Although Boston College lead for a better part of the second half, the #2 Syracuse Orange survived a scare, defeating the Eagles 69-59 at a sold out Conte Forum. Lonnie Jackson gave the Eagles an offensive spark hitting 6 3s, while Anderson (14 points) and Hanlan (13 points) gave BC moments of true offensive balance. BC’s turnovers plagued them in the first half but their determination on defense and acumen from the 3 point line gave them a lead as high as 8 in the second half. Syracuse’s late domination on the boards and BC’s cooling from the three point line led to their ultimate demise.
It was great that BC made a game of this to begin with but I can’t help leaving frustrated. For most of the game, BC held their own against the #2 team in the country, playing hustle defense, helping on the block and shooting aggressively from beyond the arc. Their loss wasn’t as disappointing as was their sudden injection of emotion and effort. It is normal for teams to play with an extra pep in their step when it is before a sell-out crowd against a highly ranked team. But this game was nothing more than a tease. A tease of how much talent this team has and how devoid of poise they’ve been all year.
Ah, well. Onto the takeaways:
Lonnie Jackson: Jackson kept this game exciting, going 6-9 from beyond the arc and providing this team with some much needed hustle as a perimeter defender. He is putting together a string of pretty good games, which begs the question: where were his minutes earlier in the year? Donahue has tried a million different rotations to make up for his lack of size but you got the feeling he should have been more of a focus earlier in the year.
Effort: I feel like I use this word too much but it’s really the only one that can truly capture BC’s biggest problem. At the end of the first half and beginning of the second half, BC was active on the perimeter, boxed out down low, and yes, hit a majority of their three pointers. But once the game started getting away from them, the same old Eagles reared their ugly heads. The offensive rebound by Jerami Grant with 1:09 left is the perfect example. Eddie Odio had position on him at the onset, but when the shot went up, he put his eyes on the ball and did not concentrate on getting a body on Grant, essentially sealing the game for the Orange. Part of this lies on the players, but a lot of it falls onto coaching. If the Head Coach isn’t benching players who won’t box out – and if not benching then something that makes them get the point- the players aren’t going to get it.
Size Matters: Another big reason why BC kept this game close was because of Syracuse’s size – or rather lack thereof. ‘Cuse does not start a player taller than 6 foot 8 and it allowed BC to establish a rebounding presence in the first half. While the roof caved in a bit in the second half, it seems evident that BC matches up much better against smaller, faster teams like Syracuse than big, physical teams like UMass. BC still lost the rebounding battle 29-24 but at least could compete for most of the game.
While it was nice to see Conte packed (albeit with a good amount of ‘Cuse fans) this game was still disappointing. Disappointing that they lost of course, but even more disappointing that we caught a flickering 2 hour glimpse of what might have been. It’s clear this should not be a 4-12 basketball team.
*UPDATE* It seems BC Center Dennis Clifford injured his ankle in warm-ups and was a late scratch. I meant to whine about him not playing in the recap but I have so many other things to whine about sometimes I forget.