we’re going to be good’ – it’s now. It’s here. Whether or not we seize the opportunity is up to us, but we no longer can use the excuse of being young.”
For two years the Boston College men’s basketball team has been known as one of the youngest teams not just in the ACC, but in the country. Now, all of a sudden, that has completely changed. During the 2013-14 season, the Eagles will roll out one of the most experienced teams in the entire conference. That might be hard to believe, but look at the numbers. Here are the amount of minutes played last season by returning players for each ACC school*:
Boston College is not only in the lead, but second place Notre Dame returns just 89 percent of the minutes that the Eagles do and third place North Carolina is at 80 percent. Head coach Steve Donahue’s squad brings back 2,000 more minutes than the league average of 4,262. How wide does the spectrum go across the conference? Last place Miami returns only 20 percent of the Eagles’ 6,300 minutes.
The experience also extends to key players. Scoring doesn’t tell the whole story, but a team’s five highest scorers are a good indication of the most productive players on the roster. Here are the minutes played last season by each team’s top five scorers, per game, who are returning for 2013-14 (For BC that would be Olivier Hanlan, Ryan Anderson, Joe Rahon, Lonnie Jackson, and Patrick Heckmann)**. Also included is the percentage of the team’s total points scored throughout the season by this group of five, in order to show the impact they had:
The Eagles, yet again come in first, with BC’s top five group playing 1,450 minutes more than the league average in this category. Last place Miami’s top five scorers total just 25 percent of the minutes played by BC’s top five. The Eagles also bring back the most productive core of top five players, with their group accumulating 84 percent of the team’s points last season compared to a league average of 53 percent.
Finally, here are the career minutes played by these groups of five players. BC has three juniors in their set (Anderson, Heckmann, and Jackson), and they add an additional 2,200 minutes to the total from their freshmen campaign. Only Notre Dame, with a few experienced seniors on the roster, has a top five with more career minutes played.
In one season, the story has changed. Whenever BC takes the court now, the team on the other end will almost always be younger and less experienced. With that comes a level of chemistry and understanding that can’t be taught. Anderson said that everyone’s goal, with such a challenging schedule, is to hit 20 wins. The Eagles got to 16 last year with a point differential of just -.9 points per game, and they’ll have experience on their side as they look for four more.
*Minutes were only counted for players that played at their current school last season. Transfers eligible to play right away were not included. Note that most ACC schools have their 2013-14 rosters updated, but a few still don’t. For these teams, players that graduated, transferred, or left for the NBA were not included.
**If a player finished as a top five scorer for his team but is not returning this season, the next highest scorer was included. Five players were used in the counts for every team.