The Boston College Eagles were favored by 10 points going into this game. There were times when it looked like BC would actually run away with it, but it never happened. The porous defense and inconsistent rebounding meant that Toledo was able to stay with the Eagles throughout the second half. Late in the second half, Toledo took the lead and BC was never able to get it back. Give Toledo credit, Julius Brown hit some big shots and their entire team took care of business at the free throw line. Patrick Heckmann had a chance to tie the game at 92 with 8.8 seconds left when he was fouled taking a three-pointer. Heckmann hit the first two freebies and then missed the third. There wasn't any magic in the final seconds and BC dropped their home opener, 95-92 against Toledo. That makes the Eagles 0-3 on the season thus far.
After being thoroughly dominated on the boards against UMass, BC came out with much more fight in that department tonight. They out-hustled the Rockets throughout the first half and ended up with a 21 to 10 rebound advantage (including 8 to 3 on the offensive glass) at the break. Some of that was because Toledo just doesn't have the same kind of size as UMass and some of it was surely an increased emphasis on rebounding from Donahue during practices. Garland Owens and Eddie Odio cleaned up a few tough misses from Ryan Anderson and Olivier Hanlan early on. But then the rebounding went away in the second half. I don't know what happened, but they just stopped rebounding. That was a big reason why BC was never able to put Toledo away throughout the second half.
Have I mentioned how much I like Garland Owens?
Every time Garland Owens hits a three, an adorable kitten is born. #BCHoops— Conrad Kaczmarek (@ConradKazNBA) November 15, 2013
We knew that he was a good athlete, but his shooting stroke looks much better than I expected. He's got all of the tools to be your prototypical 3-and-D type of guy. And he's shown a high motor thus far, so that'll get you some nice putbacks and hustle plays.
Speaking of defense...the Eagles aren't very good at it. As it stands right now, this isn't a particularly good defensive team. They have plenty of time to get better, but the rotations aren't crisp and they have too many breakdowns. Toledo actually has some good athletes and Julius Brown is super quick the ball in his hands. Being closer to the BC bench meant that I got a better view of Steve Donahue throughout the game and let me tell you, dumb fouls and defensive breakdowns really stress him out.
Hey, that was a nice segue to talking about the new seating setup!
The student sections were excellent. Since this was the first home game of the season, it was also the first time that we saw the new seating arrangements. There are now students on the sidelines across from the team's benches. They essentially just moved one of the sections behind the basket and swapped it with where the media used to sit. As someone who's been doing media for the past two and half seasons, it kind of threw me off. It's not unusual for NBA teams to put the media on the baselines, but part of what I liked about covering BC games is that the sideline seats are so much better. Of course, this is a complaint that doesn't apply to any of you, but just let me whine for a second. I will admit that the change was probably the right move. It got students much more involved and there was some actual noise throughout the game. It helps that all of the folding chair student sections were filled a good 20-30 minutes before the game. This game was worth 8 Gold Pass points, which is a lot. I recommend that BC just keep making these games worth a ton of points so that kids who want to go to big games later in the season have the incentive to come to the lesser games.
There were a lot of fouls.
It's going to take some time for college basketball players to adjust to the new rules about hand checking on the perimeter. Ultimately, I think it's a good rule change and like I said, players will adjust. But for now, it's kind of hard to watch. BC was in the double bonus for the final 5+ minutes of the game and we couldn't go more than a few possessions without someone shooting free throws.
Olivier Hanlan once again got into some foul trouble in the first half, causing him to sit with 2 fouls and play just 11 minutes. Hanlan came alive in the second half though, finishing with 18 points on 4 of 7 shooting to go along with 6 assists and 4 rebounds. It was a very efficient game for him and he really managed to play within the offense. He and Joe Rahon essentially take turns initiating the offense. It's pretty clear that defenses are starting to load up on Hanlan and that might be why his numbers aren't quite as impressive as people would have hoped early on. But when BC moves the ball like they did tonight, he'll start to get a lot more openings. It was a very balanced scoring attack from the Eagles -- five players scored double digits.
Unfortunately, that wasn't enough. BC knows that it needs to rebound better and play better defense. They just didn't do those things tonight. I think they'll get better, but 0-3 isn't a good start, especially with the rest of this schedule and ACC play looming.