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.