Who: Boston College Eagles (2-0) vs. St. Joseph's Hawks (2-0)
Where: Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center -- St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
When: 6:00pm EST on WRKO-AM680
Last We Saw Them...
BC was playing it's 2nd and final game without Rakim Sanders, Corey Raji, and Courtney Dunn who were suspended for an undisclosed violation of team rules. The game was a laugher for the most part as the Eagles jumped on the St. Francis (NY) Terriers early then briefly let their foot off the gas pedal before pulling away and cruising to a 72-44 win. Highlighted by a strong defensive effort and another efficient night from Tyler Roche (19 points), the Eagles solidified their rotation for the Paradise Jam Tournament. Reggie Jackson chipped in with a near triple double of 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists.
Know Thy Enemy...
The Hawks are a little down this year thanks to the departure of leading scorer/rebounder Ahmad Nivins and point guard/2nd leading scorer Tasheed Carr. With all the senior leadership that graduated last season, St. Joe's has major holes to fill, especially in the front court. Doing his best to fill in is junior Todd O'Brien. O'Brien missed all of last season with an injury but is averaging just shy of a double double so far. Leading the Hawks in scoring through the first 2 games of the year is true freshman Carl Jones. Jones is raw but has real potential especially when driving to the basket. Rounding out the rest of the St. Joe's scoring threats are junior swing man Idris Hilliard, and senior 2 guard Darrin Govens. The Hawks are very disciplined and will not resort to bombing away from deep...they'll continue to work the ball close to the rim and try to wear down their opponents late in games.
St. Joe's is 2-0 so far on the young season with tight wins over Drexel and Holy Cross. The latter coming after the Hawks blew a 5 point halftime lead and were tied with less than 2 minutes to play. The Crusaders dominated the game on the glass 50-33.
For Boston College, Rakim Sanders, Corey Raji, and Courtney Dunn will make their season debuts in this game after being suspended for the first 2. Sanders averaged nearly 13 points per game last season and is the teams 2nd leading returning scorer from last season.
For St. Joe's, everyone is healthy and ready to go.
What To Watch For...
The Eagles will be welcoming back 2 starters to the lineup for this game and it's fair to wonder how quickly they will mesh into the lineup that gelled so quickly in the opening 2 games. The quicker that Sanders and Raji get themselves integrated into the team the quicker things will start to move in the right direction in the game. If both struggle getting their legs under them, particularly in this playoff setting, it could present the opening St. Joseph's will need to spring the upset.
As I mentioned earlier, Hawks coach Phil Martelli has developed teams that play with extraordinary discipline when it comes to offense. This means that we'll see his team driving to the basket, and are unlikely to see them chucking 3's. This will be a major test for the Eagles improved perimeter defense as they'll need to defend well at the point of attack. If Govins and Carr are allowed to penetrate to the goal at will, this could be a very difficult game for the Eagles. Especially with the noted foul problems of BC center Josh Southern and Joe Trapani. Much as I'd like to believe Evan Ravenel and Courtney Dunn will be improved, I don't want to see them log big minutes in this game.
Not to keep harping on this topic, but with the returns of our suspended starters, it also means a return to the bench for Tyler Roche and Reggie Jackson. Roche in particular will need to be effective in his limited role off the bench shooting the deep ball and rebounding. If Roche, Jackson, Ravenel, and Dunn can provide the starters with a few minutes of rest on the bench and not get completely dominated, this team has serious potential. By the same token, St. Joseph's lost a ton of talent from last years tournament team. They're still searching for an identity, and trying to hammer out a rotation. This game could well be decided when the starters sit down and the subs get in the game.
The Line: N/A
The Call: BC 67 SJU 58