ACC Preview: Boston College’s Burning Question

Posted by Matt Patton on October 24th, 2014

Last place or not last place?

It’s not easy taking over a slumping program in a conference that just added three perennial Top 25 programs. It’s even harder when you can’t start until April and you lose your two of your three best players before you even take the job. That’s where Jim Christian stands a little over six months after replacing Steve Donahue. Perhaps his most important battle, though, was won when Olivier Hanlan decided to stay in Chestnut Hill. Hanlan’s presence — along with a graduate transfer and a healthy center — are the only reason this is a burning question at all.

Jim Christian needs to change the culture in Chestnut Hill (photo credit: Ted Fitzgerald/Boston Herald)

Jim Christian needs to change the culture in Chestnut Hill (photo credit: Ted Fitzgerald/Boston Herald)

Any look at Boston College this season has to start with Christian, a former coach at Kent State, TCU and then Ohio before coming to Chestnut Hill. He built a solid MAC program at Kent State, improving nearly every year while he was there. During his last year at TCU, he turned one of the worst programs in the country into a middling Mountain West team with a few solid wins (including one over Virginia). But there’s not much data from which to judge his time at Ohio, and he’s never coached in a major conference.

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ACC M5: 02.20.14 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on February 20th, 2014

morning5_ACC

  1. KenPom.com: If you have a subscription, the win probability graph from Boston College‘s upset over Syracuse last night is amazing. The Orange had a 96 percent chance to win at the tip. That stayed at or above 94 percent before peaking with around 16 minutes left in the second half (when Syracuse was up 13 points). Then things get interesting. A few Boston College threes later, and each possession starts influencing the graph. Boston College’s best chance to steal the win in regulation came with two seconds left (when CJ Fair almost committed the worst foul of the year), but the percentage spiked back to over 80 percent to start overtime. At that point every possession is high leverage. If you don’t have a subscription, today’s the day. How else would you know Boston College held Syracuse to its second-worst offensive efficiency of the year?
  2. BC Interruption: But how did the Eagles do it? They slowed the game down to a crawl (only 56 possessions in an overtime game!). They knocked down threes. They stopped turning the ball over (though the first half was admittedly horrible on this front). And they played remarkably good defense once they cut out Syracuse’s runouts. Olivier Hanlan was aggressive; Lonnie Jackson stepped up and hit four clutch free throws to close the game out; and Joe Rahon managed to hold CJ Fair to 20 points on 23 shots.
  3. Sports Illustrated: This is just a tremendous piece on Jabari Parker, focusing on his relationship with Coach K. It’s worth the time (which will be substantial), but really delivers great insight into who Parker is on and off the basketball court.
  4. Charlotte Observer: What do you get when you mix Barry Jacobs with a classic game on the day of Duke-North Carolina? A must-read. Jacobs chronicles the famous 7-0 half at Cameron Indoor to finish off the 1979 season. Duke was in its “signature 2-3 matchup zone” (yes, Bill Foster was coaching, but that’s still weird to hear), so Dean Smith brought out the four corners to try to coax the Blue Devils away from its defensive principles. It didn’t work. In the second half both teams ran more and put up 40 points each. Come for the first half shutout, stay for the flopping anecdote.
  5. Shakin the Southland: Clemson earned a win that could help itself a lot come Selection Sunday. No, it won’t stand out for being a great win, but NC State is currently sitting along with the Tigers on the bubble, and Clemson had to stop the bleeding to end its three-game losing streak. The win puts Clemson in a better position than its foes from Raleigh. This was Clemson’s best offensive performance of conference play and second-best performance on the season. More performances like that will help Clemson pass the dreaded (and arbitrary) eye test in a few short weeks.
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ACC Team Preview: Boston College Eagles

Posted by Kellen Carpenter on November 1st, 2013

This is Steve Donahue’s fourth year as coach of Boston College and the question is floating through the air: Is it the year? After an abysmal sophomore season where Donahue floundered with a nearly all-freshman class, last year was a turning point for the program. Sure, the team only went 7-11 in league play and lost in the second round of the ACC Tournament, but it was still progress and the groundwork that Donahue has laid looks strong. This year, the hard work starts to pay off. Boston College is ready to make some noise… with one big catch.

boston-college-preview-2013]

In 2011-12, the freshman pair of Ryan Anderson and Lonnie Jackson gave Boston College some hope for the future. Now, as juniors, both have clear roles in the Eagles’ team system. Anderson is capable of a double-double every night while Jackson is the team’s designated sharp-shooter on a team loaded with outside shooting. The two offer veteran leadership on a squad that basically lacked significant contributions from upperclassmen for the past two years. On top of that foundation came the dynamic freshmen duo of Joe Rahon and Olivier Hanlan. Though only a freshman, Rahon provided an instant steadying presence at point guard and ultimately led all freshmen in the conference in total minutes played. Hanlan, however, brought more to the team than a steady presence. The dynamic freshman guard played well all season, but he came on with a fury at the end of the year, setting the ACC Tournament record for scoring by a freshman with 41 points against Georgia Tech. He would ultimately win ACC Freshman of the Year.

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ACC M5: 10.22.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on October 22nd, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Backing the Pack: Is Virginia flying under the radar? Well, according to returning win shares, the Cavaliers are criminally underrated. The past two years, returning win shares has correctly picked the ACC champion while remaining mostly accurate throughout the standings with a couple of big exceptions (here’s looking at you, Virginia Tech). Win shares make Tony Bennett’s squad the team to beat in the ACC thanks to Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell returning. Duke still comes in second by a significant margin, if you were wondering.
  2. Syracuse Post-Standard: Donna Ditota checked in on Wake Forest’s Tyler Cavanaugh, Steve Donahue and Notre Dame (separately, of course). I can’t say it enough: Don’t overlook Boston College this year. The Eagles aren’t the most talented bunch in the ACC but they have boatloads of experience and could make a dramatic leap if they can avoid the injury and sickness bugs. Also of note is Ditota pointing out Mike Brey’s football-inspired strategy of redshirting most of his freshmen. However, this year Demetrius Thomas should see plenty of playing time as a true freshman. His minutes could represent a crack in Brey’s system.
  3. Duke Basketball Report: Barry Jacobs took a look at the most three-point reliant players in the ACC last season. Three of the top 11 players most in love with shots from beyond the arc ended up transferring away from the league. That leaves Lonnie Jackson, Patrick Heckmann (Boston College) and Pat Connaughton (Notre Dame) as the trio of returning starters who most rely on shooting from deep. This season you can almost certainly expect to add Duke’s Andre Dawkins to the list.
  4. AP (via Panama City News Herald): Today is a big day in Coral Gables. Miami (and the rest of the world) is set to find out the results of its appeal to the NCAA’s Committee of Infractions surrounding all the Nevin Shapiro-related allegations. If the NCAA has its long-term self-interest in mind, it will accept Miami’s self-imposed bowl bans and move on. If it wants to shed more light on the embarrassingly cavalier investigation of the Hurricanes that ended in the firing of many compliance employees — the NCAA will bring the hammer down. Donna Shalala, Miami’s president, has never come across as frightened of or intimidated by the organization, so I suspect a harsh punishment would be appealed in the judicial system shortly thereafter.
  5. KenPom.com: Stat geeks rejoice! Ken Pomeroy has changed his algorithms to discount blowouts. While the new results don’t make for huge swings in his ordering, they did help knock Wisconsin and Belmont down a peg or two.
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Boston College’s Ryan Anderson and Olivier Hanlan Have Eagles Headed in Right Direction

Posted by Jimmy Kelley on January 12th, 2013

Boston College

Ryan Anderson (left) and Boston College are 1-2 in the ACC but have lost their games by a combined eight points. (Michael Ivins/US Presswire)

Jimmy Kelley is an ACC correspondent for RTC. You can find him on twitter @jp_kelley or, for Duke-related ramblings, @DevilsinDurham

Boston College was one of the original schools to read the tea leaves and bolt from the Big East to the ACC. While their tea leaves may have read “go before UConn does” instead of “save yourself!”, the Eagles have been a fixture of the ACC landscape for some years now despite only having a few competitive seasons.

This season will not be a deviation from the trend, but the baby Eagles are playing a fun brand of basketball and have two bonafide ACC players leading the way in sophomore forward Ryan Anderson and freshman guard Olivier Hanlan. Through three conference games this season, BC has looked like a team that, when everything is going well, can threaten any team on any given night. With a quality win over Virginia Tech and close losses to N.C. State and Wake Forest, Steve Donahue’s boys are growing in confidence every game. Read the rest of this entry »

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ACC Summer Recess: Boston College Eagles

Posted by mpatton on July 11th, 2012

Over the next four weeks we’ll be taking a step back and looking at each team in the ACC to assess where each program — and the conference as a whole — stands before we totally turn our attention to the 2013-14 season later this fall. Today’s targe: Boston College.

Where They Stand Now

The bottom of the ACC was a dumpster fire last season. Think of an acclerant cocktail of mediocre coaching, inexperienced youth and genuine lack of talent to make it extra volatile. Somehow Boston College, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech all finished conference play with four wins. However, if forced to pick the team occupying the lowest point in the conference cellar, Boston College would steal the honor. It wasn’t entirely the Eagles’ fault: Steve Donahue was in his second year of coaching and saw his roster truly gutted, leaving a motley crew of freshmen, transfers and walk-ons. To make matters worse, Donahue’s best player — Patrick Heckmann – went down with mononucleosis in January. The good news is that Donahue is a very capable coach. He stole a win against the eventual ACC Champion Florida State Seminoles, and his team significantly improved over the course of the season.

Patrick Heckmann Led the Eagles During Nonconference Play Last Season (AP/A. Gallardo)

Who’s Leaving?

The Eagles lose six players, including transfers Matt Humphrey (who is transferring to West Virginia, the second transfer of his career) and Gabe Moton. While the losses won’t help the Eagles, Humphrey didn’t fit well with Donahue’s system and Moton managed less than 20 minutes of playing time for a team that should only get better. The four departing seniors combined to play just over 23 minutes a game, contributing a combined 2.6 points and 1.7 rebounds a game.

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ACC Morning Five: 03.15.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 15th, 2012

  1. Tallahassee Democrat: This is a pretty cool article about the last time Florida State won a basketball championship. That was 1991 in the Metro Conference (the year before the school joined the ACC), and the Seminoles were led by another clutch guard named Charlie Ward. This Florida State team doesn’t have the NBA talent of those teams from the early 1990s, but it’s coming together at the right time.
  2. South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Miami is down about missing the NCAA Tournament, but the Hurricanes have something to prove in the NIT (where they garnered a #2 seed). Luckily, Durand Scott was reinstated by the NCAA, though his presence was sorely missed in Miami’s loss to Florida State in Atlanta (only to make matters worse, it was a game that probably would have put the Hurricane resume over the top). I hope the players mean it; I want to see Miami with a chip on its shoulder, both in the NIT and regular season next year.
  3. Washington Post: Seth Greenberg is looking to possibly flesh out his roster a little bit this offseason. While he’s apparently OK with adding a junior college transfer, Greenberg made things very clear: “We’re not gonna take a warm body, we’re not gonna take a guy that’s gonna win us a game. I want to take a guy who has a chance to graduate.”
  4. Soaring To Glory: Here’s a solid post on things to expect from Boston College next year. I think the author hits the nail on the head for the most part — especially on the team’s conditioning issues late in the season — though I think more emphasis should be given to guys Lonnie Jackson and Patrick Heckmann (whose fall was precipitated by a bad bout with mono). I think Ryan Anderson will develop, but he’ll need a second and third option more than anything next year.
  5. Wilmington Star News: Brett Friedlander thinks NC State could be poised for a deep tournament run if it can keep focused. I have my doubts (specifically about the team’s depth), but I generally agree. The biggest thing will be avoiding the Selection Sunday hangover game the first weekend against San Diego State. The Wolfpack are capable of winning that game but will need to avoid costly turnovers and foul trouble at all costs. They also can’t get off to a slow start and need stars CJ Leslie and Lorenzo Brown to embrace the spotlight.
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ACC Tournament: NC State Survives Boston College

Posted by mpatton on March 8th, 2012

Whatever the final score might say, Boston College was right with NC State until the last ten minutes. This is a story Eagles fans know well.

Boston College showed its youth early. The Eagles started the game 0-7 from the field with five turnovers. At that point, I wondered if they could keep the deficit below 30. NC State led 14-0, and it wasn’t even that close. The Eagles were being couldn’t hold onto the ball settled for contested threes when they could get off a shot. The deficit remained at double digits until Lonnie Jackson knocked down two threes in the last three minutes to cut the NC State lead to eight. Out of the Wolfpack timeout, Alex Johnson turned it over, giving Boston College the chance to cut the lead to five with a three. Instead, Patrick Heckmann missed a lay-up (he’s definitely still recovering from the month-long bout with mono earlier in conference play); Dennis Clifford committed an offensive foul; and all hell broke loose.

Steve Donahue's Work Cut Out for Him, but Pieces Starting to Emerge for the Eagles.

Still only down eight with the ball with 30 seconds left, Boston College looked ready to seize control of the momentum by adding to an 8-0 run to close out the half. Instead, Jordan Daniels committed a huge freshman turnover. He turned his back to Lorenzo Brown to look at Steve Donahue for the play. Next thing you know Brown picked his pocket and made him pay on the other end with the and-one. Brown missed the free throw, but another Boston College turnover (the team’s thirteenth of the half) led to CJ Williams’ first basket of the afternoon. Suddenly a potentially 10-0 or 11-0 run in favor of the Eagles was an 8-5 stretch, and the lead was back to 13. Those costly mental errors plagued Donahue’s team all season. They reflect the backcourt youth.

Conclusion and thoughts on NC State after the break.

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The Way Too Early ACC Freshmen Review

Posted by KCarpenter on February 3rd, 2012

It’s been something of a down year for sensational ACC freshmen after last year’s excellent class. Still there have been some real gems, and though the Rookie of the Year Honor was pretty much wrapped up by the time the first conference game was tipped, most spots on the ACC All-Freshman Team are wide open. A lot of highly-touted recruits have flopped or underperformed, a lot of talented guys haven’t won minutes over their more experienced teammates, and in general, the youngsters have played pretty inconsistently. If voting for the All-Freshmen team was held tomorrow, here’s who I would vote for.

  • G Austin Rivers (Duke)

Rivers Was Anointed An All-ACC Freshman a Long Time Ago

Barring a miracle, Rivers has Rookie of the Year wrapped up. Leading a top-flight Duke team, he’s the only freshman whose average has cracked double digits. He leads the balanced and talented Blue Devils with 14.1 PPG. Rivers game isn’t perfect; he struggles to do much beyond scoring and his offensive efficiency leaves something to be desired at 103.2. Still, he’s the leading scorer on the best offense in the ACC and that makes any other deficiency seem somewhat trivial. If highlight reel appearances were a statistical category, Rivers moves would leave all the other rookies in the dust.

  • G Shane Larkin (Miami)

With an expected backcourt of Malcom Grant and Durand Scott leading the talented Hurricanes, it didn’t seem like there was a lot of room for 5’11” freshman like Larkin to get a lot of playing time beyond spells off the bench. Somehow though, Larkin proved so valuable to Jim Larranaga that the Hurricanes went to a three guard lineup starting the energetic guard alongside his more experienced teammates. In his first year, Larkin has already managed to jump to the top of the ACC steals charts, averaging 1.9 SPG alongside Lorenzo Brown and Jontel Evans. In terms of tempo-free statistics, Larkin leads the ACC, getting a steal on 4.8% of opponents posessions (this also happens to be the 14th best mark in the nation). Outside of being an all-round pest on defense, Larkin leads ACC freshmen with 2.5 APG and shoots a very respectable 37.5% from behind the arc. With these skills, Larkin is going to be breaking the hearts of other teams fans for the foreseeable future.

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Conference Report Card: ACC

Posted by Brian Goodman on April 28th, 2011

Matt Patton is the RTC correspondent for the ACC.

Conference Recap

The ACC had a down year though North Carolina’s Kendall Marshall-led resurgence and Florida State’s Sweet Sixteen appearance helped a little bit. Before and during the season, Duke was the runaway favorite in the conference: Kyrie Irving’s toe injury obviously was the pivotal point that brought Duke back down to earth. Equally pivotal (in the reverse direction) was Marshall’s move to starting point guard for North Carolina. With Larry Drew II at the helm, there is no way the Tar Heels could have come close to surpassing Duke for the regular season title. The down year did not really surprise most people, and despite lofty preseason expectations (read: people forgot how highly rated North Carolina was to start the season) I think the perception is that the league at least lived up to preseason expectations with a couple of notable exceptions: NC State, Wake Forest, and Virginia Tech. NC State had NCAA Tournament talent, but did not come anywhere close to sniffing the Big Dance; Wake was arguably the worst major conference team in the country; and Virginia Tech once again found itself very highly seeded in the NIT. On the flip side, Clemson and Florida State both exceeded expectations.

Roy Williams and Kendall Marshall led a mid-season resurgence that resulted in a trip the Elite Eight. (News Observer/Robert Willitt)

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