Friday, November 21, 2014

Moral victory Holiday Tournament

The Puerto Rico Tip-off isn't some historic basketball event. It's a made for TV event like most of the others. However, I feel pretty good about how BC came out of this one. Thursday we won. Friday we lost to West Virginia, but lost in a close game and showed that we can hang with a pressing team. The refs botched this game for both teams, so the flow was off, nearly everyone got in foul trouble and it really made for ugly stretches. BC had its chances late, but turnovers and missed FTs were too much to overcome. I remain encouraged. Or at least more encouraged than I was after UMass. This team has more fight than they showed last week. Once healthy, I think we will be pretty versatile. Here are some other thoughts:

-- We actually played help D! Who knew it was possible? When WVU was in half court sets before the foul trouble, we actually controlled and limited shots.
-- Magarity is the key to breaking the press. He made some decent passes and seems to have a good understanding of where to go with it.
-- I worry about Hanlan's minutes...but he was strong at the end. Dudley used to play nearly 40 minutes a game. So did Troy Bell. I trust Olivier and Christian to figure out what works for them.

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Tweets of the Week



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Game Watches: Florida State

We need all the positive energy and good vibes we can get this weekend. Join your fellow believers (and BC fans) at your local Game Watch.

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

Houston Game Watch
J.Black’s
110 S Heights Blvd
Houston

Los Angeles Game Watch
Sonny McLeans
2615 Wilshire Blvd

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.

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

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

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Basketball gets solid win against New Mexico

My expectations for the Puerto Rico tournament were very low. I think they were even low for Jim Christian (since he inherited this commitment from Donahue). However the team played well in their opener against New Mexico. Like UMass, they took a lead in the first half. The difference was in the second half they hung on and Hanlan closed it out in the final minutes. Here are some other thoughts:

-- This was the type of game Hanlan should play every night. Aside from missing his free throws, he was very productive. My only other complaint is that he should dish a little more when Clifford gets in a mismatch on the pick and roll.
-- The team was still too sloppy. We have to cut down on the turnovers.
-- I am still trying to get a feel for the minutes. I was surprised that Magarity didn't get more time. I am surprised Clifford played so much (especially with a game tomorrow).
-- I like Brown's role and his D. I don't like his 3-point shooting. Hopefully those shots go to Jackson when he gets back.

Friday the team gets another test Friday against West Virginia. Let's keep it rolling.

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BC-Florida State preview

Pass the Kool-Aid! Let's go buy some lottery tickets! BC's winning this weekend! Now I talk myself into a BC win every week, but this week I actually do think we are going to pull off a monumental upset. Is part of it me predicting Florida State's own luck might run out? Yes. Playing close games over and over is playing with fire in college football. Last year they dominated people. This year they are letting opponents hang around. That will cost them a game soon. But I also think the matchup is good for BC. It won't be easy. It never is. But if we play our game, this might be the biggest BC win in seven years. 

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
I've written about this before, but I like sports for the escapism. Whenever the real world comes into the arena -- usually through tragedy -- I get uncomfortable. Because that intrusion is usually a reminder that the games don't really matter. None of this really matters. It is just sports. With the shooting in Tallahassee happening days before the game, it is another reminder that this doesn't really matter. I am sure the deaths will impact things to a certain extent -- the crowds' emotions, the players' concentrations. I will think about the people who died. But by Saturday night I will probably be more worked up by what happened on the field. I am not proud of that. I am just being honest.

Three Simple Keys
1. Stay with the run. Did you watch the FSU-Miami game? The Seminoles crowded the line to stop the run. They begged Miami to pass. I think they will do the same with us. However, I don't want to pass. Just keep running into the wall. Go jumbo. Use the sweeps. Do whatever, but rarely pass. Staying with the run controls the clock, the tempo and will result in a few BC scores.
2. Get Winston down. I am still frustrated that we let him get away a few times last year. He's not 100% right now. We need to bring pressure and we need to wrap him up.
3. Contain on the edges. Many of FSU's big runs the past few weeks have come outside the tackles. We need our guys to be disciplined and close off those lanes.

Gambling Notes
-- FSU is 3-7 against the spread
-- BC is 4-0 on the road this year
-- BC has not lost by more than 19 this year
The current line is BC+19

Factoid
We've never played Florida State this late in the season. This is the first time that we will be their last regular season ACC game of the year.

Scoreboard Watching
Our only remaining opponent after this is Syracuse. I am hoping Pitt crushes them, just so they are totally checked out next week.

I hope to see...
A clean Special Teams game. I don't expect to win the game with a Special Teams' play. I just don't want to lose because of a shanked kicked or a long return.

BC is in trouble if...
Murphy doesn't keep it at least half the time on the options. He's our best runner and we need him keeping it...even if FSU is waiting on him to keep it. I trust him to make a few guys miss.

Bottom Line
BC doesn't need to play the perfect game to win. We just need to play our game. It is critical that BC sets the tone and establishes our style of play. Trying to pass on them is a mistake. Playing back in coverage is a mistake. Just be ourselves. I think BC takes an early lead, builds off a few FSU mistakes and hangs on in the end.
Final Score:  BC 24, Florida State 21

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Guest Blogger: Tomahawk Nation

This is a similar setup to last year. Florida State enters the game undefeated and among the nation's top ranked teams. We know the big names. We know what to expect. But things are not always that simple. FSU has not rolled over opponents this year. Winston is not the center of college football and their defense is not suffocating like last year's unit. To get a better feel for the defending National Champs, I asked Dylan from the Florida State blog Tomahawk Nation some questions. His answers are below.

1. Winston has been a lightning rod of excitement and controversy for the past two years. How do Florida State fans view him at this point? Do you think he leaves for the NFL after this season?

Tomahawk Nation: I think there are differing views on Jameis even within the FSU fanbase. There are some for whom what has at times been an out-and-out witch hunt (see: fabricated autograph “scandal,” fabricated point-shaving “scandal”) has galvanized them into fierce defense of Winston. There are others who are just tired of what seems like an endless stream of embarrassing stories, and unfortunately are somewhat looking forward to his departure from Florida State’s program. It’s a shame that a generational type of player is viewed in this way by some of his own fanbase and hated by much of the country, but that’s the modern college football climate in which we live. I absolutely think he’s leaving for the draft after this season. He gains nothing by staying and is absolutely NFL-ready as a player. He reads the middle of the field and makes throws with anticipation and accuracy into tight windows like nobody else does.

2. Last year was historically dominant. This year has seen the team fall behind over and over. Do you view it as the team losing its edge? Not having the same talent? Other teams adapting?

TN: It’s a combination of a lot of factors. First of all, it’s taken a while, but I think we’ve finally gotten to the point where most of the FSU fanbase realizes that comparing this team to the 2013 team is not a wise thing to do. That team was the pinnacle, probably the best that Florida State has ever fielded. Though the ‘Noles returned a significant amount of talent this season, they also lost a bunch as well, and this team just isn’t 2013 quality. It’s tough to replace Kelvin Benjamin, Kenny Shaw, and a bunch of studs on defense that played so well together last season. Another thing we were and are concerned about is the replacement of senior leadership and football IQ, particularly on defense. Lamarcus Joyner, Telvin Smith, and Timmy Jernigan have proven extremely tough to replace, particularly in those two areas. I don’t think it’s necessarily that the team has “lost its edge,” but leadership may well have been lacking in the off-season and in practice, causing a drop-off in preparation. FSU also hasn’t fared nearly as well with injury luck, which was absurdly good last season. The ‘Noles have battled major injury issues at almost every single position. I think another part of it is that FSU has faced a tougher slate of teams to date, particularly at the quarterback position. 2013 FSU didn’t face a group of quarterbacks like J.W. Walsh, Deshaun Watson, Jacoby Brissett, Everett Golson, and Brad Kaaya. These factors, along with general inconsistency, have led to the ‘Noles playing in much closer games in 2014. I don’t think the media would be of such a critical perception had the 2013 ‘Noles not been such world beaters and had gone like 9-3, but if that’s one negative effect of having such a dominant team a year prior, I think all FSU fans will take it.

3. Do you think a one-loss Florida State team (to either BC, Florida or the Coastal winner) would make the College Playoff?

TN: Funny you should ask, as I’m writing this about an hour after the College Football Playoff rankings were announced on Tuesday night. I think my answer here is a pretty clear no. Sitting at third right now, I just don’t see any way the Seminoles would be able to survive a loss to BC, Florida, or Duke/GT and return to the top four. I’m someone who puts a lot of stock into advanced metrics rating systems like Bill Connelly and Brian Fremeau’s F/+, which currently have the Seminoles at 10th in the nation, but I also have difficulty reconciling this with my intuitive valuation of winning games. Advanced metrics don’t really see wins and losses, just performance. So while the ‘Noles haven’t played too impressively against whom they’ve played by those numbers, I do think that the SEC is being overvalued while FSU’s schedule is being undervalued, even when opponent-adjusted like F/+ is. FSU opponents have suffered major losses to key players after playing the ‘Noles – OK State lost its starting quarterback for the season, Deshaun Watson has missed a lot of time for Clemson, and Louisville lost its QB for the year the week after playing FSU. Obviously FSU is getting everyone’s best shot, and Fisher said recently that he’s talked to opposing coaches who spent major parts of their off-seasons scheming for the FSU game in particular. It’s an interesting situation developing in the first season of the new playoff, but Florida State will need to keep winning to have a shot at the title.

4. What is your prediction for the game?

TN: Florida State has played a similar type of game for most of this season. A sluggish start, likely including a few turnovers, and several big plays allowed. This either leaves the ‘Noles trailing or in an uncomfortably close game against an overmatched team. Sooner or later, FSU has found a way to flip the switch and take control of the game, though the final results aren’t always aesthetically pleasing. Every week, some ‘Noles fans declare that this is the week that FSU finally puts it together and plays three or four complete quarters of high level football. While hoping it will eventually happen, particularly down the stretch here in November, December, and January, I don’t have any reason to believe that switch is going to be flipped until I see it. So I’ll say this one is more of the same. BC can run the ball and is coming off of a bye week, and I’m sure Addazio will have some shot plays drawn up for Tyler Murphy to try to pop a few plays against the Seminoles early. FSU also is coming off of an emotional win at Miami and has Florida on deck. I’ll call it an ugly 33-23 Florida State win.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Prepare for more BC disrespect from the Selection Committee


BC is not in the National Championship hunt. We know that. The team knows that. Anyone who can look at the ACC standings knows that. Yet we will become a focal point of the Playoff Selection Committee next week. Regardless of how we perform against Florida State, just playing BC will be used against the Seminoles' candidacy.

I believe we will win this weekend. That win alone will be used to oust Florida State from College Football's Top Four. Even if they beat Florida and win the ACC Championship, the media and committee narrative will be that "but that loss to BC..." Losing to BC will be seen as a worse loss than any of the one-loss SEC teams, one-loss Oregon and one-loss Big XII teams. It will probably be viewed as a worse loss than Ohio State's loss to Virginia Tech...a team BC beat! Part of it is perception. We are a nice team, but not a traditional power. Our little engine that could is not respectable compared to the big bad SEC. There is also a bit of Florida State bias. The Committee will be glad to get Winston and Co. out of the picture for a while.

I don't think an undefeated Florida State team would be leftout, but God help them if they barely beat us. "How is this team in the Top 4?" You'll hear. "They barely beat BC at home!" It is coming. Even a Florida State romp would receive qualifiers. "They remained undefeated, but they were facing BC while Team X was facing..."

I think the Playoff is a step in the right direction, but the format and limit to four teams only enhances old biases and the Old Boy Network. The Committee is going to reward the SEC and teams that lost early because they are part of the establishment. They were the type of people who created this narrative nonsense. Just look at how they are all twisting their logic around to correct the TCU-Baylor mess.

Ultimately this thing needs to be eight teams made up of mostly automatic qualifiers. Florida State needs to be in because they won the ACC -- even with a loss. Yet I don't think that will happen. And it will be because the 'Noles lost to the wrong team -- BC.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Cuse kickoff time and other links

The ACC announced that BC's game with Syracuse will be a 12:30 start. It is considered a regional game and carried on most of your regional affiliates. (Probably similar to the same station lineup that carried Wake or NC State.) It will also be BC's Senior Day. While I would have preferred a national slot on one of the ESPN networks, at this point I just want BC to avenge last year's heartbreak to the Orange.

The spread of the BC-Florida State game is now up to FSU-20. But as this betting column noted FSU has faced inflated spreads all year and are only 3-7 ATS.

Hanlan made the preseason Wooden list. Based on the first two games, the team and Olivier will have to improve to remain on the list.

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

UMass hammers Hoops

The UNH game seemed like a good start. Sunday's tough loss to UMass was probably a wake up call. Maybe we are not going to be that good. The first 30 minutes seemed like a continuation of UNH. BC played good D, Hanlan got his points and BC controlled. The second half was a disaster. I felt like Christian let things get away from the team in the second half, but even after timeouts the guys did not respond. Here are some other thoughts:

-- We desperately need a second scorer. The let Hanlan do it all philosophy worked for the first 20 minutes. After it didn't. No one rebounded and no one hit open shots. It was ugly. What disappointed me most was when Hanlan drove there was rarely anyone near the basket to rebound or ready for a quick pass.
-- Trouble with the press.  18 turnovers. The worst part is that we didn't get the occasional easy basket in the second half. The passes were sloppy and at times guys were getting in each other's way.
-- Missing free throws. It would have made the game closer and changed the pace a bit.

Next up is New Mexico in Puerto Rico. I hope they work out the kinks. I still believe the pieces are there. The guys just have to figure out how to play together.

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FSU gametime set

Shortly after Saturday's action, ABC/ESPN announced that Florida State will host BC in the 3:30 ET timeslot. The game will be mirrored on ABC and ESPN2. Many -- including me -- expected a primetime game if Florida State beat Miami. Maybe the scheduling gurus sense some Seminoles fatigue. Despite our struggles against Louisville and Florida State's ability to bounce back from any deficit, I am optimistic about this game.

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Hoops handles UNH

The Jim Christian era started in the most important way -- with a win. Other than the "W" though there is not too much to go against a bad UNH team. Things started sloppy but eventually BC controlled in the first half and maintained that lead most of the second half. Here are some other thoughts:

-- There is a noticeable increase in defensive effort. Six steals, more ball pressure and decent rebounding made a difference.
-- Cold from 3. BC only made one from downtown. With Jackson hurt and Rahon gone, I don't think we will be as consistent from 3, but I am glad we still attempted a good amount. We know Hanlan and Heckmann can make them. Let's hope Brown starts making his.
-- Clifford moved well. He didn't dominate but looked healthy. Last year in his limited appearance he seemed gimpy. I couldn't pick up on any of that during his 20 minutes last night.

Last year, the frustrating OT loss to Providence set the tone for the entire season. This game wasn't the same sort of test, but it is a good start for the new regime.

BC also produced a highlight package for the game. Hopefully this becomes a regular occurrence.

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Hockey snaps losing streak with win over Michigan State

Nothing helps a team's (and its fanbase's) confidence then picking up a big road win. Hockey defeated Michigan State 3-2 Friday. The win was York's 501st at BC. The victory ties him with Snooks Kelley for most at BC. 

BC will look to turn this win into a streak when they take on UMass Friday.

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