I sat here debating between giving Donahue a B+ and an A- for a good half hour before deciding on going with the higher grade. Here are some of the positives and negatives that I've seen in the basketball program thus far for the year.
- Player development. Simply put, our young guys are improving, even if it isn't as quickly as we might like. Unless you're Kentucky (and we're not), putting five freshmen on the floor will not win you many games. I honestly thought that we would win more games this year, but with hindsight I think that expectation was unfair and based on the perception that the team over-achieved last year.
- Presence in the Paint: We are finally developing the presence in the paint that we're been missing since the team dismissed Sean Williams. Caudill and Clifford are ACC-worthy big-men, and should be dominating by 2014. It's important to have credible threats in the paint if we want to start placing shooters on the perimeter.
- Commitment to the Future: This one doesn't need a lot of explanation. We're playing for 2014-2015 right now. We need to grow a team that can compete with Duke and UNC. Once we can honestly compete with Duke and UNC once every four or five years, we can begin concentrating on beating them more frequently. For now, baby steps...
- Culture: This team works hard and represents the school well. I firmly believe that BC will never win an ACC Championship Game in either football or basketball with a "player's coach." This means staying on top of players and developing them during practices, with their academics, and as human beings. It's worth noting that Donahue leads by example here and seems to work some pretty insane hours.
- Student Optimism: When I came on campus as a freshman in 2006, most students received "half-season" packages because there simply weren't enough tickets to go around. Those days are long gone, but Donahue is slowly bringing the fan base back. Every game seems to have increased fan support, and before long, these guys are going to be playing in front of a packed house. It's great to know that Donahue isn't above doing whatever it takes to sell the program and the team to students and alumns in order to help out the ticketing office.
- Turnovers. This team has been plagued by sloppy play from Day 1. Obviously Donahue can't dribble the ball up the court himself, but he needs to find a way to instill more discipline in his players when it comes to passing and decision-making. Some of this will come with experience but the early results have fallen below expectations.
- Transition Defense: Too often, our guys "end" the play when a shot is missed on the offensive end and don't get back on defense in time to set up for the opponent's play. One of the reasons Donahue has his guys do so much cardio is because the play never really stops. We need to start having that mentality.
- Recruiting. I thought that having a much smaller incoming class this year would have helped Donahue cherry-pick a few stud players who could start as early as their sophomore season. It would be nice to pair four of this year's freshmen with a stud or two next year. Instead, we have two three-star guys. While Reggie Jackson was a three-star guy, it doesn't look like either of the incoming freshman will be of the same caliber as Anderson and Clifford, and I think that will handicap the program in the next few years.
- Number of Games Lost: The fact that BC dropped so many games early in the year was a result of the combination of a large rotation of players receiving minutes and the inexperience of having so many freshman. While Donahue certainly needed to get as many players as possible into real-game situations, the losses certainly affected morale as they began to pile up.