Jeff: The Eagles lost to the Maine Black Bears 52-51 today. The loss is the Eagles' fifth non-conference loss of the season as they fall to 9-5 overall. Maine entered the game 6-5 on the season with no quality wins and questionable losses to Quinnipiac, Brown, and Norfolk State. Maine had an RPI over 200. Put simply, there was no reason for any Eagles fan to question whether or not BC would win the game. I didn't watch the game but listened to the game starting in the second half. It seemed that the Eagles would eke out a win in a low scoring affair, but they ended the game with a six minute field goal drought and lost by 1. Tyler Roche hit a three-pointer with 6:02 to play and then Southern made 1 of 2 free throws with 1:19 to play but that would be all the points the Eagles would put up in the final 8 minutes of the game!
There is no way to put a positive spin on this game. There is no way to defend Skinner and there is no reason his job shouldn't be on the line if the Eagles don't make an incredible run in conference play. The Eagles should be 10-5 after their final non-conference game (NJIT) before playing their remaining 15 ACC games. If the Eagles go 10-5 in those 15 games, then I suppose they would probably go dancing at 11-5 in the ACC. But even as one of the biggest BC basketball optimists around, I just cannot see that happening this season. Either talk me off the ledge or let's just jump together.
Brian: Let’s jump. There’s just no positive way to spin this.
I listened to the game and then watched the final 5 minutes online. I wish I hadn’t. In BC’s final possession, Maine had four fouls to give before putting the Eagles in a 1:1 situation. In other words, Maine committed 2 fouls in the first 19:30 of the second half. How does that happen? Well, it can easily happen when your team has absolutely no clue to break a 2-3 zone and chucks up 15 three pointers in the second half and makes only 3, including an 0-for-9 stretch during a good portion of the second half.
In the Eagles’ final two possessions, BC got the ball to Rakim Sanders, stood around and just waited for him to make a play. Sanders’ first layup attempt was an off-balance runner that didn’t go. In his second attempt to win the game, Sanders drove baseline and by the time he went to put up the shot, he was behind the basket. The shot was blocked by Maine’s Troy Barnies with four seconds to play, preserving the Maine victory.
This was Maine’s first win over Boston College since the 1924-25 season.
I have no idea where the Eagles go from here. Make no mistake about this result. This is the worst loss of the Skinner era by a mile. Throw out the two losses to Harvard, the loss to Rhode Island, Saint Joseph’s, Duquesne, Vermont and even Robert Morris. This is the Eagles hitting rock bottom.
The Eagles seem to play up and down to their level of competition and this is clearly a reflection on the coaching staff. Boston College was simply unprepared to play in this game. BC didn’t get the ball down low to capitalize on their superior athleticism, getting outscored 36-18 in the paint. They didn’t show the slightest idea on how to break Maine’s 2-3 zone and went cold from three point range and the floor for much of the second half. Maine played 2-3 zone virtually the entire game, limiting the Eagles to just 19 points in the second half.
As you said, the Eagles’ should be 10-5 after the NJIT game, but I can’t even bring myself to think that game is a given at this point. It is simply stupefying that this team can beat teams as good as Miami (Fla.), South Carolina and Michigan, while getting outclassed by programs like Maine, Saint Joseph's, Harvard and Rhode Island.