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Boston College Basketball: The Defense Is Offensive

Dude, where's my defense?

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, Eagle in Atlanta asked "Dude, where's my defense?" with respect to the football team's performance on D under first year defensive coordinator Don Brown. Eagles fans may just as well ask the same question of fourth year men's basketball coach Steve Donahue and the Eagles' men's basketball team.

Through seven games, Boston College hoops adjusted defensive efficiency (AdjD), Ken Pomeroy's estimate of the defensive efficiency a team would have against the average D-I offense, ranks 257th in the nation (of 351). The Eagles' D currently ranks over 100 spots lower than the second lowest team in the conference (N.C. State at 153). Perhaps coincidentally, Donahue's former program, Cornell, ranks dead last nationally in AdjD through the games of December 3.

Donahue's teams have never excelled on defense, but it was assumed going into the season that the program would have to take a step forward on the defensive end of the floor if it hoped to improve on last year's strong finish. The team is going in the opposite direction, however, with a D that ranks worse than any other BC defense over the last dozen years (as long as kenpom has been keeping track of these sorts of things anyway).

Skinner Donahue
2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
AdjO 4 53 20 6 16 79 37 55 14 294 45 13
AdjD 199 22 50 108 130 150 154 110 226 185 192 257

That's ... not exactly great news for a team that hasn't even begun to navigate the gauntlet that is ACC play. Especially one with two games against both Syracuse (AdjO 5) and Notre Dame (17) and single games against Duke (4), Pitt (12), North Carolina (30), N.C. State (58) and Virginia (60).

Fortunately the Eagles offense is humming with an AdjO ranked 13th best in the country. But the defense is so far off compared to the offense that BC currently has one of the ten largest discrepancies between AdjO and AdjD.

1. Lafayette -267 (AdjO 62, AdjD 329)
2. Toledo -256 (11, 267)
3. San Francisco -245 (68, 313)
4. Boston College -244 (13, 257)
5. Washington -241 (50, 291)
6. DePaul -235 (33, 268)
7. Rider -234 (90, 324)
8. Kent State -233 (51, 284)
9. Idaho -222 (89, 311)
10. Oakland (Mich.) -222 (80, 302)

Interestingly, BC has played two other teams this season with highly efficient offenses and not so hot defenses (Toledo and Washington). If the three ball is falling, BC can hang with any team in the nation on any given night. But if the defense doesn't significantly improve -- and in a hurry -- I just can't see the program having any sort of sustained success year to year.