I attended the Sacred Heart game last night and I was pleasantly surprised by the turnout, a pretty lively half-full Conte Forum. Considering it conflicted with the bowl game, and took place during school break on a Friday night when plenty of other things are going on in Greater Boston, that's a pretty good showing. Hats off to the fans. As for the game itself, it was pretty uneventful. Sacred Heart came out hot and took an early lead, then BC went on a 22-5 run about midway through the first half to take control (not surprisingly, that took place with Cory Raji on the floor and Tyler Roche on the pine). The Eagles stretched the lead to 17 in the second half on a number of occasions before losing focus. Sacred Heart stroked a few threes and out-hustled BC for some loose balls, and suddenly the lead was down to 3 in the waning moments. But Ty Rice and Shamari Spears stepped up at the stripe to seal the deal, canning 10 of 10 in the final 4 minutes.
All in all, though I criticize BC's effort and inability to put a lesser team away, I was pretty happy with the game. Sacred Heart's late charge made this young team step up in the face of a major choke job, and BC stepped up. I think the more they face game situations like that the better, as more are surely coming down the road, especially in conference play.
A few observation:
1. John Oates had a pretty big game offensively for him, with 12 points on a few follow up dunks and a couple of threes. His big weakness (defense) was a non-factor in this one, as Sacred Heart had no one that presented even a semblance of an offensive challenge in the post. Tyrelle Blair chipped in 12 as well, for the same reason.
2. Speaking of Blair, I've said it before, but he must have the weakest hands in college basketball. Sacred Heart's tiny front line stripped him over and over again as he tried to go up for dunks. Amazing. I'd like to dine with him just to see how many times he drops his fork during a meal.
3. Tyler Roche. The box score says he went 3-4, but again no rebounds and two ugly, very ugly, turnovers that turned into layups the other way. For some reason, Roche seems to have major problems with that tiny bounce pass at the top of the flex, and I'm tired of seeing defenders jump his pass for the steal and easy bucket. I think Al is sick of it too, as he jettisoned Roche to the bench right after the second one, where he remained for most of the night (Roche played only 15 minutes). As for his rebounding - or lack thereof - Roche now has a whopping 2 boards in his last three games (spanning 67 game minutes). What's up with that? The guy is 6'7" for crissakes.
4. Tyrese Rice had a decent game (16 points), though he seemed a little bored. Nevertheless, I love the ball in his hands with the game on the line and the other team needing to foul. He is automatic with the free throws, and was in this one.
NBA Non-Sequitur - old friend Sean Williams submitted a killer line in the Nets' 109-106 win last night over Washington - 14 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks. I still find myself daydreaming about what might have been had Williams kept his head down at the Heights.
Turning to football quickly, as is well documented BC won it's best-in-the-nation 8th straight bowl game last night against middling Michigan State. While I applaud BC's preparation and congratulate them on the win, with all due respect I think the streak has a lot more to do with BC going to a lesser bowl and playing an inferior opponent every year than anything else (cue the tired travel rep debate). I think BC has been favored (and in some instances heavily favored) in all these bowl games, with the notable exception of the Music City Bowl tilt against Georgia a number of years ago, which goes down as the only big win in the streak in my view. Until the bowl system is either junked completely or changed to a merit-based one, I fully expect BC's unimpressive streak to continue, replete with more Muffler and Tire Bowl appearances against 6-6 and 7-5 opponents. Hooray.