Boston College Story Is More Than Wins And LossesPosted by mpatton on February 20th, 2012
Boston College is not good. It took the Eagles 33 minutes of game time to get four players in the scoring column against Duke. After a quick start (13 points before the 16 minute mark in the first half), they only managed 12 points over the next 20 minutes. For over 14 minutes of game time in the first half Boston College didn’t make a single field goal. They lost by 25 at home. You get the point.
But what I saw against Duke wasn’t a team without a plan. The plan required a lot of threes that weren’t falling. But for the most part the shots were decent shots. The turnovers were sloppy (on both sides), but not because offensive moves were unwise or ill-advised. Usually there just wasn’t enough zip on the moderately telegraphed passes. Against a good team–especially one that overplays the passing lanes like Duke–those get picked off more often than not. What I saw at Conte Forum Sunday evening was a team with seven freshmen on its roster (four of whom start).
After the game Ryan Anderson, who had more than 20 points for the second straight game, commented on how the Eagles struggled to get over the last play and move on to the next one. Especially against Duke, a couple of threes go down and even experienced teams tighten up (see NC State). Combine Duke hitting shots and the Eagles missing open looks, and you get frustration. Steve Donahue called it a combination of “mental fatigue and stamina,” which precipitated the snowballing of Boston College’s struggles.
Before writing off the Eagles’ season entirely, remember they have already won three games conference games including one against mighty Florida State. That’s more than nearly everyone expected considering the total lack of experience (I picked them to finish with five wins, but early games quickly made me reevaluate my stance). This team can hang its hat on two things: Donahue’s system appears to maximize the talent, and it’s significantly better now than when the season started.
That’s why–if I cast a vote now–I’d give Donahue the nod for ACC Coach of the Year (Leonard Hamilton and Mike Krzyzewski are close runners up). He has proven that he can coach his team to compete despite a large experience and talent differential against all conference opponents. He still hasn’t proven that he can recruit at a high-major level, which is absolutely critical to maintain any success in the ACC. Syracuse and Pittsburgh joining the ACC should help him on that front. More New England exposure will only help Donahue go after four-star players. But for now, it’s time to recognize the job he did getting a group that ranks 344 (out of 345) in experience according to Ken Pomeroy ready to play in the ACC.