They say two points make a line and three make a trend and in this case, Boston College couldn’t quite get a trend started on Tuesday night in Winston-Salem, falling flat in the second half en route to a 79-66 loss to Wake Forest, evening their ACC record at 1-1.
The loss shouldn’t necessarily be surprising and neither should the way it all came about.
Let’s take a look at what broke the modest, but still solid, two game win streak.
Live by the sword, die by the sword:
Over the course of the last game a half prior to the Wake game, the Eagles have been absolutely on fire from the three point line. 16-26 62% vs Syracuse and 8-12 75% in the second half against Providence were clearly the biggest differentiators in those Eagles victories. While we ultimately may find out that BC is (or isn’t) a really good outside shooting team, the trend over those last couple of game and into the Wake game regardless of design or not, was to shoot more threes.
BC took 30 of their 58 shots (51.7%) from beyond the arc vs the Deacons, after taking 26 of 63 (41.3%) vs Syracuse and 21 of 57 (36.9%) vs Providence.
On the year, including the last three games, the Eagles take 34.8% of their shots from the outside the stripe, putting them just 213th in the country in number of attempts per game.
Unfortunately, the trend didn’t quite make its way to Winston-Salem and the Eagles went dry from the outside. 5-30 from three (Ky Bowman 1-8, Jordan Chatman 1-7, Jerome Robinson 1-5 and AJ Turner 2-7).
BC has definitely shown themselves to be a good perimeter shooting team at #49 in the country in 3 FG%, but on this night, that didn’t work out..which brings us to...
Jim Christian touched on this in his post game press conference and I certainly don’t have any disagreement with him, BC’s shot selection considering the results they were getting, wasn’t good.
Shot selection is one of the absolute hardest things to coach and quantify. It is not equal for all players, it is not equal for all situations and it is not equal for all games.
In the Wake game, although the Eagles shot just 3-15 from beyond the arc, the four post players (Jeffers, Reyes, Popovic and Tava) were a combined 6-10 from the floor and two of those misses were Tava threes..so we are really looking at 6-8 for 13 points.
In the second half, the three combined to take just three shots (1-3) for 3 points, so outside of Jerome Robinson who took half of his eight second half shots from three, Bowman, Chatman and Turner combined to take 11 of their 15 shots from deep.
What makes the lesson tougher is the looks they got, which in general were really good, but just didn’t go in. So although the ball movement certainly wasn’t as good as the first half, what they wound up taking for shots was fine...save the results, which worked just fine for Danny Manning as BC couldn’t knock any of them down.
The answer here, get paint touches off dribble drives. The Eagles took 19 second half free throws, going 15 for 19, but needed to push that advantage more and get the posts involved too.
One philosophy I have heard was after missing 2 or 3 consecutive threes, to have a call which indicates that the shot the coaches want is something in the lane, whether that be feeding the post or off the drive. It is simply an indicator and a reminder not to get three happy.
Exposed in the post:
This was something we had talked about happening, but reared its head for the first time in this game. BC plays small with Tava at the four and lacks depth off the bench and with Jeffers in foul trouble covering John Collins, the Eagles were exposed defensively and rebounding the ball.
BC was outscored 32-26 in the paint for the game, but the four bigs were outscored by their Wake counterparts 44-16 and out rebounded 19-10 including 10-3 on the glass in the second half and 20-3 on the scoreboard when the Eagles lost contact.
It was good to see BC attempt to front the post and although they had some success in the first half, they had trouble backing that post down toward the block to shut off the lob and then in the second half, getting around in front at all.
Which brings us to...
How much does fatigue play into this:
Color analyst and former Georgia Tech guard, Bryan Oliver, spent a large portion of the night harping on the BC fatigue factor coming off the Sunday game against Syracuse, followed by travel and then a game with only one days rest.
There is certainly reason to believe that this had some impact, although not sure how much. Indicators of fatigue (inability to front the post, settling for threes, inability to shut off driving lanes, 54.2% from the floor for Wake in the second half while the Eagles countered at 24%) were there.
What does this say about BC:
Wake Forest is a decent team, a year or so ahead of BC in the rebuilding process but one picked preseason 13th in the Athlon preview and by the ACC media, so far from the top of the conference.
The Deacons exposed a BC defense that doesn’t generate a ton of offense off their defense, will struggle to rebound against this level of competition (-12 vs Wake) and will be completely reliant on Jerome Robinson and Ky Bowman, hopefully with an assist from AJ Turner, to score.
Right now, against a bit better ACC opposition than Syracuse was able to muster, we have a point. Will Duke create a line and then perhaps NC State create that trend we started the story with? While the Eagles are better, they will play most nights in the conference with a very small margin for error and focus on things like shot selection, rebounding and the free throw line, will be critical for BC to grab some wins against this level of competition.