Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Boston College vs. North Carolina Recap. Well, That Was Brutal

Boston College-74 UNC-106. Yes, you are reading that score correctly. UNC dropped triple digits on BC last night in Conte Forum. UNC came up to Boston in the middle of a snow storm at 9 PM and made the Eagles look like complete fools on the basketball court. Everyone knew this Tar Heels team had talent. Harrison Barnes, John Henson, and Tyler Zeller are three of the best players in the country in terms of pure athleticism, but they hadn't put it together to play winning basketball this year. Luckily for UNC, one of the best cures for lackluster basketball is going up against the Eagles' defense, and last night BC did everything they could to make sure that UNC had one hell of a night. It seemed as if almost every defensive possession at least one BC player lost their man and allowed the Tar Heels to get an open shot. Don't believe me? Not only did North Carolina shoot 57.4% from the field, but they shot an insane 52.4% from beyond the arc. Yes, you read that right, UNC came into Conte and shot well over 50% from 3 point land. You know when the last time BC gave up that much offensive production from beyond the arc? Their loss to Yale when the Bulldogs shot an insane 57%.

So let's get into some specifics of what went wrong last night (with hilarious plays on famous movie quotes).

1. O Reggie, Where Art Thou?
Has anybody seen Reggie Jackson lately? You know, that guy who was averaging 19 PPG and 4.5 APG in ACC play and had many analysts thinking he was a darkhorse ACC Player of the Year candidate. Anybody seen him lately? Because ever since that FSU game some other guy has been putting on his uniform and pretending to be a basketball player. Seriously, look at his statlines the last few games.
FSU- 13 Points, 7 Assists. Not bad, you can live with the lack of points due to the huge assist production
Duke- 7 Points, 6 Assists. Not good. Not good at all. 6 assists are nice, but Reggie is a scorer, and the team depends on him to be just that. Reggie is the dynamic slasher this team needs so opposing defenses can't afford to completely focus on the outside shooters. If Reggie isn't threatening to drive the hoop, our long-range shooters suddenly become a lot easier to defend.
UNC- 6 Points, 3 Assists. Wow. Just awful. 6 points, and anyone who watched the game realized what an incredibly quiet six points this was. Reggie is in a definite funk right now, and the entire team is suffering because of it. He needs to break out of it in time for Saturday's home game against Virginia Tech.

2. Defense? We Don't Need No Stinking Defense
Actually, contrary to popular belief, defense can be relatively helpful to basketball teams. It can prevent, oh I don't know, an opposing team coming into your building and drop over 100 points on you! BC scored 74 points last night, which normally would be plenty of point to get a win in a conference game. But BC's defense (I use that term loosely) made sure that UNC was able to get an uncontested shot off almost every single possession down the floor. Granted, it didn't help that North Carolina was absolutely shooting the lights out from the floor, but BC did not help their cause by getting mixed up every possession and sometimes looking downright lazy on the court. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't one of Gene DeFilippo's main hiring points for Donahue the efforts that his teams made on both ends of the court? Because I think all us Eagle fans are still waiting on delivery of the defensive end of that bargain.

3. Frankly my Dear, I Don't Give a Damn (about a coherent player rotation)
Now, don't get me wrong. I like a deep bench for my teams. I'm a Knicks fan, and I'm friends with a Suns fan, so I've seen how D'Antoni's short benches can really hurt players in the long run. But last night's rotation from Donahue did not make any sense to me. Two huge examples:
1. Why was Kowalski on the court so early? This seemed absolutely crazy at the time and is still just as insane now. Kowalski is a serviceable player, to be sure, but it's baffling that he should be on the court so early in a huge in-conference game against an opponent with hugely athletic big men. Kowalski got burned by Zeller and Henson on both ends of the court and as soon as Kowalski got subbed into the game it started a huge 22-3 run for the Tar Heels that completely put the game out of reach in the first half.
2. I'm pretty sure Courtney Dunn deserves a little more than 1 minute. Dunn hasn't been a great player all year, but even still, we know from past experience that he can at least hold his own in ACC play and maybe be a spark off the bench. Donahue, inexplicably, left him on the bench as the rest of the team got burned on the offensive and defensive teams.

I don't think there are many positives to take out of this game. One obvious one, however, was the effort of Joe Trapani. Traps had a huge game last night, going for 25 points and 15 rebounds, and single-handedly kept this game from being one of the worst losses in decades. Trapani was the only Eagle who really showed up to play last night, and he deserves his props.

The Eagles have Virginia Tech coming to town on Saturday and that game is now an absolutely gigantic must-win. Not only from a resume perspective, but just from a team-confidence standpoint. BC just got blown out and exposed in 3 straight games and they need a win to fall back on and remind themselves that they are a good team. Here's to hoping they are.

I'll have my official game preview for the Virginia Tech game up by Friday, when hopefully some of the negative vibes from last night's debacle had dissipated. Thanks for reading, and don't forget to follow me on Twitter at DShaw31.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Boston College vs. North Carolina. Do or Die for BC?

Hello out there BC Sports fans. I have arrived, as the prophets foresaw, to breathe new life into this blog. I come to you at a crossroads for BC basketball. Up to this point, the Eagles have definitely defied any expectations that any reasonable fans had coming into the season. Come on, if I were to come up to you before the season and offer you the chance to be 14-7 with a win over a team from every power conference, including a win over top 15 Texas A&M, every one of you would have signed on the dotted line (and incidentally given me control of your eternal souls). Don't forget this past offseason, Coach Al Skinner was fired and Rakim Sanders, Evan Ravenel, and every one of our incoming recruits fled the scene. This was not a pretty scenario for Coach Donahue to walk into. And yet here we are, 14-7 with a new excitement surrounding the team, and the North Carolina Tar Heels on the horizon.

And yet, with this new success comes new expectations that must be met. Before the season, most fans would have been happy with a .500 season and a program that is looking like it's moving in the right direction. But now, with some signature wins under our belt, the Tournament is no longer quite so pie in the sky. But BC's two losses at home to Ivy League schools will really hurt these chances. That's why tonight's game against UNC is so huge. BC needs another big, in-conference win to really boost their resume. There are some more chances down the road for BC to gain some big wins, but tonight's game at Conte Forum will be a huge chance for BC to set the tone for the rest of the season and get the taste of the two game losing streak out of their mouth.

Keys to The Games

Can Josh Southern Keep Up With Tyler Zeller- Zeller is UNC's 7 foot forward who is averaging 13.8 PPG and 7.1 RPG. Zeller is a dynamite post player on both offense and defense, and Southern will have to stay strong against Big Z (I'm calling him that), but make sure to stay out of foul trouble. One more thing, even if Zeller is contained, the 6-8 John Henson just went off against NC State the other night, going for 16 and 16, so BC will definitely have its hands full down low.

Will the Threes Start to Fall Again?- This entire year BC has lived and died by the Three Ball. The last two games (against two great defensive teams mind you) BC has only shot about 35% from beyond the arc. While those are nice numbers for most teams, it's not going to cut it for a team whose main weapon in the long ball (Impressed by the amount of 3 point euphemisms I just used?). BC needs to knock down their open shots and get some extra points on the board because there is no way BC is going to win with their 222nd ranked scoring defense.

Get to the Line- The Eagles need to get to the foul line early and often and hit their shots from the charity stripe. One theme that will be a constant for me on this blog are the Three Key Stats to Winning Basketball Games (or TKSWBG for short. I'll think of something more clever someday.) The three key stats are Free Throws Made, Offensive Rebounds, and Three Pointers made. Normally if a team wins two of these three categories, they win the game. This is because all of these stats give the team more Points Per Possession, which is the key stat in basketball. We know BC will get outrebounded in this game due to the lack of size and the fact that they are awful at rebounding, but if they can knock down their Threes and Free Throws, BC can easily pull out a victory over the Tar Heels.

Boston College- 78 North Carolina- 71. BC is back riding high in the ACC standings