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.