23 days ago you would’ve been diagnosed as clinically insane if you predicted that Boston College would beat Syracuse on New Year’s Day. The Eagles were fresh off of an embarrassing 65-63 loss at home to Hartford in a game that many fans labeled as a new low for the program. In that game Hartford played a 2-3 zone defense that stifled the BC offense and held the Eagles to a miserable 34% from the field and 28% from beyond the arc. It wasn’t so much that Hartford was running a version of the 2-3 zone that looked like the 2012 or 2013 Syracuse zone that was so good, rather it was more that the BC freshmen acted like they had never gone against a zone before. It was a really unhealthy mix of players dribbling around the perimeter, not getting the ball into the middle of the zone and not making quick, sharp passes.
Against the Syracuse zone on Sunday the Eagles displayed a completely different execution of a zone offense. Ky Bowman (9 assists) and Jerome Robinson (4 assists) were able to penetrate the ‘Cuse zone whenever they wanted to and Connar Tava (7 assists) was able to setup shop right inside the middle of the zone to setup teammates for open looks on the perimeter and down low.
"Any time you get 28 assists, guys are making right decisions with the basketball," said BC coach Jim Christian. "I thought Connar (Tava) did a great job when he could the ball in the middle, finding the right guys. Niko (Popovic) finished inside, obviously Ky (Bowman) and Jerome (Robinson) and Jordan Chatman make open shots. I'm proud of them. That's about as well as you can execute against an unbelievably good zone team."
Based on Jim Boeheim’s postgame comments it might be a little strong to call ‘Cuse a good zone team at this point. However, considering that BC couldn’t execute a zone offense just three weeks ago you have to give credit to both the staff and players for making the necessary adjustments to fix it.
After the recent wins against ‘Cuse and Providence is it time to rethink predictions on this BC team? I don’t think it's time to change it drastically but the future is looking a whole lot brighter with Jerome Robinson getting the attention of NBA scouts and Ky Bowman averaging 21 points per game since figuring things out against Auburn 5 games ago. If you look back at BCI’s preseason predictions most of us actually called this win over ‘Cuse. In that same article I predicted four wins in the ACC which I had coming from winning two out of three against Wake/GT and some sort of home court upset over a team like Pitt or NC State. I would say now the one difference is that instead of being hopeful of those four wins I expect this team to get those two out of three against the bottom feeders and expect a home court upset or two. If Bowman and Robinson keep playing like this though then the projections get even more upbeat.
Key Recruits That Watched the Wins
BC had an impressive group of recruits on hand to watch the win over Providence last week including the #3 ranked player in New England in the class of 2018, A.J.Reeves, the #4 ranked New England player in ’19, Brycen Goodine, and Charles Coleman, who is ranked 10th in the class of ’19.
Against ‘Cuse, the 6’10" center Coleman was in attendance again along with his teammates Jordan Mason and Noah Kamba among others. Also in attendance yesterday were coaches from key AAU programs in the area like BABC and Metro Boston and high school/prep coaches from St.Mark’s and Newton North.
A little buzz is starting to be created on the local recruiting scene which hasn’t been seen in a few years. This tweet from BallasTV sums it up pretty nicely.
Boston College has now beating Auburn, Providence and Syracuse— Sherwyn Cooper (@BallasTV) January 1, 2017