Backcourt key to Boston College hopes in ACC
BOSTON (AP) — Boston College guard Ky Bowman has worked out with NBA MVP Russell Westbrook. Washington Wizards guard John Wall gave him advice.
What really helped Bowman get through a freshman year that included a season-ending 15-game losing streak, though, was playing alongside Jerome Robinson.
“He actually made a big impact on me,” Bowman said at the Atlantic Coast Conference’s media day. “Knowing that I’m not the only one playing with a chip on my shoulder, just to show others that we belong in the ACC, but also playing for our family and just having that determination.”
Fellow North Carolinians, Bowman and Robinson form one of the best backcourts in the conference this year, when BC (9-23, 2-16 ACC) hopes to win more games than it loses for the first time since 2011. Coach Jim Christian, who is in his fourth year, considers his guards the key to the turnaround.
“I think they kind of gained such a great respect for each other — from a work-ethic standpoint, from an appreciation for what the other guy was doing and what they’re trying to kind of build together,” Christian said. “They knew that they were going to be the foundation of what we did. So that naturally kind of bonds people together.”
A 6-foot-1 sophomore, Bowman was named to the ACC’s all-freshman team last year after averaging about 14 points, five rebounds and three assists. Robinson, a 6-foot-5 junior, averaged almost 19 points and four rebounds along with 3.4 assists per game but also played an important role in smoothing Bowman’s transition to college.
“He just felt like my little brother,” said Robinson, who has three younger brothers. “He just fit in with them, as well.”
Here are some other things to look for from Boston College this season:
Bowman said he worked out a couple of times with Westbook, who tutored him on not letting problems at home set him back on the court. He also spoke to Wall, who advised him to work on his change of pace.
“Just not going all out every single play,” Bowman said. “Slow it down, then speeding back up was like one of the main things that he actually got on me about. Change of pace is going to be a major key to my game.”
BIG MEN I
Graduate transfer forward Deontae Hawkins was the leading scorer on an Illinois State team that won 28 games and tied Wichita State for the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title last year.
“He’s bringing so many things that I didn’t even know he could bring,” Christian said. “He’s the best communicator on our team. He brings a toughness to our team, and really an appreciation for winning. ... He was a pivotal part of (Illinois State winning 28 games) and we haven’t had anything like that. So he’s been invaluable to us.”
BIG MEN II
Sophomore Nik Popovic was a potent rebounder (3.5 per game) in limited minutes (13.8 per game), so he could be help on the boards if he is able to keep up the pace with more playing time. Christian would also like to see Popovic be more productive around the perimeter.
“He had some really good moments for a freshman post player,” Christian said. “He did a really good job, I think, in spurts. Now he’s ready, I think, to hopefully take that next step and be consistent.”
Christian is 38 games under .500 in three seasons in Chestnut Hill. He had one season where he lost 19 games in a row — and didn’t win a single ACC game — and another where he lost 15 straight (and had two conference wins). He can’t afford another season where the team isn’t competitive in the ACC.