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Curran’s Corner 3: Fix the Perimeter Defense, but McGlockton is a Bright Spot

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Virginia Tech Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Boston College Basketball suffered a winless past week, losing two games they certainly had chances at winning against UNC at home and Virginia Tech on the road. The outlook is pretty grim for the Eagles right now, with the momentum of a 9-2 OOC record quickly evaporating with a 2-6 record in ACC play. The Eagles will have to regroup and bounce back quickly with matchups at Notre Dame and vs. Syracuse up next. Let’s get into it:

  1. Perimeter defense.

It’s bad, folks. Very, very, bad. I’ll give the Eagles credit for holding RJ Davis to 5/14 from the floor, and Cormac Ryan stinks. But both of those guys (and Harrison Ingram, among others) got some very good looks on the perimeter. Against Virginia Tech, BC looked helpless. VT constantly ran double pin-down screens off the ball for one of their shooters – mostly Pedulla or Cattoor – and every single time had all the space in the world to launch a triple or pick apart the defense inside the paint. I think the issue is both personnel (man, there are times where we miss MAL’s lanky quick-twitch and slipperiness around screens) and coaching – Coach Grant has to recognize that the scheme is not working against teams who can shoot, and it is really hurting us. I’ve touched on this multiple times now, but we keep seeing the same results: switches that give the other team advantages, wings unable to stay in front of their man, or guys just looking lost in rotations. Any trend upward needs to begin with the defense for this team, and it needs a quick turnaround.

  1. What happened to Claudell Harris?

The Notre Dame 1-13 abomination has proven to not just be a one-game slump. Against UNC: 1-11, 0-5 from 3. Against VTech: 5-16, 3-9 from 3 (and he was demoted to the bench). The effort is undoubtedly there. Harris plays his heart out, and anyone can see that he is frustrated more than anyone else about his slump. The issue is that as he’s lost his shooting touch, he doubles down on trying to find it. He’s shooting basically the same number of times per contest, but the quality of the look is deteriorating. I think he must have taken (and missed) four straight midrange, off-the-bounce jumpers against UNC – one of the toughest and least efficient shots in the game. As he struggles to shoot his way out of the slump, though, the team’s offense goes cold and it is costing us chances at winning games. Pinning the UNC and VT losses entirely on him is stupid and wrong, but I think it is fair to say that if Harris was shooting like he was earlier in the year the chances that BC goes on a run in the second half of one of if not both of those games goes up drastically. Forcing shots is not the answer; on a team that is struggling on both ends of the floor every offensive possession is invaluable. Wasting those possessions on low-quality shots is a) not Harris’s best shot and b) not good for the team. The poor shot selection is not all on Harris, too: the number of stupid shots BC took this week was hard to watch. It needs fixing.

  1. McGlockton, the bright spot:

I wrote in our season preview that Devin McGlockton was my player to watch and the X-factor on this BC team. He has delivered. I consider this to be a breakout year for him – though that title normally connotes a huge uptick in countable statistics (especially offensively) that McGlockton may not have, make no mistake: he is playing, by far, the best basketball of his career. He just brings so many little things that BC cannot really get from anywhere else on their roster. A rim deterrent either alongside Post or when he is out of the game? McGlockton can cover, averaging over a block per game. Tough rebounding? Despite being only 6’7, he reels in 6.6 boards per game. He’s especially effective on the offensive glass, something he flashed last year and is showing it regularly with almost two and half per game. He’s growing as a floor spacer, too – he’s never going to be Steph Curry, but 35.7% on 1.5 attempts per game will do just fine. Opponents have to respect the shot. When the team needs scoring, he’s becoming an incredibly effective finisher down low in the post with a couple go-to dropstep and spin moves. As a junior, he will be a critical part of the team for not only this season but next season as well (provided unforeseen circumstances). His growth has been awesome to see.