It was a totally forgettable day for Boston College who, for only the second time this season, were completely dominated by an opponent, dropping a "it may not be as close as the final score indicates" 64-49 game at Clemson on Saturday afternoon.
The loss drops BC two games under .500 for the season at 9-11 and now just 1-7 in ACC play, with a pretty brutal week upcoming at Notre Dame on Wednesday before returning to Conte to take on North Carolina on Saturday.
The Eagles never got going in this noon time tip and quickly found themselves down 11 at 19-8 by the time the under 12 TV timeout was called. They never cut the lead to single digits for the rest of the game, falling behind by as many 22 just beyond the midway point in the second half.
It was an uncharacteristic performance for BC, who, outside of the game at Duke, have played competitively against their ACC brethren, despite having just the one conference win. What went right today...well obviously not a lot, but let's see if we can find a few things in today's three up/three down segment.
The Zone and the Morphing Zone
Jim Christian has shown something we used to call "Mabel," which is showing zone defense and then switching to man on the first pass. It is a look we've seen in several games this year and they used significantly yesterday, particularly in the first half.
As I have mentioned frequently in other posts, changing defenses often tends to get teams out of rhythm. It naturally takes aggressiveness away and forces the opponent to identify and organize. That burns time on the shot clock and such was the case yesterday. The Eagles held the Tigers to just six points over the final 9:14 if the first half and, although BC was shut down offensively, kept the Eagles in a game they could have been completely blown out of.
The 3-2 zone that was featured more in the second half with Patrick Heckmann at the point was also effective, particularly early in the second half.
I am a huge proponent of switching defenses more than just a changeup, especially when you are clearly overmatched athletically. Changing on deadballs, made free throws, out of time outs, misses vs makes, all contribute to making your opponent take time and resources toward first identifying before attacking and is almost always successful.
Let's hope this is something we see more of, because BC is not equipped to simply show one look the whole night and shut teams down.
There was very little to get excited about offensively yesterday, but another solid game out of Aaron Brown was one of them. Brown scored 15 points on a very efficient 5-9 from the floor including 3-6 from three. His 55.6% from the field matched his season high vs Binghamton, and he is averaging 18.8 ppg over his last four, making him the Eagles' leading scorer in the stretch, ahead of Olivier Hanlan's 16 ppg.
Second Half Shooting
Well I told you it wouldn't be easy to find positives, but the Eagles did shoot a more than respectable 52.2 percent from the field in the second half. The problem there though was that the game was over by that point. BC made 7 of their last 9 shots over the final nine minutes of the game to finish at that clip, but by that time, the deficit was 20.
Inability to play inside out
It is easy to simply say that BC couldn't shoot the ball and couldn't score for the majority of the first 30 minutes of the game, but there is more to it than that. We have to admit that BC struggled to make even open shots. Let's look at what may have played into that issue:
- The noon start. It sounds like a big time excuse and in honesty, that is all it is: an excuse for something that no coach would ever put up with, but it does happen, so tough to ignore it when it does. This was BC's first noon tip of the year and Clemson has played a handful, so when the Eagles come out and score 3 points in the first nearly six minutes of the game and put up a whopping 16 first half points, there is something to it...BUT...
- The Clemson defense and the lack of an interior presence for BC was so much more important to what we saw. This is another topic that's been covered ad nauseam, but it is the biggest reason that the Eagles go through these massive scoring droughts at times.
Think about BC football, where Addazio plays the game in a phone booth. BC basketball is exactly the opposite where the Eagles play in the ocean, with no land (the basket) in sight. Paint touches, the ability to get the ball into the paint to score or create scoring opportunities, is a huge stat and with BC unable to throw the ball inside to a post who can score or create the illusion of being able to score, the perimeter defenders can simply lock down.
Look at the Duke-Virginia game last night and how the presence of Okafor opened up the perimeter players, who made plays not just because they are McDonald's All Americans, but because of an inside presence.
- Clifford (zero points, how sick is he really...or can he just not play? 1 point in last three active games and 3.4 ppg in ACC play this season), Magarity (zero points), Cain Carney (zero points) and Odio (five points—but 3 came on a made 3 pt FG)...that means your post players contributed 2 total points in their area. Tough sledding indeed.
- BC went through droughts of 4:30, 4:35 and 4:55 in the first half alone. Olivier Hanlan was held in check by Rod Hall (another of the key pregame matchups). Hanlan got 15 but nine of them came in the final 8 minutes of the contest with the Eagles down 20.
- Clemson is a very athletic, talented and committed defense, becoming one dimensional on top of that was going to be problematic.
Unfortunately, I don't think this is something that we will see change in 2015 and that is a personnel problem.
Lack of Ball pressure
The Eagle defense wasn't horrible, but it sure wasn't great. Jordan Roper lit up BC for a career high 24 points on 8-11 from the floor, including 6 of 8 from three. If you take away Roper, Clemson shoots 31% for the game, as it was they only managed 39%, but BC had no answer to identify and take away Roper the way Clemson did with Hanlan.
Roper made tough shots and made easy ones. The tough you can live with, but the easy bug you. A lot of this was due to lack of ball pressure on the perimeter. When players are allowed to throw line drive passes to open teammates, that provides time and space for shooters.
Unfortunately, unlike football, your defensive players are the same as your offensive ones and the longer the Eagles went without scoring, the less effective their defense and ball pressure got and Roper was there to make BC pay.
Lather, rinse, repeat. BC continues to struggle rebounding the ball. The Louisville game on Wednesday night then becomes more outlier than trend. What was a 15 point game could have been a 30 point one if the Clemson bigs had the ability to finish, because they sure had a lot of chances, mostly via the offensive rebound.
The Tigers were plus 10 on the glass (37-27) including grabbing 13 offensively. BC mustered just 6 offensive and 21 defensive, so this was another case where an opponent retrieved nearly 40% of their own misses. Clemson turned those into 12 second chance points.
Turnovers and the backlash from them
The Eagles had 13 turnovers for the game, not a colossal amount, but they all seemed to hurt. Clemson scored 16 points from those TOs, most of which were of the live ball, sloppy variety.
Yup, he's made this list a few times now, but right now it's not happening for the Old Dominion transfer. He scored just five points, with two of them coming on the final basket of the game and spent his night trying to cover Jordan Roper (at least when the Eagles weren't in zone). He's had just one double-digit game in the past eleven and outside the 17 at Syracuse is averaging just 3.6 ppg in his previous six contests.
Batten's effort continues to remain solid, but you just have to wonder if going a different route, perhaps Garland Owens, might be in order. Unfortunately, Jim Christian doesn't have too many options.