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.

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