Brian: The Eagles have made the most of this tough non-conference stretch of games. The Eagles held on to beat Miami Sunday afternoon to sweep the Providence-Michigan-Miami portion of their schedule. BC now sits alone atop the ACC standings (well, for a few weeks before the rest of the ACC starts league play). There were stretches of this game where the Eagles were brilliant. BC dominated on the offensive glass (46 to 21 in total rebounds and an incredible 23-4 edge in offensive rebounds). For the second straight game, the Eagles came out on fire in the second half after only shooting 23 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes. And yet, the Eagles fell asleep for stretches of the second half and watched a 16 point second half lead evaporate. Let’s start with the likes. What did you see that you liked out of the Eagles?
Jeff: I don't know if you would really say that the Eagles were brilliant on Saturday. They were good at times, maybe even very good for a few short stretches, but they were not brilliant as it is tough to be brilliant and only put up 61 points. The biggest like of the game had to be Reggie Jackson. Jackson made some plays when the Eagles needed someone to step up and most importantly, hit both free throws in the final three seconds of the game to seal the victory. Raji had another big game as well but it seemed to be Jackson who came up with more plays in the second half and late when the game was on the line.
Brian: Jackson played well but parts of his game still seem unpolished. While his dunk that was called an offensive foul was impressive and got the Conte Forum crowd going, he could have tried to go for a layup and pick up the foul. (Jackson, of course, made up for the "foul" by grabbing the rebound on a last second Miami 3-point attempt and icing the game from the free throw line.) Other times it looks like he tries to do too much with the ball. Jackson has the potential to be an outstanding player and I’m guessing he’ll get a better feel for the game as he matures. But he is very fun to watch. Reggie Jackson has seen increased playing time with Rakim Sanders sidelined with his ankle injury. It will be interesting to see what Skinner decides to do when Sanders returns for the Rhode Island game.
Jeff: After watching this game, it was great to see that the team really seems to mesh on the court much more so than some of the teams we've seen the last few years. We all know that Skinner did not bring in any new recruits this season which was criticized by some people, like you, but perhaps we are starting to see the benefits. A few more no look passes like the Jackson to Raji breakout or Paris finding Raji behind the zone is all it will take for Skinner and this team to win me over. But being a home game against a Miami team who we have dominated over the last decade, we can't get too excited about this win, right?
Brian: I think we should be excited about this win given that Miami defeated the Eagles twice last season. You also have to like the huge advantage in rebounding the Eagles have enjoyed in the early season. The Eagles out-rebounded the Hurricanes 46-21 in the game, including a 23-4 edge on the offensive glass. While national statistics still don’t have much meaning this early in the season, BC ranks 19th nationally and 3rd in the ACC in offensive rebounds (122). Nice to see the Eagles dominating on the offensive glass given that rebounding wasn’t exactly a strength of this team a year ago.
What is worrisome is the fact that the Eagles again squandered a big second half lead (16 points at its largest) for the third straight game. I’m not sure how successful the Eagles can continue to be if they follow this pattern over the next few games. You mentioned that you liked seeing the team start to "mesh on the court." Are you at all worried about what the return of Rakim Sanders will do for this team’s chemistry? Or do you expect Sanders to slide back into the starting lineup with the Eagles not missing a beat?
Jeff: The team needs Sanders back on defense as much or more so than they need him back on offense. Sanders has been much more a part of this team than he has sat on the sidelines so him meshing with this group will not be an issue. But for blowing leads, the Eagles have done so against quality competition without Sanders so it does not raise any red flags for me. Basketball is a game of runs and BC will continue to be on the good and bad side of runs as the season goes on. Sanders will ensure that the Eagles wind up on the good side far more often than the bad side because of his play on the defensive end of the court. Sanders is our best defensive player and BC should be able to extend leads much larger once he is back. It will be much more difficult for opposing teams to make runs to get back into games with Sanders on the floor. As Mike Gminski said during the radio broadcast of the game, BC needs ought to feel pretty good about this season since they're 6-2 (1-0) and their best player has only played 4 minutes this season.