Friday, March 23, 2007

Haynes Gone

Marquez Haynes announced today that he is transferring. While I'm not surprised, I'm a little disappointed. I was hoping more minutes for Haynes next year would mean more production. After all, he was a pretty solid defender, probably the most athletic member of the team, and showed flashes of offense, especially on drives, alley-oops and the occasional trey. On the other hand, he was a career tease, and could not handle the point, a fact made painfully obvious in the Wake game this year when he commited 34 turnovers in 8 minutes.

The optimist in me thinks that Al Skinner encouraging Haynes to transfer (and I'm sure that's what happened) means he must be pretty confident that some of the incoming freshmen have the ability to come in and play right away in the backcourt.

Monday, March 19, 2007

More Rumors

On top of the Shamari Spears tansfer rumors, I heard today that ESPN Radio is reporting Al Skinner was approached by the Charlotte Bobcats about their top job. Al, by the way, has said in many print and electronic media that he prefers the NBA to the college game.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Thoughts on Next Year

I heard from a decent (but not a great) source that Shamari Spears is transferring after getting into Al's doghouse at the end of the season. The only public evidence of that is the 1 game suspension back in January and his dwindling minutes culminating in a DNP-CD yesterday. I remember there were reports that he had a sore back, so I thought that was the reason (it couldn't have been Tyler Roche beating him out). That would be disappointing to me if true. While I don't think Spears will ever be a great ACC player, he has some skills, especially rebounding and a decent shooting touch, and could be a career contributor. In fact, I was hoping he would work on getting his shot off in the offseason (like fellow undersized forward Danya Abrams did after his freshman year), and come back as a scorer. We'll see if the rumor is true.

Another guy who could use some work is Roche. Maybe he can't play at this level (and those are the indications right now), but my instincts tell me he was thrown into the fray too early and wasn't ready for it upstairs. In other words, I saw a guy with a major confidence problem. I'm hoping that's his issue, not talent. We'll see about him as well.

On the plus side, BC has it's most talented recruiting class coming in next year. From what I read, swingman Rakim Sanders from RI is the real deal (ask anyone), as is big man Joshua Southern. Corey Raji also reportedly has some game. The other two are projects. But if two of these five can step in and really play, BC will be all right in a transition year. Rice, after all, is a star, and may even improve.

I'm feeling a little better today about the loss to Georgetown, and the season in general. Stating the obvious, the Dope Dismissals were devastating. But BC essentially went .500 in the ACC and the NCAA tournament after those guys got kicked off, which is pretty remarkable. If you take 2 big men out of any team's rotation, even the elite programs, they'd be hard-pressed to go .500 in a top conference like the ACC. The undermanned Eagles should get a lot of credit for what they achieved.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Woulda Coulda Shoulda

BC went down to Georgetown today in a hard fought battle to close out the Jared Dudley era. If you had told me at the beginning of the game that it would be a 1 point affair with 4 minutes to play, I woud've taken it, but I really hated the way BC fell apart after the last TV timeout. I'm talking about the muffed Dudley to Marshall handoff that led to a breakaway layup, the missed rebounds, the bad defense, the poor shot selection, etc. It was just a total collapse. Inexcusable.

I thought coming in that BC had to get big games out of at least two of their three scorers, and probably all three to win. Rice and Dudley delivered, Sean Marshall did not. Marshall was terrible. It was a microcosm of his entire career, a couple of buckets early, and then nothing. He was 4-16, missed his last 9 shots, and grabbed only 1 rebound. If he had even a decent game today, BC wins this one, and I think easily the way the Hoyas played.

The little things killed me, especially the loose ball on the floor with 3 BC players standing over it, watching Roy Hibbert pick it up for a dunk to push GTown's lead to 48-44. Also, allowing Georgetown to grab a rebound off a missed free throw and score to shave BC's 8 point lead to 5 with 12 minutes left. No boxing out, no hustle.

On the plus side, the Eagles played great for about 30 minutes, and were in a position to steal it. The first half was BC's best half of basketball since the home blowout of VTech a month ago. Rice was on fire, Dudley was hitting his shots, and Blair was playing great defense.

It was a great year, and like I said in my prior post, this game was gravy. If they had gotten by the Hoyas, it would have been a major, major accomplishment for a very flawed team. They deserve a lot of credit for getting this far with all the adversity they faced. But right now, things feel pretty hollow. The Sweet Sixteen was right there for the taking. In a few days, I'll feel a lot better about it. Right now, all I can say is "this sucks."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Big Win Over Texas Tech

What a nice win today over the Red Raiders. I know it was uncomfortable from a BC perspective (no lead is big enough), but if you were a neutral observer, you would come away thinking BC had the upper hand through most of the game, and was the better team.

This game shows you what BC can do when they play well. They got big production from their big three scorers, Marshall, Rice and Dudley (66 points combined), 11 bonus points and some key three-point shooting from Oates, and some solid interior defense from Blair. The rest of the guys didn't contribute much, but we didn't need them.

The thing I really like about this win is that all the pressure is off, and they're in a great position to steal a Sweet Sixteen berth against a very good, but beatable, Georgetown team. If BC gets the same production out of the likes of Marshall and Oates, I like our chances.

Great week so far for the ACC as well. In addition to the BC win, Maryland won today over a dogged Davidson squad, and Clemson and NC State won their opening round NIT games.

I like the fact that Georgetown is smoking their 1st round opponent. History dictates that when high seeds win easy in the opening round, they come out slow in the 2nd game. I hope BC can take advantage.

PS: For all the "In Game" Al Skinner bashers out there, Hall of Famer Bobby Knight made him look like a genius. Letting 20 seconds tick off down by 7 with 90 seconds left before you start fouling? And then realizing the Red Raiders had 3 fouls to give? Hilarious!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

We're In

BC got the predictable 7 seed in the NCAA tourney, which is realistically all we could ask for. That means the Selection Committee ranked the Eagles between 25-28 among the field. Not bad given the tailspin to close the season, and a testament to the respect afforded the conference.

But the real good news is that we got the right matchup, in the right region, at the right site. All I really wanted was a flawed team from a big conference, and Texas Tech fits the billl perfectly. BC will not take them lightly given their Big 12 status (and victories over Kansas and Texas A&M), but the Red Raiders are not that good, as evidenced by a 5 game losing streak last month and losses to the likes of Baylor and Nebraska. A more dangerous opponent would have been some rock solid mid major on the rise, like Virginia Commonwealth, Creighton or Old Dominion. The added bonus is that we get to play in the East Regional a short flight away in a city the Eagles know well, Winston-Salem. I like playing on Thursday too, before the players get too caught up in all the hoop-la. A good day across the board.

I expect BC to beat Texas Tech and then give a good fight against Georgetown. The Hoyas are a very good team, but probably the caliber of Virginia Tech or Maryland. In other words, BC is battle-tested for this matchup, assuming both teams make it to the second round. And if BC manages to get past GTown and make it to the Sweet Sixteen, it will be a fantastic accomplishment for BC in one of the weirdest years in memory.

I did not blog after the BC-UNC game mostly for family reasons, but there really wasn't much to say. I didn't give the Eagles much of a chance coming into the game, and they showed me why. When BC plays an elite team, they need big games from at least two of their three big scorers, and probably all three. They also need step-up games from their role players. BC only got production out of maligned Sean Marshall (and only with scoring). The Tar Heels did a great job on Ty Rice, Dudley had an off day (despite 20, mostly late points), and the Blair-Spears-Oates-Roche group brought very little to the table. That's just not gonna do it, especially against a team as good as UNC. I really would have loved to see how BC could have fared with Sean Williams and Akida McLean patrolling the paint...

If memory serves, BC has beaten Bobby Knight teams two times in a row, first during the famed 1994 run to the Elite Eight (77-68), and next in the opening round of the 1996 tournament (54-51).

Looking forward to Thursday.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Big Relief

Whhheeew. Yesterday’s Miracle in Miami relieved Eagle Nation of the anxiety of sitting through CBS’ tired selection show on Sunday wondering whether a fading 19-11 BC squad with a 40 RPI and losses in 5 of its last 6 games could lean on a 10-6 conference record and get into the NCAA tourney. For a while there, though, it looked like we would be squirming in our seats. All I could think was N-I-T with BC staring at a 14 point second half deficit to the last-place Hurricanes. As I have said in prior posts, despite the conventional wisdom thinking BC was a lock, I maintain that a blowout loss to Miami was our one ticket out. But that’s all academic now; once BC pushed the game to overtime, the Eagles were in the Big Dance, especially with all the other upsets showing the country why the ACC is the toughest conference, top-to-bottom, in the land.

This was the statement game of a statement season for Ty Rice. I plan on writing a testimonial to Rice later on, but the abridged version here is that he is undoubtedly BC’s Most Valuable Player. Without Rice stepping up his game bigtime this year, the Eagles would be maybe 14-15, and out of both postseason tournaments. If you disagree, I point to the few occasions this year when Rice was in foul trouble and had to be spelled by Marquez Haynes. Case closed.


1. Ty Rice. Nothing more to say, an incredible game for a rising star.

2. John Oates. I have bashed Oates in the past, but this was probably the best game of his career. The 14 points were huge on a day that Marshall sucked again and Dudley was quiet. He had that huge noooooooooooooyyyeeeesssssssssss three-pointer to tie it in OT, but his biggest play was a monster rebound that he ripped away from some Canes in the waning moments.

3. Tyrelle Blair. A nice line for Blair, some big boards and one really important block.

3. Al Skinner. When BC fell down, he was cool and he made BC run their offense, and not rush it. They worked their way back and that had a lot to do with the man in charge. Also, playing Oates and Blair together was a key adjustment. We saw this first in the UNC game a while back, it was effective then and it was effective yesterday. I expect to see it a little more today against the big frontline of the Tar Heels.


1. Sean Marshall. He had a dunk on a picture perfect fastbreak orchestrated by Rice and Dudley. Other than that, he was 1-9 with one assist (in fairness, his one other field goal was a big three). The thing that really pissed me off was his defense though, he was atrocious. Typical Marshall - when his shot isn’t falling, he lets it affect the rest of his game.

2. The role players. Roche, Spears and Haynes. Fellas, you gotta contribute something, anything. Rice and Dudley can't be expected to carry the whole load.

This was a very satisfying win for BC because it’s all gravy from here. They are not expected to beat UNC, so there is no pressure. But BC can nail down maybe a 6 seed with a good showing against the Tar Heels. And if they pull the upset, they’re a 4. House money in other words.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Miami Up Next

I didn't see the game, but Miami upset Maryland 67-62 this afternoon, meaning BC has the easiest (by seed) 2nd round opponent of all the top seeds. I have mixed feelings about this. Miami definitely is a softer foe and a better matchup for the Eagles, but playing them is dangerous. If BC loses, the credibility knock is tremendous.

Maryland is obviously the better team, but playing on back-to-back days against a rested BC squad would have been tough sledding for the Terps. Had BC played and beaten Maryland, the Eagles would've gotten a much bigger seeding boost. The upside just isn't there with the 'Canes, so BC really, really has to take care of business tomorrow afternoon.

Sunday, March 4, 2007


Well folks, half of what I feared become reality today, an embarrassing, embarassing loss to GTech in the ACC regular season finale. If BC gets trounced in the first round of the ACC tourney, especially by one of the lesser teams like NC State, Miami or Wake, mark my words, there will be some squirming come Selection Sunday. We're probably a lock for the NCAA given the high team and conference RPI, but who would you seed higher, a reeling BC squad or rising GTech or Maryland? I think BC's looking at an 8 seed right now.

BC lost this game before they got off the bus. Despicable play by everyone, and I mean everyone, including usual stalwarts Jared Dudley and Ty Rice. I'm harboring some pointed ire for Sean Marshall and Tyler Roche, who conspired to put BC in the big first half hole with a bevy of bonehead plays and sloppy turnovers. As is well-documented, I just can't stand Marshall, the guy has the mental fortitude of a jellyfish. He continues to disappear in big games. John Oates also sucked down low, but thankfully Skinner had (kind of) a quick hook with him. But it's hard to really single out anyone for this crapshow, it was an utter disaster, a mail-it-in-what region-are we going-to failure from the top of the roster on down. I can't believe how passionless they were, especially with first place on the line.

I don't feel good at all about this team's prospects in either the ACC tourney or the NCAA tourney. I am troubled by how many times BC jas gotten absolutely thumped since the Dope Dismissals. I mean, take a look, Duke killed them twice, Clemson buried them, VTech embarrassed them, and now GTech. They struggled against Clemson at home and Miami on the road, and only had one legitimate win down the strech, at home against VTech. If it weren't for a couple of save-our-ass wins that BC stole against Florida State, we'd be looking at 17-12, 8-8 and the NIT.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Last Night's Developments

I'm still not sure whether GTech upsetting UNC last night is good or bad for BC, as the Yellow Jackets will have everything to play for against the Eagles this weekend, but they might have a tough time getting up for BC after such a big win over the Tar Heels. In any event, The UNC loss coupled with the Virginia win over VTech has BC a few steps closer to an improbable No. 1 seed in the ACC tourney. As a practical matter, it doesn't mean a whole helluva lot given the parity in the ACC this year, but it would be good to have the bragging rights associated with the Eagles being regular season champs. There's still a long way to go though, and here's what has to happen:

1. BC has to beat GTech;

2. Duke has to beat UNC at UNC: and

3. Wake has to beat Virginia at home.

I could easily see none of the above happening, and #3 looks the most unlikely.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

ACC Seeding

With Maryland beating Duke last night, BC locked up a first round bye in the ACC tourney next week. Maryland can tie BC if they beat UNC Saturday and GTech knocks off BC, but the Eagles have the head-to-head edge over the Terps because they beat Maryland in their only meeting.

This is pretty big for BC. The seeding from 1-4 is not that big a deal this year because the conference is so strong top to bottom that there's not much difference between playing Florida State, Duke, Maryland, and GTech in the second round, the likely opponents for the bye teams if seeding holds true. However, playing a tired team on back-to-back days is huuuuge. Just look at last year when BC got the bye and played Maryland, a team that beat BC in the regular season. What happened? The Eagles absolutely buried them, and BC was on their way to the ACC Semifinals.

The one thing that worries me heading into the GTech game is that suddenly, given the above, BC has nothing to play for, especially if the players are reading the press clippings that say they're a lock for the NCAA Tourney. That spells F-L-A-T, which could mean T-R-O-U-B-L-E. There is one scenario in which BC gets boxed out of the tourney, and that's if they get embarrassed by GTech on Saturday, and then again by Maryland or Duke in the 2nd round of the ACCs, and there are an inordinate number of upsets in conference tourneys by teams that otherwise wouldn't make March Madness.