Thursday, December 28, 2006

Painful Loss

BC went down to Duquesne tonight in overtime 98-93, believe it or not. I am stunned. The Eagles blew a 10 point lead with 4 minutes left, and a 3 point lead with 2 seconds left in regulation. It was a weird one. With Jared Dudley, John Oates and Akida McLean all in street clothes, most of the other rotation guys stepped it up, in particular Ty Rice (29 pts, 8 assists), Sean Marshall (30 points), Marquez Haynes (12 points) and Sean Williams (19 points, 13 blocks). But shrinking violet Shamari Spears looked like a scared freshman for the second straight game. He was horrible on defense and invisible on offense (0 points). Tyrelle Blair, the big beneficiary of the Dudley minutes, was likewise underwhelming (0-2 fg, 3 pts, 4 boards, 21 minutes). He continues to show me that he is nothing more than a backup center who should only see the floor when Williams or Oates is in foul trouble. Tyler Roche (4 minutes) was the only other player to see any time, and Skinner had a quick hook with him.

For a while there, I thought we were going to see Sean Williams break the NCAA block record (14), as he had double figures in the first half. But Al Skinner inexplicably played one-dimensional Blair with Williams most of the second frame, and they seemed to be tripping over each other. The combo was good for blocks (Blair had 4), but the overall team defense was atrocious as a result ( a lot of "ole" trying to set up the blocks), and the Dukes put up big numbers in the second half and in overtime on layups and free throws.

If there is one, the silver lining here is that Haynes had a solid game, and Rice and Marshall found their stroke from downtown (20-37 combined). But Marshall missed the big shot again. With a chance to tie late in overtime, he tossed up an airball on a wide open three. He is just NOT a bigtime player.

Lastly, it should be noted that the referees played an unusually significant role late in the game. In overtime, Sean Williams was whistled for an intentional foul for dropping an f-bomb at the ref after a call on Blair (very stupid - he deserved it), and then again for grabbing a Duke's shirt on a breakway (ticky-tack). Those calls pretty much iced the game for Duquesne, the best free-throw shooting team in the A-10.

This loss is a serious, serious blow to BC's tourney hopes. Losing to Vermont early is one thing, but it's almost January, and Duquesne is a bad team. Even if BC does well in conference play, it will be a struggle to reach 20 wins, usually the benchmark for an at-large bid. The committee may look at this game as one in which the Eagles were missing 3 of their top 7 rotation guys due to injury, but they also might say a team like BC should be able to beat Duquesne handily with their backups. I would agree with the latter. Losing at home to Vermont and Duquesne in the same season spells N-I-T, ask anybody from the 02-03 NIT team (19-12 overall, 10-6 Big East but lost to Holy Cross and Northeastern at home).

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