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.