Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Thoughts on Tech

I can't decide whether BC should root for GTech over UNC tomorrow, or the other way around. On the one hand, if GTech pulls the upset, BC would have a decent chance of catching UNC for first place in the ACC, provided the Tar Heels went on to lose at home to Duke this weekend. But BC would also have to beat GTech in Atlanta, and a GTech win over UNC would mean BC would be facing a hungry Yellow Jacket squad with everything on the line for them -- a win gets them in and a loss sends them to the NIT. The arena would undoubtedly be packed with loud, screaming students, it would be one tough road game.

On the other hand, a loss would really take the wind out of GTech's sails. They'd be looking at the NIT no matter what they did against the Eagles. The arena would be about half full, and the GTech players would probably be playing letdown hoop.

Monday, February 26, 2007

This is Why I'm Still Worried...

The new polls came out a few hours ago, and BC got zero votes in the Coaches poll. ZERO! I know just about everyone thinks BC's 10 ACC wins are their ticket to the Big Dance, but I am still not convinced. After all, there were 47 other teams that got votes, and just 34 get at-large bids. So the fact that there is not a single coach among the 31 coaches in the Coaches Poll who thinks BC merits a vote over those other 47 is troubling indeed, especially given this is the final week of the season. I think those woodshed beatings by VTech and Duke on national TV have hurt BC's image more than people realize.

I know I've said it before, but I really think that if BC falls to GTech on Sunday, especially if they are soundly beaten, and then go down in the 1st round of the ACC tourney, they could very well be on the outside looking in. That would mean they lost 5 of 6 to close the season. BC has to beat the Yellow Jackets to lock it up.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Can BC Finish 1st in the ACC?

With Maryland upsetting UNC tonight, there is a chance -- albeit a sliver of one -- for BC to win the ACC regular season championship on tiebreakers. BC can't win it outright because Virginia and VTech play each other this week, meaning one will get to 11 wins. However, if BC gets by GTech next week, there is a scenario where BC wins and gets the No. 1 seed in the ACC tourney.

The first ACC tiebreaker, where two teams are involved, is head-to-head play. If the two teams split their meetings, then you compare their records against the top team in the league. If those records are equal, you move down the standings (against the second place team, third, fourth, etc.) until one team has an advantage. If there are more than two teams in a tie, you create a "mini-conference" and compare the head-to-head records of the schools involved. If there is a tie within the mini-conference, compare each team's records against the top team in the league and work down the standings until an advantage is gained.

The only way BC has a chance is if the Eagles are tied with Virginia and only Virginia, who they beat last month at Conte. If BC is involved in a tie with UNC, alone or with other teams, the Tar Heels have the edge by virtue of their victory over BC in their lone meeting. If BC is tied with VTech, although the teams split the home-and-home series, the Hokies get the nod because VTech swept UNC and at least split with Virgnina.

So to get Virginia alone in a tiebreaker, we have to root for Virginia to first beat VTech and then lose to Wake. Then we have to root for UNC to lose to GTech on the road and Duke at home, AND for VTech to lose to Clemson at home after the loss to the Cavaliers. Pretty unrealistic, I know, but fun to think about.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Clemson Game

Big win, though I don't think either team played well. But getting that 10th conference win is kinda like heading to the stripe down by one and making the first of 2 free throws. There'll be no pressure to win next week at GTech, and if BC can come out of Atlanta with a W, they'll coast into the NCAA tourney, and have a very good chance at tying for 2nd in the conference (Virginia and VTech play each other this week).

Also, this win pretty much locks up a bye in the ACC tourney. The only way BC could miss out on the bye is if Duke beats both Maryland and UNC, and the Eagles fall to GTech.

Dudley played great (23 points, 10 boards), and Rice was solid (14 points, but 4 TOs). Blair (5 boards, 6 blocks) was huge in the defensive paint - it was a completely different game down low when he was there instead of Mr. Soft.

On the negative side, Shamari Spears had another invisible game, and it sure looks like he's hit the rookie wall. In fairness, he reportedly had back problems, which is why Tyler Roche got the start. Roche was also invisible. So was Marquez Haynes, though he played some decent straight up D. Oates was bad again, but thanks to Blair not so bad he cost them.

Marshall had a weird game. A huge first half, but what the hell was up with him in the 2nd? It looked like he dropped a wager on the Tigers at the break. I counted 4 turnovers, and 2 shoulda couldas. When BC went up 44-38, he almost single-handledly let Clemson back in with 2 bricks and 3 turnovers in 5 straight trips down the floor. Then he missed the front end of a one-and-one with the Tigers clawing back. Aaaargh, he is such a frustrating player.

But enough bad stuff. I liked the effort today, I saw stretches of intense defense and passion that I didn't see at all in the Duke and VTech games. They need to keep it up next week and they need to again get big games out of at least two of the big three. GTech will be hungry, as they need a loud win to burnish their NCAA credentials.

I really, really, really want a win at GTech to make me feel comfortable. I know with 10 wins in conference and a Top 30 RPI, BC should be a lock even if they go down next week. But losing 4 of 5, losing ugly to Duke and VTech on national TV, losing Williams, and losing to Vermont and Duquesne earlier in the year, I'd be nervous at 19-10. I want to see BC play themselves in so there is no squirming come Selection Sunday.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Doug Gottleib = A-Hole

Did anybody hear that little weasel Doug Gottleib's comments about BC after the game? I know it's easy to bash a team after a thumping like last night, but BC did NOT pad their ACC resume with bottom feeder wins, contrary to what that little prick said.

First of all, of the 4 conference leaders, BC is the ONLY team without a home-and-home series against at least two of the conference also-rans (Wake, Miami and NC State). The Eagles played the Hurricanes twice, but got State and Wake just once, and both on the road. Compare this to the rest of the heavyweights: Virginia played Miami and Wake twice each (and lost to Miami), VTech played NC State and Miami twice each (and got swept by NC State), and UNC got Wake and State twice each (and lost to State).

With a league that is widely acclaimed to be the toughest in the country top-to-bottom, where teams like Miami upset Virginia and NC State knocks off UNC, it's outrageous to discredit BC for taking care of business against good, solid conference foes. Whatta fool. Furthermore, Gottleib seems to forget that BC beat Virginia and split with VTech. So with the loss to UNC last weekend, they are 2-2 against the ACC elite, more than holding their own. I'll stack their nine wins up against those of anyone else. If any team is a fraud up top, It's Virginia - they're 0-3 against BC, VTech and UNC.

One other thing got on my nerves in the postgame show, and that's the continued reference to the Vermont and Duquesne setbacks as "horrible" losses. Yes, historically those are weak teams, but college basketball is not a history course. Vermont is a damn good team THIS YEAR, Doug, they're 22-6 with an RPI of 84 and coasting to their conference championship. Duquesne is a middle-of-the-pack A-10 squad that has beaten the likes of 20-7 Xavier (RPI 43) and 16-10 St. Louis (RPI 72). Should BC have beaten them? Certainly, but look around the country, and there are very few teams without a loss or two of that ilk. And remember, BC was without Sean Williams for the Vermont game, and without Dudley and Oates for the Duquesne loss.

What's the deal with Gottleib? I don't hear him talking about VTech losing to Marshall or Western Michigan. I don't hear him talking about Virginia losing to Appalachian State or Utah. I wanted to reach through my TV last night and straggle that little pussy.

By the way, I looked up Gottleib on Wikipedia, and was interested to learn that he transferred from Notre Dame to Oklahoma State after being kicked off the team for and eventually convicted of credit card fraud. So who's the real fraud here, Dougie?

Crap Down In Blacksburg

That performance last night sucked. It sucked because it was BC’s 2nd atrocious, flat performance in a week. It sucked because it was on national TV for all to see the warts. It sucked because it was BC’s third straight loss on ESPN. It sucked because national broadcasters (again) spent more time questioning BC’s heart and NCAA worthiness than analyzing the game. It sucked because, coupled with the Duke and UNC losses, it looks like BC can’t run with the ACC heavyweights. It sucked because it was a colossal missed opportunity to seize 2nd place in the ACC, with Miami upsetting Virginia last night. It sucked because a win would have put enough distance between BC and VTech and Duke to all but assure BC a 1st round bye in the ACC tourney. It sucked, it sucked, it sucked.

The perception now is that BC is reeling. So much so that I think they really need to win both the Clemson and GTech games to put the NCAA bid to bed. If they split, the naysayers will point to the fact that they lost 4 of 5 down the stretch. And with Maryland and Duke with more wins and closing fast on the Eagles in the ACC standings, BC could get leapfrogged if it’s a close call, even if they have a conference win or two more.

The reality is that I gave BC little chance to win in this game, so I can’t say I’m devastated. In fact, I would have been shocked if they won. VTech has always given the Eagles fits down in Blacksburg, it’s a tough place to play even when the Hokies are bad. Indeed, last year BC needed a miracle and won by a bucket. The year before they lost. This season, the Hokies have by far their best team in ages, one that should glide into the tourney. Compound that with a “must win” element following the Hokies ugly loss to NC State, as well as payback motivation for the shellacking at Conte, and you knew VTech was going to come out fired up. BC really only had a chance if everyone had a stellar game. That didn’t happen obviously.

So this was a pretty predictable loss. In fact, on January 24, I posted “Forecast and the Bubble,” and this is what I said then:

“The remaining 9 ACC games consist of exactly 1 game they should win (Miami away), 3 games they should lose (Duke away, UNC home, VTech away), and 5 "swing" games (VTech home, FSU away, Duke home, Clemson home, GTech away).”

It was my belief then that BC needed to win 4 of the 5 “swing games” to lock down a bid and probably 3 of 5 to be on the right side of the bubble. That’s still the case. They are 2-1 in those "swing" games, with two to go. The remaining two against Clemson and GTech are winnable, but both will be very tough.

What’s troubling to me is the effort, or lack of effort in these games recently. BC came to play against UNC, but didn’t show up in the Duke and VTech games. Not at all, and that's inexcusable. Looking ahead, Clemson and GTech are very talented, and anything but an A game, especially from Dudley, Rice and Marshall, will mean an L. After all, these games are pretty meaningful to Clemson and GTech as well, both of whom are clearly on the wrong side of the bubble and desperately need some conference wins. They will bring it against the Eagles.


There were no heroes last night. No one came to play. The late run at the end of the game was window dressing, when the Hokies were in the hoop equivalent of the prevent defense. This was a 30 point blowout, make no mistake about it. Tyler Roche played OK, he didn’t look like the scared freshman of the UNC game, and he hustled for some boards and drained a few shots. Ty Rice had a mildly decent game (15 points, 6 assists, 0 turnovers), but a lot of that came late. That’s about it.


1. Jared Dudley. 2nd stinker in a week, and that’s leaving alone the three missed free throws against UNC. 6 turnovers, and all his points came late. In a mere 7 days he lost the firm grip he had on ACC POY.

2. Shamari Spears (0 fgs, 1 rebound). Another disappearing act on offense and the glass. Spears looks like he has absolutely no confidence right now.

3. Sean Marshall (2-11 fgs, 3 rebounds). Folks, this guy is moving into the Nate Doornecamp category of players that can’t graduate fast enough for me. He puts up all his big numbers against the mid-majors and conference bottom feeders, and doesn’t show up against the big boys.

4. John Oates and Tyrelle Blair (combined 4 rebounds and 0 blocks). Terrible, terrible interior defense. Between the Duke, UNC and VTech games, I think BC’s post defense set a national record for dunks against. No doubt.

I hope the team reads this blog and gets good and mad. The Eagles need to play with a fury against Clemson this weekend. Most importantly, they need to play defense. That’s where it begins and ends with this team, effort on D. They didn’t have it against VTech last night, and they got drilled for it.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

BC's Schedule and Other Thoughts

The number of people that find this post interesting might fit in a phone booth, but I have a friend of mine who was whining the other day about BC dropping Holy Cross from its schedule and ending a long series rivalry, a topic covered by Bob Ryan in the Boston Globe last year. My friend took the position that BC is "afraid" to schedule the Crusaders because they are a solid mid-major team that could give the Eagles trouble. In support, he pointed to their RPI, which is around 60.

As a threshold matter, HC's RPI has been elevated principally by playing (and losing) to the likes of Duke, Syracuse and Providence, that's how the RPI works. But RPI really has nothing to do with it. Schedules are pretty formulaic. Big time programs play their conference schedule, plus 2-3 big time programs out of conference, and then fill in the balance with area schools of lesser caliber, i.e. mid-majors. Everyone does that. This year, BC plays their 16 conference games, plus Kansas, Michigan State and Providence. After that, three A-10 programs (UMass, URI, Duquesne) requiring home-and-home contracts, plus 7 mid-majors. Holy Cross is one of the mid-majors. As a practical matter, I make no distinction between them and the other 6. That was my point in response to his. The fact that the two schools have played for a long time does not mean that there is a "rivalry," it just means that there was a rivalry once upon a time, the last vestiges of which were in the 1970s. There is no rivalry now; as is well-documented, BC and HC went in very different directions when HC declined a bid to the Big East in 1981. They continued the series as a matter of geographical convenience.

The notion that BC is "scared" of Holy Cross is laughable. Playing HC is fraught with the same risk of playing any other schedule-filling mid-major: the occasional upset is very damaging to BC (see Vermont), whereas it does nothing for the mid-major (no resume boost b/c only the conference winner gets the NCAA bid). Accordingly, HC poses no greater or lesser danger to BC than the rest of the mid-majors on BC's slate. Indeed, if BC dropped HC out of fear, why would they use the slot to pick up a home and home series against Kansas? And why would BC schedule three local A-10 teams who come from a much better conference and are far more dangerous? If it were just about the Ws, I'd rather have BC drop URI than HC for instance.

Furthermore, if you look at BC's schedules over the past few years, they are clearly just rotating the local schools in and out of those 6-7 available mid-major slots. For example, they played Holy Cross, Maine, Yale, New Hampshire, Harvard and BU in 2005. Then they played Holy Cross, Sacred Heart, Harvard and Dartmouth in 2006 (the schedule was truncated by the Las Vegas tourney). This year they played Yale, New Hampshire, Vermont, Sacred Heart, Hartford, Northeastern, & Fairfield (I'm sure scheduling Northeastern and Fairfield over HC had something to do with Skinner's old assistants being first year head coaches at those schools). As for some of those other teams' competitiveness, Northeastern memorably knocked off BC a few years ago, Harvard beat them in 2000, and Yale took BC to double-overtime in 2005. BC hasn't hesitated putting them back on the schedule for "fear" of losing to them.

If the real reason is not just rotation but that the HC games had gotten increasingly chippy over the past few years (Ryan's theory), can you blame BC for dropping the game? There are probably 20 mid-major D-1 programs in New England eager to play the Eagles, and all BC needs to fill its schedule is take 6-7 of them. Programs like HC are, in other words, a dime a dozen. So all things being equal, if the BC-HC games were indeed devolving into heated affairs (and that is my recollection), it made sense to take a break, especially in a year that Skinner wanted to schedule his former assistants Bill Coen and Ed Cooley.

Parenthetically, I think this year's non-conference schedule has proven to be the toughest in memory for BC. Kansas is Kansas, Providence is 17-9 and in the hunt for a tourney bid after beating No. 18 West Virginia tonight , Michigan State just upset No. 2 Wisconsin, UMass and URI are battling for the A-10 lead, Vermont is in the RPI Top 100 and leading the America East Conference, and even Duquesne is respectable, sitting in the middle of the pack of the A-10. In fact, right now, 15 of BC's 24 opponents have a very good chance at either an automatic bid or an at-large bid to the NCAA tourney. I know it's been a topsy turvy year for BC, but if you take a good hard look at who they've played, you gotta feel pretty good about 18-8. Let's hope the Selection Committee feels the same way.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Tar Heel Loss

I'm sure everyone saw the game on Saturday (I attended), so I won't go into detailed analysis. I think the reason the Eagles lost was pretty simple, UNC was far more talented. There's probably 6 or 7 guys on that team that will play in the NBA, and their frontcourt (with Hansbrough and Wright) is absolutely sick. Going into the game, all I realistically hoped for was a chance to steal it at the end, and in that sense, BC came up big. They just didn't seize the opportunity when they got there.

What's disappointing is that BC blew their chance at the stripe, where the obstacles are the same as when they're playing Sacred Heart. You just cannot shoot 50% from the line at home and expect to beat a team the caliber of UNC. And the free throw shooting down the stretch was godawful, especially from the seniors. First, Sean Marshall clanged 2 freebies (no surprise there), and then Jared Dudley missed all three free throws with a chance to tie in the waning moments (huge surprise there). Dudley in particular looked like he rushed his FTs, especially the first one, and then lost confidence.

Marshall had a good game for him, but in my view he was involved in the one sequence that really hurt BC when he bricked those free throws, because he fouled Reyshawn Terry on the ensuing fast break for a potential 3 point play. Terry missed the free throw, but BC was down 70-65 instead of 68-67 with 5 minutes to go, and it was tough sledding the rest of the way.

A little credit to John Oates. He's been getting blasted here and elsewhere, but he submitted probably his best game of the season against the best competition. I wouldn't say it was a command performance, but he was a factor on the glass (6 boards), chipped in some points (7) and played with fire. And when Skinner played him with Blair, the tandem was surprisingly effective on defense. Ty Rice had a great offensive game (20 points, 5 assists), and Dudley and Marshall, other than the free throws, delivered. So all in all, a pretty good showing against a loaded team. I'm not really into moral victories, but if BC were to lose, they really needed to acquit themselves on national TV after the disgusting Duke debacle, and at least they did that.

Looking ahead, the Eagles have a very very tough game at Blacksburg Wednesday night against VTech. The Hokies I'm sure will come out doubly angry after BC smoked them a while back, and NC State embarrassed them on Sunday. If BC can take this game, it will be huge, and make an NCAA bid a certainty.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Soliciting Feedback

Musing about the guys on the team, just curious what people in blogosphere think are BC's:

1. Most Improved Player

2. Most Disappointing Player

3. Most Consistent Player

4. Most Inconsistent Player

5. Most Valuable Player (you will be surprised at my answer here)

6. Key to the Rest of the Season

Skinner Referendum

This post defends Al Skinner. I agree that Al might not be the best in-game coach in the world, but the guy has done a phenomenal job at the Heights, and anyone who questions that is an absolute moron. People forget just how bad his predecessor, Jim O'Brien, was because O'Brien had a great last season at BC and then went on to Ohio State where they made the Final Four (I maintain that that had more to do with BC transfer Scoonie Penn than OB, but that's a story for another day). Make no mistake about it, a thousand years from now, O'Brien will still hold the record for worst winning percentage of any BC coach who stayed over 10 years. No doubt. My buddy Doug did some research on this topic recently and here's what he found out:

In his 11 years, O'Brien finished in the top half of the Big East (or the division within the conference) exactly 3 times. He finished dead last 5 times in those eleven years and won the division only once (his last year, which he parlayed into a big contract at OSU). In fact, his winning percentage in the Big East was .357 (74 - 133), a total disaster by any measure. His winning percentage is the lowest in Big East history for any coach that has coached more than 5 years. Underscoring how bad his BC teams were, going into this season the only Big East coach to have lost more Big East games was Jim Boeheim. It took Boeheim 26 years to lose 166 games, whereas it only took OB 11 years to lose his 133. Truly eye-popping statistics.

Compare this to Al Skinner, who has finished in the top half of his league in 6 of his nine years (including finishing 1st three times), which will be 7 of 10 after this year even if he loses the remaining 4 ACC games. The only years Skinner finished in the lower half of his conference were the three immediately following OB's departure, when all the OB recruits went elsewhere and Penn followed OB to Ohio State. Here's the breakdown:


86-87 - 9th out of 9
87-88 - 7th out of 9
88-89 - 9th out of 9
89-90 - 9th out of 9
90-91 - 9th out of 9
91-92 - 7th out of 9
92-93 - 7th out of 10 (Miami joins conference)
93-94 - 3rd out of 10
94-95 - 10th out of 10
95-96 - 3rd out of 6 (1st year of split divisions)
96-97 - 1st (tied) out of 6

97-98 - 6th out of 6
98-99 - 13th out of 13 (back to one division)
99-00 - 13th out of 13
00-01 - 1st out 6(back to split divisions)
01-02 - 4th out of 7
02-03 - 1st out of 7
03-04 - 5th out of 14 (back to one division)
04-05 - 1st out of 12 (Miami and VTech defect)
05-06 - 3rd out of 12 (1st year in ACC)
06-07 - 1st (currently) out of 12

Furthermore, since Skinner turned the corner with his recruits in 00-01, BC has finished in the Top 25 five times (including two Top 10 finishes) and has been to 5 NCAA tourneys in 6 years (soon to be 6 of 7), all while playing in 2 of the top conferences in the land. Moreover, in the past 5 years, BC has played 6 of the decade's 7 national champions (Michigan State, Maryland, UConn, Syracuse, Duke & North Carolina, but not Florida), and beaten everyone of them except Duke, with whom they've had a couple of memorable near misses. Significantly, they are 13-16 against those opponents -- a pretty broad sampling that indicates they have more than held their own. So like it or not Skinner bashers, BC is a power, definitely a Top 25 program, and probably a Top 15 one. No one is perfect, but you can't argue with the fact that he has taken a perrennial also-ran under O'Brien (if not a doormat) and turned BC into a team that is very much on the national radar. Do you think the ACC schools look forward to playing BC? Case closed!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Well That Sucked

There is only one thing in the world that I hate more than terrorism, SUVs. Robin Williams, copy machine jams, Drew Bledsoe and Rosie O'Donnell, and that's Duke and their annoying fanbase. So this was particularly painful for me to watch. About midway through the 2nd half, I started getting flashbacks to the mother of all Boston College losses, the senior day football flattening by Syracuse in 2004 with the Fiesta Bowl on the line. This wasn't that bad, and toward the end I was thinking it was more like when West Virginia was waxing the Eagles 2 years ago in the opening round of the Big East tourney, and then BC made a gallant comeback. The late run in this one, and especially the effort involved in it, did make me feel a little better. A little. But I'm still pissed. I don't know how anyone can come out so flat at home against a marquee opponent on a national stage. And people around here wonder why BC doesn't get any respect.

The heroes (no real ones, just the kinda sorta variety):

1. Ty Rice. More evidence that he's become a big time player, I take solace in that, and at the beginning of the game it looked like he was going to run roughshod over crappy white boy Greg Paulus. Good scoring night (22 points), but he had way too many sloppy turnovers (6) for this to be an A game for him.

2. Sean Marshall. Yes, he filled it up (23 points). However, most of his points came with BC way down, he was pretty quiet when Duke was building the big (and insurrmountable) lead. On the glass he was just as bad as everyone else (2 rebounds).

The villains:

1. Jared Dudley. If you kiss him when he's good, you gotta spank him when he's bad. The guy's had a phenomenal season and a great career, but let's face it, he sucked tonight. Clearly the worst game of the year for him. He had some bad turnovers, missed the front end of two one and ones during Duke's big run, and committed some really dumb fouls. He was also MIA on offense -I know Duke had something to do with that, but c'mon, if you're gonna be ACC POY you gotta get your points no matter what they throw at you.

2. John Oates. What can I say that I haven't said already? Enought with the crazy treys. And the "ole" defense? Made me wanna throw up in my mouth watching that turnstyle usher in layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup after layup. Sit down, Oates!

3. Shamari Spears. Disappearing act on both ends of the floor, especially the glass (0 rebounds for a power forward?).

4. Marquez Haynes. I've said it before, but I am really disappointed in this kid. I thought he was going to have a breakout year, but he's looking more and more like an America East player, not an ACC guy. And when he's playing point, he is a turnover machine. Hated that foul at the end on Scheyer with the shot clock almost all the way down.

5. Al Skinner. I love Skinner, but a terrible game for him, the worst in years. I would have benched all the starters for a couple of minutes just to send a message, and I would have zoned it up a little more. And were there any halftime adjustments? The beginning of the second half was worse than the end of the first, which was atrocious. And the slow hook on Oates is inexcusable. I'm OK with starting Oates, he's been a good soldier and he's kept his nose clean (unlike some others we know), but you gotta get Blair in there a helluva lot earlier, especially when Oates' man is destroying BC for dunks and layups. I really think it might have been a different game had Blair been in there from the 12 minute mark or so of the first half. And Al has to call some timeouts. It's not his style, that's well documented, but you have to break up those 18-2 runs, even if it's just to give your guys a breather. I'm hoping this is the Al Skinner clunker of the year.

This was one of the worst efforts I have seen in a long time, terrible defense, godawful rebounding, bad decisions, mouthing off at the refs, sloppy turnovers, etc. But BC has to get their heads on straight and fast for UNC. You don't get two bites at the apple very often, but the Eagles thankfully get a second chance to redeem themselves and make a splash on national TV this weekend. They need a big game from everyone, there is absolutely no margin for error with the Tar Heels.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Florida State

BC absolutely stole one on the road down in Tallahasee this afternoon, 68-67, when Tyrelle Blair buried a 12 footer with 3 seconds left to fuel the escape. Indeed, the Eagles had the lead in this one for only 3 game minutes, so to come out with the victory in such hostile environs is truly amazing. Jared Dudley (23 points, 10 boards) and Ty Rice ( 23 points, 5 boards, 3 assists) continued their incredible play, but the real story was Blair even before he hit the game winner. Blair stepped in for horrid horrid John Oates and turned the game around for the Eagles, who were getting eaten alive by Seminole superstar Al Thornton. Blair repeatedly stuffed Thornton (19 relatively quiet points), forcing him into 7-19 shooting from the field, and was generally disruptive to any one from Florida State in the paint. In fact, Blair submitted a pretty credible Sean Williams impersonation with 6 blocks and 6 boards -- he was no doubt a "difference maker" in every sense of the term.

Dudley and Rice were just outstanding. Dudley made the play of the day when he converted a bigtime 4-point play to knot the score at 64, and Rice was controlled and smart driving to the hole throughout the entire game. BC also got some key performances from Shamari Spears and Marquez Haynes. Spears had another great outing, wide-bodying his way around the basket for 7 tough rebounds and 8 points, and Haynes drilled a couple of critical jumpers when BC really needed some offense.

Now for the bad stuff. John Oates may have submitted the worst 9 minutes of basketball in the history of the game. 7 minutes into the first half, he had jacked three crazy treys that all badly missed the mark, and then was benched after committing his 3rd personal foul (you read that right - 3 fouls in 7 minutes). One of his fouls was of the lean and soft contact variety that is his penchant, the infernal kind that puts opponents on the stripe for 3-point plays. When Oates hit the pine, BC was staring at a 22-9 deficit, largely because of his dismal play. At the start of the second half, Oates immediately threw up another wild trey, and again committed a soft foul that led to another 3-point play for the Seminoles. With 2 minutes gone in the frame, so was he. For the game, BC was outscored 30-13 with Oates on the floor, but trounced Florida State 55-37 with him off it. Time to make a change, Al.

Sean Marshall also sucked. Again. For the fourth straight ACC game, Marshall didn't even show up. He was scoreless in the first half, and finished with an invisible line of 6 points (on 2-8 shooting) and 2 turnovers. Someone needs to wake this guy up and remind him it's his senior year.

Looking ahead, BC gets reeling Duke on Wednesday, who got manhandled by Maryland today for their 4th straight loss. The pessimist in me could say that they are a dangerous opponent that might come out angry and play hard. But you get angry after two losses, not four. The overrated Dukies are playing with zero confidence, and are led by the most overhyped point guard in their history, crappy white boy Greg Paulus (7 turnovers today). The only thing that worries me is Josh McRoberts having his way in the post. That's why the Blair outing today is big; with him on the floor BC can neutralize some of what McRoberts can do. If Oates plays a lot, the Eagles will be in trouble.

All in all, let's give a lot of credit to BC for a huge road win today. Florida State is one tough squad, they've beaten a lot of good teams, especially down there. To come out with a W all but seals an NCAA bid in my opinion, which is quite an accomplishment given all the injuries and suspensions BC has endured this year.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Miami Game

A nice "hold serve"for the Eagles over Miami yesterday, 75-68, on a night when they clearly didn't bring their A game. The perimeter defense sucked, but Jared Dudley and Ty Rice did just enough to slip by the Hurricanes, hitting clutch baskets (Dudley) and free throws (Rice) down the stretch to seal the deal. Also, John Oates finally found his stroke (10 points), which seemed to get the rest of his game going (5 boards, 1 block). Shamiri Spears had a nice game as well.

On the negative side, a pretty weak showing by both Sean Marshall (9 points, 2 rebounds, 3 turnovers) and increasingly irrelevant Marquez Haynes (o points - hasn't he been a mild disappointment this year?) . Tyrelle Blair was just OK, but Oates stole a lot of his minutes.

With some real tough games on the horizon, BC badly needed this win. It wasn't pretty but they got it. A loss would have been devastating, so I'm relieved - at least until Sunday when they travel to Tallahassee.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Hokie Hoedown!

BC crushed Virginia Tech yesterday, 80-51, in a wire-to-wire command performance that might be the Eagles' loudest win of the season. The Hokies were until yesterday the darlings of the ACC, having knocked off the likes of Duke, UNC, Maryland and GTech on their way to a Top 25 ranking (that won't last long). They were also jostling with BC for second place in the conference. When the dust settled, BC had a great win that was getting national attention, as well as a firm hold of first place (with Virginia) after NC State shocked the hell out of everyone by edging erstwhile conference leader UNC in Raleigh.

The State win over the Tar Heels emphatically shows just how tough and cannibalistic the ACC has been this year. And along those lines, 10th-place GTech trounced Clemson on the road (remember the Tigers running roughshod over their out-of-conference opponents?), and Florida State beat hated Duke at Cameron. With these upsets, a strong case can be made that the ACC is, top-to-bottom, the best conference in the land (UNC just beat the snot out of Pac-10 power Arizona for crissakes). And I'm not the only one thinking that way - the RPI and Pomeroy rankings currently have the ACC No. 1.

With the toughest part of their schedule coming up, I know the Eagles have a lot of work to do, but they are in a great position at 7-2 in conference to snare an NCAA tourney bid. Indeed, the way everyone in the ACC is beating each other up, there may be only 2 or 3 teams with 10 conference wins. So this helps BC immensely, and gives them a little more room for error. I no longer think they need to go 11-5 in conference play, because we may even see an 8-8 ACC team get in the Big Dance the way things are going. So beating a rock solid team like VTech in the fashion BC did yesterday is huuuuuuge.

A bunch of positives from yesterday's game:

1. Ty Rice. I have not written this, but I have been thinking it for a long time. Rice has made an amazing transition from off-guard to point guard this year. He was a high scoring shooting guard in high school, and only played the point sparingly last year. With the graduation of Louis Hinnant, he struggled mightily at the beginning of the season at the point. But over the past 15 games or so, he's been absolutely incredible, even dominating at times. Since the Clemson game he's dished 30 assists while committing only 8 turnovers. I think he should be 2nd team All-ACC (Zabian Dowdell and Sean Singletary will probably be the First-Teamers), though an argument can be made that no point guard in the conference has his combined proficiency with ppg (16.5), apg (6.2), and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.8:1.0).

2. Jared Dudley. What else is there to say? Another spectacular performance. He is the smartest player on the court at all times by a large margin, and should get serious POY consideration (he won't though, not enough pub).

3. Tyler Roche. I'm telling you, getting this kid on the court could be the silver lining of the Dope Dismissals. With McLean and Williams on the team, they didn't need Roche this year and he would have ridden the pine. But with such a short bench, the kid has to play, and he's showing everyone that he can. This bodes well for next year because he is the heir apparent to Dudley at the small forward position. And with the minutes, Roche is gaining confidence. I really liked the way he played defense, hit the boards and was not shy about jacking his heralded jump shot yesterday. Roche assuming a bigger role in the rotation could be what pushes BC over the top in the next few weeks.

4. Tyrelle Blair. He's another guy you can see getting better and better the more floor action he sees. I know Skinner is a loyal guy, but it's time to get Blair on the court as much as possible and sit John Oates down (more on that later).

5. Shamari Spears. Another solid effort from the lil aircraft carrier. I just love the way he uses his body around the glass, and his soft touch is a bonus.

6. The first half effort. Other than the Virginia game, BC has come out hard against every ACC opponent this year (even the losses), often building double-digit leads. This is big for BC, because they play soooo much better with a lead. When the Eagles got ahead of VTech, you could just feel the game devolve into a slow grind, and the Hokies were out of their element. Kudos to Skinner and the seniors for again making sure everyone had their game face on at the outset.

A couple of negatives:

1. John Oates. Again, he was invisible, and his defense was atrocious. He has to learn to stop leaning into guys as they're shooting, he's been doing it all year. Either go for the block or back off. The lean and soft foul does nothing except put guys on the line for 3-point plays. Oates must lead the league in that category. Enough already!

2. Sean Marshall. OK, I'm back to bashing Marshall again. After a nice game (finally) against Florida State, he has returned to his evil ways, allowing a cold shooting hand to affect the rest of his game. In back-to-back conference clunkers against Duke and VTech, he was 5-24 from the floor. He had zero rebounds against the Hokies in 34 minutes. The pouting is unbelievable. Also, I can't stand the way he watches his shot clang off the rim and doesn't hustle back to a defensive position for the inevitable transition basket. This has been an ongoing problem all year for Marshall. It doesn't show up in the boxscore, but the easy baskets going the other way hurt, especially when Rice and Dudley aren't having big games to compensate (like yesterday).

Overall though, a great win obviously. If they can knock off Miami and Florida State this week, I think they might have an NCAA bid all but locked up.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Big Game Against the Hokies

BC takes on VTech Saturday (1:00 PM, Ch. 38) in a critical ACC battle for sole possession of second place (both are 6-2 in conference play behind 6-1 UNC). This one doesn't need a lot of hype, it very well might be the biggest game on the Eagles' schedule to date. And I say the winner, barring a big collapse, is well on its way to an NCAA tourney bid. The loser? A tough row to hoe.

VTech has had some high profile wins, knocking off Duke and UNC the same week last month, but they stumbled badly the other night at home against ACC bottom feeder NC State. So BC could be catching the talented Hokies in a rut, or they could be on the business end of an angry team. I fear it'll be the latter, so the Eagles better bring their A game.

From the VTech perspective, here's a couple of game previews here and here, and a whiny review of the Hokies' loss to the Pack.