Boston College Eagles head coach Steve Donahue talked to BC Athletics about the team's upcoming trip to Spain in an interview this week. It's really the first we've gotten to hear from Donahue since the summer began and there's some pretty good tidbits from the interview.
You can read the entire interview on BCEagles.com. I'm just going to go through and comment on a few of the points made by Donahue that I think are particularly noteworthy.
"My first observation is that everyone is more confident. They handle themselves differently and they go about their business. There's no lack of understanding of what we're doing. They know what their plan is each and every day, and they just show a lot of more confidence in what they do. They're bigger, they're stronger and they're all better."
That's....exactly what we want to hear. If I could make a list of the things that I wanted from the young players on this team, it would look exactly like that Donahue lists here. Dennis Clifford needed to get stronger. Heck, they all needed to get stronger. The confidence was another huge thing. These aren't going to be sophomores that just sat on the bench and learned from veterans during their freshman year. These are going to be sophomores that got a huge amount of minutes to learn the game better and learn each others' game better.
"I think Olivier (Hanlan) and Joe (Rahon) have really opened everybody's eyes. They're going to be very good ACC players. Their ability to jump in and compete right away - and really be solid from day one - picking up all the things that the other guys already know."
Also good to hear. Olivier Hanlan and Joe Rahon are the two new guards for BC this upcoming season and I'll be honest and say that I've never seen either play a full game of basketball. From what I've heard and read, they're both skilled and should add some athleticism and quickness. I'm really excited to see what they can do.
"I think their skill levels have improved, particularly Dennis' ability to step away from the basket. Ryan's handling the ball better. Eddie's finishing better. I think Lonnie Jackson and Jordan Daniels are much better with the basketball. Those things are all apparent from that group. They've all improved greatly."
Donahue had already touched on the fact that they're all getting bigger and stronger, which is probably the most important factor. However, we can't just ignore their actual basketball skills. From what we got to see last year, Clifford already has some pretty decent post moves. Adding the ability to step out and confidently hit a midrange shot is huge for a guy who is also seven feet tall. Think about how much more dangerous that makes a guy like Tyler Zeller. Now, Clifford isn't nearly as athletic as Zeller was at UNC last season, but having a stretch-5 is really rare and an incredible luxury.
Coach also points out that Ryan Anderson is handling the ball better. That's a huge addition to his game as well. He's quick enough and athletic enough to be a serious mismatch against pretty much everybody. If he cleaned up his handle enough, he's going to be a nightmare to guard. A big, strong power forward who can shoot threes and attack the basket off the dribble could be devastating.
"We're going to do some community service there. I just think it's a great opportunity to get together with each other and really bond, learn what we're all about, and enjoy a part of the world we may never get to see again."
This is refreshing. He could have easily made this 10-day trip to Spain all about playing basketball and nothing else. Instead, he recognizes that it's really just a great chance for the kids to see a new culture and bond as a team.
"We have to be able to play fast. If we're going to win in this league I think we have to average 72 to 78 points a game. We're not going to be a team to grind it out in the 60s. We have to be able to score and this gives us another segment leading up to the season of what I anticipate. I think the pace of our game has been great these first four days. The most improvement I've seen is their ability to not get fatigued, stay with the game plan, keep pushing the basketball, and playing at a good pace."
Hallelujah. Remember some (all?) of those games last year when they would wind down the (ridiculous) 35-second clock and try to limit the number of possessions per game? Hopefully that's a thing of the past. Run the floor, pick up the pace, shoot threes -- that's much easier to watch.