After perhaps the worst loss in the Jim Christian era against Hartford the Eagles rebounded with an upset victory against Auburn at MSG on Monday. While BC didn’t play a perfect game there were a lot of things that went well in the win. What can the staff bottle up from that win to take forward to combine with Jerome Robinson’s scoring output that he delivers almost every night?
There’s no denying that turnovers have been a huge problem for the Eagles this year. According to KenPom, the team is turning the ball over on 22.3% of possessions which ranks 318th nationally. One reason for that has been the up and down play that the team has gotten from the point guard position.
Bowman committed only 2 turnovers in 32 minutes of action on Monday. The best part was that it wasn’t because Bowman was passive and didn’t look to make plays. Bowman was still as aggressive as ever---as evident by his brass balls move to take the ball to the rim in the final seconds---but in this game he didn’t make the unforced errors that he has been making all season. If Bowman can continue to provide a double digit scoring punch and not turn the ball over this will become a much scarier offense.
The key for Bowman going forward will be to play with poise in the half court. The up and down style that Auburn plays actually suited Bowman quite well the other night and plays to his strengths. Bowman will need to continue to play in control when the Eagles get back to playing teams that play at a slower pace.
AJ Turner Being Defensive Stopper
Turner’s biggest job on this team is to be the defensive wing stopper. He is going to be challenged throughout the year to contain the opponent’s leading scorer and it will have a direct correlation to the team’s success. Going into the game Mustapha Heron was Auburn’s leading scorer averaging just above 15 points per game and Turner held Heron in check right at his season average last night.
As a bonus, Turner chipped in with 13 points and was 5-for-10 from the floor. If Turner can perform his role as a defensive stopper and also chip in as a guy that scorer 10-12 points it is going to help this team.
It feels weird to say this but BC isn’t a bad rebounding team when it has Mo Jeffers, Connor Tava and Niko Popovic in the lineup. KenPom currently has the Eagles as the 25th best defensive rebounding team in the country. The Eagles haven’t had the most challenging schedule in the country so I don’t think that rating of 25th will hold up over time. However, you can’t overlook the fact that BC has went up against two really strong rebounding teams like Auburn and Towson and won the battle on the glass.
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl acknowledged BC’s strong rebounding after the game as a reason it won the game. "The rebounding advantage was significant," Pearl said. "I knew Boston College would be a good physical team and the fact they dominated the glass was a factor. As a result, they won the game on an offensive rebound it almost stands to reason."
Mo Jeffers Composure
Jeffers has put together a solid season for BC so far but one of the problems he’s had is he takes himself out of games. What I mean by that is that in previous games Jeffers would get visibly frustrated if he got his shot blocked or had a call go against him that he thought was wrong. Jeffers would respond to the misfortune by committing a silly foul on defense or lose focus on getting boards and being in the right position on defense. Going into this game the BC staff made it a priority with Jeffers to let him know that they couldn’t afford to have him lose focus in the game when his shot got blocked on one of the Auburn big men talked trash to him. Jeffers remained composed throughout the game and finished with a solid 6 points and 7 boards and ONLY three fouls, which is what the team needs from him on a nightly basis.
Niko Off the Bench
Obviously Popovic’s tip to win the game was the signature play of the game. In the big picture Pop provides a little scoring pop off of the bench, which a lot of teams can’t say about a big man that comes off of the bench. Pop shows a lot of toughness underneath the basket and is quickly looking like a gem in this recruiting class.