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Coach's Corner: Boston College Basketball Tops Fordham 64-55

Eagles show poise under pressure, top Rams for third win in a row

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Our basketball analyst "Coach" John Fidler breaks down BC's win over Fordham at the Barclay's Center

The Fordham Rams came in winners of nine in a row, riding a wave of confidence and a pressure defense that had caused most of their opponents to wilt, but the young Boston College Eagles showed poise under that pressure, rarely letting it impact them and rode that poise and a solid defensive effort of their own to a 64-55 win in Brooklyn.

What were the key takeaways from this one?

There was a lot of talk on the boards during the game that Fordham was overrated.  Picked last in the A10 pre-season, their schedule was certainly less than imposing, but winning nine games in a row at any point in time during the season gives a team confidence and this Ram team certainly had that. They also had a pressing style that is built to generate energy and scoring opportunities, but the bottom line on this night was that BC was just a better team.

Three keys heading into this game were:

  • BC's ability to handle the pressure the Rams would apply. Fordham entered the game forcing 18.4 turnovers per game, 3rd in the country.  Would the Eagle guards, without a true point guard, be able to limit particularly live ball turnovers that the Rams could turn immediately into points?
    • Result: Although the Eagles turned it over 14 times in the game or about 2 1/2 more than they average on the season and Fordham turned these into 15 points, BC stayed away from the 6-0, 8-2 press induced runs that would have gotten Fordham kick started.  Jerome Robinson who played the majority of the second half at the point, looked very comfortable.  His size to look over the Ram traps, limiting tipped balls and allowing him to find teammates more easily, was invaluable.  He also stayed away from getting too rushed in his decision making process.  This has to be a big boost to his confidence and the confidence of the staff in his ability to play the point under pressure. Robinson was the Eagles best player yesterday, something I think we will be saying more and more as the season progresses.
    • Eli Carter for the most part did the same thing.  He had a few "Eli moments" attempting to do too much, but was solid under pressure as well.  The guys who got into trouble were the ones who simply went too fast.  Darryl Hicks had three turnovers in 15 minutes while Sammie Barnes-Thompkins had just one and scored five points, but the two of them played way too fast against that kind of pressure.
  • Rebounding.  The Eagles have been a notoriously poor rebounding team the last few years, particularly in giving up offensive rebounds.  Fordham entered the game +7 per game gathering over 54% of the total rebounds available, good for 44th in the country, while Boston College was at 208 in the country, retrieving 48.6% of all missed shots.
    • Result:  BC winds up +7 for the game including gathering 12 offensive rebounds of their own, a far cry from the 2 they got against Delaware.  Yes, they gave up 11 offensive rebounds to the Rams, but those turned into just 4 points.  Definite improvement here.  Dennis Clifford had another solid game here pulling down 9 total.  Clifford is now up to 7.4 per game and has become a consistent presence defensively and rebounding the ball and is finishing more and more of the easy opportunities he has around the rim while limiting the turnovers he had early in the season and in past years.  Is this a product of the competition he is playing right now, we shall see as the Eagles get into ACC play.
  • Defense.  Fordham had averaged over 80 points per game and was 32nd in the country in effective FG percentage.
    • Result:  BC holds Fordham to just 55 points and 32 percent from the field.  Just the other day we looked at the Delaware game and could have said just about the same thing, but there were some major differences in this one.  
      • This Fordham team was not nearly as athletic as the Delaware team and nowhere near as athletic and long as BC.  The Eagle guards did a great job shutting down dribble penetration and did an excellent job closing out to shooters who they clearly bothered with that size.  With Fordham unable to get much off their pressure, they were forced to play most of the game in the halfcourt and BC ate them up.  Dennis Clifford and Idy Diallo (4-4 from the floor for 8 points, but also 0-4 FT line..and dear Lord..0-8 for the year!!!) made life really difficult for Fordham's Ryan Rhoomes.  The other day, Blue Hen shooters had open shots they just missed...yesterday Ram shooters simply didn't have that many clean looks either from the perimeter or at the rim.
  • The Eagle offense wasn't great, but it also wasn't awful. Playing against teams that pressure you like that means you rarely get into offensive sets, you spend the whole night attacking pressure, which is where the ability to pass, catch and make decisions under that pressure becomes the key and the Eagles did that well.

Overall, a good win against a club that is probably a bit overrated, but came in playing with supreme confidence and the Eagles exerted their physical superiority to get the win. One more game against UNH where they should have that edge and then the ACC comes calling.