Saturday, January 31, 2015

Looking rough in Littlejohn

I rarely attend BC games in person, so much of what I glean is based off of TV feeds and what I read or hear. What's nice about the occasional in-person basketball game is seeing how the team interacts with the staff. Saturday's loss to Clemson was ugly but it did help build a little more faith in Jim Christian. Despite the continued losing, the team has not checked out. As much as it was frustrating to watch the offense settle for bad 3-point attempts, Christian was imploring them to drive. The staff is also very active during the game -- at least compared to some past BC basketball huddles. Here are a few other thoughts:

-- No touch, no strength. BC was off all over the floor, but it was uncomfortable to watch them miss so many shots close to the basket. The bigs couldn't do it. The guards missed plenty too. I would blame Clemson's D, but too often it was just our guys missing. We desperately need a guy who can just go up and either slam it home or draw a foul.
-- I think I overrated Hanlan. Changing offenses certainly hurt his numbers this year as does playing more point. But maybe Hanlan is just very good but not great. He was fine Saturday, but BC needed him to step up early. He didn't. They also needed him to drive more. It didn't happen -- in part to how Clemson was defending him.
-- The team misses Clifford. He still not 100% and that left Carney playing long minutes. We could have used him on the boards and if he had been healthy, he might have finished some of those shots in the paint.

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Friday, January 30, 2015

How Howard came about

BC scheduled Howard because that is what Brad Bates and Steve Addazio want. One could point the finger at the ACC's flip-flop on conference games, the ripple effect of Army cancelling a few years ago, the ripple effect of Syracuse becoming a conference game, or the ripple effect of New Mexico State rejoining a conference. It doesn't matter. BC's leaders surveyed all their options and this one made the most sense.

New Mexico State's return date has been on the schedule for a while. However, no one ever really thought it would happen. Once the Aggies rejoined a conference they were left with too many non-conference games. Of their potential games, BC remained their least lucrative and therefore most likely to be cancelled. Brad Bates knew that. BC had time to find a replacement. But none of the solutions made sense.

Solution 1: Play a one off against a Power 5

These games are always available. TV will usually help out in flipping around schedules and most Power 5 programs will gladly buy a game if they don't need a return date. Even recently Tennessee needed a game when UAB folded. This would have been my preference. But I am not AD. BC doesn't need a big payout and doesn't want to set a precedent of not getting return games from peer conferences. Addazio also didn't want to stunt the team's growth by going on the road against heavy weight, especially when we are already playing Notre Dame out of conference

Solution 2: Schedule another one for one with any FBS school

Scheduling one for ones out of the conference isn't that difficult for BC. We are a respectable, but not threatening opponent with a good TV partner in a desirable destination. If Bates calls most programs they will consider future opportunities. The challenge this go-around was finding one who was willing to come to Alumni in 2015.

Solution 3: Buy a game

Every team has its price. BC could have paid some team to come to Alumni for a one off. The problem is that it would have been very expensive. Even with the money from the New Mexico State penalty, it would have been hard for BC to pay SEC dollars to a visitor. We just don't have the ticket revenue. I am sure there were a few eager teams willing to come to BC to beef up their own resume without a blockbuster payday. However, I don't think Addazio wanted test the team like that.

So BC ended up with Howard: a team willing to come to BC at BC's price. The obvious downsides -- outside of losing -- is a disappointed fan base and not getting enough wins for bowl qualification. But the demand for tickets seems to be pretty inelastic. Even with USC and Clemson on the schedule, we didn't sell out Alumni. If we replaced Howard with an Alabama, would Alumni sell out? Would our season tickets packages skyrocket? Probably not. It is going to take a series of things -- including winning -- to improve attendance. The bowl issue could be troublesome but I think BC can politic out of that issue too. If we go 6-6, I think we will still go bowling. There are just so many slots and ESPN remains in our corner. What NCAA team is going to protest if a 6-6 BC team goes to some bottom tier bowl?

Playing two FCS teams is not ideal, but I don't think it will be the norm. BC has scheduling issues ahead, but I think Bates and Addazio will navigate those issues as they try to build a winner.

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Tweets of the Week

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Football releases 2015 schedule

The ACC and BC finally released their 2015 schedule. The only real news on BC's front is that New Mexico State is officially out and replaced by...Howard. This is not a good schedule. It doesn't line up well. It doesn't help sell tickets. The only thing it does well is set BC up for a true transition. We are breaking in a new, young QB and a new play caller. The team will be fairly young. This soft schedule enables them to bottom out, yet still keep up momentum and still continue winning.

September 5 -- Maine
September 12 -- Howard
September 18 -- Florida State
September 26 -- Northern Illinois
October 3 -- at Duke
October 10 -- Wake Forest
October 17 -- at Clemson
October 24 -- at Louisville
October 31 -- Virginia Tech
November 7 -- NC State
November 21 -- Notre Dame at Fenway Park
November 28 -- at Syracuse

Home Sweet Home
BC will play seven home games and a game at Fenway. That leaves only four true road games. And the first road test doesn't even come until October. BC wasn't great at home this past year, but that doesn't mean playing at Alumni is not always preferred. As the roster matures, the home-road will be less of an issue, but for now it is a good thing.

Howard?
Brad Bates is going to take heat for scheduling this game, but it is not all his fault. Addazio wanted a light schedule too. When New Mexico State bailed on their return game, that left BC scrambling. We didn't want to buy an expensive home game. We didn't want to travel. We didn't want to face a traditional power. So after not being able to find a lower-level FBS school, we were forced to look to FCS again. With some of our other FCS games, you can spin the matchup as a regional rivalry or traditional opponent. This isn't. Howard won't sell any tickets and won't bring any juice. This is a glorified scrimmage. But if that is what Addazio thinks we need to build the program, let him do his thing. Playing two FCSs also makes bowl eligibility that much more difficult. We now have to win seven regular season games.

Scary October
On the surface, the toughest stretch is at Clemson, at Louisville and then playing VT at home on Halloween. BC needs to get win one of those. A three-game losing streak going into the final month could be a huge momentum killer.

FSU Friday
I think BC fans have accepted the idea of an annual Friday game. However, hosting the most exciting opponent on a Friday upset some ticket holders. There is not much BC can do on this front. Per contract BC hosts a Friday game every year. Also per contract, every ACC team has to play a certain number of Friday games over the life of our ESPN TV deal. It was just a matter of time before the 'Noles were slotted for one of our Friday games. Ideally the Friday game would always be Labor Day Weekend or the Friday after Thanksgiving. That will happen soon, but for now this is just part of the new reality of college football.

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RIP Tatyana Abrams

For those who did not hear the mention on the radio broadcast or missed it on Twitter, Tatyana Abrams died after her long battle with AML and the side effects of her treatment. Tatyana was the daughter of BC Hall of Famer and radio analyst Danya Abrams. The BC community was very supportive of Tatyana, including many Eagles who tested their bone marrow when the family was looking for a match. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Danya, Deanna and their sons.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Is loss to Louisville a "Tipping Point loss"?

We all know about "Moral Victories." BC's loss to Louisville could fall into that category, but I am wondering if we haven't come across something different. Undermanned again yet still showing plenty of fight, I am wondering if we are at the fork in the road. After a series of close losses to some of the better teams in the conference, does BC start to pull through more games soon? Or do they stop fighting and start mailing it in? I believe we are close to a break through and that maybe this is our tipping point. Here are a few other thoughts:

-- Christian's Defensive adjustments. It is too early to consider him some sort of defensive guru but I thought Christian did a good job with the defensive calls. We used zone well and rebounded well considering Clifford's limited minutes.
-- Needing more from Hanlan. If BC is going to break through, we need Hanlan to play better. His shots weren't falling, but that wasn't the problem. His defensive concentration down the stretch stunk.
-- Heckmann coming into his own? Here was another game where he played well without making any glaring mistakes. I don't know if he's more focused on not trying to do too much, but he made some smart plays.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Season in Review: Biggest Surprises

We all had expectations for the season and a few players we thought might shine. However, I doubt any of us predicted the impact these three guys would have. Here are the biggest surprises of the 2014 season.

1. Sherman Alston

When he committed, Alston seemed like a nice player to round out the recruiting class. He showed good speed and smarts, but didn't project to a true position in college (mostly because of his size). Here was a New Jersey player that Rutgers didn't recruit. Yet as soon as he got on campus, the rumblings began. Addazio and his staff realized they had something. They just didn't know what he was. And with that they did what ever they could with him, using him on punt returns. as a WR and most effectively as a Split End getting the ball on jet sweeps. Alston proved most effective when he got a little bit of daylight. Once he got some space, he could use his speed and elusiveness to turn little plays into big ones. His breakout game was USC, but he drew attention anytime he got on the field. In fact a common complaint as the season wore on was that we were using him too often as a decoy instead of getting him the ball. Other players had bigger years, but Alston was the biggest bonus since so little was expected.

2. Justin Simmons

In August did you expect Justin Simmon to lead the team in tackles? The junior had a nice career prior to this season, but nothing to indicate that he would make such a huge jump in productivity. Simmons wasn't just a pile jumper getting lots of tackles. He saved the Wake game with a critical INT and also got to the QB when asked to blitz. Simmons also showed versatility as he split his time between corner and safety. He wasn't our best defensive player, but he was the guy who made the leap during a crucial transition season.

3. Aaron Kramer

An after thought who had never started a game, Kramer was thrust into the spotlight when Harris Williams went down against UMass. It seemed like our Offensive Line might crack, but Kramer played well against UMass and then followed the solid play throughout September. He might not have been as consistent as some of the other starters and had some tough games later in the season, but overall Kramer played well and much better than most of us would have expected.

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Women's Hockey keeps rolling and other links

The Women's Hockey team cannot be stopped. Monday they took down Princeton. With the snow storm brewing, the stands were basically empty. Let's hope as the unbeaten streak continues, fans start to rally around the team.

ESPN thinks we need to improve our WR play in 2015. Even with a new offensive coordinator and some new talent, I don't see us every becoming pass happy.

Jim Christian and staff are pursuing German prospect Lukas Meisner . He would bring some much needed size to the 2015 recruiting class. At this point Christian can be selective with the class and only add players he really wants. I still expect a transfer or two to help fill out the roster next year.

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Christian gets first ACC win

Something had to give. BC finally had a close game go their way. BC finally stopped a late collapse. Most importantly, BC finally won an ACC game. This was Christian's first in the conference and it was well deserved. Despite the problems down the stretch and missing Clifford, I felt Christian managed the game well and made enough adjustments for BC to close out the game. Here are some other thoughts:

-- Defense keeps getting better. Georgia Tech is a terrible offense and a bad team, but BC still looked better on D. They switched well. They helped well. Magarity shot out on pick and rolls and still recovered. It gives me hope once we get more talent.
-- Hanlan's shooting. He improved from the line and made some killer 3s. Let's hope his slump is over.
-- Playing through bad spots. BC couldn't make a basket early and allowed a 7-0 run late in the second half, yet held on. Holding on and fighting through those moments are critical as Christian tries to build a program and change the attitude.

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