May 30, 2007
CHESTNUT HILL One of the things Boston College used as a selling point to its fans in the switch from the Big East to the ACC was the attraction of the new league in terms of recruiting. In general, the BC hierarchy felt that the lure of the excitement of the new conference could make a difference when trying to bring new faces to the football and basketball programs.
In May, the Eagles landed transfer Joe Trapani, who played as a freshman at Vermont this past season. In addition to saying all the right things about playing for coach Al Skinner and going to an outstanding college in a great city, he uttered the words the school and the still-new conference love to hear.
"Playing in the ACC," Trapani said, "will be a big thing for me."
The 6-8 Trapani averaged 11.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game in his only season at Vermont, numbers that were higher before a January foot injury knocked him out of seven games in January and limited his play the rest of the way. He stunned Vermont officials with the announcement that he was leaving, and then he and his dad went on a tour that included BC, Providence, Northeastern and, away from the area, Michigan.
The Eagles won. Trapani will sit out next season, using the year to add some bulk to his 18-year-old body. He then should be a valuable piece of the puzzle for three years at The Heights. He isn't likely to be a star, but then again, considering the track record BC has with under-recruited kids, you never know.
BC fans got a glimpse of Trapani last season, when he scored 13 points at Conte Forum as his Catamounts upset the Eagles.
"It's good for us, a good fit, and I hope a good fit for him," Skinner told the Boston Globe. "What I told him was that if he was looking to be just an individual star, he might want to go somewhere else. At BC, we can offer him everything he wants. The level of competition is as good as it gets, and he will have a chance to show what he can do individually."
The Eagles, who are entering what could be a rebuilding season, with star forward Jared Dudley and the ousted Sean Williams about to go into the NBA draft a year after All-ACC forward Craig Smith went to the Minnesota Timberwolves, have a five-man freshman class coming in. Now, they have a sixth sophomore to join that group for the 2008-09 season, and the coaches believe that Trapani could be a 6-9, 240-pounder by the time he plays again.
"I just like the school, the city of Boston and playing for someone like Al Skinner," Trapani said. "I also had a good rapport with the guys I met on campus."
Strangely enough, Trapani could, during his practice-only season, watch his new team play all three of the other schools he visited. The Eagles will travel to Michigan in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, and they will play Providence in a Dec. 1 doubleheader at the TD Banknorth Garden, as part of a card that also will feature a Connecticut-Gonzaga matchup.
Talks continue on setting up a game with Northeastern, currently coached by former BC assistant Bill Coen. That's just a matter of working out an agreeable date. The teams played last year on New Year's Eve Day, before Coen's team became a major surprise in the Colonial Conference during the second half of the season.
The non-conference schedule is still being formed, but BC also will host Kansas on Jan. 5 in an ESPN game. Massachusetts and Rhode Island Skinner played at UMass and coached at URI also are on the home slate.
Meanwhile, the BC coaches are curious about what will happen in the June 28 NBA draft. While Dudley, a star in the ACC for the past two seasons, projects as a probable second-round pick because he doesn't have a pro position that's a great fit for his skill set, Williams is a really interesting case.
Talent-wise, Williams is every bit the player of most of the guys projected after Ohio State center Greg Oden and Texas wing Kevin Durant. Williams is one of the best shotblockers to come out of college since UConn center Emeka Okafor, and his offensive game is ahead of where Okafor was at the same stage. But the character issue the suspensions, and then being booted from the BC roster leave Williams as an uncertain NBA commodity.
Basketball people know what having Williams (and forward Akida McLain) could have meant to BC's fortunes last season. Now, the NBA personnel types have to assess whether the kid can overcome his off-court woes. The general feeling is, if he can, he'll be one of the steals of the 2007 draft.
FOOTBALL: ON SCHEDULES, FLUTIE
With Notre Dame set to come off the football schedule after a four-year series resumption (2007-10), BC still is working on adding what athletic director Gene DeFilippo calls a "marquee opponent."
Former Big East foe Syracuse already has been signed for a lengthy stay, starting in 2010, but the Eagles are talking about playing Southern California in 2011 and 2012, or possibly in 2013 and 2014.
"The ball's in their court now," DeFilippo said. "They have to make a move on their schedule but haven't made any movement yet. We'd like to have a marquee (non-conference) opponent on our schedule every year."
The Syracuse series is a real sign that the animosity harbored by many Big East schools against BC could be dying down.
"Well, there's a new AD (Dr. Daryl Gross) at Syracuse, and time has a way of curing a lot of things," DeFilippo said. "The Big East is doing well, we're doing well, the ACC is doing well. Time really does have a way of taking care of these things."
Heck, just the thought of Jim Calhoun bringing his UConn team to the same building as BC for a basketball game comes as a bit of a surprise, after Calhoun's outspoken reaction to the Eagles leaving the Big East.
In other news, DeFilippo noted that he and the entire BC community were "thrilled" when Doug Flutie was named as a member of the new class heading into the College Football Hall of Fame.
"And he did it in his first year, which is tremendous," DeFilippo said. "We're really excited for Doug. This is a thrill for anybody connected with Boston College."
Flutie, who will join Clemson linebacker Jeff Davis as this year's ACC inductees, got word of the honor a day after he was tabbed to enter the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. He is the first American to receive that honor.
"I guess that means I threw more than one pass," said Flutie, alluding to his famed Hail Mary throw, which beat Miami at the Orange Bowl in 1984.