Ah, the in-conference blowout. Our old friend. We missed you.
Wednesday, the Boston College Eagles pulled off one of the great upsets in the history of college basketball with their road win over top-ranked and previously undefeated Syracuse Orange. Today, this Eagles team seemingly returned back to planet Earth as they were blown out of the BankUnited Center, losing to Miami 69-42. While BC once again featured a stout defense and rebounding in the first half only facing a 27-22 deficit, they could not keep up with Rion Brown (22 points) and the Hurricanes, as they were outscored by 22 points in the second half. Although Miami has followed up last year’s top 10 team with a disappointing .500 record (5-9 in the ACC) their run-and-gun offense proved to be leagues ahead of the Eagles. Some takeaways…
3 point shooting: On Wednesday, BC was deadly beyond the arc, shooting 11-22 from 3 including 2-2 in OT. Today against the Hurricanes, BC’s shots did not fall at nearly the same rate as they posted a nauseating 4-20 performance from 3 including 0-5 from Wednesday night’s hero Lonnie Jackson. Excluding one shot from Olivier Hanlan, the only Boston College Eagle to make a 3 pointer today was Patrick Heckmann who played well with 15 points and 4 rebounds. My main criticism of Donahue’s tenure at Boston College has been his offensive strategy. If BC, can hit close to 50% of their 3s, they can defeat any team in the country as we saw on Wednesday. But when they don’t, it can get ugly, fast. I am of the ilk that this kind of basketball, a 4 out 1 in high motion, cannot be successful in the ACC unless you have the best 3 point shooting personnel in the conference. This strategy allows the defense to play way too aggressive on the perimeter for BC to have much consistency. Since Ryan Anderson is the only player that often even reaches the free throw line, it allows the wings of a zone defense to play much more aggressively than they normally would because they do not have primary box out responsibilities. While this offense brought Donahue success in the Ivy League, the record shows it has been abysmal during his time at BC, today being a prime example.
Anderson/Hanlan: BC’s two “stars” were largely ineffective today combining for just 19 points on 5-15 shooting. More importantly, after a monster 14 rebound game against Syracuse, Anderson was invisible on the boards grabbing only 4 rebounds in 27 minutes. I don’t think it is outlandish to say that BC might have the worst rebounding team in their history. They currently sit at 339/351 in the NCAA in team rebounding and rank dead last for a power conference school. Some of that has to do with Donahue’s aforementioned system but it also has to do with the lack of physicality on the post shown by Anderson and others. Moreover, if BC hopes to carry over any momentum from their big win over Syracuse, Hanlan and Anderson are going to need to learn when to take over games offensively and start putting up shots. A game where the two best players on a team only put up 15 shots total is usually a sign that there are some issues with a system.
Rotation: Donahue is now strictly running a 6 man rotation with Rahon, Hanlan, Odio, Anderson, Heckmann and Lonnie Jackson. Other players such as Garland Owens got to see some limited time during the end of the blowout but both he and Alex Dragicevich no longer seem to be cracking Donahue’s consistent mix. While fatigue did not seemingly play a deciding factor in Wednesday’s win over Syracuse, BC noticeably slowed down defensively in the second half especially on the defensive boards and transition.
Any hopes that the win over Syracuse would ignite a fire under this team for the remainder of the season were quickly extinguished in Florida this afternoon. Joe Rahon said after Wednesday’s victory “After all we’ve been through and after the disappointing start we’ve had to the season, that’s something that we’ll never forget and you can’t take away from us.”
And that might be this year’s silver lining. They may be a disappointment of biblical proportions but no one can take away Wednesday’s win. To quote the great Humphrey Bogart: “We’ll always have Syracuse.”