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Toppin Off: What I Want to See With Three Games Left

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Offensive changes, mostly

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

We’re in the home stretch folks. Another Boston College Basketball season is winding down, with just three games left before the Conference Tournament and then, almost certainly, the end of the season. The Eagles are undoubtedly out of the Big Dance (I won’t entertain the thought of a string of upsets in Greensboro), and the NIT seems almost equally unlikely. But us psychopaths and masochists will continue to watch and support this team just like we have all year, looking for something, anything, that might indicate brighter days ahead as we go into the offseason. When you consider that Jim Christian is likely staying, it means that such momentum is going to have to come from the players. So with all that said, here are some things that I’m hoping to see in the last three games of this year, knowing full well that BC isn’t competing for anything.

1) A Focus on Jay Heath’s Dribble Penetration

I think Heath has had a great year. But when I think of him scoring, I think of cold-blooded threes, fast break layups, or second chance points. When it comes to taking it to the hoop, he’s been keen to exploit mismatches on defense and attack slower opposition; I’d like to see a serious emphasis put on having him take on more guards on the perimeter a la Ky Bowman. Regardless of it’s in-game success, getting him reps there with the ball in his hand will bring long-term dividends for this team by making him a more complete player.

2) Allowing Steffon Mitchell’s to be a Primary Ball Handler

It is time that we fully embrace our local version of Draymond Green and let him make plays. No more hiding him on offense: he should be making that first pass and then going for the rebound. Now this certainly isn’t introducing a new idea to the offense; we’ve seen more of the point forward version of Mitchell this year than in years past. But that trend has paid off, and the Eagles are 6-1 when Mitchell has 4+ assists.

3) Less 4 & 5 Out Offense

One of the most frustrating parts of the year has been BC’s offense, which has been prone to long scoreless spells brought on by an overreliance on the three-point shot by a team that shoots 30% from deep (They rank 135th in taken threes, but 326th in three-point percentage in the country). They’ve completely evacuated the paint on the vast majority of the plays, and it’s clearly not working. I don’t feel inclined to think that it will start working in what little time remains this season. The Eagles have enough big personnel, between Jairus, Popovic, CJ Felder, Mitchell, and Luka Kraljevic, to see them try something down low. They should do it. Besides, we might even see a...

4) Dominant Nik Popovic

I feel bad for Pop. His senior season got derailed by back spasms that forced him to miss a chunk of the season, and he never seemed to get it fully back on track. He hasn’t been terrible (his PER is about what it was his sophomore year), but he has looked lost and out of sync in stretches, especially on defense. As the only true scholarship, 4-year Eagle on this team, he deserves to go out playing like a man on fire. We saw some sparks of his offensive game against Virginia, when he posted 22-7 and an obscene 147 ORTG. Hopefully he can put string a few more of those together and go out with a bang.

What do you all want to see in the twilight hours of the season? (And if you say JC getting fired, you’re neither creative nor original, and I’m never going to ask for your opinions again).