Friday , Nov , 10 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Eagles hope to soar past Wildcats in season opener

Chestnut Hill, MA (Sports Network) – The 15th-ranked Boston College Eagles
enter the season with high expectations once again, and they will try to
get things started on a high note when they host the upset-minded New
Hampshire Wildcats in non-league play from Chestnut Hill tonight. The Eagles
have been among the top programs in college basketball over the last several
seasons, and that is no more evident than in the fact that they have averaged
24 wins per season over the past four years. Last season, Boston College won a
school-record 28 games en route to its first Sweet 16 appearance since 1994.
Despite a couple key departures from last year’s club, head coach Al Skinner
stills has plenty of talent and experience left over to have the Eagles
competing at a high level once again.

As for New Hampshire, it showed improvement under first year head coach Bill
Herrion in 2005-06, despite finishing just 12-17 overall. Still, with four
starters back from last year’s group, the Wildcats could make a serious run
at a winning campaign this time around.

With regards to the all-time series, Boston College owns a 20-6 advantage over
New Hampshire, including an 84-62 triumph in the team’s most recent meeting in
2004.

Leading the way for the Wildcats in 2006-07 is Blagov Janev, who was a
First Team All-America East Conference selection last season. The 6-8 Aussie
was the only player on the roster to average double-figure points (14.4 ppg)
last season, in addition to leading New Hampshire in rebounding (4.5 rpg) and
three-point field goals made (2.0 per game). The Wildcats will turn to Mike
Christensen (9.4 ppg) and a pair of freshmen in Sam Herrick (6-11) and Seth
Price (6-7) to help take some of the pressure off Janev in the frontcourt.
Tyrece Gibbs (6.8 ppg) and Jermaine Anderson (8.0 ppg) along with juco
transfer Jude Roybal (7.3 apg) should form a solid backcourt for the Wildcats
in 2006-07.

For the Eagles, it all starts with forward Jared Dudley, who is one of the
most experienced and versatile players in the country. The 6-7 senior has a
bevy of offensive moves and is coming off a 2005-06 campaign in which he
averaged 16.7 ppg and 6.6 rpg. With even more of the offense expected to run
through Dudley this season, don’t be surprised to see him post even better
numbers this time around. There will be plenty of help up front in the form of
juniors John Oates (6-10, 255) and Akida McLain (6-8, 220), although McLain
has been suspended nine games for violating team rules. Freshman Shamari
Spears (6-6, 245) is a big body who could eat up valuable minutes down low. As
for the backcourt, Tyrese Rice is set to lead the team after averaging 9.3 ppg
as a freshman last season. He will be joined at the perimeter by Sean
Marshall, who averaged 11.1 ppg behind 36.7 percent shooting from long
distance last season.

Boston College is the more talented team from top to bottom and with a big
game from Dudley and company it should have no trouble cruising past New
Hampshire tonight.

BOSTONCOLL NHAMPSHIRE