Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Road rally

Solid win tonight against the Terps. A road win in the ACC is nice and so is improving to 4-3 in conference, but the most important part of the win was the comeback. Here are my first thoughts. Don't be shy about leaving our responses in the comments.

-- Using a lot of 2-3 zone in the second half. The players responded and did a good job of covering their area and helping when needed. We should probably use it more against small front line teams (like Maryland).
-- Playing without Rice. The announcers attributed BC's struggles to Rice's foul trouble. That didn't tell the whole story. We fell behind when he was in the game. But Paris came off the bench for a long stretch and helped chip away at the lead. That's a good sign.
-- Trapani on Vazquez. I've been harsh on Joe's D, but tonight he handled Vazquez well and his size and length proved to be an issue.

-- Dumb fouls. Rice and Southern got themselves in foul trouble again. Fortunately they both held on and played well with four fouls. But both have had a penchant these bonehead moves. One of these days it is going to hurt us.
-- First half D. It was pathetic...poor transition, poor rebounding and plenty of lost men. Maryland had it too easy and a better team would have made our hole insurmountable.

Even with the rough patches against GT and MD, this team is playing good basketball. Virginia Tech looms large. Let's hope this momentum continues


Brian Osterman said...

I think another "dislike" should be our ability to break the press. It is really frustrating to watch Rice take the ball up to just before half court and either dribble into the trap or pass cross court to our 2 guard and hope that the pass is not picked off. We did start to put a man in the middle and work off him, but I'd like to see the team be able to handle the press better and maybe get some cheap buckets upon breaking it. For all the praise Skinner gets on execution, he seems at a loss for handling a decent full court press

Brablc said...

I've come to realize that you get what you get with skinner. While you get teams that can absolutely disappear for stretches in games and teams that are frustratingly bad at inbound plays and free throws, you also get teams that are mentally tough.

From not calling timeouts and letting his team play through opponent's scoring runs to his cool demeanor on the sideline he instills this in his team.

Likewise, I have not seen another team that can consistently come back from double digits like BC teams can. Very rarely is a Skinner team out of the game when down because very rarely do they get flustered.

Skinner is what he is and I think he makes this team better more than he makes it worse.

BCNorCal07 said...

I also wasn't a big fan of the press break. The couple of times that Maryland went with a strong press we turned the ball over or came very close. Against the soft press we were fine. The cross-court pass worked well, though it really limited the time we had to set up our offense. In the second half, though, the man in the middle really did wonders. On the whole, I'd give us a "meh" against the press.

Dports1 said...

Where did Ravenel go? I thought he looked decent during the pre-ACC slate. Does anyone know why he's been removed from the 8 man rotation?

Eagle0407 said...

I'd say just the opposite, that his teams totally lack mental toughness. We come back from double digits because we have talent and if we get a few shots to drop they start playing hard again. Dogging it and then turning on the intensity later is not mental toughness. Anyone can play hard during a stretch where you have all the momentum and the other team is falling apart.

At the NBA level, I'm a fan of the Phil Jackson school of thought of not calling timeouts and letting the team figure it out, but it does not work at the college level. You don't have 82 games to figure it out, and there is constant roster turnover. Every year you have a crop of freshman who need to learn the fundamental principles of your system. Timeouts are an important opportunity for the coach to teach during a game.

With that said, I think the group of underclassmen we have are a really solid group of guys who are inclined to play with intensity, and so I do think we're likely to see a big improvement in the effort/mental toughness department. I think Rice is the problem that causes the slow stretches. When he commits on the defensive end, like in the second half, we're a totally different team.

He was also just incredibly passive against the press in the first half as Brian points out. Drawing a trap and passing guard to guard is the right way to break that press, but Rice just slowly walks into it and actually gets trapped. That eliminates the ability to go long diagonal or up the sideline, so the defense knows they can cover the opposite guard and the middle, which is why that guard-to-guard pass becomes so terrifying. Case in point for Al's failure as a teacher of the game that Rice has not mastered this yet in 4 years.

I think the direction of the season will be determined by whether Rice decides to be mentally tough or not. I'm confident the rest of the team will be right with him if he's willing to change his mindset.

BCMike said...

I'm not saying the Eagles won just BECAUSE of the "Let's Go EAGLES" text I sent prior to game time, but I'm pretty sure I was the major reason.

CHI_Eagle said...

BC has shown the ability to come back from large deficits several times in the past few years (Brablc) but you are missing one big factor there, BC comes out very slow/uninspired in a lot of games and fall behind far too often, which leads to all these "comeback" opportunities.
I hate Duke, but watch them on defense. It is a frenetic pace for 40 minutes. Since Dudley and co left, we don't even seem interested until 10-20 minutes into the game, at which point it is usually too late in a conference like the ACC. Sometimes I wonder if our conditioning is an issue because we almost never play a solid 40 minutes.
Also, Maryland has to be the worst rebounding team I've seen since we joined the ACC. We should have never found ourselves behind in this game, considering the bruising system we run with such an emphasis on second chance points.

Ry said...

A comment about Rice and last night's game. I was proud of the fact that we were able to mount a comeback that we did in the absence of any significant scoring from Rice.

The problem we have is that our best scoring option is also our point guard. I liked it best when we had a guy like Hinnant running the point. From his freshman year he was poised, confident, and relatively unflappable. The pressure to score was not on him. When you are pressing offensively as a forward, it is easier to cover it up than when your best player is pressing and overcompensating considering he has the ball in his hands on every possession.

For as good as Rice can be, he does have a problem with pushing himself sometimes and trying to do too much. This is why I like the smaller sets that we have seen with Rice and Paris in at the same time, or with Reggie doing considerably more ball-handling. It obviously has made a difference and I think that this may be one of those "Skinner-adjustments" that people are often far-too-eager to find lacking. I say we give Al a "harumph"

Niles said...

My take aways from this game were mostly positive. Getting a much needed road win in the ACC after being down 16 is impressive. Another example of an Al Skinner team surviving the rough patch in a game and turning the pace of the game back to BC's grind it out, flex cut, use the shot clock style. Point in case and maybe the hoop that sealed the game was Trapani's layup with 1:45 left.

Dislikes continue to be inbounding the ball and press break. The problem with the press break is that to do it effectively you need to attack the gaps, have weak side flashes and good ball movement which creats an uptempo environment this however, goes against Al's offensive philosophy.

Kevin said...

I'm quite sure we won solely because of my presence. Whenever I go to a basketball game, the team I root for wins.

How else would you explain Morgan St. beating Maryland earlier, and The Citadel beating College of Charleston!

You're welcome, Eagles.

morrina said...

I've said my peace about Rice, and many of you see the same thing. I actually think we'll be better without him next year. That said, most other guys played really hard, obviously more in the send half. I like the body language and confidence I see growing in the team, particularly Jackson. He is really beginning to become a factor. And how about Raji? The guy is visibly limping in the 2nd half, and yet comes up with some HUGE baskets and rebounds. He is the example of effort that we need.

brookhaven_eagle said...

I agree that our ability to break the press is slow and ugly, but after seeing BC/GaTech last week in person, I'll take what we got last night; the mere fact BC could inbounds the ball and wasn't in jeopardy of a 10 second violation on every possesion was refreshing. Overall, BC did what it needed to do against a lesser opponent and most importantly, the team didn't lose its composure when it got down big (if you listen to Mike Patrick you would have thought BC was down 30); one area of concern - and it seems to rear its head at key times in games - is Sanders inability to handle the ball. For a D-1 player with NBA athleticism, Sanders is a poor (at best) ball-handler who turns the ball over at key times. I think if he could improve that part of his game, he really could become a great player. All in all, we'll take the win.

Andrew said...

This might have been the worst broadcast I've ever seen. Picture quality was terribly, even though it was tagged "HD", the constantly scrolling bottom line has got to go...what happened to the updates every half hour? The constant text message commentary scrolling at the top was extremely annoying, and seemingly unfiltered. Len Elmore made reference to losing 4 straight AFTER the Harvard loss at least 5 times, and that's not true. They kept called Sanders "Sauuunders" and generally couldn't tell the difference between Roche and Trapani when one of them had the ball. ESPN2 needs to do better than this.

Other than that, great road win with a strong 2nd half performance. Was great to see Jackson go coast-to-coast breaking the full-court press, if we can get that twice a game teams might actually let up on pressing us.

Unknown said...

I really hope this team is better next year without Rice, and they have a decent chance to be better defensively since he is not very strong there. But it will be a herculean task for this team to be better offensively without him. Simply put, he is among a small group of the very best guards in the country and a uniquely efficient scorer for a guard.

Reggie Jackson will have to be the guy who creates his own shot and he definitely has some upside there. Rice was a huge factor in last night's comeback and his offense is a big factor in the team's success this season. Rice does not provide the leadership you would like to see out of a senior who is a captain and has been to 2 NCAA's. But what he does on the court cannot be discounted. Just as people love to harp on Coach Skinner when there is little justification for it, harsh criticism of Rice is also often misguided. I think people forget that this team is very young and the biggest problem with young teams is consistency from game to game and within games.