Lopsided matchup won't deter BC

December, 5, 2012
12/05/12
11:13
AM ET
NEWTON, Mass. -- When Boston College has played Harvard recently, the results have been lopsided, with one team winning five straight meetings between the teams.

But that team is the Crimson, not the Eagles.

Siyani Chambers, Tommy Amaker’s freshman point guard, led the visitors with 21 points in a 79-63 win on Tuesday night.

Afterward, BC coach Steve Donahue was asked if this is a series he’d like to continue.

“I think it’s a game we should play,” he said. “They’re a very good basketball team, a very good program and they’re going to be very good this year and they’re going to be very good next year. I think it’s the right thing for college basketball in the city of Boston. We’ve got to get better no matter who we play.

“I think people in this area are confused,” Donahue continued. “They think it’s the Harvard of your father’s Harvard -- it’s not. They’re an established program and they could beat a lot of basketball teams in this country.”

Don’t expect Donahue to duck Amaker next season.

“So for us to not play them because they might beat us, I would never do that,” he said.

Meanwhile, for Harvard the series has meant a lot.

“It’s been very meaningful for us,” Amaker said when asked if he would also like to continue the matchup. “We’re thankful for the opportunity to play Boston College.

“We’ve been fortunate. But the outcome is not indicative of us wanting to maintain this game. It’s about us having an opportunity to play an ACC team -- it’s always gonna be a road game, they’re not gonna, I’m sure, come over to play us, which certainly I understand that.”

Since the Crimson’s five-game win streak started, back in 2007 when they knocked off the then-No. 17 Eagles, Harvard has been ranked more often than BC has. The Crimson, having never cracked the AP Top 25 prior to 2011-12, were ranked as high as No. 21 last season.

And while the bloom may be temporarily off the rose because the BC program is clearly in a down period, it’s still a worthwhile game -- for both sides.

“I think it’s great for our city, it’s great for our community and we’re hopeful we’ll be able to continue to maintain it,” Amaker said.

The young leading the young

On Monday, Amaker said he was wary of the young Eagles’ experience. Players like Ryan Anderson, Dennis Clifford and Lonnie Jackson had gotten a full season of minutes under their belts in 2011-12, he said, unlike his young players who mostly sat on the bench during a veteran-led run to the NCAA tournament.

Amaker said he thought that experience might pay off for BC.

That’s not exactly how it turned out on the court Tuesday, with the Eagles playing little or no defense and then struggling against the Crimson D.

BC shot 58.1 percent from the floor for the game, but allowed Harvard to shoot 54.9 percent and lost by 16. After the game, Donahue sounded bewildered looking at the numbers.

Part of the problem, he said, isn’t experience per se but the lack of an example.

“Ryan Anderson, Cliff, they don’t understand exactly what my vision is because there’s no one that did it in front of them,” Donahue said. “That’s apparent tonight, [Harvard] did a great job.”

Donahue said guys like Steve Moundou-Missi and Wesley Saunders benefited greatly from watching the veterans in front of them last season.

“I love these guys, as I say all the time,” Donahue said. “I have great confidence that they’ll get it. And we’re gonna work extremely hard to do it. Unfortunately, and I know I sound like a broken record, but we’re gonna have some failures here.”

So far for the Eagles (3-5), those failures have included losses to Bryant and now Harvard.

Bumps and bruises?

Clifford missed the game against Harvard, sitting on the bench in a gray BC track suit with his right leg in a walking boot after spraining his ankle in the win over Penn State.

“The ankle’s pretty swollen and black and blue, I think he’s still a couple weeks away,” Donahue said of Clifford.

When asked if missing the big man from Milton Academy hurt the Eagles on Tuesday, Donahue demurred.

“I don’t know that he would’ve made a difference, I can’t say that,” he said.

Harvard was also without a big man, with Kenyatta Smith sitting out the game after getting banged up in practice this week. Amaker went small as a result, starting Jonah Travis and relying on a frontcourt rotation of Travis, Moundou-Missi, Michael Hall and Agunwa Okolie.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.




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