Five quick takes after Boston College moved to 3-0 with a 73-53 win over Sacred Heart last night at Conte Forum.
- There is still not a lot that can be taken from these first three games.
And that isn’t necessarily bad, but to date, these have been no more than glorified exhibition games. The Eagles have faced teams currently ranked #343/331 (Maine), #332/349 (South Carolina State) and #302/306 (Sacred Heart) by Jeff Sagarin and Ken Pomeroy respectively. For those of you who aren’t aware, there are only (only..lol) 351 college basketball teams.
In comparison, Pittsburgh is the lowest ranked ACC team at 135/142 and BC is 89/91. So this has no relationship to their direct competition.
That said, we know what happened a year ago the Eagles dropped games to Nicholls State and Hartford, both of whom had similar ratings to the teams BC has played year to date and had closer than expected games with virtually every other lower level team on their schedule. That hasn’t happened so far and although BC hasn’t completely annihilated these teams, the wins have been decisive.
With games against Texas Tech, potentially Northwestern and Providence in the short term and even the games against LaSalle and Nebraska (let’s leave Duke out of the conversation for now), we will find out where the Eagles sit against their peers, particularly when it comes to overall athleticism, the readiness of their depth and the ability to compete on the interior against opponents far more suited to the task.
2. Teddy Hawkins has been great so far but how will this translate into ACC play?
There is no doubt that Hawkins has been an upgrade from both Connar Tava at the four spot and AJ Turner at the three. He has the maturity of Tava, the range of Turner, but just does everything at a much higher level. Hawkins is the teams leading scorer and rebounder through the first three games. He has stretched out larger players forcing them to come to the perimeter to defend the three point shot and has shown the ability to finish with short jump hooks in the paint vs smaller defenders. He’s also been fabulous with the ball committing no turnovers, has been a solid, engaged defender and provides BC with a consistent, aggressive, third scoring option.
So what’s the problem..maybe nothing, but time will tell.
The Missouri Valley is a very competitive conference. Well above the level of competition Hawkins has played against so far this year, but night in and night out, not the level he will see in the ACC.
Against Illinois State’s best competition last year, Hawkins struggled. In games against TCU (the only Power Five school ISU played) and the three games against Wichita State, Hawkins averaged 8.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, fouled out twice and had four fouls in the other game.
We haven’t seen anything I would call explosive from him yet, so the question is whether when the Eagles move up the stack, how will Hawkins respond? He may be forced to play more athletic and quicker wing players as well as bigger and stronger post players. There are reasons to believe he can do so, but points of reference to suggest it may be a struggle.
3. What are this team’s biggest concerns? How will this team defend against better athletes and better competition? The Eagles switch defensively at the 1 through 4 spots and they’ve gotten sloppy in some of those exchanges and also shown times where they haven’t exerted as much energy as they need to get stops even against weaker competition.
Rebounding. This really scares me. While true that they are getting over 8 rebounds a game from the center spot, they are getting more than they could have figured from both Hawkins and Mitchell. They also have a bad habit of being ball watchers on shots, particularly off dribble penetration where they simply lose block out assignments.
It’s not vogue to block out anymore. Jumping for the ball is just fine, but this team will be pushed athletically against ACC competition and can’t take short cuts.
The good about this is that they appear to be more capable of competing on the glass than in recent years, they just have to show they can do it.
4. The bigs are better but much like the conversation about Teddy Hawkins, how much of this is the level of competition they are playing against. Steffon Mitchell is a diamond and a pretty polished one for a freshman who like Hawkins can play both the three and four spots. JC Reyes looks considerably more confident in all aspects.
BC though very rarely plays through the post offensively, opposing teams haven’t had the personnel to go inside against them and there isn’t the physical strength and explosiveness you see for instance watching Duke and Michigan State.
I worry about Nic Popovic as well. He continues to get in foul trouble and doesn’t appear to have progressed as much as you would hope (at least so far) in the off season.
5. Jerome Robinson’s struggles. Through three games Robinson is the fourth leading scorer on the team at just eight points per game, while shooting a miserable 24% from the floor and just 1-7 from three.
We have enough evidence that Robinson should be just fine, but two things are very noticeable in the early going. First that teams are playing him drive all the way. They are going under screens, not contesting hard to perimeter shots, jamming driving lines, all designed to have him need to shoot over someone and not get all the way to the basket.
Secondly, Robinson has forced some shots early in the shot clock and before the defense has broken been broken down. As the team’s best player, you can see this happening, but it may be time to let the game come to him a bit more.