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Boston College Basketball: Breaking Down The Eagles

Our basketball analysts break down the ACC season thus far

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

After Tuesday night's loss to Florida State, the Eagles stand at 0-7 in ACC play. We look at how the Boston College Eagles got here.

  1. How did BC get to 0-7 in conference?

Dan Rubin: BC is 0-7 in conference because they lost to Duke, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Pitt, Miami, Notre Dame again, and Florida State
I mean, I could come up with the reasons why they're losing in game, but there's a macro issue at play here. BC is younger, more inexperienced, less talented, and less cohesive than all of these other teams. There's a certifiable chasm between them and the other teams in the ACC. That doesn't mean they're not showing improvement, but this is a long, long process that's going with the understanding that they absolutely cannot win basketball games without it being an upset. It's not just about X's and O's at this point.
In the interest of this study, though, think about this stat - BC has shot 40% only once since the Duke game. Three times as a team they've failed to hit 20 field goals. You can't live and die by free throws.

John "Coach" Fidler: I think one of the things that gets overlooked is just how much of a gap there is between where BC is and where the rest of the ACC is. Outside of BC, the conference just doesn't have any easy outs and BC hasn't played any of the teams which were looked at as bottom half of the league teams.  On the floor, the team is young, doesn't defend well, doesn't rebound well, can't score in the post, struggles to score consistently regardless.  People look at Jim Christian and see recession from year one, but he was starting almost completely from scratch.  That they are 0-7 now, shouldn't be will be more surprising when they win than when they lose.

Eric Hoffses: I guess the easy answer is because BC isn’t that good and has played against five teams that are all projected to go to the NCAA Tournament. I’d be surprised if there are that many people out there that are caught off guard by the 0-7 start. What has been surprising is the fashion that BC has gotten blown out in every game and was really only in one game.

Arthur Bailin: The reality here is that there are a lot of guys on this team who are playing college ball for the first time. Granted, the team had the preseason to work out kinks, but the jump from playing teams like New Hampshire and Fordham to Duke and Notre Dame can't be overlooked. Throw in some inconsistent shooting and trouble with turnovers and that's how you lose games in the ACC.

2. We have seen good Eli Carter and bad Eli Carter in ACC play. At this point, is he hurting the Eagles more than helping?

Dan Rubin: Eli Carter is a victim of circumstance. He's putting up the best numbers of his career at this point, but it's also because the entire BC team revolves around him when he's on the floor. He's asked to be the catalyst for the offense and the best shooter, and he doesn't have the tools. Without him, BC is a substantially worse team, but with him, he's asked to do way too much. At least once per game, a friend of mine will text with me and tell me how maddening Eli Carter is because he's just good enough to keep getting the ball enough to miss.

John "Coach" Fidler: I am not going to blame Eli Carter for any of this.  The coaching staff has him defending the other team's best player, has him as the primary ballhandler and seemingly can't get him to understand shot selection.  I definitely think there is a chemistry issue between the rest of the team and Carter, but the coaching staff has to solve that and balance this out with the fact that without him, it would probably be worse.

Eric Hoffses: I think that Eli would hurt the Eagles less if he just stopped taking three pointers and long two pointers so early in the shot clock. The three pointers especially don’t make sense since he is shooting 32.3% from deep.

Eli certainly hasn’t been good most nights but it’s unfair to put the blame all on him. There are a lot of possessions where the freshmen play hot potato with the ball and keep passing it back to Carter just waiting for him to make a play.

Arthur Bailin: Eli Carter undoubtedly has become the most important part of the Eagles offense. He is the straw the stirs the Eagles drink. That's why, whenever he has a bad game, it's painfully obvious. With that said, being the team's most important scorer doesn't make the team's offensive woes his fault. He absolutely makes the Eagles better offensively when he is in the lineup, and taking him out of the lineup only hurts them.

3. BC's bigs are having a consistent problem getting into foul trouble. How does BC remedy this?

Dan Rubin: This falls on coaching. I don't see it necessarily being corrected 100% this season, but there needs to be improvement along the way. Fouls happen because more often than not because a player is in a bad position and forced to make a play. If they can coach how to get in the right position, how to get more aware of the scene around them, they can be more effective and efficient. I don't think it's about getting these guys bigger or stronger, but it's about knowing how to get them in the right spot at the right time to make the play against teams with more athletic and more talented big men.

John "Coach" Fidler: There are two suggestions I have for this, but both are not that easy to implement.  1) Play more zone.  This would allow the bigs to be somewhat protected by other defenders instead of being totally exposed.  2) Front the post.  Years ago, I heard Hubie Brown lecture and he asked the question of how many coaches were teaching their players to front the post, and if not...why?  Tough to foul from in front, as opposed to allowing a catch in the paint and then trying to defend from there.  The problem it opens up is then working on how you rebound from a fronting position, but it is possible and something that just needs to be drilled.

Eric Hoffses: I don’t think there is a remedy because with John Carlos Reyes down BC only has two players taller than 6’7" on the roster. I think that Dennis Clifford actually stays out of foul trouble for the most part and the reality is he actually draws more fouls against opponents than he commits. Idy Diallo is a different story as he actually averages a whopping 9.2 fouls per 40 minutes according to I know that the coaches are stressing to Diallo to be more careful about committing fouls but it appears that in the heat of the action he has a hard time doing it.

4. What is one thing BC absolutely has to fix in order to be successful in ACC play?

Dan Rubin: They need to develop better movement without the ball. A good defense can take out the big men down low, which means the Eagles are stuck swinging the ball around the perimeter, then hoisting up a bad shot as the shot clock expires. They need to get better at moving to get guys away from them and open up shots. Instead of swinging it, try slashing and cutting with kickout passes - something different.

John "Coach" Fidler: I think there are two and sorry, I can't separate them.  The first, I completely agree with Dan, they have to be able to score.  We covered that whole topic in a post after the Pitt game, but I don't believe that of its own free will that the problem will suddenly resolve itself.  Sometimes with younger teams, the light switch goes on later in the year and you see signs of what they could become, I don't see that happening here, at least not enough to overcome their defensive deficiencies, which definitely won't be resolved this season.

Secondly, they have to rebound better.  This one bothers me a lot more than the offensive piece, because so much of this is about effort.  With the same personnel, if Tom Izzo came in here and coached this group, their effort and attention rebounding the ball at both ends of the floor would be wouldn't be tolerated.  Just swinging this piece a touch, to give the opposition fewer second shot opportunities and get them a few more off the offensive glass would keep them in more games.  BC is #292 in the country in rebounding rate, ahead of just Illinois, Minnesota and Rutgers in the power five.   Illinois is 10-10 and the other two are both 6-14 each.  Very few good rebounding teams are bad basketball teams.

Eric Hoffses: The offense needs to improve. There have been a few games where the team has played pretty well on defense but have still gotten blown out because of horrendous shooting. The Eagles have the 14th worst offensive efficiency in the entire country.

Arthur Bailin: I'll give you two things. They absolutely have to do better (and be more consistent) from the stripe. The other is getting better in terms of shooting. There were a couple of games where the Eagles had a chance at an upset bid that was felled because they couldn't score from the field in the second half.

5. Is there an ACC win in BC's future?

Dan Rubin: I think there is, but I'm not going to be picking it. Here's the thing about being a team that's losing a lot but playing hard - you know they're going to win but you can't pinpoint it. So you can't pick it and say, "Well BC is going to win this game." You have to pick against them because that's what's likely to happen - then not be shocked and surprised when they do win

John "Coach" Fidler: On the surface, I am not uncomfortable saying no.  Pre-season, I felt that BC would only win a couple of games, but I also didn't believe the bottom of the league would be quite as strong as it is.  That said, I find it terribly hard to believe they won't ultimately find a way to steal one or two, but who those are, not real sure at this point.

Eric Hoffses: Yes. Even Steve Donahue, Al Skinner and Jim O’Brien’s worst teams won a game in the conference. I really believe they are going to catch one of the teams in the bottom half of the ACC napping when they visit Conte Forum.

Arthur Bailin: Absolutely. I think that BC is getting closer and closer to where they need to be to be competitive in the ACC. They have put in some really good halves, they just haven't been able to close. But I think they have it in them.