Thursday, December 17, 2009

Who's To Blame?

The BC basketball team has shown flashes of brilliance this season in wins over previously undefeated Miami, and road wins against Providence and Michigan. But the team has also exhibited really puzzling lapses of concentration and effort against lower tier teams like St. Joseph's, Harvard, and Rhode Island.

The critics on the Heights are calling louder than ever for the scalp of long time head coach Al Skinner, and while there is absolutely zero indication of a coaching change, or even displeasure in the job that Skinner has done from the administration, it's worthwhile to take a look at why this team can't seem to put together a consistent performance from week to week. Over the next few days, I'll examine a list of candidates, what the public is saying about those candidates, and what the reality is from my perspective...

Al Skinner

Perception:
Since putting together a veritable dream team (by school standards) in 2005, led by Craig Smith, Jared Dudley, and Sean Marshall and reaching the Sweet 16, Skinner has rested on his laurels. He has been lazy in recruiting, disinterested during games, and has failed to develop players in practice. This season has been the tipping point. After not recruiting a single new player to help replace the departed Tyrese Rice, the team has played down to its level of competition, showed major flaws defensively, still can't break a full court press, and can't inbound the ball. All of this can be directly related to Al Skinner's laid back approach, which is just a code word for "he doesn't care".

Reality:
As a coach, mentor, and leader, Skinner has been the perfect man to lead this program since all the trouble that was caused by Jim O'Brien. Al did a tremendous job bringing the program back to respectability and has generally brought in players that have performed on the court and in the classroom, and have been good representatives of the school that students and alumni can be proud of. However, his coaching prowess, is certainly up for debate. Routinely, his teams have been unable to break a press, have constantly turned the ball over on out of bounds plays, and have played down or up to their level of competition. Al has also struggled to adapt his coaching style to fit his teams personality (in this case, a more athletic up-tempo group). His attempts to squeeze round pegs into square holes with this group has really hindered their growth and development and has led to some of their struggles. He may not be the right person to lead this particular group. Skinner has been here a long time, and perhaps has gotten too comfortable at the helm. Perhaps new blood is needed, though it's not likely to be coming.

Tomorrow: Rakim Sanders

Saturday, December 12, 2009

BC Recruiting Update

Both ESPN and Eagle Action are reporting that 6'5 260 pound Dominic Appiah has committed to Boston College over Maryland and UConn. The Cheshire Academy (CT) defensive end initially did not have the Eagles in his final group and seemed destined to play for the Huskies. BC made a late push to land a player at a key position that is in need of a depth and talent infusion.

Appiah is expected to enroll in January to be ready for spring practice.

BC Scheduling Update

After the announcement of Hofstra's decision to cut it's football program, the school announced yesterday that Big Sky Conference member Weber State has tentatively agreed to take on the Eagles September 4th at Alumni Stadium. The game would represent the season opener for both teams.

According to the Boston Globe, Weber State contacted BC about the opening in the schedule and expressed an interest in a 1 time engagement. AD Gene DeFillipo has said that a tentative deal is in place, but the contracts have not been signed. There hasn't been any detail regarding the payout that the Wildcats will receive for playing the game.

The Wildcats finished last season 7-5 and made the FCS Playoffs, losing to William & Mary in the opening round.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

BC loses to Harvard...again

I was so furious at the end of this game last night I could barely move, thus the lack of a post-game recap of it. I've finally thawed and will be all over this tonight. Stay tuned.

Monday, December 7, 2009

News, Notes, Links

Early Thoughts on BC vs. USC in the Emerald Bowl.

I, like a lot of folks, am really excited for this game. Rare is the time that BC gets the opportunity to play a program of this caliber in a bowl game. Often times they've been relegated to playing low level major conference programs (read: Vanderbilt, North Carolina, etc.) or high level mid-major teams (read: Boise State, Toledo, Colorado State, etc.), which are generally one in the same. But in this case, the Eagles will be taking on perhaps the premiere college football program of this decade.

Yes, they're down. No, they're not BCS caliber this season. And no, the intensity level probably won't be very high, but for the Eagles, this is a great opportunity. This game will be played on national TV (ESPN) in prime time (8pm) on a day that generally will have friends and family gathered thanks to the holidays (Dec. 26). So there's a good chance that all of that, combined with USC being in the game, this will provide a very large stage for Frank Spaziani and the Eagles.

That can be two-fold though. BC has the opportunity to beat one of the great all-time football programs in a bowl game on national TV, but there is also the potential that USC rises above it's mediocrity and plays to it's talent level and absolutely drubs them as well. Despite their identical 8-4 records, make no mistake, these 2 teams could not possibly be more different. USC, despite their struggles, will have better talent in nearly phase and at nearly every position. The saving grace for BC likely will be the aforementioned intensity factor. BC will be absolutely jacked to play this game. I hardly see USC, which has spent the better part of this decade throttling Big 10 teams in the Rose Bowl or winning national championships, being nearly as excited. If BC can play with controlled energy, they can compete in this game.

BC Football vs. USC Links

Both the Emerald Bowl and BC are thrilled with the match-up. Pete Carroll? Not so much.

The decision came down to who lost worse on Saturday and would drop further, USC or Cal?

Senior safety Taylor Mays says the Trojans aren't just going to San Francisco for the scenery. They want to win the game.

BC Basketball vs. Miami Links

The Eagles allowed another double digit lead to get away but still came away with the win.

Reggie's free throw shooting and rebounding down the stretch spoke louder than his ferocious dunk.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Reggie Jackson's Dunk

Absolutely filthy...

Boston College 61 Miami 60

The Scoreboard
                   1      2      F
Miami 25 35 60
Boston College 31 30 61
The Story...

For the 3rd consecutive game the Eagles played a tremendous first half, this time led by the electric Reggie Jackson, and ran out to a solid 6 point lead at halftime. Immediately after the half, BC came out with the intensity necessary to put the previously undefeated Hurricanes down for the count, leading by as much as 17. But, also for the 3rd consecutive game, the team fell asleep at the wheel down the stretch and allowed Miami back in the game. The 'Canes had 3 chances to either tie or win the game in the final minute, but Jackson grabbed 2 rebounds off those chances and sank 4 free throws to preserve the win. It was the first loss for Miami this season and BC's 3rd consecutive win after an ugly showing in the Paradise Jam.

By the Numbers...

34.5%...BC's shooting percentage for the game. The Eagles made just 20 of 58 shots in the game and were even worse from the 3 point line in the game (3-18). It stands to reason that under that scenario, they'd have lost the game most times. So, what did BC do so well as to offset the shooting woes? Well...

20-3...The astounding offensive rebounding edge that BC had against Miami. Of the 38 shots the Eagles missed during the game, they rebounded over half of them. That is an absolutely amazing number and is the sole reason BC held on to win the game. Miami managed just 19 total rebounds in the game to BC's 43. I made a huge deal about BC's rebounding question marks entering the season, but they've quickly made a fool of me. They're tops in the ACC presently in rebounding and have outrebounded every opponent so far this season.

7:3...Biko Paris' assist to turnover ratio. Paris has gone relatively unnoticed this season due to the emergence of Reggie Jackson and Corey Raji this season, but Biko has done a nice job of managing the team and not turning the ball over. One major area of concern was BC's ability to handle ball pressure. That is another situation in which BC has excelled this season and much of the credit goes to the junior from New Orleans.

Thumbs Up...

Reggie Jackson

I'm running out superlatives for this guy. He has absolutely done it all for the Eagles this season in an effort to prove that Rakim Sanders wasn't the sole offensive option for this team. His athleticism and high motor have provided the Eagles with an energy that hasn't been seen on the Heights since Troy Bell roamed the campus. His dunk in the 2nd half was thunderous and really provided an emotional lift for the team. Jackson led the team today with 18 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists with only 2 turnovers. More importantly, he grabbed 2 huge rebounds in the final minute and made clutch free throws when the game was on the line. Reggie now leads the team in rebounding with 8.1. As a reminder, Jackson is only 6'3.

Corey Raji

Like Jackson, Corey Raji has made the most of his increased role in the offense while Rakim Sanders continues to recover from a badly sprained right ankle. Raji was the only player on the team to shoot over 50% from the field today (6-13, 17 points) and also grabbed 9 rebounds, 7 of them offensive. Raji also improved on his dismal free throw shooting by making 5-6 from the line. He also, as usual, guarded the most explosive offensive player from the other team, holding guard James Dews to half of his season average.

Thumbs Down...

Joe Trapani

This has got to stop. Trapani, after being one of the most efficient players on the team last season (44% shooting), has struggled mightily with his shot this season and his 1-13 today was simply awful. Joe has now dropped below 37% shooting for the season despite (or perhaps because of) his increased role in the offensive scheme. It's still early in the season, so a turnaround certainly isn't out of the question, but you get the feeling that the more the competition level goes up, the more he is going to struggle.

Overall...

After a great deal of public questioning of this teams character (myself included), the team has risen to the challenge winning games against quality opponents while being short handed due to the loss of Sanders. These last 3 games were supposed to be an early litmus test as to what type of season this would be and I have to admit that I did not think they would be able to muster enough together to win even 2 of these games. The adversity the Eagles faced in the US Virgin Islands has served to bring them together with an "us against the world" mentality. The key now though, will be for the Eagles to not relax as the schedule lightens a little bit with games against Harvard, URI, and Bryant on the horizon next. Anything less than a 3-0 stretch will be completely unacceptable for this team.

Emerald Bowl Update: Opponent Confirmed!

Representatives from the Emerald Bowl issued a press release a short while ago confirming that Boston College will be participating for the 2nd time this decade. That wasn't a real surprise. The surprise came when the announcement confirmed the rumors that Pete Carroll's USC Trojans would be the Eagles opponent. More on this later tonight as well as a recap of todays big win over Miami for the basketball team.

Friday, December 4, 2009

So...What Now?

In light of the news regarding Hofstra's decision to drop its football program amid high costs and low interest, BC is left without an opening day opponent for next season. As I mentioned yesterday this is the 2nd time in 3 years that an opponent has backed out of an agreement to play the Eagles. Last time, it happened during the season beforehand which gave the Eagles a little more time to find a replacement. As a result, they were able to pick up a mid-level 1-A team in Central Florida, rather than a 2nd 1-AA team (note: I refuse to use the FBS/FCS terminology).

This time though, considering that Hofstra is a 1-AA team, it would seem more realistic that AD Gene DeFillipo would go out and simply replace Hofstra with a team that was previously on the Pride's schedule. However, there is still a potential 1-A opponent on the horizon that is in a similar situation to the Eagles, which would draw a great deal of intrigue, considering the history and back story associated with it.

With the earlier news of Northeastern folding it's own football tent a few weeks back, the UConn Huskies are also looking for a new dance partner. Coincidentally, they also are looking to fill their opening weekend slot (September 4). DeFillipo is on record as saying that he would NEVER schedule UConn in any sport as long as he remained the athletic director at BC because of the very public and very ugly way that things ended between the Eagles and the Big East (UConn specifically). UConn head football coach Randy Edsall is on record saying that he would love to play BC in what would be a match-up of the only 2 1-A programs in New England.

The bad blood goes back to a lawsuit filed against BC and the ACC on behalf of the state of Connecticut (representing the University and several other Big East schools) for their "abandonment" of the Big East. The lawsuit cost nearly 2 million dollars in taxpayer money and was an incredibly petty temper tantrum based on the premise that the Eagles (along with VaTech and Miami) were "conspiring" to weaken the Big East. Eventually, the lawsuit was settled out of court, though BC was able to win judgments in the case to avoid paying an exit fee to the Big East.

Personally, I am in favor of this particular move. UConn at the time of the lawsuit was not yet associated with the Big East in football and therefore, nobody on that staff had a hand in the lawsuit, nor did they decree that they wouldn't ever play the Eagles in football because of the nature of their divorce from the Big East. In fact, Huskies coach Randy Edsall has been adamant that he would love the opportunity to pit his team against the perennial northeast football power. Having said that, I also would not under any circumstances play this game anywhere but Alumni Stadium. Playing against UConn in football is one thing, but stepping onto that campus following the turmoil is quite another. In no way does UConn have the cache to ask for a home game or a neutral site, nor should they have the nerve to ask for either scenario. I personally believe that if UConn were willing to play a no-return game against the Eagles at Alumni, Gene would listen to that offer.

What about you, the reader? What would it take for you to agree to schedule a game against UConn? Leave your comments!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hofstra Drops Football!

In the wake of Northeastern University discontinuing it's football program after 70+ years of competition, fellow CAA school Hofstra is the 2nd school in as many weeks to do the same. The school announced today that it is discontinuing it's program after 60+ years.

The reason I'm posting this is because of the obvious...Boston College was scheduled to play Hofstra next season. This leaves a hole in the schedule, that I'm sure we'd all prefer they fill with a reasonably competent opponent. This is a great opportunity for BC to see if anyone else is still looking for a game for that week and to schedule a reasonable 1-A opponent.

This is the 2nd time in 3 seasons that BC has been forced to re-schedule on the fly thanks to a program dropping out of a game. In 2008, Army canceled a scheduled game with the Eagles, citing a desire to play lighter competition. BC was able to take a step up in competition by agreeing to meet Central Florida as a replacement.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Boston College 62 Michigan 58

The Scoreboard
                   1     2    F
Boston College 34 28 62
Michigan 24 34 58
The Story...

Taking part in the prestigious ACC-Big 10 Challenge, on national TV, and facing a pre-season top 15 team with one of the most explosive scorers in the country in Manny Harris, Boston College jumped out to as much as a 17 point lead behind the sizzling shooting of Corey Raji, and then held on down the stretch to win 62-58. BC led by 10 at the half while Harris struggled to score for the Wolverines. The Eagles though, shot the lights out, making 9 of their first 11 shots and punishing their Big 10 foe inside with sharp passing and strong off the ball cuts at the rim. Joe Trapani again struggled with his shot, but helped out by pulling down a team high 12 rebounds. In the 2nd half though, the defense struggled, and BC was unable to execute offensively the way they did in the 1st half. Down the stretch, a 17 point lead evaporated to as little as 6 behind a strong 2nd half from Harris. Finally though, Reggie Jackson sealed the game with some strong moves to the basket and 3 clutch free throws to put the game out of reach. A late layup by the Maize and Blue provided the final margin.

By the Numbers...

24...The number of points for Corey Raji in the game, representing a season high. Raji was absolutely amazing in this game on both ends of the floor. He drew the Manny Harris assignment in the game, and did a nice job of containing the penetration and forcing him to either give up the ball or take bad shots. Though he got hot late, some of the shots he made were of the circus variety. On the other end, Raji obliterated Harris with tremendous off the ball cuts that frequently left him open underneath the rim for easy layups. When he wasn't shooting inside of 3 feet, Raji was also consistent with his jumper and scored his 24 points on a stellar 11-16 from the field.

34...The absolutely ridiculous number of 3 pointers taken by Michigan in the game. People who know me know that I detest this style of basketball. It's a terrible style of basketball taught by coaches who either don't have the basketball knowledge to draw up a real offense, or who don't have the talent to execute a real offense. It's boring, ugly, and in general, bad basketball. More than half of the Wolverines shots were from the 3 point line in the game and they made just 6. Hideous performance by the Wolverines courtesy of their incredibly mediocre coach. I hope 1 day that this style goes the way of the 3 yards and a cloud of dust in football.

41...The aforementioned unwatchable style of basketball is also a good way to ensure that you will not be able to rebound the basketball. As a result, BC grabbed 41 rebounds to the Wolverines 26. This went a long way toward ensuring the win tonight. The Wolverines were limited in their second chance opportunities, and as a result BC was able to control the tempo of the game.

Thumbs Up...

Corey Raji

Hard to say more about the guy than I have already in the past 2 weeks. He's playing, quite simply, out of his mind. He's shooting a very high percentage, grabbing rebounds, playing strong perimeter defense, and intimidating shots from the weak side. He and Reggie Jackson have done a tremendous job compensating for the loss of Rakim Sanders (who should be back next week) and kept this team afloat.

Al Skinner

A lot of people are not big fans of Skinners coaching style (and for the most part count me among them), but the job Skinner has done the past 2 games of getting this teams attention and re-focusing them after the tough trip down to the Caribbean is remarkable. This team looked like it threw in the towel after the Northern Iowa game, and even admitted in the papers that it was suffering from a lack of confidence. But in the last 2 games, the team has played with more energy and intensity than at any other point this season. And this, without the presence of their best offensive player (Sanders), and with their 2nd best offensive player (Trapani) struggling with his shot from the very first game. A win over Miami this weekend will restore my faith that this is a team with a chance to do some major damage in the ACC.

Thumbs Down...

Free Throw Shooting

Yawn...same story different day. At some point this is going to come back and haunt them as it did last year on occasion. They made just 13-20 on the night and missed 3 of their last 4 while attempting to stave off the late rally by the Wolverines after BC went into a modified 4 corners offense with roughly 6 minutes remaining. Michigan struggled from deep the entire game and as a result the missed free throws ultimately didn't hurt them, but had the Wolverines started making shots, things could have gone a lot differently.

Tyler Roche

As predicted, Roche has come back to earth after returning to the bench in the 3rd game of the season. The hopes of him continuing to make shots after moving out of the lineup was apparently far fetched as he has made just 8 of 21 shots in that time and has failed to crack double figures in all of them. As the season moves along, Roche will need to start hitting shots and give this team a presence off the bench as playing their top 5/6 guys for 36 minutes a game will not win them too many games in conference. Courtney Dunn though played a tremendous game, especially on the defensive end with 2 blocks and 4 rebounds in just 12 minutes.

Overall...

A good solid effort from BC in a game that was played on national television against what is supposed to be an up and coming team. The only thing that worried me was that Michigan did the Eagles a HUGE favor by bombing away from deep an awful lot(even by their standards). The Wolverines rarely attacked the paint so it was difficult to get a gauge on where they stand from a defensive aspect. Reggie Jackson (15 points) again continued to display his athletic ability as he continually drove to the lane and was able to blow by whatever hapless defender attempted to stop him. Jackson also continued to play a solid all around game (8 rebounds, 6 assists) and appears to be making life difficult for Coach Skinner. I can't imagine how Skinner will be able to keep him out of the starting lineup once Rakim Sanders returns.

The Eagles will look to continue their recent stretch of good play on Saturday when they welcome in the Miami Hurricanes for the ACC opener for both schools. Miami has been absolutely on fire this season, and is currently undefeated at 9-0. I imagine there are still plenty of tickets available for the game, so get over to Conte Forum and cheer on the Eagles.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

More ACC Awards

As expected today, the ACC announced that Virginia Tech's Ryan Williams was named the Rookie of the Year in the conference, narrowly edging out BC's Luke Kuechly (34-29).

I have a much bigger problem with this decision than I do with Frank Spaziani only getting 2 votes as the ACC coach of the year. Spaz did pretty well in terms of keeping the team together following all the adversity that the team faced. But as far as coaching the team? There was a lot left to be desired.

Kuechly on the other hand did an amazing job, considering the situation he was put in. As good as Williams was, he didn't have near the impact on his team that Luke did on the Eagles. Kuechly is currently second in the nation in total tackles and has over 50 tackles in the last 3 games, which is a staggering number.

Ryan Williams is a worthy ACC Rookie of the Year winner, but I think when you are considering 2 equal players, impact on the team should be a major factor. Without Kuechly, the Eagles are a 5-7 team. Without Williams, VaTech plugs in someone else and still wins 9 games.

GT's Paul Johnson Named ACC Coach of the Year + Links

Just coming down the pipe as we speak, Paul Johnson will be named the ACC's coach of the year by a landslide. The Georgia Tech head coach has now won the award 2 straight years.

BC's Frank Spaziani, after being predicted to finish 11th in the conference, took the Eagles to an 8-4 record (5-3 in the ACC), but only received 2 votes in the poll. He finished behind Johnson, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, and Duke coach David Cutcliffe.

Boston College also announced today that it has reached a 6 year agreement with Under Armour to outfit the football team along with 29 other varsity sports beginning next season. BC will be in elite company, as UA also has exclusive deals with traditional football powers Alabama and Auburn. The deal represents the first of it's kind for the athletic outfitter in the northeast.

Monday, November 30, 2009

*BREAKING NEWS* FSU's Bowden to Retire Tomorrow

After 34 seasons on the sidelines of Florida State University, head coach Bobby Bowden is expected to announce his retirement tomorrow according to an ESPN.com report, citing unnamed sources.

Bowden is the 2nd all time winningest coach in NCAA history with 388 victories, but since winning the ACC title back in 2005 (the first year of expansion), the 'Noles have struggled both within the conference and on a national scale. The team finished just 6-6 on the year including a season ending 37-10 loss to rival Florida.

In it's heyday, the Seminoles put together one of the greatest runs in the history of the sport. From 1987-2000 the team finished in the top 5 every single season including national championships in 1993 and 1999.

Boston College was 3-2 against Florida State since joining the ACC in 2005, including a 28-21 win this season which marked the first home victory by either team since the expansion.

All-ACC Teams Announced + Links!

BC has 4 representatives on the All-ACC teams this year...

1st Team All-ACC

LT Anthony Costanzo
LB Luke Kuechly

2nd Team All-ACC

C Matt Tennant
RB Montel Harris

Congratulations to all 4 players for being named as the best of the best in the ACC. Kuechly and Harris in particular deserve special recognition for their contributions to the team this season for shouldering a heavy burden of responsibility due to a key contributor being injured, graduating, or transferring. Also something to consider is that Tennant is the only member of this All-ACC class who will not be back next season.

One player that I was surprised did not receive an All-ACC mention was Ryan Quigley. Quigley has done a tremendous job pinning opposing teams in their own end of the field. He was 2nd in the conference in punts inside the 20 and only shanked 1 punt this season (that I can recall).

Lost in the shuffle of the all-conference teams being released was Luke Kuechly being recognized as the ACC Defensive player of the week. It's his 2nd consecutive player of the week award (he was named rookie of the week last week). Kuechly had 16 tackles Saturday against Maryland including his leaping stop of Terps QB JaMarr Robinson on 4th down that led to the Eagles' game winning field goal.

Frank Spaziani feels like 8 wins is a tremendous accomplishment for a team that faced as much adversity as this Boston College team.

The Eagles are home now focusing on their classes while awaiting their fate in the bowl selection process. Where are they headed? We'll find out Sunday.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Boston College 82 Providence 77

The Scoreboard
                  1     2     F
Boston College 42 40 82
Providence 31 46 77
The Story...

With a lot of people (myself included) wondering whether or not this team would show a backbone and try to salvage the early part of its season or if it would roll over and quit, the Eagles played perhaps their best first half of the season. Led by a tremendous performance from Reggie Jackson and a terrific effort defensively, the Eagles led by 11 points at halftime and by as many as 18 overall. But after coming out very complacent after the half, the Friars were able to shred BC for 46 second half points and even took a lead with less than 2 minutes remaining. But thanks to some timely baskets from Josh Southern and clutch free throw shooting across the board, the Eagles scored the last 7 points of the game to escape the Dunkin Donuts Center with a desperately needed 82-77 win.

By the Numbers...

43...The number of rebounds collected by the Eagles. Faced with an undersized 3 point shooting opponent, BC took advantage by pounding both the offensive and defensive glass, particularly in the 1st half. They didn't allow many second chance points were able to collect 15 offensive rebounds of their own to help out the perimeter players who shot a gruesome 0-10 from 3 point territory. Speaking of which...

0...The number of 3 pointers made for Boston College. I'd need to research this, but I can't remember the last time the team didn't make a single three pointer. It didn't hurt them in this game because of the job they did on the offensive glass, but it's something that needs to be improved against better teams. The Eagles will take on highly ranked Michigan, a team similar to the Friars later this week, so that game would be a good place to start improving their perimeter shooting.

59.3...BC's percentage at the free throw line. Winning washes away a lot of sins, but only for so long. Free throws were another reason that this game became much more interesting than it needed to be. By making just 16-27 attempts in the game, they left points on the floor that the Friars gladly converted into their own in their bid to erase a huge deficit. BC did the right thing by attacking the rim against them, but did not make them pay at the line. Had they made even 75% of their shots from the stripe, the game would have been over long before it was. Providence aided the BC escape by shooting just 53% from the line, though on far fewer attempts.

Thumbs Up...

Reggie Jackson

Far and away the MVP of this game, and so far this season, the team. The explosive sophomore posted an unbelievable 20 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists. He was the teams go to player throughout the game and continues to evolve his game into the player we saw flashes of last season. What is most impressive about his game is the ability he has to put the ball on the floor and weave his way to the rim and finish. He's ferocious at the rim and a tremendous athletic specimen. The more he plays the more I like him. Does Biko Paris really keep his starting spot when Rakim Sanders is ready to return next week?

Corey Raji

Like Jackson, Corey Raji has improved greatly since arriving on campus. Now a junior, Raji has become a reliable shooter from the mid-range and continues to be a tremendous weak side defender and shot blocker. He has also been the Eagles best perimeter player this year and is routinely assigned the other teams best offensive player. In this game, he defended Providence's Marshon Brooks throughout the night and held the junior play maker below his scoring average and below 50% shooting from the field while committing just 3 fouls.

Thumbs Down...

Free Throw Shooting

See above. The Eagles allowed the Friars to climb back into this game behind a number of factors. Not the least of which, was the number of points that BC left at the free throw line. Had they been able to convert at the line while attacking the rim, they could have broken Providence's will much earlier in this game. To their credit, the Eagles did make their final 4 of the game to ice it.

2nd Half Focus

Clearly BC came out with a mission. They wanted to prove that they were capable defensively of winning basketball games against good teams. They accomplished this in the 1st half...perhaps too well. When they came out for the 2nd half there was a lack of intensity that was so much a part of them grabbing that early 18 point lead. I'm worried that this first half was more of an anomaly than the norm because of all the pressure the team was under because of its performance in the Paradise Jam. We'll find out more this week.

Overall

It's hard to argue with the win under the circumstances. They were up against a team with a strong record, that was playing with a great deal of confidence and provided match-up nightmares all over the court, and still managed to come away with the game. It was also impressive given their own shortcomings as a team and the lack of confidence that Corey Raji alluded that the team was playing with. It was a very important win for the team psyche, because it showed that when focused they can absolutely compete at a high level on both ends of the court.

As I mentioned earlier, whether this was an anomaly or a look at things to come will be revealed later this week when the Eagles take on 15th ranked Michigan on Wednesday as part of the Big 10-ACC Challenge. The Wolverines have lost their last 2 against Alabama and Marquette after winning their first 3. Alabama was also the only other team to beat Providence before BC, so take that for what it's worth.

Boston College 19 Maryland 17

The Scoreboard
                   1     2     3     4    F
Boston College 10 6 0 3 19
Maryland 3 7 0 7 17
The Story...

In what will ultimately amount to a frustrating but satisfying game for the Eagles, Montel Harris led the offense with another 100+ yard effort, Dave Shinskie played his best game in a month and the defense was solid if unspectacular to help BC pick up their second road win of the season 19-17 at Byrd Stadium in College Park, MD. The Terrapins were feisty though as they battled, perhaps more valiantly than many of us (myself included) believed they would. They put together a tough gritty game, and gave themselves a chance to win, but in the end, talent won out and the better team came away with the victory. It certainly wasn't easy though, as BC struggled again to put the ball in the end zone and having settle for 4 field goals. The defensive line though, kept Maryland from capitalizing on the offenses mistakes, posting it's best game of the season by harassing both Maryland QB's throughout the game, and coming up with 2 huge stops on 4th down in the 4th quarter. After a late Maryland TD, Colin Larmond recovered an onside kick to preserve the win. For the Eagles, they finish the regular season with a record of 8-4. It's the 9th time this decade the team finished with at least 8 wins (They won just 7 in 2000).

By the Numbers...

16...The number of tackles by freshman phenom Luke Kuechly. Luke was all over the field again yesterday and now has 35 tackles in his last 2 games. The play that everyone will remember in this game though was the staggering feat of athleticism on 4th and short with about 9 minutes remaining in the game. Luke was able to hurdle the offensive line and hit QB JaMarr Robinson before he was able to make any forward progress and get the ball back for the Eagles. This was easily the play of the game as BC held a tenuous 1 score lead and momentum seemed to be building for the Terps.

41...The number of carries for running back Montel Harris. Harris ran for 142 yards on those carries to tie a 39 year old record for total carries in a game. I mentioned this in the preview that the coaching staff needed to allow Harris to tote the rock as many times as was necessary to win the game and they accomplished that in this game. Despite facing repeated 8 and 9 man fronts in the game, Montel kept finding holes and kept moving the sticks and shortening the game for BC. Montel finishes the regular season with 1,355 yards on the ground.

4...The number of sacks by the BC defensive line. This line has been criticized and beaten on all year by both opponents and the media, but on this day they were tremendous. As DT Damik Scafe has gotten healthier, after struggling with neck and shoulder issues most of the year, he has given the Eagles a space eating presence in the middle of the line that has sorely been missed. He ate up blocks throughout the game and allowed the rest of the line and the linebackers to work against 1 on 1 blocking and effectively pressure the Maryland QB platoon and limit the running game of the Terps.

4/5...The number of field goals made/missed by kicker Steve Aponavicius. The 1 that people will focus on is the miss he had early in the 3rd quarter that would have stretched the game to a 2 score lead and was his first miss of any kid this season, but what people should focus on is the kick he made late in the game with all the pressure on him. The wind, while not howling, certainly was a factor in the game, not to mention the natural grass surface and the length of the kick (42 yards, longest of the season). It was a clutch play for the senior, who said a few weeks ago that he would love to close out his career with another game-winner ala the bowl win over Navy in 2006. He was never the greatest kicker but he often made the ones that counted the most. Steve finished the season 37/37 on extra points and 13/14 on field goals.

Thumbs Up...

Dave Shinskie

He took bad sacks, made a few poor decisions, refused to run with the ball, and held it for too long. Under most circumstances that would garner a thumbs down from me, but he deserves credit for making the right passes at the right time, not turning the ball over, and not forcing balls into coverage. He managed the game and didn't put the defense in bad position the way he had the last few weeks. Shinskie completed 14/23 passes for 227 yards, 1 touchdown, and most importantly, no interceptions. He's taken a great deal of heat, especially for his play on the road, but he's proven that he's a tough guy mentally as he blocked it out and played his best game away from Alumni.

Damik Scafe

When all the pre-season predictions came out and BC was roundly picked to finish last in the conference, 1 of the reasons I felt like they would be in good shape this year was Damik. Scafe played a good amount last year and had 2 years to learn under BJ Raji and Ron Brace, so I figured he would be an adequate replacement. Damik has been hurt a good portion of the season, but the last 2 weeks since he's returned, we've seen him flash some of that potential and then yesterday we saw him explode. He dominated the Terrapin O-Line picking up his first sack of the year and was able to eat up blocks and be a major force in the running game. If he's healthy next year, Scafe will be a headache for opposing teams.

Montel Harris

A lot has been made about the season that Harris has had this year (over 1,300 yards rushing with over 250 attempts). But, I don't enough has been made about his improvement from last year to this year. Harris has shown dramatic improvement in his ability to find holes, make tacklers miss, and pick up yards after contact. He was able to do this in small doses last year, but has had to learn to do it this season at an exponentially higher level because many teams(especially late in the year) were gearing their entire defenses to stop him. Yet, despite that he had at least 130 yards in each of the last 4 games. At this pace, Harris may go down as one of the greatest running backs in school history.

Thumbs Down...

Donnie Fletcher

People who know me, know that I am not a fan of this young man. By all accounts, he's a nice kid who works hard and wants to get better. But the fact of the matter is that he simply can not cover anyone at this level and is a major liability. When he comes in the game, teams immediately find him and go at him play after play. The last few weeks he's been less noticeable, but yesterday was a tough day for him. 3 times, Fletcher was thrown against, 3 times the Terrapins picked up the 1st down. 1 of those plays, Fletcher tripped over his own 2 feet and allowed a 3rd and long completion that led to the Terps first TD, and on another, he blew a tackle in front of the first down marker. and allowed a drive to continue. It frightens me that he might be starting next year in place of the graduating Roderick Rollins.

Gary Tranquill & Frank Spaziani

As the season has gone along, we've seen more and more conservative play calling from Gary Tranquill. The lack of play-action yesterday was startling considering the game-long 8 and 9 man fronts the Eagles faced and was a direct result of their being forced to kick field goals instead of scoring touchdowns. With the safety's playing as close to the line as they were, and the corners playing Larmond and Gunnell 1 on 1, it seemed like at some point the best course of action would be to eventually run play action and try something deep, or at least over the middle. Only once did this happen, and it resulted in a big 1st down in the 4th quarter which resulted in sarcastic applause from me. On the goal line and in 3rd and 4th and short, it was more of the same. Everyone in the stadium knew the draw to Harris was coming but rather than run mis-direction (play action, bootleg, etc), the Eagles chose to bang their heads against the wall resulting in 3's instead of 6's.

Overall...

This was a pretty good performance against a team that played way above itself due to the emotion of it being senior day, the last game of the season, and the potential final game in the career of head coach Ralph Friedgen. The Terps played with a great deal of passion and forced the Eagles to up there game. They made big plays when they needed them (the 4th down stops) and they were clutch when it counted the most (Steve's game winning field goal, Larmond shaking off the drops to come down with the onside kick, etc). The team will hopefully take this win and be proud of the way they had to earn this one and that they did not turn the ball over at all. The Eagles will now await their bowl fate when the bids get handed out next weekend at the conclusion of the conference championship games. The Eagles will either be bowling in Charlotte or San Francisco.

The Scene: Photos from Byrd Stadium






News, Notes, Links

Afternoon everyone! After a long drive back from the D.C. area and a good nights sleep, we're back on track here at "The View". I'll be posting the recap of the BC-Maryland game shortly, followed by photos from the game and then the BC-Providence basketball game recap (I'm watching it as I type this). In the meantime, here's some post-game reaction to both.

BC-Maryland Links

Steve Aponavicius missed his first kick of the year yesterday, but made the game winner when it counted the most.

Mark Herzlich was off crutches yesterday, while his tag-team partner next year, Luke Kuechly, made perhaps the play of the year late in the game.

Montel Harris tied a nearly 40 year old team record yesterday by toting the rock 41 times for 142 yards.

Yesterday might have been the swan song for Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen, but not everyone thinks he should go.

Friedgen though, feels confident that he will be back next season.

The Terps juggled QB's all afternoon, with varying degrees of success, thanks to some nagging injuries.

BC-Providence Links

The Eagles showed much more effort defensively against the 3 point shooting Friars yesterday.

Despite Tyler Roche (back) and Joe Trapani (flu) being limited, the Eagles found a way to get their most important win this season.

For the Friars, it was a game in which both their flaws and their potential were on full display.

Friday, November 27, 2009

BC basketball vs. Providence Preview

Who: Boston College (3-2) vs. Providence Friars (4-1)
Where: Dunkin Donuts Center -- Providence, RI
When: 7:00pm EST on COX Cable (RI) or 850AM-WEEI

Last We Saw Them...

The Eagles were down in the US Virgin Islands wrapping up a disappointing appearance in the Paradise Jam. The defensive shortcomings of the team were exposed against some elevated competition, most notably against Northern Iowa. BC allowed the Panthers to shoot an astonishing 65% from the field, while also allowing Kwadzo Ahelegbe to pour in 32 points on 14-17 shooting. The loss gave BC a 1-2 record in the tournament and a 3-2 record overall as they returned back to the northeast. Also of note was that Rakim Sanders, fresh off a 2-game suspension for a violation of team rules was injured while going for a rebound in the first 3 minutes of the tournament opener against St. Joseph's.

Providence meanwhile is off to a solid start this season albeit against much lesser competition. They've jumped out to a 4-1 record including a win Tuesday against the Catamounts of Vermont. Junior swingman Marshon Brooks was the high man for the Friars as he poured in 24 points on just 8-10 shooting and had 5 steals. He was helped out by forward Jamine Patterson who chipped in with 20. No other Friar reached double figures except Kyle Wright who came off the bench to score 13 points including 3-4 from deep. Providence forced 23 Catamount turnovers in the game leading to a slew of fast break points to break the game open early and help them to a 106-64 win. The Friars as a team made 15-27 from beyond the arc.

Know Thy Enemy...

Marshon Brooks has been the man for the Friars thus far, pouring in almost 20 points per game, while shooting a scorching 49% from the 3 point line. He's also been the playmaker for the team as he is averaging better than 3 assists per game (second on the team behind Vincent Council). In the model of past Keno Davis coached teams though, the Friars are very undersized (just 1 player bigger than 6'5" in the lineup) and have been forced to try to rebound as a team. The 6'8" Jamine Peterson has done his best to keep the rebounding in order, as he's averaged a team high 10.4 a game and leads a group of 7 players averaging more than 3 per game. Bilal Dixon is 2nd on the team with 7 per game and also is the team leader in blocked shots (2 a game).

Offensively, Providence does shoot the deep ball very well and creates match-up problems because of their ball handling ability at all positions. They are heavily reliant on the 3 pointer and struggle in games in which they don't shoot it well. In the Friars lone loss this season in Tuscaloosa against the Crimson Tide of Alabama, they were out rebounded 42-40 and made just 5 of 21 from deep.

What to Watch For...

Perimeter Defense

I've been harping on this all season, but it's even more important in this game than at any other point this season. It will be critical to close out on the perimeter and try to limit penetration. If they allow open shots and dribble drives the way they did against Northern Iowa, they will get eaten alive against a strong Providence squad. BC has struggled all season with containing players off the bounce, dynamic guards with good handle in particular. It will be on Biko Paris and Reggie Jackson to prevent the drive and kick, which is so much a part of a Keno Davis led attack.

Ball Movement

To this point, the most exotic defense the Eagles have faced was the occasional 1-2-2 zone that St. Francis (NY) threw at them for about 3 minutes just to give them another look. In this game though, they'll face a totally different animal in the Keno Davis 3-2 match-up zone. BC is not stocked with 3 point shooters, and as a result, can not simply bomb away and hope to win. They must show good patience and make the perimeter players move by reversing the ball. The best area to attack this particular zone is by isolating and overloading 1 corner or the other and then reversing the ball. If BC doesn't play with patience they will struggle to score in this game, turn the ball over, and be run right out of the building.

Inside Play

BC has been surprisingly effective on the glass to this point in the season and will need to continue that in this game in order to give themselves a chance. They can not give second opportunities to a good 3 point shooting team and expect to find a way to get a badly needed win. The Friars are an undersized team and if BC makes a commitment to rebounding they should have good success. In addition, they also need to take advantage of that size on the offensive end of the floor. They need to consistently challenge the Friars at the rim with dribble penetration as well as get some semblance of a post game out of Josh Southern and Joe Trapani. If they are able to score inside, they can slow down the pace of the game and force Providence into a half court game.

How It's Gonna Go Down...

This is a key game for Boston College because of the way things went down in the Caribbean. They were carved to pieces by St. Joseph's and Northern Iowa, lost Rakim Sanders to an ankle injury, and have generally struggled to contain even the most mediocre of opponents. If the Eagles have any interest in making a post season tournament this season, now would be the time to commit defensively before the season gets away from them. This is the beginning of a key 3 game stretch that could really set the tone for the rest of the year. I think this is the ultimate nightmare match-up for BC because of the nature of the Providence offense. The Friars thrive on taking opposing teams off the dribble and driving to the rim or kicking out to open 3 point shooters. I think BC puts up a much better effort in this game and will keep it interesting, but 1 too many times the Eagles will lose focus defensively and the Friars sink the Eagles with late 3's. A tiger doesn't change its stripes, and a basketball team can't change its mind-set in just a few days.

The Line: BC +3
The Call: Providence 77 BC 70

BC Football vs. Maryland Preview

Who: Boston College (7-4, 4-3) vs. Maryland Terrapins (2-9, 1-6)
Where: Byrd Stadium -- College Park, MD
When: 3:30pm EST on ESPNU and 850AM-WEEI

Last We Saw Them...

The Eagles were at Alumni Stadium looking to close out just their 2nd undefeated home season since 1985 against the North Carolina Tar Heels. But 6 turnovers later (4 INT, 1 FUM by Dave Shinskie) the Eagles were humbled 31-13. The game started ominously as Carolina jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first 8 minutes before BC rallied to make it 21-13 at halftime. The game devolved into a turnover fest/defensive struggle the rest of the way, as it appeared whoever made the last mistake would lose the game. With 4 minutes remaining, Dave Shinskie threw his fourth and final interception of the game that was returned to the goal line. 2 plays later the Heels banged in the clinching touchdown.

Maryland meanwhile, is coming off a crushing 29-26 loss at Doak Campbell Pavilion in Tallahassee, Florida to the Seminoles of Florida State. The Terps have struggled all season, but looked like they had this one in the bag with 2 minutes remaining. With a 4 point lead, the Terps made the mistake of punting to electric returner Greg Reid who returned the kick to the 3 yard line, before Lonnie Pryor ran in the winning score. Da'Rell Scott made his return to the Maryland back field, running for 83 yards on 19 carries.

Know Thy Enemy...

On paper, there are very few redeeming qualities for this Maryland football team. They rank 88th in total defense (99th in pass, 77th in rush) and are 101st in total offense. Their offensive line has allowed a tremendous number of sacks (better than 2 per game) and has gotten their regular starting QB Chris Turner hurt on more than one occasion this season. Turner is questionable for this game as he continues to recover from knee trouble. If Turner can't go JaMarr Robinson will get another start. Robinson is far more mobile than Turner, which, considering the troubles of the offensive line, could give them the best chance to win. One thing

Maryland can hang its hat on is the return of dynamic running back Da'Rell Scott. Scott was one of the best running backs in the ACC last season and was expected to anchor the offense for the Terps this season. Unfortunately for him, he's been banged up all season and is just now beginning to get healthy. He played his first full game in a month last week and led the team in carries and yards. In his absence though, Davin Meggett has performed admirably and has helped give Ralph Friedgens club a way to move the ball. Defensively the Terps have struggled, especially in the passing game with a very young secondary and lead the ACC in plays of 20 yards or more allowed.

What to Watch For...

BC's Defensive Line

Maryland's offensive line for lack of a better word is awful. It will probably be the weakest line that the Eagles have played against this season, meaning they should be able to get pressure on the QB, whoever it is. If Chris Turner is behind center, it is imperative for the Eagles to pressure him as he is an excellent pocket passer and has killed them in the past. On the hand, JaMarr Robinson is not nearly the passer Turner is, and if BC can pressure him into some quicker decisions, mistakes will happen. Coach Friedgen has admitted that Robinson is coming along, but is still apt to make some poor decisions with the ball. Look for DT Damik Scafe to make some plays on that defensive line as he continues to get healthy and be more of a force up front with his size.

Colin Larmond & Justin Jarvis

Rich Gunnell has done a tremendous job this season of finding ways to get open and make plays despite a lot of the coverage being geared towards him this season. However, it is still critical for both Larmond and Jarvis to be effective as 2nd and 3rd options to take the pressure of Gunnell. Larmond in particular has shown the natural ability to get open and use his size and athleticism to make plays, but has struggled with holding on to the ball. In order to keep the game simple for QB Dave Shinskie against this poor secondary, Larmond and Jarvis must be able to spread the field by running solid routes and making catches when the ball is thrown their way.

3rd Down Conversions

Both Maryland and Boston College have struggled mightily on 3rd down this season (BC went an astonishing 0-13 on 3rd down last week). For BC to win this game and finish the season with 8 wins, they'll need to continue to move the chains by converting on 3rd down. In particular, I'd like to see a lot less of the shotgun formations on 3rd and short for BC. For Maryland, if they harbor any hopes of winning this game, they too must convert on 3rd down and find a way to sustain drives.

How It's Gonna Go Down...

Let's be honest. BC has better talent all over the field in this game, particularly on defense. If they get an even performance out of Dave Shinskie (1+ scores, less than 2 turnovers) they should be able to roll over the Terrapins in this one. People have compared this game to the Virginia game a few weeks ago, but as you read here, that game had the potential to be very dangerous because of Shinskie's inexperience and the Cavaliers top 30 passing defense. Maryland though has no such defense to speak of, so points should come reasonably easy to BC. Look for Montel Harris to have a big game again and for BC to contain what will surely be a platoon at QB between the senior Chris Turner and the sophomore JaMarr Robinson and roll to a relatively comfortable win.

The Line: BC -6
The Call: BC 27 Maryland 10

News, Notes, Links

I'll be traveling to College Park tonight, so it's unlikely I'll have anything for you guys until post-game tomorrow. But in the meantime, here's a couple of links, and then a preview of the weekend action on the gridiron and the basketball court.

BC-Maryland Links

Dave Shinskie needs to show his critics that he's made some strides despite his struggles.

Firing Coach Friedgen might not be the best course of action for the Terps financially.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

News, Notes, Links

Happy Thanksgiving! Hope everyone enjoys the holidays. Here's a few links to get you through the day.

Notes:

The injury report is out for the Eagles and there are no real surprises on it. Rolandan Finch is out again as he's not yet been cleared to practice let alone play. He should be available for the bowl game in a few weeks. Alex Albright (ankle), Thomas Claiborne (knee), and Kaleb Ramsey (foot) are all listed as questionable for the game on Saturday. Claiborne did not practice with the team this week and was helped off the field during last weeks loss to North Carolina. One encouraging note was that full back James McCluskey was not on the report and will be available to play.

BC-Maryland Links

In his senior season, Jim Ramella has been asked to play multiple positions.

Roderick Rollins feels like his career went by way too fast. But he has no regrets and would do it all over again if he had the chance.

Members of the Terrapin football team admit that it's not easy to block out the distractions caused by the rumors about coach Ralph Friedgen.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New Faces On the Heights

Each recruiting season brings new surprises and new hope to every school in the country. Hope that one of their prized freshman will be the one that will develop into a superstar and lead the team to the promise land. This past week was the beginning of the early signing period for college basketball, and with that, our beloved BC Eagles have signed 3 new players that we hope will bring excitement and passion to Conte Forum.

Today, we'll meet the 3 new guys, and give you a window into what they'll bring to the table for the next 4 seasons.

Brady Heslip-Shooting/Point Guard
Burlington, ON Canada
6'2"/170 lbs

Background:

Heslip was one of the hottest recruits on the circuit this past summer following his dazzling display for Grassroots Canada (AAU). Heslip had been largely overlooked because of his 2 5-star teammates (Cory Joseph, Myck Kabongo) who played in the back court with him. His opportunities to score were limited, but when he got the chance to display his talent, he took advantage and had received several mid-major offers including East Carolina. But with Joseph and Kabongo off in other events during the summer, Heslip showed scouts how dynamic of a scorer he is. The Canadian averaged nearly 30 points a game in various tournaments in different parts of the United States by being able to shoot effectively from anywhere on the court.

His smooth stroke, ability to play multiple positions, and high basketball IQ were what drew scouts in and soon the offers came pouring in with Gonzaga, Georgetown, and Cincinnati being just a few of the teams that showed major interest. But after visiting with coach Al Skinner, Heslip chose to commit to the Eagles. His shooting ability and versatility are what will make him an effective player in the ACC over the next few seasons. He's currently enrolled at a prep school in New Hampshire and will be enrolled at BC in January.

What They're Saying:

“Brady is a true example of determination-meets-work-ethics-meets-opportunity-meets-dream. B.C. has a tradition of letting their point guards shoot the ball and they showed a lot of interest, so he should have a good career there.”
-Ro Russell, AAU Coach

Kevin Noreen
-Small Forward
Minneapolis, MN USA
6'8"/220 lbs

Background:

Kevin Noreen is a 6'8" swingman out of Minnesota who this season will try and break the all-time state scoring record (he's about 600 points shy). Noreen is an exceptionally versatile forward with great size and the ball skills to match it. Reports are that he is still growing and could potentially reach the 6'10" mark, potentially making him one of the best size/skill players that BC has ever recruited. Initially, Noreen was being recruited mostly by local area schools like Marquette, Green Bay, etc. But he, like Brady Heslip got a big boost this past summer while playing on the AAU circuit (ironically, they were at the same Super 64 tournament), which led to him being recruited actively by NC State, Gonzaga, and his hometown Minnesota. One thing that drew Noreen to the Eagles though were the academics. Kevin takes his studies very seriously and while on a campus visit back in April he found that the school fit very well with his personal values from an education and athletic standpoint.

Kevin's skill set is very wide ranging as he's been able to adapt his game depending on his opponent. The wiry forward shows good touch from the outside and from the mid-range and also has some back to the basket skills, though his post game is a little raw. At his size, his best attribute is his ability to put the ball on the floor and go around opposing defenders. As he develops into his body and hones his skills, he could become one of the more versatile players in the ACC. BC rarely has been able to acquire players with the combination of skill and size that Noreen possesses.

What They're Saying:

"I just want to win. Scoring is my role on the team but I want to be a team player."
-Kevin Noreen
(Sounds like he'll fit in very well here)

Papa Samba Ndao
-Power Forward
Montverde, FL USA
6'9"/190 lbs

Background:

Perhaps the most intriguing prospect for Al Skinner and the BC Eagles is Ndao. The Senegalese power forward is exceptionally raw in terms of his abilities, but his athleticism is off the charts and his potential is limitless. He's mostly a perimeter player presently as he lacks real bulk and back to the basket skills, but with time, patience, and a lot of hard work over the next few years, Ndao should develop into perhaps the most explosive athlete the Eagles have had since Sean Williams. His best attributes at this point are his ball handling and his finishing ability. He's able to drive by players his own size, and is able to out-muscle most smaller forwards who try to match his speed. As he develops, he'll become a legitimate match-up nightmare for other teams.

Currently playing for the prestigious Montverde Academy in Florida, Ndao was invited to play for the U-18 team for his home country of Senegal based on his performances playing at the Nike Hoops Challenge and Nike World Challenge. Those events are reserved for some of the best high school basketball players in the country and Ndao accounted himself very well.

What They're Saying:

“Papa has a wealth of potential; I think his best basketball is ahead of him. I am really pleased with his decision to attend Boston College He has been in our program for three years, and has worked very hard athletically and academically to put himself in this position to accept this scholarship offer. Papa is in his second year in being a captain of our team, and he continues to improve in every aspect of his game."
-Kevin Sutton, Montverde Academy Head Coach

News, Notes, Links

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving so posts will be limited, but hopefully I'll be able to get a little something up, just to distract you from your food coma's and annoying relatives.

BC-Maryland Links

Considering the expectations, there's no shame in the 7-4 record the team has posted.

Dave Shinskie might be playing to protect his job for next season this weekend in College Park.

The challenge Saturday will be to play as if they're still competing for an ACC crown.

Even the governor of Maryland has an opinion on the Ralph Friedgen situation.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Recruiting News

Courtesy of our friends over at Eagle Action, Offensive tackle Aaron Kramer from Duxbury, MA has committed to the Eagles this afternoon over UConn. Notre Dame had also shown interest but had not made an offer to the 6'7, 275 lbs Kramer, who has also been playing tight end for the Dragons this season.

Listed as only a 2-star recruit, Eagle Action believes that Kramer is a major sleeper in the class of 2010. Notre Dame's interest in the kid would seem to confirm that theory. Aaron will enroll at BC in January. With all the talent along the line that is moving on to the NFL or graduating this year, he may find himself some playing time next season.

News, Notes, Links

It's a slow news day today in relation to BC athletics, as everyone seems to be focused on Northeastern's announcement about cutting it's football program yesterday. So in addition to the BC basketball links regarding the game yesterday, I've also included a slew of links regarding Maryland and their coaching situation.

BC-Northern Iowa Links

Kwadzo Ahelegbe had a big game, but it was the Panthers defense that won the game.

BC-Maryland Links

Getting rid of head coach Ralph Friedgen isn't as simple as firing him.

Friedgen though, says he's not concerned about the rumors, just about the game against BC.

The Terps might be tempted to start JaMarr Robinson again, but if Chris Turner is able to go, he'll probably get the start.

Mark Herzlich Surgery Successful

News came yesterday courtesy of the HerzNation blog that Mark had the metal rod surgically implanted in his leg. According to the blog, the surgery went very smoothly, the bone is strong, and he is expected to make a full recovery.

I have to admit, I was skeptical that he would legitimately be ready to play next season, but by the sound of this news, he'll be training within the next few weeks and hopefully be ready to go. The thought of having Mark Herzlich (even at 70% of himself) and Luke Kuechly in the middle of that defense along with the returning Mike Morrissey, Dominik LeGrande, and Will Thompson is a frightening thought for opposing teams.

Bowling in Obscurity, Part 2

Last week, we profiled the seemingly endless bowl possibilities for Boston College, and how they could greatly improve their stock (to the chagrin of bowl reps) by beating North Carolina and Maryland to close the season. Now, with the North Carolina game in the loss column, let's take a look at what is available for the Eagles, and make another prediction as to where they will be playing in late December.

With BC now guaranteed to finish no better than 5-3 in the ACC, they will be a part of what is essentially a beauty contest with several other 5-3 or 4-4 teams for the right to go to the most prestigious bowl games. And for all intents and purposes, BC is the ugly kid who got forced into the contest by their parents. They're best win is against Florida State (currently 6-5), they're 1-3 on the road, and have been blown out in 3 games this season. This means, that in all likelihood, the Eagles will drop to the bottom of the bowl pecking order. But where is the bottom?

Most people assume that the bottom of the barrel in this case will be the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco against a 2nd tier Pac-10 team. But the reality is that there is another rule in place, recently added by the NCAA, that could keep the Eagles out of California and on the East Coast.

Added in 2006, the NCAA rule states:

"A bowl game can not select a ream with 6 wins until all bowl eligible teams with at least 7 wins have been selected."

Initially, I was under the impression that this rule only applied to bowls looking to replace conference affiliations with an at-large team. I assumed that the goal was to keep bowls from passing over a mid-major team with 8 wins for a BCS level school that may only have 6. But, upon further examination, this rule does also apply within the conferences. This means that a 6-6 team can not be selected in front of a team with 7 or more wins.

Where this affects Boston College this weekend is when we look at the team that BC beat back on October 3rd of this year. The Florida State Seminoles rebounded after losing starting QB Christian Ponder for the season by winning their last 2 games to make themselves bowl eligible. But this weekend, the 'Noles will be in the Swamp taking on the #1 ranked Florida Gators. If Florida State can not come up with what would be an absolutely shocking upset, Florida State will finish the season 6-6. This would mean that unless a deal is struck between BC and the bowl selection committee's of the Emerald Bowl and the Meineke Car Care Bowl, to allow Meineke to take Florida State, the Eagles will be bowling in Charlotte for the 3rd time this decade.

Now, again, as we explained last week, all of these rules about bowl selections can be overridden by a well placed dollar amount (likely to be the difference between the bowl payout loss for BC). But if the Eagles do not agree to be passed over, the Meineke Car Care Bowl will have to take the Eagles.

Any questions or comments regarding this article? Have an idea for a topic that you'd like "The View From Section X" to cover? Leave them in the comments below or e-mail the blog: section.x@live.com

Monday, November 23, 2009

Posting Schedule for 11/23-11/30

I'll be in attendance this Saturday at Byrd Stadium for the BC-Maryland game, and with Thanksgiving being this Thursday (that snuck up on us didn't it?), I might not be as active this week. But I'll do my best. As always, I don't have the "news, notes, and links" posts listed here as they will occur daily.

Tuesday:

Bowling in Obscurity Part 2. Despite "the BC rule" no longer being a factor for the Eagles, this weekends finale against Maryland still holds huge implications for BC's bowl possibilities. We'll examine why.

Wednesday:

New Faces on the Heights. Al Skinner has signed 3 new recruits that will help shape the future of BC basketball for the next few years. We'll profile each of them.

Thursday:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday:

Preview- BC football vs. Maryland
Preview- BC basketball vs. Providence

Saturday:

Recap- BC football vs. Maryland
The Scene- Photos from Byrd Stadium

Sunday:

Recap-
BC basketball vs. Providence

Northern Iowa 81 Boston College 69

The Scoreboard
                     1     2      F
Northern Iowa 38 43 81
Boston College 41 28 69
The Story...

Unfortunately for the Eagles it was the same story. Reggie Jackson and Biko Paris struggled to contain the perimeter players for the Panthers, Joe Trapani and Josh Southern got into foul trouble covering for them as a result, and the Eagles simply couldn't get stops when they needed them to try and steal a game from a team that clearly superior. The Panthers shot the lights out from the field, Kwadzo Ahelegbe in particular was completely unguardable for Northern Iowa, going 14-17 from the field for a game high 32 points. Despite the insane shooting for the Panthers the Eagles still held a slim halftime lead. Eventually though, the Eagles depth and fouls became an issue, resulting in BC not being able to put enough bodies on the floor who could put the ball in the basket. The Panthers stayed hot the majority of the afternoon and cruised to an 81-69 win.

By the Numbers...

65...The percentage that Northern Iowa shot from the field for the game. This is an absolutely disgraceful percentage if you're a BC player. The defense was completely non-existent on the perimeter and allowed Northern Iowa's guards to go anywhere they wanted with the ball. There was never a point in the game where the Panthers were pressured into a shot that they didn't want. It was a terrible effort and sadly, pretty typical of the talent on the floor.

77...The percentage shot by Northern Iowa's leading scorer Kwadzo Ahelegbe. Kwadzo's shooting was the most glaring example of how bad the Eagles defense was on the day. He was not exceptionally hot while making ridiculous shots. In fact most his shots were either layups, dunks, open jumpers, or simple 2 dribble drive pull-ups. This was illustrated by the mere 3 three pointers taken. Though to be fair, Kwadzo did make all 3.

14...The number of offensive rebounds for the Eagles. One of the few bright spots for the team to this point has been the rebounding. Faced with the same size and athleticism issues they had last season, it was tough to imagine they'd be any better on the glass. But it's been quite the opposite. BC has rebounded very well this season and has out-rebounded every opponent so far.

Thumbs Up...

Rebounding

Sticking with this theme for just a moment. You have to give the BC some front line some credit. Northern Iowa missed just 19 shots in the entire game and yet BC still out-rebounded them 31-20. Joe Trapani led the way with 7 boards and Reggie Jackson continued his assault on the glass, pulling in 6. Jackson still leads the team on the boards, averaging 7.5 per game.

Corey Raji

Raji turned in his best game of the season dropping a season high 18 points on 7-13 shooting. Raji was, and continues to be the only acceptable perimeter defender for the Eagles. He moves his feet well and keeps his man in front of him, and is a still a big time threat to block shots from the weak side or on the break with his athleticism. When Raji has his jumper working, he can be the best player on this team.

Thumbs Down...

Team Defense

A lot of people will point to the absence of Rakim Sanders (ankle) as the reason that this team is struggling. But what Sanders brings to the table, is not what the Eagles are missing. In fact, Sanders may be the worst defender on the team. Only Raji has continued to put in the defensive effort necessary to contain even slightly above average guards and quick forwards. The more I see of this team, the more convinced I am that their defensive shortcomings will torpedo the season.

Three Point Shooting

The three ball is such a major part of college basketball these days, and often times when a game is tight or at least competitive, it can often come down to which team makes its shots from deep and which team struggles from there. The Panthers took fewer (9) and made more (5) resulting in fewer missed opportunities in a game in which neither team played exceptional defensively. Northern Iowa exploited BC's weaknesses better than BC did Northern Iowa's.

Overall...

The Eagles are off now until Saturday when they travel to Providence for a battle with Keno Davis and the Fryars. In between now and then, Al Skinner and his team need to decide whether or not they're willing to commit to getting better defensively, or if they're just satisfied with being competitive as an above average offensive team. Playing the way they have to this point is simply unacceptable. Allowing any player to shoot 14-17 from the field without taking hardly a single contested shot is an indicator that this team is simply not trying on that end of the field. I'd love to see Corey Raji or Joe Trapani stand up and say 'enough is enough' and try and get the team to commit to getting better. Looking ahead (@Providence, @Michigan, vs. Miami), there is a real chance that this team could be 3-5 before getting back to the cupcake portion of the schedule. If they harbor any dreams of an NCAA Tournament berth, they'd better get it together now.

News, Notes, Links

Yeah, I know I was slacking over the weekend. It was a good time though, went to the game, then out to Roggie's and then caught the Texas/Kansas game on TV that night. Now we're back on a regular schedule.

BC Football Links

Coach Spaz may finally be tiring of the "the team is young" mantra.

Despite the tough loss at home, 8 or even 9 wins would still be a good season for BC.

It was simply not a good day to be a BC football fan Saturday.

The offensive line corralled the aggressive UNC D-Line except for some key plays.

BC Basketball Links

WEEI wouldn't dare bump the Big Show for todays BC-UNI game...so your only avenue for listening to the game is through CBS All-Access online.

*UPDATE* The video feed for the game will also be available...providing you've got 8 bucks laying around. Might be worth it though considering the interesting opponent.

The Scene: Photos From Alumni Stadium







Sunday, November 22, 2009

North Carolina 31 Boston College 13

The Scoreboard

                    1      2       3       4      F
North Carolina 21 0 0 10 31
Boston College 3 10 0 0 13
The Story...

In recent BC history, I struggled to think of a game as bizarre as the one we witnessed this weekend. The Eagles were down 21-0 before you'd had a chance to blink, and suddenly, what was supposed to be a great moment for the Eagle seniors, turned into a nightmare. BC rallied though forcing 3 turnovers to claw within 8 at halftime. A strong defensive effort in the 2nd half by both teams (combined with more turnovers) kept the score the same deep into the 4th quarter before Dave Shinskie was picked for the 4th time in the game resulting in the back breaking touchdown for the Tar Heels. A late field goal was added to provide the final 31-13 margin. On the day there were 10 total turnovers (6 by BC, 4 for North Carolina) and less than 400 total yards of offense. Montel Harris continued his assault on the BC record books by gashing the nations 7th rated run defense for 132 yards.

By the Numbers...

24...The number of points North Carolina scored off of BC turnovers. I mentioned this in the game preview, but it bares repeating here. The Tar Heels offense is mediocre and generally relies on their defense to help either score points for them, or put them in great position to do so on their own. The Tar Heels longest sustained drive was their opening drive in which they went 70 yards in 8 plays for their lone unassisted score. After that, the longest drive they could cobble together was 31 yards. The defense did it's job, Dave Shinskie and the rest of the offense were horrendous despite multiple opportunities.

6...The number of carries for Montel Harris in the 2nd half. With Shinskie struggling badly to find open receivers, common logic would seem to indicate that the best course of action would be to continue giving the ball to your best weapon...especially after a productive first half. And it wasn't as if he was ineffective on those 2nd half carries as he racked up 48 yards (8 yard average). If Gary Tranquill felt like they couldn't run the ball much more, they could have at least attempted to utilize the North Carolina strategy of short passes and screens rather than attacking deep.

0...The number of conversions on 3rd down for BC. Repeatedly the offense was forced into 3rd and long situations and forced to have to make plays 7 or 8 yards down the field when they clearly weren't able. By contrast, North Carolina utilized the bruising Ryan Houston (more in the 1st half) and a short passing game utilizing multiple screens and misdirections to keep the game manageable for the equally abysmal TJ Yates.

6...The number of points the Eagles came away with after turnovers provided them the ball inside the UNC 30 yard line. As was mentioned in the preview, 1 of the keys to the game would be the ability to make the most of scoring opportunities. Whereas North Carolina scored touchdowns on their opportunities, the Eagles primarily kicked field goals. If both of these opportunities were touchdowns, the game would have been 21-21 at halftime and could have turned out different.

19...The number of tackles by Luke Kuechly. The defense was repeatedly ask to keep the team in the game despite being given a short field to defend. Kuechly though rose to the challenge and was simply everywhere making plays. There's not much more that can be said of the season that this kid has turned in, as he is likely the best freshman linebacker in the country and most certainly the best freshman linebacker BC has ever had.

Thumbs Up...

Montel Harris

Despite facing the 7th ranked run defense in America, Harris turned in another stellar day with 23 carries for 132 yards for a 5.7 average. North Carolina was averaging just 90 yards allowed on the ground this season. Montel was able to break the Eagles out of tight spots many times with his tremendous vision and keep the offense moving in the 1st half. The only thing he wasn't able to do was get the ball in the end zone on the goal line in the 1st quarter.

The Secondary

Roderick Rollins and Marty Bowman in particular were spectacular. The secondary was outstanding again against the North Carolina receivers and running game. For one of the few times all season, the corners will allowed to play close to the line of scrimmage and try and cover the receivers man to man and they were very successful at it. They did a great job keeping receivers in front of them and breaking up potential big plays on the rare occasions that TJ Yates attempted to throw down the field. The coverage also produced multiple interceptions as Yates simply had nowhere to go with the football (the Rollins INT in the end zone stood out). Also, when the Tar Heels ran the ball, the safety's did a tremendous job of filling the gaps and helping the D-Line bring down Ryan Houston.

The Offensive Line

Against one of the more fierce pass rushes in the country and a tremendous run defense, the O-Line played one of it's better games of the season. They stifled ACC defensive player of the year candidate Robert Quinn after a quick start, holding him without a sack and only 3 tackles. They also kept Butkus Award semi-finalist Quan Sturdivant from being a major factor (just 7 tackles). Shinskie was given good time to find receivers, and Montel Harris was given lanes to run through. What happened Saturday was not their fault and they deserve recognition for their efforts on senior day.

Thumbs Down...

Dave Shinskie

I've been among the group that has defended him through his growing pains this season by trying to get people to put his performances in perspective. He's still a true freshman QB, playing organized football for the first time in 7 years. But, his performance yesterday was inexcusable. With ample time to throw the ball he simply could not make the throws necessary to keep the team in the game. He indicated that he had injured his thumb at some point during the game, but that still doesn't change the fact that he didn't seem to have the presence to throw the ball away or run when the rush finally closed in on him.

Wide Receivers

As bad as Shinskie was, this group wasn't any better. On the rare occasions when the beleaguered QB was able to throw a catchable ball, the receiving core struggled to actually...you know...catch it. Several drops resulted in killing drives and prevented the Eagles from establishing any kind of flow offensively, particularly in the 2nd half. They weren't the primary problem for BC, but they don't get let off the hook for this one either.

Gary Tranquill

Perhaps more than the rest, Gary Tranquill could shoulder the blame for this debacle. His play calling was questionable when it came to 3rd down situations, as the Eagles repeatedly threw on 3rd and short to no avail. Also, when it became clear that BC could not beat the UNC secondary down the field with a vertical passing game, perhaps a screen pass or short comeback routes would have been a better idea. That's assuming they should have thrown it as much as they did. They clearly were able to run against the vaunted Carolina defense but went away from it in the 2nd half (8 rushes). I mentioned this last week, the premise about getting Harris hurt because of overusage is ridiculous, as he could be hurt on 1 carry rather than on 31 carries. You can't play scared. If the game dictates Harris running it 40 times, then so be it, and yesterday, it did.

Overall...

Excluding the disastrous beginning to the game for BC, the team battled valiantly despite the uphill nature of it. I went in expecting BC to lose in much the same fashion that they did (excluding the 10 turnovers of course), but it doesn't take away the sting of "what if?". The Eagles had multiple opportunities to get back into the game and steal it despite the poor play of the offense. They need to have short memories though, as they travel down to College Park to play a Maryland team that is probably the worst in the conference. A loss there would be devastating and would serve to put a dark cloud over what, overall, has been a very positive season. Finish strong should be the motto.