|BC’s Reggie Jackson: ‘I believe it’s all of our fault’||03.13.11 at 8:15 pm ET|
The last three days have been a roller coaster of emotions for Boston College coach Steve Donahue.
On Friday in Greensboro, N.C., the Eagles were hammered by Clemson in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament, a crushing blow to their NCAA tournament hopes.
On Saturday, Donahue headed over to Boston University’s Agganis Arena and watched his old friend Patrick Chambers engineer a dramatic comeback against Stony Brook in the America East championship game, punching BU’s NCAA tourney ticket in Chambers’ second season as coach there.
On Sunday, Donahue’s team was passed over for the NCAAs before accepting an NIT bid. Donahue wasn’t surprised, but the finality of the situation brought some disappointment.
“We got what we deserved. That’s the bottom line,” he said. “We’ve got to work harder, we’ve got to do things better.
“Unfortunately for the older guys, which is the majority of the guys, they don’t get that opportunity. That’s where my real disappointment lies, in Joe [Trapani] and Biko [Paris] and Corey [Raji] and Josh [Southern] and all the seniors. I would hope that the other guys in the locker room and the future guys, we’re going to have to do a lot of things to get into the NCAA tournament. This isn’t just for a couple, if you’re a little bit better than everybody else. You’ve got to be exceptional.”
The BC team gathered at Conte Forum to watch the selection show. Junior guard Reggie Jackson, a follower of bracketology, said he knew early on — when Clemson was introduced as a 12th seed in an East Regional play-in game against Alabama-Birmingham — that the Eagles were out.
“The 12th seed, that’s the last seed for an at-large bid. I knew it was the season,” he said. “But I tried not to make any expressions, let them know what happened. [I was] keeping my hat low, just tried to keep my calm and composure. I knew by then we weren’t making the tournament, but I didn’t know if they did.”
Despite his disappointment, Jackson remained gracious, sending a text message of congratulations to Clemson guard Demontez Stitt. Clemson was the fourth and final ACC team invited, as Virginia Tech was left out despite tying Clemson and BC for fourth place in the league and advancing to the ACC semifinals with an upset of third-place Florida State in the quarterfinals.
“I believe it’s all of our fault — 12 teams,” Jackson said of the ACC’s lack of respect by the selection committee. “UNC, they finished out strong but they didn’t necessarily handle the games people thought they would handle early in the preseason. From top to bottom, besides Duke, we all had some tough losses out of conference. That really hurt us.”
However, Jackson said he thinks the league will show its strength in the postseason.
“I believe the ACC is one of the better conferences,” he said. “I will be surprised if not all four teams are in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. … I look for them to make deep runs, every team that made it in the ACC.”
Added Donahue: “I’ll put our top two against anybody. I’ll put our middle pack against anybody else’s middle pack. Yet, there’s 11 in one league [the Big East] and 3 1/2, basically, in another [with Clemson in a play-in game]. I don’t see the drastic difference. I’m being honest.”
Sunday night was bittersweet for Donahue, as his personal disappointment was tempered by his enthusiasm for BU’s Chambers, whose team is seeded 16th in the Southwest Region and will play Kansas.
“I don’t think people realize how difficult it is to get to the NCAA tournament, in particular if you’re not in one of the six major conferences,” Donahue said. “I have friends that have been in the business 20-25 years and they never get there, maybe once. You’ve got to be better than everybody in your peers. Not just a couple, top half, 11 out of 16, no. You’ve got to be better than your peers. Yesterday was just so exciting for Patrick. I wish them nothing but the best.”