Monday, January 21, 2019
Page 3

Top 25 poll: all shook up

As anticipated, lots of movement in the AP top 25 poll this week, with all of the upsets of the last seven days:

1. Notre Dame
2. Louisville
3. Connecticut
4. Baylor
5. Oregon
6. Stanford
7. Mississippi State
8. NC State
9. Maryland
10. Oregon State
11. Texas
12. Syracuse
13. Tennessee
14. Gonzaga
15. Marquette
16. Kentucky
17. Iowa
18. Minnesota
19. Arizona State
20. Iowa State
21. South Carolina
22. Florida State
23. Michigan State
24. California
25. Indiana

DePaul and Texas A&M out, and Florida State and Indiana in.

I’m especially geeked about the Hoosiers. They should have been ranked a long time ago.

Onward, into another nutty week……….

Coach’s Chair: Bob Boldon, Ohio University

Bob Boldon conducts a timeout. Photo by Abigail Dean, Ohio Athletics.
Bob Boldon conducts a timeout. Photo by Abigail Dean, Ohio Athletics.
Bob Boldon conducts a timeout. Photo by Abigail Dean, Ohio Athletics.

Now in his sixth year as head coach at Ohio, Bob Boldon has led the Bobcats to numerous program milestones. They were Mid-American Conference regular-season champions two years in a row, earned a program-best 27-win record and put up the most points in one season in program history. Ohio has advanced to post-season play four times under the in-state native, and several players have earned honors and broken records. In winning their conference opener Saturday, the Bobcats are 12-0 – one of only three unbeaten teams left in Division I.

Boldon was a standout point guard at Walsh College and led the team to the NAIA Final Four. He remains the school’s assists record-holder. Boldon was an assistant coach for 10 years under three different head coaches: Karl Smesko, Jodi Kest and Jerry Scheve. He was head coach at Youngstown State for three years before signing on with the Bobcats, turning a Penguin program that was 0-30 into a WNIT participant at the end of his tenure.

Boldon earned a Master’s Degree in liberal studies from Indiana in 2003.

You’ve become known as a turnaround expert. How has that process evolved?

Each time, it’s a unique process. I don’t think there’s an exact formula, or a time in which the process takes; it takes as long as it takes. In particular, at Ohio, this staff has been amazing, and it’s been great having them with me the whole time. It can be a grueling process, and there are a lot of bad days. You need a staff that believes in you and keeps the energy going.

You’ve got to take the jobs they’ll give you. When I got the Youngstown job, I was excited. I applied for the Ohio job, and when they released the list of applicants, it sat at 100 and I thought I had no chance. But a lot of them didn’t want to deal with (the rebuilding process). I was just grateful to be given a chance.

What are the characteristics of a Boldon-coached team?

I like to think we take care of the basketball and that we play hard. Throughout the years we’ve got it down pretty well – though not as well as I’ve hoped – but we’ve typically been in the top 10 or 15 in three-pointers. If we don’t turn it over, we tend to shoot it more than other teams do.

If I walked into an Ohio practice, what would I see?

What you wouldn’t see is a lot of standing around. People are very active, and practices are 75-85 minutes long. We do quite a bit of shooting, we play five-on-five every day, and we see a lot of interaction between the staff and players and coaches. We are all trying to help players get better.

Our fundamental job is to make every player as good as she can be. It doesn’t always feel good, because we’re often telling them what they don’t do correctly, but I applaud (my staff) because they have to be willing to tell players what they’re doing wrong. It takes a good player-coach relationship to be able to express that effectively. If you don’t have a good relationship with kids, they’ll tune you out. As a new coach, sometimes you have to deal with “the old coach didn’t do it that way” thinking. It’s almost easier to coach the players you recruited because of the relationship you built through recruiting. Both times I took over a program I initially knew more about those I had recruited than those who were on the floor. Relationships take time and you have to build trust; often times the previous coach wasn’t successful and that’s why the new coach is there.

How do you approach goal-setting with the team?

It’s pretty basic: we try to win every game we play. Our goal is to win the next game we play, and in order to do that we have to make improvements from previous game, whether we win or lose.

How do you define success? How do you define a successful season?

For a successful season, you have to look back and say, what could this team accomplish, and did it accomplish that? Too often we get caught up in, did you win 20 games, which is an arbitrary number to represent success and I don’t know why. Being 11-0 can mean different things for different teams.

If we won 22 and could have won 26, you have to take that into account and whatever comes with it. If that gets you a league championship, your boss will be happy with that, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. We have to take into account how well we played our schedule, because a lot of factors go into who we play and how we played them.

How did you begin coaching women? What is fun about coaching women?

Karl Smesko is a very good friend of mine, and when he had the women’s job at Walsh he asked me to be his GA. We won the national title that year, and he made it seem like coaching was easy. I just enjoy coaching. I often get asked if would rather coach women than men, and and I don’t really care – I just like coaching. At this point I’d rather coach women because I have strategies that work, and it wouldn’t be good to start over at my age.

How has the game changed since when you played it?

The biggest difference from playing is the hand checking and the way you can guard. You used to be able to be way more physical. We used to chuck cutters, and you can’t do that now. The game has been moving to position-less basketball, and we’ve played that way for years. Now other people are catching up. I don’t necessarily like it (position-less). Everyone is shooting more now, and all five positions are shooting threes.

Have young people playing the game changed much from when you played?

I think that for young kids the game has become more structured. There are less kids out playing basketball in parks because it’s harder to get into gyms. I don’t know why, but gyms are locked up now, so everything is coach-run. When that happens, it hinders the development of kids.

When I was growing up, every good player had access to a gym. Now, that’s not the case. Maybe part of it is we have a heightened sense of security, but it’s lead to less open gyms and more team-run stuff. Everything is set for kids, so they aren’t as good of thnkers as they used to be.

How are you different now than when you first started coaching? What are the keys to evolving in the coaching profession?

When I started I thought I had to be a really good X’s and O’s person, and now I know I need to be a really good communicator. I’m still an X’s and O’s person, and it’s important to get your kids on a plan that works. But if you can’t communicate with your kids what the plan is, it won’t work. If you can’t get them all on the same page, then you might as well throw your plan in the trash.

What do you want players to take from your program when they leave it?

I hope we’ve installed a work ethic in our players and encouraged them to be able to do things on their own. That we’ve not been enablers and crutches to lean on, but challenged them to do more than what they thought they could do, bot on and off the court. And that we’d given them the confidence to take on the world. My biggest fear is that someone graduates and feels like we didn’t push her hard enough. For example, I wish I would have had a coach who told me to go hard with my left hand. When a player graduates, we went to know she’s the best she can be. With women, once they graduate, their basketball career is most likely over. I want to make sure we’ve enabled them outside of the basketball floor and have taught them about hard work and coming to your job even if you’re tired or hurt. I make sure they’ve prepared academically, and that we’ve pushed them to get A’s.

Is basketball life?

At times it has been. It’s been kind of a roller coaster. At times it’s been my whole life and at times it’s been too much. One of my biggest challenges is to have some balance. That I’m still treating my family and friends properly. There were a number of years where my life was dictated by winning, and I had a hard time with losing -I didn’t handle it really well. I’m trying to find some balance to that, but not a lot, mind you. I don’t want to have too much balance in my life. I don’t know how good you can be with too much balance. I try to do a good job being balanced, but I don’t want to do too good a job because I’d be a terrible coach.

NC State’s Grace Hunter to miss remainder of season

Grace Hunter has been NC State's leading scorer this season. Photo courtesy of NC State Athletics.
Grace Hunter has been NC State’s leading scorer this season. Photo courtesy of NC State Athletics.

Per a statement released by North Carolina State, redshirt junior guard Grace Hunter will miss the remainder of the season. Hunter suffered a torn ACL in Thursday’s 63-51 win over Duke.

The injury will be a tough one for the Wolfpack to overcome. Having already lost point guard Kaila Ealey in the preseason, their back court will now be even thinner moving forward. Hunter has been integral to NC State’s success this season. Starting every game and playing 31 minutes a night, she helped guide the team to their current ACC-best, and best start in program history, 15-0 record and a No. 9 ranking. Before the injury, Hunter averaged 14.6 points on .503/.227/.800 shooting splits along with 2.9 assists, 6.9 rebounds, and 12 total steals on the year – the best on the team.

Coach Wes Moore will have to make up the difference with his remaining arsenal. Based on playing time and production so far this year, it is likely sophomore Kai Crutchfield and redshirt senior Armani Hawkins will be tasked with increased responsibility. Moore has proven more than capable of getting the best out of his players and recalibrating on the fly in Raleigh, but sustaining his team’s perfect start without Hunter will be a significant challenge.

NC State host 9-6 Pitt and travel to 6-9 Virginia in their next two contests. Their first significant test without Hunter will come Jan. 20 against a 13-2 Virginia Tech squad that just took No. 14 Syracuse to the wire in overtime Sunday. The adjustments Moore makes in Hunter’s absence will likely determine the rest of the season.

 

Oh, what carnage is this?

Tomorrow’s AP top 25 poll won’t look very much like last week’s.

Upsets today:

Missouri edged No. 10 Tennessee, 66-64.

Illinois ran past No. 12 Minnesota, 66-62.

Indiana upended No. 15 Michigan State, 68-64.

LSU knocked off No. 21 Texas A&M, 63-52.

Almost upsets:

No. 6 Stanford 86, UCLA 80

No. 14 Syracuse 75, Virginia Tech 73

No. 18 Cal 66, USC 59

No. 22 Arizona State 76, Colorado 70

No. 23 South Carolina 62, Alabama 59

Barn burner game:

South Dakota prevailed over arch rival South Dakota State in two overtimes, 105-98.

More results:

No. 1 UConn 81, Houston 61

No. 2 Notre Dame 76, Georgia Tech 55

No. 3 Louisville 73, Duke 51

No. 5 Oregon 98, Washington State 58

No. 7 Mississippi State 86, No. 16 Kentucky 71

No. 8 Baylor 73, Texas Tech 56

No. 9 NC State 85, Boston College 69

No. 11 Oregon State 78, Washington 67

Auburn 64, Florida 56

Florida State 64, North Carolina 63

Utah 80, Arizona 64

Oklahoma State 75, TCU 71

Arkansas 85, Ole Miss 55

Georgia 71, Vanderbilt 64

Rutgers 74, Penn State 61

Xavier 63, Seton Hall 62 (OT)

Creighton 65, Georgetown 38

Drake 82, Illinois State 64

All scores

Tomorrow’s game schedule

College team news:

The Lady Vols need to fix their three-point defense, or they won’t last long in the Tournament.

Today’s Tennessee-Missouri game was testy.

Same old success for Central Michigan.

College player news:

Central Michigan’s Reyna Frost broke the MAC career rebounds record.

Former bench warmer Maddy Watters is shining in her starting role.

Injury news:

NC State’s leading scorer, Grace Hunter, is out for the season after tearing her ACL last week.

Stanford’s Nadia Fingall is out for the season with a torn ACL.

Utah’s Daneesha Provo is out for the season with a torn ACL.

Oregon State’s Kat Tudor is out for the season with a knee injury.

Green Bay leading scorer Frankie Wurtz is out indefinitely with a lower body injury.

All these injuries hurt my heart.

Three unbeaten teams remain in Division I

oday’s results:

Purdue slipped past Michigan, 71-70.

No. 4 Maryland 75, Ohio State 69

No. 17 Gonzaga 88, Pacific 65

No. 25 Iowa State 82, Kansas 73

Ohio 74, Buffalo 71

Kansas State 86, Oklahoma 56

Fordham 50, George Washington 38

Penn 66, Princeton 60

Rice 61, Louisiana Tech 51

Western Kentucky 75, Old Dominion 60

South Florida 63, Temple 53

Fresno State 66, Colorado State 55

BYU 55, LMU 44

Tennessee Tech 77, Belmont 72

All scores

Only three undefeated teams remain in Division I: Louisville, NC State and Ohio.

Tomorrow’s game schedule is unreal. The Cardinals face Duke and the Wolfpack takes on Boston College. The Bobcats are off until Wednesday.

College team news:

Navy is back on a winning track.

UConn has a bus load of worries.

Oregon State is thriving with its new look.

AAC preview.

College player news:

What Jordan Danberry’s rise means for Mississippi State.

College coach news:

Dawn Staley had a simple message for Te’a Cooper to take over the team.

Boise State’s victory today got coach Gordy Presnell is 650th career win.

WNBA news:

Salary cap situation for each WNBA team, as the league heads into free agency.

Kristi Toliver wants equal pay to coach in the NBA, but under WNBA rules, it’s not that simple.

Wild West kind of night

Upset:

UCLA upended No. 18 Cal, 84-79, in OT. Michaela Onyenwere lead the way for the Bruins with 29 points.

Almost upsets:

No. 6 Stanford found another gear to stave off USC, 72-64.

No. 11 Oregon State rallied late to beat Washington State, 76-69.

A Reili Richardson buzzer-beater sent No. 22 Arizona State past Utah, 65-63.

More results:

No. 5 Oregon 84, Washington 71

No. 20 Marquette 96, No. 24 DePaul 63

Arizona 69, Colorado 67

Northeastern 79, Elon 71

Towson 55, Drexel 54

Butler 62, Seton Hall 59

Drake 92, Bradley 63

Villanova 54, Creighton 52

All scores

Tomorrow’s game schedule

College team news:

UConn’s loss to Baylor puts the seniors in an unusual position.

The Huskies take a step forward with the loss.

What went wrong for UConn, and what’s next?

The Huskies’ loss doesn’t change their season outlook.

Early offense continues to fuel Georgia.

No. 25 Iowa State is still seeking its first road win.

Dayton is confident entering A-10 play.

Ball State is showing improvement as MAC play begins.

College player news:

Minnesota’s Kenisha Bell is eager to prove she’s more than just a scorer.

Oregon’s Erin Boley is finding connections between being an athlete and being an artist.

WSU’s new coaching staff is helping Borislava Hristova reach new heights.

College coach news:

Q&A with Oregon State coach Scott Rueck.

After their first loss, Lindsay Whalen wants the Gophers to channel their inner Lynx.

High school news:

Calls for Maori Davenport to be reinstated are making waves on social media.

No. 8 Baylor takes down No. 1 UConn, 68-57

Three upsets today, and the biggest one was:

No. 8 Baylor took down No. 1 UConn, 68-57, ending the Huskies regular-season winning streak at 126 games.

Also……

Northwestern upended No. 15 Michigan State, 70-62.

No. 23 South Carolina rallied to toppled No. 21 Texas A&M, 60-57.

More results:

Miami handed previously-undefeated Virginia Tech their first loss, 68-61.

Denver snapped South Dakota’s 15-game Summit League winning steak with a 104-99 win.

No. 3 Louisville hung on to beat North Carolina, 73-66.

No. 19 Iowa held of Nebraska, 77-71.

No. 9 NC State 63, Duke 51

No. 10 Tennessee 78, Auburn 69

No. 14 Syracuse 84, Clemson 75

Penn State 71, Wisconsin 64

Wright State 85, Green Bay 67

Georgia Tech 81, Boston College 76

Florida State 63, Virginia 61

Georgia 63, LSU 50

Missouri 78, Ole Miss 55

With UConn and Virginia Tech sustaining their first loss of the season tonight, there are five unbeaten teams left in DI: Louisville, NC State, Utah, South Alabama and Ohio.

All scores

Tomorrow’s game schedule features Pac-12 and Big East action

College team news:

Pac-12: Arizona is riding a streak, Cal is regrouping and Oregon is prepared.

The Ducks open the season as the hunted.

Improved Stanford has high hopes entering Pac-12 play.

Can Utah’s magic last?

Cal is eager for the Pac-12 after their upset loss to Harvard.

Arizona may be way ahead of schedule.

FGCU wants to write their own history en route to a conference championship.

South Florida has lost another top scorer to injury.

College player news:

Lamar’s Chastadie Barrs became only the fourth player in NCAA history to notch 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 500 assists and 500 steals.

Amber Smith is helping Missouri inside and out.

Iowa State’s Kristin Scott could be “scary good.”

Joanna Grymek continues to progress for the Beavers.

College coach news:

How Chelsea Newton became a vital coaching asset for Georgia.

High school news:

Remember Azzi Fudd’s name.

Rutgers recruit Maori Davenport says her lost senior season “hasn’t gotten any easier.”

Incoming Gamecock Olivia Thompson knows her role: draining three’s and bringing energy.

The conference play jump off has begun

Today’s results:

TCU downed West Virginia, 62-48, for their eighth straight win. They are 12-1, a program record.

No. 13 Texas stopped Oklahoma State, 60-51.

No. 25 Iowa State 96, Kansas State 58

Oklahoma 66, Texas Tech 61

Duquesne 54, Temple 53

All scores

Several great games on tap tomorrow

College team news:

Why Baylor must beat UConn on Thursday.

As 2019 begins, so do Big 12 match ups.

The state of the CAA going into conference play.

The Patriot League opens conference play tomorrow.

For Philadelphia’s six teams, their Tournament fates will be determined in conference.

Notre Dame is out to claim their ACC hardware.

By the numbers: how Oregon State stands in the NCAA.

The Beavers are ready for the Pac-12.

Iowa relishes the chance to “fix” last year’s losses to Nebraska.

Everything you need to know about Hawkeyes-Huskers.

Is Kentucky’s success a fluke? The SEC will sort that out.

Five key issues and storylines to watch for with South Carolina.

New-look Boston College aren’t underdogs anymore.

Five questions for UConn going into the season’s second half.

Florida State enters ACC play looking to continue positive momentum.

The Husker’s defense is showing improvement.

Portland State looks to get back into the win column tomorrow.

CSUB is on a skid entering conference play.

College player news:

Asia Durr is lifting Louisville by remaining patient.

Why Cierra Porter rejoined Missouri for one more semester.

LSU’s player trio returns home to face Georgia tomorrow.

College coach news:

Kim vs. Geno: the tale of the tape.

Bracketology:

Bracketology is back.

WNBA news:

Can Breanna Stewart top 2018?

New-look Boston College “not the underdogs anymore”

Coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee talks to players before team introductions. Photo courtesy of Boston College Athletics.
Coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee talks to players before team introductions. Photo courtesy of Boston College Athletics.
Coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee talks to players before team introductions. Photo courtesy of Boston College Athletics.

If Boston College is unrecognizable to fans right now, that is understandable.

Last year the Eagles ranked 302nd in the nation in offense and cracked 70 points per game only four times all season long. They finished 7-23, which included a nine-game losing streak during ACC play. The previous year, they went 9-21.

This season, new coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee and her revamped roster, which includes seven freshmen, are playing quick tempo on both ends of the floor. They push the pace and green light shooters on offense, while committing to that same speed – and stifling pressure – on defense. Underpinning the whole operation is their awe-inspiring ability to crash the glass. The squad is averaging 80.8 points per game, reached last season’s win total on Dec. 7, and sit on an 11-2 record entering conference play tomorrow.

The emphasis on tempo and transition has revitalized the team, but players said changes began off the court with communication, and a shift in focus.

Junior guard Taylor Ortlepp said the team embraced Bernabei-McNamee’s vision and system early on.

“I think we felt a massive change in the style of play in preseason, definitely,” Ortlepp said. “The way that we were working on getting out in transition, on getting up and down … and in doing that, Coach Mac put a major emphasis on being disciplined. Everything we did, we had to do with purpose. She really instilled that in us, which made us focus more and obviously generated the offense that we have.”

Junior forward Emma Guy. Photo courtesy of Boston College Athletics.
Junior forward Emma Guy. Photo courtesy of Boston College Athletics.

Junior forward Emma Guy said that approach is working.

“We’re playing at our level, which would be playing fast but not rushed, and always just looking for the open shot,” Guy said. “Being able just to play the game and make reads, that’s our style of play.”

That urgency and purpose has translated on defense as well. Last year the Eagles were 257th nationally in scoring defense and 306th in turnover margin. This season they are 78th and 51st, respectively, with their turnover rate better than six current AP top 25 teams. Playing at tempo defensively works because the team knows their most vital commitments must be speed and communication.

“We have to make a big, conscious effort to get back on defense,” junior forward Georgia Pineau said. “We get told a lot that….our first three steps have to be a a flat-out sprint, and that’s what triggers the defensive transition from everyone. We also have really good communication on the court most of the time.”

Freshman forward Taylor Soule, who started the first 12 games for Boston College this year before sitting out their last match up with a minor ankle injury, said she and her teammates are always talking during games and in practice.

“We’re talking all the time on defense, even on the bench,” she said. “That level of communication helps everyone do our jobs … If I’ve learned anything, it’s that talking to the other girls on the court and just communicating makes everything ten times easier.”

Players are also meshing their talents together, and will take turns as stats leaders with unselfish play.

Junior forward Georgia Pineau. Photo courtesy of Boston College Athletics.
Junior forward Georgia Pineau. Photo courtesy of Boston College Athletics.

“At different times, people step up,” Pineau said. “In defensive transition, Taylor Ortlepp doesn’t crash the rebounds on offense, she’s the automatic ‘get-back’ person so at least we have one person back. So she directs us a bit in that aspect. … But we all talk a lot. As many people as we can get to buy into the process of communication and helping each other out, the better we’ll be.”

The uptick in tempo on both ends has been essential, but everything ultimately triggers off of how relentlessly the Eagles crash the boards. They currently sit at 14th in the country in their rebounds margin, eighth in total rebounds, 16th in rebounds per game, and seventh in offensive rebounds. Given a roster where only four players are at least six feet tall, those numbers are staggering. But Bernabei-McNamee has emphasized rebounds from the beginning, and she credited her team for buying in.

“Rebounding has always been a huge part of my basketball philosophy, and again you have to have a willing team that’s ready to buy into that,” Bernabei-McNamee said.

Guy said players have embraced the message.

“In our practices, we do rebounding in almost every single drill, no matter what. We’re always taught to crash the boards, box out, get after it, get after each other,” she said. “That’s the competitive side to ourselves coming out.”

Pineau said the team fully understands why boards are important.

“The two times we’ve lost the rebounding count, we’ve lost the games,” she said.

Off the court, the Eagles have been building culture and chemistry, which started with Bernabei-McNamee and her staff.

The veteran coach came to Boston College with a sterling track record. She has held several assistant coaching positions – most notably as a recruiting coordinator and assistant on Brenda Frese’s Maryland staff, where she helped guide the Terps to the 2006 National Championship. As a head coach, she held a 126-65 career record at West Virginia Wesleyan, Pikeville, and Albany, and won several coaching awards.

Bernabei-McNamee also brought two assistant coaches with her: AJ Cohen, a former video coordinator at Louisville, and basketball legend Yolanda Griffith, who has assistant coaching experience at both the collegiate and WNBA levels.

That continuity was vital, as the first job the new coaching staff had was to instill a sense of communal investment from players who hadn’t bargained for the changeover.

“I always surround myself with high-energy, positive people”, Bernabei-McNamee said of her staff. “Having that mindset that you know you can win, and then working really hard for the process, not so much the win. … And our players buy in and they believe in that as well.”

Bernabei-McNamee credits her team’s openness in embracing her and her basketball philosophies.

Junior guard Taylor Ortlepp. Photo courtesy of Boston College Athletics.
Junior guard Taylor Ortlepp. Photo courtesy of Boston College Athletics.

“The team really did belong to the [previous] coaching staff. But they really welcomed us with open arms, and they had a really big buy-in from the jump, not just to us as a coaching staff, but to each other as a family,” she said. “And I think that’s really what you see in the record right now.”

Guy believes that family mentality is what fuels the Eagles.

“I definitely attribute a lot of our success to our team chemistry in the locker room,” she said. “We’re able to joke around and just have a lot of fun with each other, and I really think that translates to our confidence level and the way we succeed on the court.”

Achieving that buy-in was made both more easy and more difficult given the number of newcomers on the roster. On the one hand, they didn’t have to uproot a lot of “this is how we did it before” thinking as they would have with a more veteran squad. On the other, they had to bring together a team that mostly hadn’t played together at all before.

“That is a blessing, that we got to come in with such a young team,”┬áBernabei-McNamee said. “And even the returners, I think, were hungry for change. So it was an easy buy-in process, but I also love the way they bought in to each other.”

Soule said the camaraderie players have formed is special.

“It’s so fun to be a part of. Fun is the biggest word I’d use,” she said. “Everyone here is giving [each other] a lot of confidence and saying ‘hey, you other guys out there can say whatever you want to say, but we’re proving a lot of people wrong.'”

Bernabei-McNamee wants players to feel that they are understood and valued.

“One of my biggest philosophies is to be the coach that you would’ve wanted when you were a player, so that’s what my coaching staff really buys into,” she said. “We all coach these players just the way we would want to be coached. And I think when you have that environment, and a coaching staff that all loves each other, you’re inevitably going to have a team that kind of emulates that love and that family atmosphere. We’re blessed with that right now, and I love that about this team.”

Pneau said the Eagles realized what they needed to do right away.

“It started early, like postseason last year when coach first came in,” Pineau said. “Right from the get go, at the beginning of the summer, that’s when it hit us. We realized that we had to have everyone’s mentality in check and everyone needs to buy in to the process for us to be successful. Right from the beginning, we made sure that everyone had that good attitude, good mentality. The want to win, want to change.”

Under Bernabei-McNamee, there is an invocation among the players: non-negotiables, which she characterizes as giving all-out effort at all times.

“Non-negotiables are all things that as players they have 100 percent control over,” she said. “It’s not things like shooting percentage or turnovers. Everything we set expectations on is something they can control. Athleticism, how athletic you are doesn’t matter, but as long as you’re giving that effort, you can usually accomplish it.”

“Everyone is going to be a team player, everyone is going to work hard. We are going to respect each other on the court. And we’re going to set the bar everyday to where we’re giving everything we have to improve.”

Soule said Bernabei-McNamee’s non-negotiables are her focus.

“The biggest thing for me that sticks out is heart,” Soule said. “Coach always says you could be the worst basketball player ever, but it only takes your heart and how much you care to be great. So every possession, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing or how we’re playing, but the non-negotiable we always stress going into games is just just playing your heart out every single possession.”

Pineau said they have confidence in one another, and Soule said all are treated as equals.

Freshman guard Marnelle Garraud. Photo courtesy of Boston College Athletics.
Freshman guard Marnelle Garraud. Photo courtesy of Boston College Athletics.

“On this team, we all have a level of respect,” Soule said. “For [freshman guard Marnelle Garraud] and I, it doesn’t really matter about age. No one is going to say ‘you’re a freshman so you can’t do this or can’t be involved.’ We all have a role in guiding this team.”

Bernabei-McNamee and her team are taking the season one practice and one game at a time.

“I asked [one of our players] the other day: ‘As a basketball team, what are our goals this season?’ And she kind of thought for a second,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “And I said ‘you don’t know them, right?’ Because we don’t talk about any certain goals that we have to hit. Our goal is to get better every day. That’s the expectation as a team.”

“Every time we go out to practice and every game we play, we don’t want to take any step backwards, we want to get better each opportunity we have together.’ And she said ‘good. got you.'”

Guy is optimistic about the Eagles’ chances.

“This team is special,” she said. “I don’t know what it is about us, but I think we can surprise the world, and we can surprise people in the ACC with what we’re able to do. As long as we’re playing BC Basketball, we’ll be able to surprise a lot of teams.”

As they prepare to face red-hot Georgia Tech tomorrow, Boston College is confident.

“Coming into the season, we had a bunch of expectations on ‘What are the Eagles going to do this year?’ and kind of an underdog mentality,” Soule said. “But I think now, several games in, it’s kind of switched. We already know that we’re a new team. We’re not the underdogs anymore. We just have to keep proving ourselves.”

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