BOSTON (AP) — Coming to a program that’s had one winning season in its last 10, Boston College coach Earl Grant knows it’s likely going to be a tough first year on the job.
“It won’t be a smooth ride,” he said. “If I was trying to get from here to London, there would probably be a little turbulence. It won’t be a smooth Learjet ride, this might be a prop plane you have to ride for a little bit.”
Grant was hired as BC’s 13th men’s basketball coach in March after spending seven seasons at the College of Charleston, where he took the program to the NCAA Tournament in 2018, ending the school’s 19-year drought.
The 44-year-old Grant replaced Jim Christian, who was let go with three games remaining in his seventh season. The Eagles finished with their third straight losing record, going 4-16 overall and 2-11 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
He's the third coach at The Heights since BC last made the NCAA tourney in 2009.
BC’s only winning season in the past 10 came in 2017-18 when it went 19-16.
The Eagles also enter with 10 consecutive losing seasons in the ACC and were picked to finish last in the league’s preseason poll.
Grant understands what’s ahead of him and wants to start with the basics.
“Just meat-and-potatoes stuff. It’s having a brand of basketball that people can appreciate,” he said. “It’s not going to be, ‘They won seven games in a row this year.’ But it might be, ‘They played well with a great collective, determined spirit.'"
Grant knows there’s a lot of work to do, but also knows the history of coaches that have had success at BC.
The program hasn’t been to the NCAA tourney since Al Skinner led them in '09 but reached the Sweet Sixteen under Skinner in 2006.
They made an Elite Eight with Jim O’Brien as head coach in 1994. Gary Williams coached them to Sweet Sixteen appearances in 1985 and ’83 after Tom Davis guided them to the Elite Eight in 1982.
“Hopefully, we can start a fire and get it burning and moving in the right direction,” Grant said. “I think it’s cyclical. Hopefully our cycle is about to go up. The previous program I coached at hadn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 1999. I heard that, but I wasn’t overly consumed with it.”
BC lost steady forward Steffon Mitchell after his senior season and had guards Wynston Tabbs (East Carolina), Jay Heath (Arizona State) and Rich Kelly (Massachusetts), along with forward CJ Felder (Florida), all transfer.
Makai Ashton-Langford, a 6-foot-3 graduate guard, his brother, DeMarr Langford Jr., a 6-5 sophomore swing player, and 6-9 senior center/forward James Karnik return and should see a lot of playing time along with transfers Quinten Post (Mississippi State), a 7-foot center, T.J. Bickerstaff (Drexel), a 6-9 forward, and 6-2 guard Brevin Galloway, whom Grant brought with him from Charleston.
BUILDING AND RECRUITING
The school committed to upgrade and expand the program’s practice facility. Grant said that helped him make his decision to take the job and feels it’s already paid off with four recruits coming next season.
“Enhancing the facilities and building a winner was intriguing,” he said. “I’ve got to imagine the four kids we already got, it had something to do with their decision.”
BRING THE ENERGY
Along with hoping to see some spirited play on the court, Grant wants to have the students bring it off, too. He spent time talking to the freshman class during orientation and handed out T-shirts around campus.
“I’m a freshman, too,” he said. “I told them anything that happens in the next four years in regards to basketball, we’re going to experience and make those memories together.”
Boston College opens with eight nonconference games before ACC play begins at home against Notre Dame on Dec. 3.
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