That was basically a step backwards. We knew things like this were going to happen with a young team, but it's still discouraging. Boston College fans (myself included) were feeling good before today's game after the young Eagles hung with 16th ranked Baylor Bears for much of Thursday's contest. We expected a close game and a victory certainly seemed within reason. Instead, BC came out flat and the Dayton Flyers, ahem, flew away with this one, winning by a final score of 87-71.
What went wrong?
Well first of all, Ryan Anderson wasn't as dominant as he has been. His 14 points and 8 rebounds are respectable, but aren't nearly on par with his first two games. That said, it's a bit unreasonable to expect him to be a 20 point scorer every single night. Patrick Heckmann, the player so many were annoyed with after the loss to Baylor, looked like BC's best offensive player for periods of Friday's game. He scored 13 points on just five field goal attempts, drew fouls and got to the line twice, and committed zero turnovers. That said, Heckmann seemed to be the only guy who could knock down the open shots. Andrew Van Nest missed both his three point attempts and Lonnie Jackson once again struggled from distance, making just two of his eight attempts.
However, the offense wasn't the problem. Scoring 71 points should probably be enough a lot of the time. The turnovers weren't out of control (just 12 -- not bad, not great) and BC got to the free throw line 21 times. Joe Rahon in particular looked very impressive. I came away from the first two games thinking that Olivier Hanlan was obviously the better of the two freshmen guards and that it was odd that he and Rahon were continually mentioned in the same vein. After this loss to Dayton, I can see why Steve Donahue is so high on both of them. Rahon was very quick off the dribble, penetrated the defense, and created good looks for others. He finished with 16 points on 5 of 9 shooting, including two three-pointers and eight free throw attempts. The only real offensive blemishes for Rahon were the 4 of 8 shooting at the charity stripe and the three turnovers. I guess the important part is that we really saw his talent come through. He's quick, can shoot, and is strong enough to draw contact in the paint.
All of that said, we have to shift our attention to the other side of the ball in order to understand how the Eagles lost this game as badly as they did. The defense is, quite frankly, crap. Through three games, they've allowed 70 points to Florida International, 84 points to Baylor, and 87 points to Dayton. This team simply does not have the offensive firepower to allow that many points and win very many ballgames. The help rotations are slow. The hedging or switching or fighting through screens is slow. The communication isn't up to par and the result is wide open shooters for the opponent. You can look at Dayton's 57.1% from three and think that's just an outlier and unlikely to happen again. But if you watched the game, you'd see that those shots were often wide open due to defensive breakdowns. These aren't professional basketball players, but they can still make open shots when you give them.
Dennis Clifford only played 19 minutes today, but he looked much better than Thursday. He was simply more active, grabbing six rebounds and blocking three shots in limited minutes. Maybe his knee is feeling better or maybe he was just relieved to not be matched up against Isaiah Austin. Either way, it was nice to see Clifford play productive minutes.
Eddie Odio was once again fairly productive off the bench. He makes really smart cuts to the basket and crashes the offensive glass. It's nice to have a high energy-high athleticism guy like that to inject some life into the team.
I've been told that Danny Rubin threw down a dunk in the waning minutes as I turned away, but I don't believe it at all. Someone needs to show me video evidence of this.
BC will play again Sunday at noon against the loser of College of Charleston and Auburn. That game is played Friday night at 7:30 PM.