It is time for another edition of basketball banter! Our two basketball writers Arthur Bailin and John "Coach" Fidler break down the past two weeks in Boston College Eagles basketball.
Arthur: Well, it's certainly been a crazy couple of weeks, hasn't it Coach?
John: I guess you could say that couldn't you? The world was looking at least a little bit rosy and then the roof started to collapse out in California and it ends with burrito disease.
AB: Look, I'm going to get a lot of flack for this. Granted, BC should not have had that loss to Lowell. Given who they had out, I'm almost ok with what happened, particularly since Johncarlos Reyes looked good. They should have never lost that game, but given the circumstances I don't know what we should expect.
Speaking of Johncarlos Reyes, his injury puts a strain on the rotation of bigs, doesn't it?
JF: I posted something similar after the Providence game Arthur. It is virtually impossible to know exactly how impactful the Chipotle incident was to what happened in the Lowell game, outside the obvious of not playing with your two most experienced players in Clifford and Eli Carter. That said, you would hope that even young ACC level talent could overcome a team picked to finish 9th of out 10 in America East (just above the dreadful Maine Black Bears by the way, who the Eagles subsequently drubbed).
From the perspective of big man rotation, the Reyes injury is interesting isn't it? Outside the Lowell game where he was forced to play, Reyes really hasn't played at all. He's logged 59 minutes year to date, with 26 of those coming against Lowell. Now in that game, he showed some promise for sure, but he got almost no time in the Providence game after that. Not sure exactly where he sits in the coach's eyes at this point just based on that almost DNP situation. It does leave you though once again needing minutes at the four spot from both Meznieks and Owens and neither of them are built to handle that long term.
The other side of it of course is that it means opposition big men then need to cover smaller, better with the ball in space players, away from the basket. BC plays almost all four out - one in offensively anyway, so that works out well, but to date, those matchups have seemingly gone heavily against BC. If Meznieks and Owens would score and balance it out a bit, it would be different, but not so far. The two are providing about 9 points and 5 rebounds per game, doesn't appear enough to negate what they give up at the other end.
AB: I mean, yeah, but all I'm saying is that the Lowell game is not keeping me up at night the way the Santa Clara loss did.
One way that the Reyes injury impacts the lineup is overall aggressiveness. I called for the bigs to play an aggressive game against Maine given Maine's horrendous foul shooting (that was before I knew Reyes was hurt). Idy Diallo and Dennis Clifford both taking two fouls in combined four minutes was not exactly what I had in mind. With Reyes out, the two of them really need to watch themselves, because there isn't a ton of big man depth, and if they get into foul trouble the Eagles will need to go small, which worked out for BC against Maine, but it might not against bigger teams.
JF: Bigs and aggressiveness are becoming more and more mutually exclusive words in the world of college basketball. The emphasis on cleaning up post play, how box outs are handled, chucking cutters, all things that big men love to do and got away with for years and years now are being called more and more. So a big now has to be very careful with how they approach the game. Clifford isn't really ever aggressive defensively and offensively he goes through small stretches of trying to be assertive let's say as opposed to aggressive. I like the way Diallo is developing, but he's showing how raw he is and how little he understands the way the game needs to be played by the number of small change fouls he picks up.
Reyes gave them an option for another big, although I wouldn't put him on the Ben Bentil aggressive scale, but you are right, they are going to need more size night in and night out in the ACC than they have in most of their non conference games. As I said before though, BC has pretty much been in this situation all year long and against teams you would have figured they would need contributions from Reyes, he got four minutes against Michigan State, none against UC Irvine with their massive front court, none against a power five team in Penn State and two against Providence.
He may well be someone they didn't want to force feed because they didn't feel he was ready.
AB: Both of Diallo's two fouls at the beginning of the game were off the ball offensive fouls (I believe? Someone correct me if no.). That's concerning. That said, I've been impressed with Diallo's development. He's been somewhat more disciplined, so it looks like he's becoming, at least marginally, less raw.
I've said it from the beginning: Reyes needs more muscle. When you got two guys who are 250+ lbs., I'd try to get them minutes before the guys who is smaller gets minutes.
That said, Reyes showed a ton of promise in the Lowell game. Once he bills up I'm anxious to see, in the future, how he looks.
JF: I think that Diallo has showed glimpses of what attracted BC to him originally. There are times when you see a quick post move and that potential shines through. As with anything, you hope those glimpses turn into longer, more consistent stretches, but the fouls have to improve. Diallo is averaging a foul every 3.92 minutes of playing time, way too many. Maturity and understanding will help.
Bigs in general are projects,so that would apply to both Diallo and Reyes, but very true, their development is a huge key to BC's progress. Will be quite interesting to see what they look like at year's end as opposed to where they are now.
AB: So many of those fouls are off the ball which makes things a lot more frustrating. I'm curious for your thoughts. How does Reyes' injury affect the rotation in your eyes?
JF: The biggest change I think is the one that was made and that is Meznieks starting and getting more minutes at the four. I don't suddenly think you will see Clifford and Diallo starting together and it does look like Meznieks has an edge of Garland Owens to start. On the first point, the BC offense really needs a four with some ballhandling skills and although Clifford can shoot it facing up, the handle part isn't really in his bag of tricks and Diallo is a straight post..one dribble max sort of player. I do like Owens coming in off the bench too, he has more versatility so can fill in at the three as well and he really does play hard..good energy boost that way.
I don't suddenly see anyone else working their way into the mix.
AB: The issue is mainly with how Christian manages his bigs in regards to foul trouble. If Clifford and Diallo get into foul trouble like they did against Maine, Christian is going to have to play a small lineup. Reyes' injury is essentially forcing Christian to either preach conservative play from Diallo and Clifford of play a small lineup. Either way, not ideal.
JF: He really needed to do that anyway. They won't play with both Diallo and Clifford in the lineup together. Reyes potentially gave him someone who could step away from the basket, but their offense really dictates that they need a 6'7-6'8 inch four who can face up and handle and that is Meznieks, it's just they are getting punished on the defensive end and rebounding for approaching it that way. In essence, they really need to outscore people with this crew until they find a physical four.
AB: ...which leads us to Eli Carter and his almost triple-double. I see a lot of people saying he's holding the development of players back. I don't understand where that's coming from, and I've honestly tried to figure it out over the past couple of games. Someone please explain it to me. We don't know what's going on in the locker room, but given Eli Carter's age he's probably being looked to as a leader by the younger guys.
What is the most frustrating for the argument is the component that he's holding back the younger players development. On nine different occasions, he fed a younger player to put them in a place where they scored (and they did).
And finally, he scores, himself. He's consistently one of the leading scorers for the Eagles.
I'm missing something here obviously. I know he's inconsistent, is that it?
JF: I believe the issue with Eli Carter, isn't really Eli Carter, but rather the situation Eli Carter finds himself in. Carter is not a point guard, he is a shooting guard that because of the roster being as it is, gives BC their best option at the point.
Where else can they go?
Steve Perpiglia backed up Olivier Hanlan last year, but he is not the answer and that really leaves you with Jerome Robinson and I suppose Darryl Hicks, but neither are really in that point guard mold.
So Carter takes the burden of that job and the ire of the fans because he's not the distributor and ball mover that people expect out of a point guard and that leads to comments around stunting development.
If anyone should be held accountable on this one, it really is Jim Christian for not recruiting a point guard in his last class, understanding that Hanlan was likely to leave after his junior year. Carter is playing the good soldier here and I am sure trying to do what he is asked to do, but he is a shoot first, pass second type of player, playing out of position and also being asked to score. It is simply not natural for him and BC has no other real options.
Carter is never going to be the point guard the program or the fans want, but to hold him accountable for that and to believe there are a lot of different ways to go here outside of playing Robinson full time at the point for a future role I doubt he has, just isn't right.
AB: Jim Christian actually compared Hanlan and Carter, and where they were in their development in this point in the season. He continues to have faith in Carter's development, and honestly I do too.
Eli Carter obviously isn't perfect, but I disagree with the criticisms of him, and I certainly disagree with some people who are calling for him to sit. That's just plain silly. You would be benching one of the team's best scorers.
Time for the lightning round, over under on attendance at the ACC/A10 Doubleheader Tuesday?
JF: I could be way off on this, but considering you can buy damn near center court tickets right now online and the matchups won't exactly light the world on fire, three days before Christmas, put me down for 6,000
AB: I'll set it at 5,500. I'm hoping for good things from the press meal since I'll be on press row at the BARCLAYS CENTER WOO
How ready for ACC play do you think BC is?
JF: Not very to be honest. The ACC schedule is simply brutal this season and even though the Eagles bounced back against Maine, what they will see once January kicks in is a completely different beast I didn't expect more than a couple of wins in conference heading into the season and I've seen almost nothing at this point to change my opinion.
You have to think the meals in an NBA arena are better than what you get at Conte..so enjoy!
AB: Best press meal that I've ever had was the press meal at the Pinstripe Bowl. It was delicious.
I'll say BC is not ready yet, but still has some time to get more ready. They definitely need some more work though.
Alright, that'll do it. Enjoy the games, and have a good holiday!