Boston College has some high expectations for their basketball team this season. After several tough seasons, the Eagles are looking to actually make some noise this year. In order to do that, however, BC needs to take care of business early in the season. They already dropped their first game, a tough overtime loss at Providence. On Sunday afternoon, they took on the UMass Minutemen at the Coaches vs. Cancer mini-tournament at TD Garden. A second half run put UMass on top and BC was never able to really close the gap. The end result was an 86-73 win for UMass and BC's second loss to start the season.
Both teams started the game with some really sloppy play, but the Eagles eventually got it going. Ryan Anderson carried the team for much of the first half, scoring 12 of BC's first 30 points. Anderson had to pick up the slack because Olivier Hanlan was sitting on the bench for most of the half thanks to two early fouls. BC was taking a lot of threes, playing decent defense, and working through Anderson. All in all, the first half was pretty solid. The Eagles went into halftime with a 36-32 lead and they did it without much from Olivier Hanlan.
In general, I liked the ball movement from the Eagles. It's not hard to see how this team can be effective on offense when they are playing the right way. The problem is that they need to defend consistently and prevent the other team from getting out in transition to do so.
But everything fell apart a few minutes into the second half. Chaz Williams went supernova from behind the arc and propelled the Minutemen to a 31-9 run. The Eagles stopped defending in transition and that allowed UMass to get in the open court where they are apparently very dangerous. They threw down a few nice dunks, got some tricky layups to fall and of course some ridiculous pull-up threes from Chaz Williams. Williams finished with 20 points and was 5 of 5 from three.
Olivier Hanlan did his best to takeover the game in the later part of the second half. He drove to the basket relentless, trying to get to the rim and draw fouls as much as he could, but that was all the team really got down the stretch. Hanlan finished with 19 points, almost all of them coming in the second half. Ryan Anderson scored 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds, but neither effort was nearly enough.
BC struggled to get stops and when they did, UMass just grabbed the offensive rebound. Cady Lalanne was an absolute monster in the paint. BC didn't really have any answer for him as he racked up 27 points and 12 rebounds. The interior defense of the Eagles clearly needs some work. I liked the defensive effort from Will Magarity early in the game, but if he's in foul trouble and not contributing offensively or on the glass, it's hard to give him serious minutes. If the Eagles have a real serious weak spot this season, the offensive glass and defending the paint in general is probably where they get burned.
The Eagles fall to 0-2 on the season which isn't exactly the start that we wanted. The game against Providence could have gone either way, but UMass just straight dominated the Eagles in the second half. I'm sure some people will overreact and call this a lost season already, but there's a lot of basketball to be played. BC has a tough schedule before they start ACC play, but it will certainly help for the team to get some games at home. Steve Donahue has a lot of work to do, but I'm willing to give it more than two games.
The Eagles will play their first home game of the season on Thursday night at 7 PM against Toledo.