Losing to the Harvard Crimson has become a Boston College basketball tradition in my time on campus. Tonight presents an opportunity to break that four game losing skid and start a streak of our own. With the kids from Hahhvaddd experiencing a bit of a rebuilding year after going to the NCAA tournament last year, this might be the perfect chance to get back to winning.
Who? Boston College Eagles (3-4) vs. Harvard Crimson (3-3)
When? 7:00 PM Eastern
Where? Conte Forum -- Boston, MA
Where on my eyeballs? Just go to the game. Or if you're lazy, ESPN3.com
Who should win? Boston College -4.5 according to Vegas
What's going to happen and such?
As Brian pointed out in an earlier post, Andrew Van Nest gets the opportunity to play against his old school. The 5th year senior has been quite productive in his minutes thus far as an Eagle. He plays with a tremendous amount of control and seems to basically do whatever the team asks. With Dennis Clifford most likely out of this game with an ankle injury, Van Nest will probably see his role increase a decent amount. It will be interesting to see if he steps up against his former school or if he tries to do too much.
Ryan Anderson has not been himself since he injured his ankle during the Charleston Classic (maybe we need to focus on strengthening our ankles?). He said that it bothers him when he jumps and there's no real cure for an ankle sprain other than time and rest. Unless he reinjured it, I assume Anderson will look more and more healthy each time he takes the court. In a game that BC would really like to win at home, it'd be fantastic if Anderson could start looking like the Eagles' best player once again. It's been nearly a week since the Eagles last played, but we won't be able to tell how effective Ryan is until we see him play. *shrug*
Last time out against Penn State, Steve Donahue opted to move away from the three-guard starting lineup. He moved Lonnie Jackson to the bench and started Patrick Heckmann in his place. I support his move. Heckmann's size gives the Eagles more defensive flexibility and provides nearly the same amount of shooting as Jackson. If Harvard uses the same strategy of full court pressure as Penn State did, then you might need to bring in Lonnie for more ball-handling. It's worth noting how great both Joe Rahon and Olivier Hanlan have been this year. I was skeptical when Jordan Daniels and Gabe Moton (remember him?) decided to leave the team. But Donahue had full confidence in his two incoming freshmen guards -- and for good reason. They both look fantastic.
As usual, the key for the Eagles will be to play solid defense. They were obviously better against PSU, but at the same time, PSU is just a terrible offensive basketball team. In order to really make strides defensively, everybody has to be on the same page, communicating with one another, and putting forth a full 40 minutes of effort. With Harvard's three top scorers all being perimeter players, it will be vitally important to contain dribble penetration and make sure not to leave shooters wide open. Challenging shots without fouling in the paint will be key, but significantly harder without Clifford on the floor.
As I noted in last game's recap, making shots is key. This could probably be filed under "duh", but it's really true. This team is going to take a LOT of three pointers, especially when Ryan Anderson isn't able to be as effective in the paint. The shooters need to take and make open threes when they have the chance. Making threes at a high rate opens up many more driving lanes for the offense to get easier shots and draw fouls.
BC Interruptions' Prediction:
The losing streak ends tonight. I'm skeptical about Anderson being at full force, so I'm counting on Olivier Hanlan to do his thing once more. Constant pressure on the defense by driving to the basket when he sees a lane and kicking it out to shooters when he doesn't. BC gets a surge of energy from the 14 fans in the crowd and rides that wave of momentum to victory. Eagles win 78-70.