Well, that was deflating. After back-to-back ACC wins last week, BC lost to FSU at home this week to squash any momentum, with a looming visit to Cameron this Saturday on tap next. Earl Grant’s squad is staring at an uphill battle to get back to last year’s mark of 9-11 in the ACC (although our record will likely be better given our OOC wins). Let’s get to it:
- Slow starts are becoming a bigger problem.
I feel like Boston College has played to a hugely similar script in conference play: the Eagles come out slow, look unprepared and fall behind in the first half by double digits. As the game progresses, BC finds a groove and wakes up, getting back into the game and staying within striking distance. Down the stretch, the Eagles keep it around a 1-2 possession game, but ultimately cannot come up with a final push to take control of the game. Even in some of our wins – Georgia Tech, the first ND game, early-season Richmond – the Eagles were forced to come back from significant first-half deficits. It is costing us games. Yes, not getting a shot off out of the timeout with five seconds left is bad, but BC would not have even been in that position to begin with had the Eagles not spotted FSU a 16-2 lead. I’m not quite sure why BC is struggling with coming out of the game early, especially since once the guys settle in and start playing to a game plan, we generally are successful. Take FSU’s press yesterday – early in the game, BC looked disjointed and sloppy on offense and allowed FSU to do what they do best – create turnovers before cashing in transition. Once we woke up, we started connecting on offense much easier – look at Mason Madsen’s full-court, sprinting transition layups taking advantage of an unset FSU defense. The team needs to be more prepared if they are serious about climbing these ACC standings.
- Confusing shot selection.
During Earl Grant’s tenure, Boston College’s offense has relied on the transition game and schemes to create open looks because his message of grittiness generally prioritizes defense, and at a place like BC we are not going to recruit offensive forces. Claudell Harris has looked capable of being a go-to bucket in spurts, especially earlier in the season, but I think his shortcomings as a primary option have become relatively evident. Nevertheless, when I look at BC’s offense I see several shots that consistently seem to generate points: Quinten Post on catch-and-shoot 3s or attacking closeouts on smaller defenders, Zackery bullying smaller guards down low for midrange jumpers or shots at the rack, Claudell catch-and-shoot from the elbow or the corner, etc. – the list goes on. This team has more offensive talent than previous Earl Grant teams. Yet when we need a bucket the most, why is it that we don’t turn to our most consistent source of scoring? The most obvious example would be clearly the blunder to end the FSU game, but there are consistent examples of Grant not playing to his team’s strengths. Post averages 2.8 assists to 2.7 turnovers per game – a symptom that he is trying to do too much with the ball as a facilitator – yet the offense continuously seems to rely on his ball handling skills. McGlockton is not a ball handler in any sense of the word, yet we have Harris handing Glock the ball in the corner, dribbling the ball off his leg, and turning it over. We can put up points in a hurry when we play to our strengths, avoid rushing shots, and aim to get looks for players in the spot they are most comfortable. FSU was the clearest example of the opposite (why was Post dribbling around at the top of the key?). I think that if this team simply settled down and played with what actually works, we would see a lot of improvement.
- Injury bug?
This is something major to monitor. Donald Hand Jr. did not dress against FSU – for injury or discipline, we do not know. Prince Aligbe seemed to tweak his leg (maybe a knee issue?) four minutes into the contest and did not return. Chas Kelley took a quick trip down the tunnel (though all signs point to him being fine). Nevertheless, for all intents and purposes BC played with a six-man rotation once Aligbe went down. The four of McGlockton, Post, Harris, and Zackery all played 35+ minutes. That is not consistently doable. Hopefully Hand and Aligbe are back soon.