Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Freshmen making impact for BC, Harvard
By Jack McCluskey
At first glance, they might not seem to have much in common. One is a point guard, one is a shooting guard. One is from Minnesota, one is from California.
But Siyani Chambers and Joe Rahon have more in common than that cursory look might suggest. For instance, they’re both freshmen who have started every game so far for their teams (Chambers for Harvard, Rahon for Boston College) and they’re both making major contributions right from the start.
On Monday, Chambers was named Ivy League rookie of the week for the third time this season, while Rahon was named ACC rookie of the week for the first time.
Chambers averaged 15.0 points and 8.5 assists in two games over the past week, with 16 points and 7 assists against Saint Mary’s and 14 points and a career-high 10 assists against Rice.
Rahon averaged 21.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in two games for BC, with a career-high 24 points and 5 assists against Dartmouth and 18 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists against No. 23 NC State.
After the Eagles nearly upset the Wolfpack, coach Steve Donahue said he didn’t think anyone should be surprised at the play of his 6-foot-2, 195-pound guard at this point.
“That’s what he does. You know what you’re gonna get,” Donahue said. “He’s as good a player at that age in this league -- I don’t think there’s a better freshman guard. ... Joe probably had one or two decisions he’d like to have back -- that one shot he took was a difficult one. But he’ll learn from that.”
The one shot was a potential game-tying shot, on which Rahon drove across the lane and tried to throw up a tear-drop floater over the outstretched arms of a defender. It was a very difficult shot, and didn’t have much of a chance of going in.
But that shot attempt was one of the only things Rahon didn’t do well against the Wolfpack, as he repeatedly rallied the Eagles back into the game.
“I don’t know if NC State realized how good Joe Rahon is,” Donahue said.
Mark Gottfried & Co. left impressed by the talent Donahue has assembled in Chestnut Hill, telling reporters that the Eagles will be a handful in the ACC slate.
Opponents have been similarly impressed with Chambers and the Crimson. Tommy Amaker has had to lean heavily on Chambers this season, since he lost his point guard and would-be captain Brandyn Curry for the season when he withdrew from school after being implicated in an academic cheating scandal.
Chambers ranks second in the Ivy League in minutes per game, at 37.4, and leads the league in assists per game (6.0) and free throw shooting (89.8 percent). Rahon, meanwhile, is second among ACC freshmen in assists per game (4.1 -- seventh overall in the ACC).
Both Donahue and Amaker have had many occasions to praise their talented rookies this season, and that doesn’t figure to change anytime soon.
“The thing I’m most pleased with those guys is they’re just genuinely really hardworking kids that want to get better,” Donahue said of Rahon and teammate Olivier Hanlan on Saturday after the loss to NC State. “And there’s no BS. They’re in the gym, they want to be good and they want our team to win. And for young kids to have that kind of maturity already, it’s pretty remarkable.”
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.