(Author’s Note – Look. I watched this whole game. I sat through Georgia Tech shooting over 70% in the first half, BC predictably cutting into the lead in the second half and then even more predictably BC blowing the game in the last few minutes. So just bear with me, read this nice recap I put together, cry with me, laugh with me, whatever. We will get through this together.)
Boston College dropped yet another one at home tonight, losing to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 68-60 before a sell o– okay there were like 12 people there. In familiar fashion, BC was vastly outplayed in the first half and faced a 15 point deficit after 20 minutes. Although Coach Donahue made some nice adjustments (Author’s Note – it took a lot for me to compliment Coach D there. In reality, they weren’t nice adjustments. They were painstakingly obvious adjustments that he should have made after the first 5 minutes. But let’s keep going.) Georgia Tech’s first half offense barrage proved too much for the Eagles to overcome. The Eagles fell to 5-14 (1-5) on a season that is quickly bordering on catastrophe. My takeaways…
Defense: In the first half, BC used mainly a half court, man-to-man defense. Or, my little personal nickname for it, the “tiny vanilla.” (Author’s Note – Because BC is small and the defense is plain and predictable! Get it? No. Okay let’s stop dragging this out…) It escapes me why Coach D keeps trotting this out every game. Our roster is comprised of undersized players who are apparently allergic to boxing out. A man-to-man half court defense allows the offense to waltz across court and set up their offense so that one of their bigs (usually someone over 6 foot 9. We wouldn’t know about any of those) can catch the ball in a favorable position near the basket. When this happens, the defense has 2 choices. 1) Allow your defender to keep defending the basket alone and hope he is either taller, stronger or more talented defensively than the other player (BC doesn’t have any of these players). 2) Double team the big leaving open either a perimeter shooter or another player near the basket.
This defense tends to succeed when your players are better or comparable defensively than the other team is offensively. (Think of the Seattle Seahawks defense playing the St. Louis Rams offense. You can leave Richard Sherman one-on-one with Tavon Austin and expect a good result.) Another negative impact of poor man-to-man defense is that it allows the offense to construct plays where they have a relatively high probability of fetching an offensive rebound if their perimeter shooter misses his attempt. Again, something BC is not particularly adept at (GT outrebounded BC 32-20). Therefore, it would seemingly behoove Boston College to employ a zone defense that is often preceded by some sort of trap or press. In this defense, BC uses it strength (fast guards and forwards who can pass and run well in transition) to its advantage while also forcing a minimum of 3 players near the basket when a shot goes up. Now given Boston College’s aforementioned allergy to boxing out, it seems logical to me that forcing some of the players to consistently defend near the basket may, by the luck of the Gods, increase their chances at grabbing a rebound.
If I, a 24 year old handsome but admittedly overweight blogger, can make logic of this, I am dumbfounded as to why our Head Coach cannot. Coach D switched to a zone defense (though to my dismay did not bring much pressure) in the second half and the Eagles held the Yellow Jackets to just 26 points. Too little too late, Steve.
Last point about our defense. I was reading an article earlier today that was published in the Boston Globe a couple years ago. It profiled my high school’s basketball team (Boston Latin School) and their unexpected 2 year turnaround from cellar dweller to league contender. Part of the article was an interview with our Head Coach, Brendan Smith, discussing the success of the team.
“We basically adapt our game plan depending on who we’re playing,’’ said Smith. “This group, being Latin School kids, and Latin School being an exam school, is very smart. They can absorb a lot of information and I can throw a lot at them from one game to the next.“I can say, ‘Guys, we’re going to press this team and really get up on them and go after them.’ Then I can turn it around the next game and say, ‘Alright these guys are a little bit faster than us, they pass the ball well. We’re not going to press these guys. We’re going to sit back and not take as many chances.’ ’’
What a concept. Playing to your strengths. Versatility. Using the assumed cognitive edge BC has with most other teams to your advantage. Wish Coach D read the paper.
Until Donahue and the boys from Chestnut Hill start playing with a little more heart and a lot more head, these losses are going to keep piling up. The phrase “worst BC basketball team ever?” could be the prevailing sentiment that follows this team for the rest of their lives.
This is my only takeaway from a snowy night at Chestnut Hill. Defense. Because if you don’t put every single iota of cognitive resource into fixing your defense, I don’t care how many plays you can pull from your fancy green notebook that worked wonders in the Ivy League. This is big boy basketball. This is where future pros play. It’s about damn time we played like we belong.
(Author’s Note – Don’t confuse my negativity with giving up on this team or being a bandwagon BC fan. Quite the contrary. I have watched BC basketball since age 8. 1997. My negativity is meant to show the seriousness of our incompetence and how hopeless, hapless and discouraging this season has been to our entire fan base. )