Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Basketball Hots and Nots


The ACC held its annual Basketball Media Days and there are plenty of clips and things to read on BC's official Twitter account. My expectations are relatively high for the season, in part because of the new staff and in part because of the things I am hearing. The results won't be bad as last year. Better defense and a smarter schedule pretty much guarantees that. However, there are plenty of good things coming from practice and some not so great. Here is what I am hearing:

Hots
-- The new staff really like Magarity. His size will be an asset and he won't just be a offense only-euro style big man.
-- Of all the wings that carried over from Donahue, Jackson will probably get the most minutes. He bought in early and is also playing good defense.
-- Garland Owens will also get a lot of time at the wing. His defense alone makes him an asset among the crowded bench.

Nots
-- I don't know where the minutes for Heckmann and Dragicevich. Defense matters now. The transfers are not superstars but they will play. Buying in matters. For holdovers like Heckmann and Drago, you hope they impress early in the season, because when the rotation gets tighter, they might be out.
-- Even without his injury Hicks was unlikely to be a major contributor.

Who knows
-- Everyone loves Clifford. The new staff is salivating and consider him healthy. Keep your fingers crossed. If he plays, this team will be very competitive in ACC play.
-- Diallo is raw, but has a good future.
-- Odio can be a defensive asset. However, his minutes really depend on the other bigs and who is healthy.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Time to kick the Hokies while they are down



Despite his legendary status in Blacksburg there is a sense of unease among Hokie fans about Frank Beamer. The similarities between Beamer and other coaches who outstayed their welcome (Bowden and Paterno) are obvious: declining wins, putting his son in an important position, a more hands-off approach to recruiting. Now there is fear about even getting bowl eligible. BC cannot keep the Hokies out of the postseason single-handedly but getting a win this weekend is critical. First it helps our season and bowl eligibility. Second it might speed up the Hokies' decline.

BC knows what it is like to take advantage of a declining coach. We were 2-0 against Penn State in the aughts. We were 3-1 against Bobby Bowden as a member of the ACC. Beamer is only 68 so it may be premature to call for his retirement, but Bowden and Paterno both proved that it is hard to maintain consistent greatness as a coach ages. Even if the product on the field is not what is once was, the name on the uniform and the coach on the sidelines still matters. BC plays Virginia Tech annually and winning at VT still generates respect among recruits and the media. Let their decline fuel our rise.

VT has some solid building blocks for greatness -- good facilities and fanbase, a great recruiting territory in the Tidewater area, and friendly admissions policies. What Beamer did can be duplicated. However, we don't know when they change will come. For now, let's take advantage of every game we play against them. That sort of killer instinct has been lacking from our program for a long time. Putting VT away would be a good example to show that things are different with Addazio.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

McDuffie is not an issue, but hoops recruiting might be


My head keeps telling me to be patient with Jim Christian’s recruiting. My heart is wondering what’s going on. This weekend another major target -- Markis McDuffie -- committed to Wichita State. It is not that McDuffie is some sort of program changing talent. It is also normal to lose out on a primary target. The problem is that Christian missed out on so many of his targets and let other seemingly interested targets fade away.

As much as I question the process, it is only fair to remind myself (and everyone else) that Christian has yet to coach a game at BC. As disastrous as the recruiting seems, how the team performs on the court trumps everything. The product on the court will also give an immediate boost to recruiting. Proving he can coach and win in the ACC will open doors more than showing up at a bunch of high school gyms.

When he was hired I predicted Christian would be ok but not a BC lifer. I hope I'm right, but I also hope that he leaves BC better than he found it. To do that, he's got to make sure the 2016 recruiting process goes better than this haphazard cycle.

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Louisville kickoff announced and other links

The Louisville game will be a 7:15 kickoff on ESPN2. If we win this weekend, a primetime showcase against the Cardinals is the type of game that might get us ranked.

For the second time in two weeks, Hockey East named Adam Gilmour its Player of the Week.

The ACC named Kevin Kavalec its Defensive Lineman of the Week.

Hanover product Monte Graham committed to BC Hockey over the weekend.

Two future Eagles Davon Jones and Chris Lindstrom are having a strong senior seasons.

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Second viewing thoughts and grades: Wake Forest

Watching live I felt that the first half was great and the second half was equally terrible. That wasn't really the case. When the fear and emotions of the live broadcast are gone, you realize that a few executions issues, some borderline penalties and a bad fumble, ratcheted up the anxiety. But BC survived and won. Call it ugly. Call it unlucky. At least it was a win.

Offense: B

Murphy played well. It was one of his better days passing. There weren't as many errant throws and he made good decisions on his progressions. There were some open guys on broken plays, but once a play breaksdown, I think Murphy is running all the way. Given his skills that is not a bad plan. His runs weren't as explosive but they were still productive.

Hilliman's TD was great. It showed his power, speed and ability to make people miss. He ran pretty well and did a good job waiting for holes to open. Willis didn't get as many touches but looked good when he caught the ball as a safety valve.

Who knew Dudeck would have the best hands on the team? He did a good job getting open and holding on to the passes. It was nice to see Phillips finally get a big play (and hold on). Crimmins had a nice catch late. Alston only caught one pass and only had a few runs. I would like to see him targeted more in passing since everyone is focused on him during the jet sweeps.

The Offensive Line played well. We used a lot of pulling and power and the different pulling combos looked good. There weren't any big issues or breakdowns. Murphy mostly had time. They controlled the line. When Wake stopped the run it was more on the edges or just jamming the middle for short gain. Gallik looked good and Silberman keeps getting better.

As much as a I don't want Murphy to pass, the passing scheme is getting much better. We're more efficient and getting more big plays from it. In the second half when we needed an answer, we just picked them apart downfield. The other drives really died from penalties and Wake keying on the run. I thought Day called a good game and had a good plan.

Defense: B

The DLine did well early but had issues in the second half getting to the QB. Wujciak had a few nice tackles. Kavalec was productive. Gutapfel also looked good.

It wasn't the best game for the LBs. They missed a few tackles and didn't have great coverage. Keyes was fine but didn't get as much pressure as last week. Daniels was productive but not dominant. Strizak was fine.

Simmons play was huge. It ended the game and was in tight coverage. Sylvia played a lot in nickel and looked good. Brown made some plays early but then got beat over the middle later. Asprilla played well. Williams was good.

Early in the 3rd quarter Wake converted their first 3rd down. It was on a blitz. I don't know if that forced Brown to adjust or if he just felt like playing it safe, but we weren't as aggressive from that point out. We rarely used the amoeba. Instead it was a lot of 3-3-5. Wofford adjusted. I don't want to keep pointing the finger at Brown for the second half issues, but it is frustrating when BC cannot get off the field. In the end we held them to 17 and seven of those points were off a really short field via fumble. The D's scheme was solid. The second half was more a matter of easing off and waiting for them to eat clock and make mistakes. Which Wake did.

Special Teams: C-

I love Myles Willis and love his aggressiveness. However, that fumble was terrible. He needs to protect the ball better in situations likes that. Alston only had one return of note.

Howell's mistakes didn't cost us but they certainly added to the tension. The missed PAT was terrible. You've got to get more height on it. The final punt was a useless touchback. Howell's field goal was fine.

Overall: B

It is hard to be overly critical of Addazio's performance Saturday. You can question the coordinators, but the idea of the second half -- avoid quick scores on D and eat some clock on O -- is sound. The execution was a different issue. He made a nice call on the timeout when we only had 10 guys on the field for the punt. He also didn't seem to panic when we needed a stop. If we fix the Special Teams, this game wouldn't have been nearly as close.

Week to week I start to drink the Daz Koolaid even more. He's over the top, but the guys seem to buy in and we have yet to see Daz's emotions overtake his game management. The game could have slipped away, but it didn't. That's because of solid coaching.

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

It is never easy: BC holds on against Wake

My biggest issue during the end of the Spaz era was that I didn't feel anything. I was so resigned to losing that I was rarely nervous, rarely excited and generally bored. During the USC win, I finally felt those butterflies of excitement again about BC Football. It was nice to have that old familiar feeling again. Saturday an unwelcome old feeling returned. It was the pit in my stomach feeling. The is this really happening feeling. I thought we were going to blow it. Fortunately Justin Simmons picked off Wofford and BC successfully killed clock to hold on for the win at Wake.

The first half was probably the best 30 minutes of BC Football this season. The second half was almost as bad. The Defense just couldn't get off the field and the offense went cold. I was sure the missed PAT was going to cost us the game. I am relieved it is over and relieved BC won.

Despite the drama, the win still means a lot. We are one step closer to the postseason and now back to .500 in conference play.

I will have my grades and second viewing thoughts up late Sunday.

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In-game comments post: Wake Forest

Another road game and another chance to bounce back. Let's hope BC comes out firing. Leave your thoughts and comments below.

You can also follow me on Twitter.

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Belated thoughts on Clemson

I've been watching the loss to Clemson back in pieces as I could this week. I finally wrapped it up Friday. Obviously I knew the outcome, but that didn't make it any less painful. We could have had that game. As Addazio and everyone else pointed out, two or three more plays and BC wins.

My biggest takeaway though is that we went the wrong way on offense. We passed -- because the guys were open -- and it hurt us. And I am not talking about the drops. None of our primary targets can make anyone miss. Callinan and Crimmins had great downfield catches but are limited. They are not turning those catches into scores. They are not making multiple people miss. Murphy makes people miss. An explosive play from him is much more likely to score. Late in the game when he finally kept it, he was gashing Clemson. We should be doing that more! Even against eight-man fronts. As daunting as the crowded box is, all it takes is one guy to miss and Murphy is off. Do you expect that same sort of scoring from any of our WRs?

Although they gave up a late score off of bad tackling, I thought the D played better. The front four probably had their best game. The DBs were better too.

This was a tough loss, but very encouraging. One and a half seasons in and the evidence is mounting that BC is well coached. If we increase the talent level, there is no reason to think we won't be competing in the division quickly.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Tweets of the Week

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Game Watches: Wake Forest

BC is a heavy favorite, but you're still nervous. You know who would understand how you feel? Other BC fans! Join them at a regional game watch. List your chapter's watch in the comments section, if it is not listed.

Boston Game Watch
Warehouse Bar & Grille
40 Broad St
Boston

Chicago Game Watches
Nic and Dino's Tripoli Tap
1147 W Armitage Ave
Chicago

Finley Dunne's
3458 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago

Dallas Game Watch
Corner Bar
4830 McKinney Ave.
Dallas

Denver Game Watch
Whittier Pub
2000 East 28th Ave
Denver

New York City Game Watches
Joshua Tree
513 3rd Avenue (between 34th and 35th Street)
New York, N.Y.

Brazen Fox NYC
106 3rd Avenue (at 13th Street)
New York, N.Y.

Philadelphia Game Watch
Fox & Hound
1501 Spruce St.
Philadelphia

Phoenix Game Watch
Gallagher's Sports Grill
7575 N. 16th Street
Phoenix

San Diego Game Watch
The Beer Company
602 Broadway St.
San Diego

San Francisco Game Watch
Shanghai Kelly's
2064 Polk St.
San Francisco

Tampa Game Watch
Beef O’Brady’s
4516 S. Dale Mabry Highway
Tampa, Fla.

Washington, D.C. Game Watch
Irish Whiskey Public House
1207 19th Street Northwest
Washington, D.C.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

BC-Wake Forest preview

Time for another rebound. My pipedream of us making a run at the Division is probably over, but there is still much on the line. BC needs this game to get closer to bowl eligibility and to keep momentum going into the tougher second half of the season. BC also needs to prove that we have a killer instinct. Wake is struggling right now and leaning on a freshman QB coming back from injury. We need to put them away early and not let another game come down to the wire.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game) 
You don't always need a long history or bad blood to make a series interesting. Think back to the Wake games when we first started playing them. They were close, memorable and once we were in the same conference, important for both teams. As both declined the past few years, the games lost much of their juice. I hope that Clawson gets the Deacons back to consistently winning. I don't think Wake-BC will ever be Ohio State-Michigan or even BC-Syracuse or BC-Notre Dame, but it was fun having competitive, relevant games against them for a few years.

Three Simple Keys
1. Murphy needs to rush for more than 100 yards. It can't get more simple than that. I want him to pass. I want the other players to step up. But the reality is that he is our best playmaker and our best player. Just like Andre Williams last year, if he gets going, everything else opens up. Clemson did a good job on him, but we also got away designed runs a bit. Don't overthink things this week.
2. Bring Wolford down. He's not afraid to get out of the pocket and try to make a play. Wrapping him up will be important.
3. No drops. They are drive killers.

Gambling Notes
-- Clawson is 0-3 in ACC play
-- Addazio is 4-4 on the road
-- Addazio is 1-1 in the state of North Carolina
The current line is BC-13

Factoid
BB&T Field is the smallest stadium in the ACC at 31,500.

Scoreboard Watching
Syracuse at Clemson will be a good indicator of what we can expect from the Orange. It wouldn't be a bad thing to see the Tigers stomp them. I want their season to be over and their players checked out by the time they get to Chestnut Hill.

I hope to see...
One game where the placekicking is not an issue. It wasn't the only reason we lost, but missing the extra point last week did impact the play calling late in the game.

BC is in trouble if...
We cannot establish the run. The Deacons have a decent pass defense. If we cannot grind it out on the ground, I worry about trying to win it in the air.

Bottom Line
Wake is not a good team. They barely beat Army and haven't been competitive in most of their ACC games. My only real fear is facing them on the road. But I think like our last road game in North Carolina, BC will put a huge emphasis on running and overpower them. I think we control the clock and the ball and win comfortably.
Final Score: BC 28, Wake Forest 13

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