Thursday, January 24, 2013

Questions about the basketball team

The mens basketball team gets a chance to turn things around Saturday vs UVA. But at this point I question if they will. In fact I have a lot of questions born out of frustration with the team's progress. These are rhetorical obviously but I hope Donahue and staff are working through similar thoughts. If he is going to get these guys to turn a corner next year, he needs to lay the foundation now.

-- Should Van Nest and Caudill get more minutes? Dennis Clifford is limited out there leaving us very small. Yet we have two bigs sitting for most of the game. Why? I understand that neither player is going to be "All ACC' but they should be better than they are. Word is the shine has worn off Van Nest and he's got some lingering injuries. But even if he is not the player they hoped and he's a little dinged, I am sure he's healthier than Clifford.

Caudill is slow and I guess  he's not in the type of shape Donahue wants. But how can a second year player not be in shape? How is the staff not riding this kid? Did they not get him on a S&C program last year? My cynical belief is that Donahue wants to free up a scholarship and is getting minimal playing time to send a message.

-- When is Heckmann going to grow up? I don' mind the missed shots, but the sloppy passing is inexcusable. Once again, what are the coaches doing to prevent this?

-- How should Donahue use his open scholarships? We need more and varied talent. Preferably with some size. But Donahue doesn't have much free space due to the large sophomore class. Saving this season is primary, but recruiting should be his next focus.


EL MIZ said...

agree on the player development issues, and i wonder about the assistants coaches generally. the entire staff is Ivy League guys and then some Hobart connection (probably through Philly, where Donahue is from). we have literally not a guy on the staff with major d1 experience, no connection to AAU programs, no older guys who have been around the block; Bates should force Donahue to at least explain to him why he shouldn't shake the staff up. i fail to see why it wouldn't hurt to get a local boston AAU guy to replace whomever is deemed to bringing the least to the table.

i love Hanlan, and enjoy what Anderson, Jackson, Rahon, and Clifford bring to the team. Heckmann is very frustrating to watch, and really nobody else can play. that's just the reality of the situation.

i think we at least have a System which we play within, and Donahue seems to know the types of players he needs, but there seem to be some obvious changes that need to be made in order for us to take the next step, in terms of both bringing in top talent and executing during the game. the execution stuff could just be age-related though, i don't think people realize our team is basically 2 freshmen and 4 sophomores. that's donahue's fault that we only have 6 legitimate ACC players, and you wonder where we would be if Daniels and/or Humphrey were still around. (not having Daniels has cost us at least one of these ACC games; if hanlan or Rahon had any juice left I think we win at least one. at least Humphrey would have been able to play some minutes.) still, we are 9-9, have lost a ton of close games, bring everyone back next year, and bring in some more athleticism and experience with Owens and Dragicevich.

i'll give Donahue one more year to get this team to be competitive and playing during March. if he fails to deliver that, Bates should start another nation wide search.

Unknown said...

I think a post like this shows just how far the BBall team has come. First, if you would have looked at the schedule a month or two ago for our first 5 ACC games, many probably could have only dreamed of wins against VT and Wake. We missed on the Wake opportunity, but we have also had solid performances and been in the game against Miami (who just knocked off Duke), Maryland (who started the season 13-1 and has been avoiding WTF losses), and NC State (a team that has a lot of NBA prospects).

The fact is, a month or two ago, we were dropping games to Bryant, and barely edging out the likes of UNH and St. Francis.

So now onto the questions.

Should Van Nest and Caudill get more minutes? I dont watch practices, but I am fine with them sitting. Since we shortened our bench to 6 + spot Odio sightings, we have been playing as a cohesive unit. Sure we are going to suffer from fatigue, but that is a price Im willing to pay to be in the game in the first place. If we can keep the 6 we have, develop Odio some more, and bring in two guys who can contribute (Donahue has done at least that in the previous two recruiting classes), next year we are playing with an 8 man rotation.

When is Heckmann going to grow up? The kid is growing up. In ACC play he has a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio. Thats a BIG improvement from what we saw last year and early this year. He still has those moments (that one handed pass against MD was inexcusable), but there have been a lot of times where younger PH would have pushed the ball on an even number break, but maturing PH slows it down and gets the ball in the hands of our PG. As for his shots not falling, he is getting good looks, and the kid can shoot, you have to hope that they eventually go down (like Lonnie early season to now).

How should Donahue use his open scholarships? You mention that Donahue has limited scholarships but earlier wanted to give more PT to Caudill who hasnt shown he can compete at this level consistently. The monster Soph class will have to work itself out somehow. The best case would be for players who want more PT but cant earn it here to move on. Also, I think the staff has never thought they could hold on to PH for 4 years. Him leaving early could potentially free up another scholie. As for how they should use the scholies, they need help everywhere. Get the best talent that wants to contribute. If we could add a guard (Jorgenson would be ideal) and a taller rebounder/defender, that would be my preference. But at this point, I just want more guys that can play basketball at a high level...

@timstwrt said...

A comment like this also shows how far the basketball program has fallen since Skinner was fired. We're supposed to hang our hat on competing with Miami and NC State?

They're young and inconsistent, so they play young and inconsistent. You can find flashes in every game where it looks like they'll be ready to compete at a high level next year, and there are flashes where they look like they'll be terrible forever. With Hanlon, Anderson, and a healthy Clifford next year, they should be pretty good. At the same time, they don't play defense (kenpom's got them 196th in the country), and the "spread it out, bombs away" system has real limits. Donahue's system and recruiting are still too Ivy League for my liking, but I hope that they turn a corner soon because the alternative is another restart after next season.

EL MIZ said...

"Donahue's system and recruiting are still too Ivy League for my liking, but I hope that they turn a corner soon because the alternative is another restart after next season." -- that basically sums up my outlook, although I am perhaps more optimistic than you are about the upside of the team.

RE: Van Nest/Caudill -- Van Nest never averaged over 10 minutes per game playing for Harvard. a friend who played at harvard told me before the year started that Van Nest was nothing special, and I don't think he is. I'd honestly prefer the smaller, faster lineups. Caudill is the definition of "plodding," hopefully he transfers.

RE: heckmann -- good question. he is so lackadaisical.

RE: open schollies -- i think we clearly have two needs: (1) someone with size and athleticism. we need another player over 6'7 who can play down low. (2) another ball handler. we can't play Rahon & O 38 minutes per game, its ridiculous.

Mr. Tambourine MAn said...

Man, ATL is really showing the effects of Post-Spaziani Stress Disorder. Its remarkable to me that you can watch this team and the amount it has improved from last year, and even more so, how much it has improved from the beginning of the year and not be optimistic on the future of this squad. And with two freshman guards running the show and our captain hurt. We have a really good PG target who is interested in us and Garland Owens' teammate is a banger down low. We land those two, and I'm not sure how you can complain about the recruiting of a guy who has landed Anderson, Hanlan, and Rahon. He's had some misses, Caudill, is obviously an example.

I predict they'll continue to play close games, but lose far more than they win this year and the frosh will run out of gas at year end. Followed by big things next year.

And if you don't trust me, just watch as the team continues to move up the computer rankings, they were in the 250s at the end of last year, they're in the 120s now in both Sagarin and Kenpom and I'll predict even higher by year end.

I mean, Miami beat Duke by 27 and we're supposed to be furious we lost to them by 1??? Give me a break. I can just imagine ATL in the 90s, "Sure he's a all Big East Freshman, but this Curley kid just isn't nearly athletic enough to bang down low in the Big East, and Gerrod Abram, why does he make so many mistakes!!!! Eisely will never amount to nothing, can he even play PG?"

Show some patience, ATL.

bc1987 said...

Sometimes it seems like our hoops fans don't even know what they're pissed about. The goal posts move all over the place.

First, to commenters like @timstwrt, I believe that you are unreasonably romanticizing the tail end of the Skinner era. Skinner was great for BC and I loved the majority of his tenure, but the end part was a lot different than the beginning and the Skinner first fans like to pretend that wasn't the case. To my eyes the Skinner era effectively peaked just before the Nova game ended in 2006 and really plummeted following the Georgetown loss in 2007. The loss of Williams in the 2006-07 season, the loss of Coen and Cooley and while we didn't know it then entrance of the miserably under producing Rakim Sanders recruiting class on top of the horrendous Spear/Roche recruiting class seem to me to be the beginning of the end. While Jackson will likely be one of the better NBA players from the Skinner era, he was simply not at the level of the previous Skinner stars and speaking only for myself I just can't see a return to the early Skinner success thereafter. The empty recruiting class was problematic and the Noreen, Ndao, Heslip class seems without an impact player although that is admittedly premature. The point of all that, is that while I would have been OK with more Skinner years, I don't think change was inappropriate.

Based on that I am fine with a rebuild. Regardless of if you are OK with it or not, we are clearly in a rebuild now. A rebuild is not "falling" it is rebuilding. There is a distinction and a difference. There are three very good Donahue recruits in Hanlan, Anderson and Rahon that will play together for 2 more years and change. There are two solid contributors in Clifford and Jackson both of which have the ability to be better than they are right now by a wide margin. The Hanlan/Rahon class, which appears to be something of a homerun was achieved after Joe Jones left. Becuase of this I am unsure where the "ivy league staff can't recruit" talking point comes from. I know that no one likes excuses and that is very important because everyone knows that blog commenters win games, but players do improve with experience (see this year as opposed to last year for Jackson and Anderson, or the transition of 1999 Bell to 2000 Bell) and much of the depth issues may be addressed with competent bench players this off season. Heckmann is a mess, but he clearly is talented, he's just a head case on the court.

Finally, unless you know the circumstances of players like Humphreys (there is no way his "loss" was harmful, no matter how many late game short shots there are from fatigue), Daniels, Heslip, Ravenel, Sanders, Ndao and Noreen leaving, I don't believe it makes sense to blame Donahue. Ravenel for instance is quoted in some columbus newspaper saying he was pissed at GDF for the way Skinner was canned, how is that, for instance, Donahue's fault?

EL MIZ said...

bc87 & Tambourine Man, both of you guys make some good points. especially agree with the romanticizing of the Skinner Era; it was definitely time for a change, whether Donahue was the right hire is still TBD.

Hanlan (34) and Rahon (35.5) are the only freshman in the ACC playing over 30 mpg; next closest is Sulaimon on duke (29). just shows how badly we need to add a 3rd guard in this recruiting class, hopefully Jorgenson comes on board. that said, both of those guys can play and are getting a ton of experience.

BC87 -- the "ivy league can't recruit" stuff comes from the quotes i've read from both O & Joe, who said that they were fans of Donahue's Cornell teams and wanted to play in the guard-oriented offense. Donahue admitted that Hanlan was off the radar b/c he was Canadian, and there would've been more competition for him had he been from the US. there's no doubt the freshman class is super talented and a great haul for us, i just worry that Donahue focuses too much on finding guys "below the radar" and how sustainable that approach is.

we'll see how the rest of our class shapes up, we definitely need to add some depth.

bc1987 said...

@ El Miz, I think it may be a misnomer to label Donahue's cornell offense an Ivy league offense. I mean, when I think Ivy league I think the Princeton offense first and foremost and while Donahue's builds of the Princeton offense, I believe the closest comparison to is Beilein's WVU and now Michigan scheme. Even if its not a misnomer, I don't think it is a bad thing. Although as I read more carefully, I see that you may not be the one who is saying it is a bad thing.

As to the below the radar thing, I agree and disagree. I think Donahue will have to win before he can do anything but recruit under the radar types to start. I think he has shown an eye for it based on the current roster. I agree that it requires consistently out thinking other programs and coaches and is fundamentally therefore, more difficult than simply having a better pitch or a better product to sell, but until he gets this team back in the tournament and shows he can win and develop guys at this level I think he has a very tough sales job. Conte and more importantly our student body and local alums aren't the best fans in the world under the best of circumstances, they are certainly not rain or shine types and of course admissions issues blahh blahh, but I do think winning a) fixes the atmosphere a bit and b) will make BC a much more desirable location. Back to Skinner for a second, his 2007 class seemed like the jump from under recruited guys to starting to win some big battles, it just didn't work out.

Joe Gravellese said...

I'm not a big basketball guy so take my comments with a grain of salt but I think the Hanlan route is perfect for us. Looking at hockey -- BC gets all the blue chip local prospects, so a school like UMass Lowell or Merrimack will take a different route, looking into Canada, or looking into some of the more obscure junior leagues, for talent that might get overlooked.

We might get lucky with a blue chip player and beat out elite programs for one every few years but for the most part BC BB and FB need to be built with under the radar players who are worth more than the "market" is dictating because of some factor like location.

@timstwrt said...

'87: I merely pointed out that, at the end of the Skinner era, no one would have taken solace in playing mediocre ACC teams close. If that's romanticizing, guilty as charged. I actually totally agree with this: "I would have been OK with more Skinner years, I don't think change was inappropriate." But what I think is inappropriate is how BC trashed the guy after firing him. That's not on Donahue, but it's still shameful.

It's also a copout to say that unless I know every detail of the departures of eight guys it's unfair to point the finger at Donahue. Donahue hasn't earned the benefit of the doubt.

I think that this is a particularly bad juncture of the season to try to rech any sweeping conclusions. Last year's team, while bad, had shown a lot of improvement between November and January, and then fell apart. A lot of that is youth and inexperience, which is why I'm cautiously optimistic about next year. But I'll lose some of that optimism if we end up 12-19 with four ACC wins. I'm just a blog commenter, but at some point the potential has to turn into winning. And Rahon's getting a little overrated here...he could be a decent piece of a pretty good team, but he's not a star in the making.

Finally, throwing around Troy Bell references when you're talking about these guys is blasphemy. Troy didn't make some huge leap from '99 to '00...he was pretty awesome out of the gate. He averaged 18.8 his freshman year, 20.4 sophomore year. He definitely got better, across the board, but he started from a much higher perch.

bc1987 said...

@timstwrt, my point with bringin up the romanticizing later Skinner is only in the context of the different place in which say the last Ty Rice team and this years team exist. I see saying no one would have been happy with near losses in the Skinner era to be somewhat without significance because one was year 11 or so and the other year 3 after a major - and apparently we agree - justifiable change.

I don't think I said Donahue is blamess for all or any of Daniels, Ndao, Heslip, Sanders, Noreen, or Elmore I don't know that. But has Donahue earned the benefit of assumed blame, how is that more or less of a copout? I do believe it is without justification to blame him for Ravenel because he was apparently pissed at the Skinner firing, Jackson because it is stupid to pass a guaranteed NBA contract and Humphrey because he is not a loss. I do blame Donahue for not offering Cotton. That would have gone a far ways to making last year better, but at the same time might have meant no Hanlan or Rahon which would seem a net loss.

I don't really know what you are talking about in terms of last years team showing improvement between november and january. They were pretty horrendously over matched the entire time. Do you mean the two game winning streak? That being said, I have very few expectations for the final W-L column this year, I just don't think it matters all that much this season so long as it doesn't hurt recruiting or retention of current players. I further absolutely expect a 6 man rotation with two freshman guards to hit a wall. If we don't win ACC games soon we will not win many at all.

Rahon had a bad game against Wake and has been struggling in the last two games with the ankle. Before that he some very impressive performances. Two weeks ago the online fan consensus was Rahon and Hanlan were very good players in the making, Rahon won his ACC rookie of the week and was the go-to at the end of games, now after three below average games Rahon has fallen out of favor. That seems ridiculous to me.

Troy improved enormously between 1999 and 2000. The points alone don't tell the tale at all (he doubled his assists for instance) but his all around game improved exponentially and started playing within the offense. That's not suggesting any of these players is on that level, but you would have had no idea in 1999 that Troy would end up where he was the next year.

@timstwrt said...

Maybe I'm too close to it since I was in the same class, but going to the games freshman year it was clear that Troy was often the best player on the floor. He's just in a different realm than Joe Rahon.

I also don't think it's insulting Rahon to say he's probably not going to be a star. In an ideal world, he's the fourth best player on the team next year after Anderson, Hanlon, and Clifford.

Last year they lost to UMass by 36 in November and were winning ACC games in January, so there was improvement.

To return to the original post, there doesn't seem to be much upside in getting Van Nest and Caudill minutes. This season's about developing players who will contribute next year, and neither of those guys are on that list. I'm fine with the current rotation, although it'll probably get ugly down the stretch as these guys run out of gas. The one guy I could see more minutes for is Odio, to find out what we have there.

bc1987 said...

I certainly was not saying I expect Rahon to get to the level of Bell. I think you know that.

Neither do I expect Hanlan who is the more apt but still lesser comparison to reach that level, but I absolutely do think Hanlan has been at least arguably the best player on the floor in games so far, if that is the metric we are using. For that matter, I think Anderson was the best player on the floor at time last year and has improved significantly since then.

I distinctly remember going into 1999 in the UNH and Vermont games when people thought the team was probably going to be pretty bad and led by Cotton and Singletary, with a walkon Dwayne Pina, but Bell proving he could score by the bucket almost immediately. He is a completely different player than Hanlan and I agree Hanlan is almost certainly not going to reach his level. But BC ended up going 3-15 against the BigEast with a 12 game losing streak. They added Ryan Sidney over the off season and all of a sudden were a 27 win team. While guys like Beerbohm, Walls, Harley, Agbai (significantly) and Singletary all improved and Sidney was a nice addition. I don't think its an easy case that Bell didn't make a huge jump too.

I think Rahon could finish his career better than fourth on the current roster. Even if he does not I don't think that's damning. I think all three of those players have good upside. I would be unsurprised if both Anderson and Hanlan to be at least 2nd team All ACC players at some point in their career if not All ACC (depending on hype and glut at position) and Clifford could be the best weapon we have if his knees ever work.

Knucklehead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Knucklehead said...

The issue with this team is that they have no leadership amongst the players. They have not determined who the go to person is yet.

If Hanlan hit the game tying free throw against Miami he would have been given the reigns by his teammates and coaches. Until the players determine during a game on the court who the closer is Donohue is forced to run his system during crunch time. This exacebates the lack of confidence of the players and leads to missed layups and freethrows late in games

Donohue is a very good coach and has recruited good players given the myriad of limitations with which he is faced.

My hope is that Donohue is given two more years after this one to get the program back to 20-10 because the losses are not for lack of talent or a lack of game management skills.

The losses are on account of injuries, TWO FRESHMAN GUARDS and the inability to hit shots late in the game - from the floor and the line.

The Defense and Rebounding has been GREAT. I don't think they have given up more that 68-70 points all season.

For that reason alone Donohue has proven that he deserves the full length of his contract to get the program back to NCAA tournament-team status.

nceaglefan said...

I am not the most positive guy in the world, but I like what I see, it is ridiculous to expect a team led by fresh and sophs to know how to win close games. The progress is there and the talent is there that is all I care about. I had zero expectations for this year and they have been in every acc game with a chance to win. Next year if the new pieces contribute we have a chance to be a tourney team, the year after that look out we could be a very good team. I am down in NC and after the State game I had 3 of my State fans say to me that they think BC is going to be really tough in a couple of years, I think they are right. My only criticism is Heckmann, I think he is holding this team back, he is a nightmare defensively and is making really poor choices on offense, if they had a legit athletic 3 this small ball attack would be lethal.

bc1987 said...

Fan base opinions aside, and I generally consider this a major negative about our athletic programs, there is an absolutely miniscule chance Donahue doesn't get 2 more years after this one. I think unless there is 1) a grades/crime type scandal or 2) an obvious w/l drop next year w/o obvious cause, he's back.

Pearl Washington said...

you can't build a program with 7 scholarships in one class

he has mis-managed this thing from the beginning

he can't recruit (what do we have next year) don't tell me he has good recruits (look at the scoreboard)

they play no defense because they can't and that is not changing

and here comes Pitino, jamie dixon, boeheim and mike bray to coach circles around Donahue


John said...

Pearl is probably right, I'm afraid.

Knucklehead said...

Jamie Dixon and Mike Bray are stiffs. They do nothing when it matters most.

Boston College is not competing for the same players as Louisville and Syracuse.

When BC was in the Big East they competed well there. Before the last two seasons BC was a top four team in the ACC annually.

We will be back even if takes a couple more years.

I would rather build the program the way we are with a solid coach than rebuild with juco's or questionable character players like Louisville or Syracuse.

When you are poop then you think everyone else is poop.

Mike said...

Please stop talking Joe Grav...we have enough of your rambling on the other site. thanks. bye.

WestCoaster said...

Right now, it seems like this should be a team that is very easy to recruit to - very competitive but needing a piece or two to get over the hump, young guards who will set the tone for the next three years, vulnerable ACC titans, ready to explode. But where are the recruits? That's what's weird - if we had two semi-studs coming in I'd be really happy with the teams progress. But if this is the same unit we field next year? We will not make the tourney.

mod10aeagle said...

Clifford at 100%. Imagine what a difference that would make.

As for "how far we have fallen since Skinner was fired", that fall started at least two years before Skinner was fired.

Knucklehead said...

The Skinner recruiting talk is true but watch West Virginia, Ohio State, and Baylor. They all have BC commits playing considerable minutes.

The people he got were not bad.