In a powerhouse basketball conference like the ACC, both Boston College men’s and women’s basketball have long been the underdogs. Women’s basketball hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2006, and men’s basketball hasn’t gone dancing since 2009.
With the construction of the Hoag Basketball Pavilion, though, BC women’s basketball head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee and men’s basketball head coach Earl Grant are optimistic that basketball at BC will make progress. Both coaches acknowledged that the construction of the new facility will help put BC on the same playing field as its ACC competitors.
“The new Hoag Pavilion will allow us to have unlimited access to our training facility,” Bernabei-McNamee wrote in a statement to The Heights. “Skill and strength development are essential when building and sustaining success. Having this dedicated state-of-the-art facility will allow us to attain our long-term goals of thriving in the ACC and being a consistent presence in the NCAA tournament.”
The majority of BC’s conference competitors already have basketball-specific practice facilities. Syracuse, who has made it to the NCAA Tournament eight times in the past 10 tournaments, opened the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center, a $19 million facility that houses its men’s and women’s basketball programs, in 2009.
Duke, which made nine of the last 10 tournaments and won the National Championship in 2015, constructed the $15.2 million Michael W. Krzyzewski Center in 2008.
BC’s new 40,000 square foot facility, funded through a $15 million gift from University trustee Michaela Hoag, BC ’86, and her husband Jay, will be dedicated solely to BC’s basketball programs. It will connect to Conte Forum and include a 10,700 square foot practice gym, six courts, instructional areas, a strength and conditioning center, a sports medicine center, and locker rooms.
Both Bernabei-McNamee and Grant acknowledged that having a high-quality, basketball-specific space will aid BC in the recruitment process. Showing a commitment to basketball’s long-term success at BC, Grant said, will be crucial in competing for top recruits.
“Most times when you recruit anybody, one of the things they want to know is how important basketball is to the school,” Grant said. “You can talk about ‘Hey, it’s important,’ but when you put action behind it, and they say ‘Wow, I see a facility coming. I believe you. It’s important,’ I think that opens their eyes.”
Bernabei-McNamee said that when it comes to drawing recruits to campus, the facility will be another tool in BC’s shed beyond a high-quality education and a beautiful campus.
“The Hoag Pavilion puts us on an equal playing field with other Power 5 schools,” Bernabei-McNamee wrote.
Aside from its role in recruiting, the facility will help develop BC’s returning players over time, Grant said.
As construction on the facility required the demolition of Power Gym, BC’s former basketball practice location, both teams have transitioned into holding practices inside the Margot Connell Recreation Center.
“The transition has been smooth,” Bernabei-McNamee wrote. “The staff at Connell have been very accommodating to our players and coaches. We have been very fortunate to have such a beautiful facility to practice in during this time of construction.”
Grant echoed her sentiments, acknowledging that the Connell Recreation Center is a higher-quality facility than most student recreation centers.
“[The transition’s] been great because the facility is great,” Grant said. “Now, if we didn’t have that nice facility, maybe it would’ve been a challenge. … But that’s a high-level facility. That may be one of the best student rec centers [I’ve seen] in 23 years of being in college athletics.”
Last season, men’s basketball made it to the quarterfinal of the ACC Tournament before falling to Miami. Women’s basketball earned the No. 1 seed in the National Invitation Tournament for its first postseason appearance since 2011.
Both Grant and Bernabei-McNamee said they are looking forward to building upon their performances from last season and are excited for BC’s future in the conference, a future in which the Eagles’ facilities compare to those of their competitors.
“It’ll restore some of … the history of the rich basketball program that we have,” Grant said. “It’ll only lift our program up.”