USA TODAY Sports
Boston College men's basketball coach Steve Donahue talks to the media ahead of this week's games against Maryland and Duke.
COACH DONAHUE: Three games this week. Sunday when I spoke to you with Duke; win a close one against Wake Forest when we were down seven with a little over two; and then another one‑possession game at Florida State.
I'm real pleased with my guys and how we have continued to improve and play really solid basketball and just not enough to win a lot of these games, but really pleased with everything that they are doing except somehow not coming out on the winning end. Really pleased with their development. We have to get better, there's no question, especially on the defensive end, and we'll continue to work at it.
Q. What are the matchup problems that Alex Len presents for you?
COACH DONAHUE: Well, I think everybody in the league has to worry about Alex and he just did a terrific job against Mason Plumlee who is one of the better physical centers in the league.
I think his ability to be a basketball player, and what I mean by that is not‑‑ you can throw a double‑team at him, but it better be a good one because he can pass; and if you don't, his physicality and his length, getting deep into the lane, makes it very hard to stop him one‑on‑one.
I think he just continues to develop. You just can't let him get off and make easy shot after easy shot. He's got 16 against us now and mostly hurt us on the offensive glass and took 14 shots to get it. We are going to have to work extremely hard to keep him off the glass and make him shoot difficult shots, extend some double‑team and things like that; and just really do as good a job as you can before he catches it so he's not catching it close to the rim.
Q. Where do you see the biggest areas of improvement from him over last year?
COACH DONAHUE: Well, just his physical stature. He's a different body. It's amazing. And you saw the skill there last year; put on that kind of weight and strength, and now he plays on that, and that's a credit to him and credit to the coaches to get him to play physical.
A lot of kids who gain weight still kind of play like they are not strong. He plays like he's a strong kid, really competes physically, which at that size, is a handful. Got an incredible future ahead of him.
Q. I wanted to follow up, not so much on Len, but the fact that you guys play a fairly small rotation, you play a lot of four guards around a forward. Maryland is a huge team, not just Len, but when they put Mitchell or Cleare, or they have been playing three big guys with Padgett at small forward and Faust and Wells at guard. Can you talk about that and how big a problem it is just the whole size at every position?
COACH DONAHUE: Yeah, I think the big thing with us is we did not have Clifford. We thought a 7‑0, 260‑pound kid, throw him in with Ryan Anderson, I think we felt we would be very good about where we are physically inside. But you're right, Maryland has not only length, but Cleare and Mitchell and Padgett, bigger, thicker kids and then big size at the guards.
You know, I think that's all part of our challenge, especially as we are young here, growing into being physical players. We basically played seven scholarship players, and they are all freshmen and sophomores and I think they are not there physically yet.
But with this team, I think you've got to match it and be grittier and tougher and I think we have done that for most of the year on the boards. It's obviously, as I said with Clifford, it's a handful. Now, Dennis is starting to get more healthy. When he plays, I think we are a different team defensively. And I think he's added that part and hopefully we can get some minutes out of him on Tuesday night.
Q. Is that the long‑term answer to this, getting Dennis back to where he can play his 25, 30 minutes a game, or do you need to go out and recruit some more size?
COACH DONAHUE: Yeah, I think you're always looking to get bigger around each position for us. And we are going to be slightly different than everybody else. And we look at skill and IQ and all these other things, as well. It's just not a lot of big guys out there that are that skilled that you can play.
Dennis is obviously a big part of our future and we are going to continue to add length and athleticism up front if we can, as well as size everywhere else. I also think guys like Odio, came in at 195, he's a now 220; I think he's going to be a 235 kid who is going to be a really good junior, senior physical basketball player at the four spot for us.
Like I said, Ryan Anderson, he's not where he needs to be or where he will be or can be next year or the year after that and Clifford has some physicality, as well. As I said, you've got to continue to recruit kids that are going to be able to physically compete at this level.
Q. Is there anything that you can do to help your team cope with some of these losses you've gone through recently, because you're one of several teams in the league that has fallen into the same category.
COACH DONAHUE: Yeah, I don't know if there's anything specific you can do. I'm always talking about, whether you're winning or losing, it's about how you're playing and what you're doing to put yourself in those positions. I don't want to just accept losses, but I also don't want to lose sight of where we are at in our development.
As I said, we play seven scholarship players on our freshmen and sophomore side, and most of them were not the type when they got here. They got here late and they were not the type that were ready to play necessarily in their freshmen and sophomore years and hope you win games.
But I do think it's an opportunity where if you develop these kids, they are going to be really helpful down the road, and I don't want to lose sight of that. I told them, I'm proud of how we are playing.
I'm disappointed in losses but I'm not discouraged of where we are headed and I'm not going to lose sight of that just because‑‑ really, I think we've had a ton of games that we could have went either way in our league and for the most part we have not played bad basketball. We have played really good basketball for stretches but we had some holes that we have got to figure out how to get better in the short run and certainly in the long run.
Q. Is it easier or more difficult to express to your team, when it does come down to one or two possessions every game?
COACH DONAHUE: Yeah, you know what, I feel pretty good that we competed. We don't play really well for stretches, like in the Florida State game, where we just were not scoring and we were not moving the ball, and then we got gritty and we hung around, and then we figured out a way.
So, yeah, I think kind of your team competes ‑‑ and we competed on the road. That's a three‑point loss at Florida State; that's a three point loss ‑‑ in basically one‑possession games at Wake Forest. We win at Virginia Tech.
For a young team, I think we are playing well on the road and we played solid at home, as well. I don't have a whole lot of issues with those type of things that would drive a coach crazy not being emotional, physically ready to play. I think we have done that.
We just at times have not played consistent defensively for 40 minutes. And it's obviously our Achilles' heel and something we address every single day and we are probably sick of it, but we are doing it, we are playing hard. In practice we are trying to get better at it. I'm really pleased with all those things.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports.