Penn State 62, Boston College 54: Or How Not To Shoot A Basketball

Steve Donahue's Boston College Eagles had another rough night. I'd like to start this recap by commending Coach D for his ability to stay sane in the midst of this season thus far. The youth on this team is so obvious and I can only imagine how incredibly frustrating it is for him to coach. I've said it before but we cannot judge this season on wins and losses because there will simply not be very many wins. Instead, we need to look at each game and see the improvement that this squad makes, regardless of how it is reflecting on the scoreboard.

As we expected, the pace of this game was painfully slow. As BC took part in the annual B1G Ten-ACC challenge, they had the unfortunate drawing of the Penn. St. Nittany Lions. I feel as if PSU sets the game of basketball back 40 years every single time they step on the court. So many possessions saw the shot clock wind all the way down until someone took an off-balance three. On numerous occasions, the two teams went back and forth trading air balls and bricks. This was not a pretty basketball game, but once again, it was a learning experience for the young Eagles. This is the part when I try to put a positive spin on a game in which BC shot 36.4% from the field and 63.4% from the free throw line. It's good for the Eagles to play in a game in which every single possession counts. Because points were so hard to come by, it was imperative that they make the most of each trip up the court. If we want to have a successful basketball team in the future, they have to learn how to win those "grind 'em out" games. This was one of those games. The officials called a painfully close game, featuring countless ticky-tac fouls. You could see players on both teams getting frustrated with the soft foul calls, but that's another thing that they have to learn to deal with.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles did a relatively OK job. It certainly helps that Penn State couldn't hit water if they fell out of a boat, but BC held the Nittany Lions in check. Gabe Moton was assigned to the task of defender PSU's best player, Tim Frazier. For the most part, Moton did a pretty solid job. Frazier scored 22 points but also turned the ball over 7 times. Frazier is a really good player and Moton did a good job of staying in front of him and forcing him into spots that he didn't want to be in, causing bad passes. On the other side of the ball, Moton had his best offensive performance of the season thus far. He scored 10 points, adding 4 assists and zero (!!!!) turnovers. While many of us were ready to write Moton off, myself included, he showed poise and leadership in a hard-fought game. I, for one, was supremely impressed.

We now interrupt this calm game recap for something a little more intense.

WHAT IS MATT HUMPHREY DOING? HE IS THE ONLY "VETERAN" PLAYER ON THIS TEAM AND I AM YET TO SEE ANY SORT OF LEADERSHIP FROM HIM. ENTERING WEDNESDAY'S GAME HE WAS SHOOTING 27% FROM THE FIELD. TWENTY SEVEN. DOES HE DEFER TO OTHER PLAYERS WHILE HE TRIES TO GET INTO A GROOVE? NO. HE SHOOTS ELEVEN MORE TIMES INCLUDING EIGHT THREE-POINTERS. HE MADE FOUR OF HIS ELEVEN SHOTS (36%) AND THAT BRINGS HIS SHOOTING PERCENTAGE UP. I HAD TO RESTRAIN MYSELF FROM LETTING OUT AN AUDIBLE MOAN EVERY TIME HE SHOT THE BALL.

Whew, that felt good. Okay, but seriously, I can't figure this kid out. He's supposed to have the most experience and he appears to be one of the more athletic players on the team. However, he simply cannot hold on the ball and cannot make a shot from anywhere right now. Maybe it's just a slump and a matter of getting comfortable in a new offense and new surroundings, but right now, it's pretty brutal. There isn't a whole lot to complain about right now because it's not like anyone on this team is shooting the lights out, but it's frustrating nonetheless. Coach Donahue is known for recruiting shooters and right now nobody is knocking down the open shots.

Donahue continues to tweak his lineup and rotation. KC Caudill scored the first 6 points of the game, and then didn't take another shot after that. This was curious because it seemed like he would be able to be effective in the post. Unfortunately, PSU went small and started to press which forced Donahue to play without either Caudill or Clifford for much of the game. Like most of the games so far, there were encouraging stretches. With a team this young, however, sustaining those stretches becomes the hard part. Because each guy is learning at the same time, no one is consistent. There is no go-to guy for them to lean on when they need an easy bucket. The Eagles are now 2-5 on the season but I'm not too worried. If you're looking for tangible improvement, you're going to have to be patient. The coaching staff as well as the players are still figuring things out. Eventually, the chemistry will develop, they will become more comfortable on the floor, and these things will be reflected in the box score.

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