With the ACC season winding down towards the ACC tournament, we here at BCI thought we would evaluate where the men’s basketball program is through the waning parts of Jim Christian’s third year at the helm.
1. Why is BC having so much trouble over the past couple of games after looking like they had made progress?
ed. note: this question was posed following the Ga. Tech game Saturday evening.
John “Coach” Fidler: They just don't defend well enough. This is something that has been mentioned a lot, but with such a small margin for error and essentially needing to outscore people to win, they haven't defended nearly well enough to get that done. Offense is a variable, defense needs to be the consistent.
Eric Hoffses: The simple answer is that the team's confidence is shot. It feels like as soon as something goes bad the team allow it to snowball out of control. That wasnt happening earlier in the ACC slate.
One player that needs to step-up is A.J. Turner. In the games between the Auburn win up until the N.C. State win Turner averaged 11 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.75 assists and 0.8 turnovers per game while shooting 41% from three. In the past five games, Turner is averaging just over 3.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg and 1.8 apg. Turner is a solid player and I think the performance that he gave the team earlier in the year is the "real" A.J. Turner. Turner an important piece to this team and the team needs more from him.
Arthur Bailin: I think there’s an element that the season is just getting harder. Let’s not forget that BC is indisputably the worst team in the ACC, so inherently the Eagles are coming in to each game the underdog. That’s not insurmountable when the season is young and the team is still confident, and, probably more importantly, the opposition is still trying to come together as well. However, as the season, grueling as it is, continues, it just gets harder.
2. What is one thing the Eagles need to do to fix the team moving forward?
John: As I alluded to in the Coach's Corner article after the Georgia Tech game, the area he most needs to focus on is playing harder. I really think that whether the Eagles ultimately can recruit better players and therefore be more naturally competitive on a skill basis, that Tech game should open their eyes (and I believe based on some comments Christian has made in his post game pressers he understands this), that BC needs to play with more passion as the foundation of the program.
Eric: The defense is just awful right now. In ACC play, BC is allowing the 2nd most ppg, 3rd highest field goal percentage, and 5th highest three point percentage. The team has to find a way to get better in this area.
Arthur: I think finding an additional dimension to the offense is important. The secret is out that the Eagles can beat teams from beyond the arc, so naturally teams are adjusting. If the Eagles can find a consistent inside game (which they need solid bigs for, which the Eagles are lacking), they might have a better shot moving forward.
3. Looking forward, which game is the most likely to be the game where BC breaks the losing streak?
John: I would say Virginia Tech. Yes, Buzz Williams has done a good job and they are on the tournament bubble, but it is a home game and Tech has a lot of same issues defensively as do the Eagles.
Eric: Virginia Tech-The Hokies have won only two games away from home all year
Arthur: Va. Tech. The Eagles were competitive with them at home, so naturally one might expect the Eagles to hang around with the Hokies at Conte, where the Eagles are stronger.
4. Has Jim Christian done enough to guarantee his return to The Heights next year?
John: Mid season I would have said yes and I still think the answer to that is yes, but there are some areas in terms of how hard this team plays, what he has done to develop the talent he has brought in, whether he can attract top level talent and ultimately, they have to win. My thought is that there needs to be tangible improvement in terms of wins and losses in 2017-18 or it is time to move on.
Eric: Absolutely. At a place like BC where it is difficult to get blue chip players you cant get in a situation where you are recycling coaches every 2-3 years. You need allow the coach to see his recruiting class grow to be juniors and seniors.
Arthur: The threshold for me has always been improvement, and if the Eagles are improving. Despite a couple recent hiccups, the Eagles have been competitive against good programs all year. Christian has legitimate guards (that his staff recruited) in Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson. In short, the rebuild, while painful, seems to be working somewhat. There’s also an element that two wins in conference is about where this team should be at this juncture. The rebuild was never going to be easy. There needs to be patience.
It would be one thing if the team has collapsed, but it simply hasn’t. There’s a difference between losing games and utter regression. The Eagles aren’t regressing. I see no reason why Jim Christian should be removed from his position at this juncture. He’s earned another year.