Sunday, April 30, 2006

Thoughts on the weekend -- A BC perspective on the draft

BC Guys
Glad Kiwi went in the first round. I would have felt awful for him if he had slid to Round 2. It is also nice to see Coughlin still has a soft spot for BC guys. I questioned Kiwi’s desire as the only reason he didn’t go in the first half of the draft. We all know Coughlin will ride him. How will he respond? I hope he has a big career and uses the NFL as the ultimate platform for all he wants to accomplish. Congrats to the others who found homes in the NFL as well. I really hope Green Bay uses Will to the fullest.

NC State
Mario Williams, Manny Lawson and John McCargo all went in the first round. Can someone explain to me why NC State wasn’t better? I only caught a few games (and obviously all of the BC game) but I was not impressed with what I saw...especially Williams. How can you take an inconsistent effort guy as the No. 1 overall pick. If the BC line could shut down this crew than I really don’t see any of them becoming huge factors in the NFL. The Williams pick will be one of the biggest misses in the history of the Draft. I think all five of the guys taken behind him will have better NFL careers.

Either way the NFL missed in evaluating these guys or the Amato is a bigger underachiever than I previously thought.

NC State hoops
Speaking of NC State -- why Mike Brey? He seems like just a different version of Sendek. Brey is a good, but not great coach. If he couldn’t build a champion in the Big East, he won’t in the ACC. This is not a guy who is going to change the current pecking order on Tobacco Road. Whittenburg would have been more of a risk, but he also would’ve had much greater upside.

Friday, April 28, 2006

TOB and talent

Here is an article on the guys awaiting the draft. It speculates that as many as five players might be drafted. I doubt it. I think Brown will probably go the free agent route. If five are taken it will be the most BC players drafted in more than a decade and even a greater accomplishment given how the draft has been scaled back the past few years. I am excited for the guys, but part of me is frustrated. With all this supposed talent, what did BC actually accomplish? This group was the winningest Senior class in BC history BUT that number is skewed by the expanded schedules and number of bowls. This core contributed to a Co-Conference Championship BUT it was four-way split Big East title -- during the weakest year of a major conference and after they blew a chance to win the title outright. This team won four bowl games BUT they were in places like Boise, Charlotte, San Francisco and Detroit.

This probably sounds like I am slighting these guys. I am not trying to. Once again I am just frustrated. In the TOB era, the number of NFL ready players has varied over the last few years. His first few recruiting classes seemed to produce about two guys a year. Yet as the talent supposedly rises or declines, the results on the field remain pretty consistent (winning season, with a letdown along the way and a third tier bowl).

Year     BC Players Drafted
2006     ?
2005     0
2004     2
2003     2
2002     2
2001     1

I keep trying to figure out what might break our "pretty good" but not "great" season cycle. If talent isn’t the driving force, then what is? Also is it a good thing or a bad thing that TOB produces the same results year in and year out regardless of the caliber of players? I have the summer to hopefully figure it out. Your thoughts are appreciated.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Study Hall

Will Ty Hall get as much TV time as his dad this season?

To expand on my thought from earlier in the week -- I think the offensive line will be fine. Two spots are open and TOB expressed disappointment that no one stood out this spring. However, I think Ty Hall’s uncertain status shows how good things are.

Hall started for BC at Left Tackle in place of an injured Trueblood. The past two seasons he received significant playing time at Right Tackle -- nearly platooning with Cherilus in 2004. Yet now when we have an open Tackle position, the staff is trying him at Center, where he is competing against Kevin Sheridan (who has actual game experience at Center). There are only a few explanations for the move:

1. TOB and staff view Center as critical and want the best talent there AND
2. They feel they have enough talent in Poles and Avenski to competently fill the open Tackle position.

I am confidant in all the guys fighting for position. Their play turned the Clemson game around. I would like to see Hall get a starting spot, but the fact that we have three other guys the coaching staff feel nearly as confident about speaks volumes. TOB might see a void. I see an embarrassment of riches.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Spring Game pics

Old Man hasn't sent any pictures (yet), but regular reader Alex pointed out that PJ at already has some up. Check them out here. If you come here for BC info, I assume you are already reading PJ's site. I've had him linked in the resources section from the get go, but he deserves notice for his good work, dedication and for being first.

Monday, April 24, 2006


First, sorry for the late post. Blogger and Blogspot's publishing tool has been down all morning. Second apology for lack of Old Man pics. I still haven't heard from the BC legend and don't know if he took any pictures Saturday. Maybe, he'll come through. As anyone who has actually met the Old one can attest -- he works in mysterious ways. If anyone else took pictures and would like to share them, feel free to email me.

Weekend roundup

Saturday's Spring Game concluded one of the least eventful springs in a long line of uneventful springs. Many of the stars sat out of the game. Crane and Silva had the biggest days. Other names like Ryan and Whitworth were a little more uneven. The main storyline was the offensive line and who will fill the two open positions. It looks like Beekman is the only guy who knows where he will be next August. I am surprised that Ty Hall hasn't earned a starting spot yet. He is the most experienced of the second teamers and played well in place of Trueblood and Cherilus the last two seasons. I bet he will eventually win a starting spot.

One of our departing lineman, Pat Ross was featured in Monday's Globe. Dan Koppen's success has made him a popular guy on many draft boards.

Quinton Porter is hoping to make the NFL as a Free Agent. The Maine papers traditionally give him favorable coverage, so it suprised me to read about his mother questioning his football desire and the scouts' comments on his ability under pressure.

Another Kiwi feature combined with a Tamba Hali angle.

Here is an article on the high school combines. Some BC targets are mentioned.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Thoughts on the news

Most regular readers saw the following articles. Here are my thoughts on each topic.

Crane’s profile. Crane gets his first feature in one of the two big papers. Nice story. BC is pretty thin at QB this year. I hope for our sake that he doesn’t have to play this year.

Bill Coen is filling his Northeastern staff with a bunch of BC guys. It would’ve been nice to see Uka comeback to the Heights. Next time there is a coaching change at the Heights there are going to be a lot of BC alums in the running (Barros, Adams, Pearl, O’Shea), not to mention Coen and Cooley.

Al filled his staff with Mo Cassara and Preston Murphy. Both seem like good hires…Cassara especially. He will help rebuild the New England recruiting base and as a former head coach and son of a coach, he should have a good sense of in-game strategy.

The Spring game is this Saturday. I am pressuring Old Man into going and taking pictures. Check back in on Sunday to see if he delivered.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

News roundup

Here is a feature on Kiwi. A lot of background stuff, but some good quotes about what he learned this past year.

Here is an update on Augie Hoffman. He is in NFL Europe trying to make a name for himself.

In basketball news, BC is close to finalizing a deal with Kansas. This would be a much needed upgrade over our normal out of conference schedule.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

ATL_eagle Scouting Service (BC’s Mel Kiper) Part III

The two biggest question marks heading into the draft are where will Kiwi and Will go? Both have first round ability. Both have confounded GMs? What position will each play? Both are solid citizens and good guys while at BC. Unfortunately that doesn’t count for much in the NFL. Here is my take on their prospects.

Mathias Kiwanuka. There was speculation that Kiwi might have been a Top 5 pick if he had entered the draft last season. Instead he decided to return to BC. After a good, but not great year, and a luke-warm combine, he is now projected to be a late first round pick. Evaluators are questioning his size and natural position. They also say he is weak against the run (which I totally disagree with -- Kiwi had some problems shedding run blocks, but was great working down the line and got many backs from behind). I don’t know what to make of Kiwi’s prospects. I think he has the ability to be a dominant pass rusher in the NFL. His speed and length should translate well. I guess I question his desire. Kiwi had a motor his sophomore year and had a great season. He was very good his junior. Senior year he became the focus of the opponent and it seemed to wear on him. He had a few great games and a few amazing plays, but his consistency was gone. I am not sure what happened. Part of it could be chalked up to his injury. Part to being used differently (dropping into coverage). But as the NC State game showed, when he was motivated, he was a monster. I wonder if Kiwi will have the desire to dominate on the next level. I get the feeling there is a lot more to him than football. He started as a basketball player who came to football late. Plus there is his family legacy. His heritage and his background were overplayed, but the way he carries himself and the initial bypass of the NFL makes me think that he might not want to be a football player. Would it surprise anyone to see him get into politics after football? Or truly back up his talk and get into African relief efforts? This is starting to get off track. I think Kiwi is a great guy. And could be a great NFL player. But the "could" is a big enough question mark that I wouldn’t draft him top 10 either. Don’t listen to the weight or run stopping issues surrounding his draft status. The only question in my mind is: does Kiwi want to be great? Unfortunately we won’t find out until well after he is drafted.

Will Blackmon. Will is another team guy with talent. He is being looked at as a CB. I don’t read much about teams drafting him for his return abilities. I’ve seen projections from the 2nd round to the 5th. This is what I think about Will -- great athlete. Good coverage ability. So so technique. Questionable concentration. The basis of the last comment was his freelancing, getting burned a few times and watching him on the sidelines of some games. Will was one of those guys that was often into the music or what was going on around him as opposed to what was going on on the field. Senior Year he seemed much more focused. Was it maturity or the fact that he was on offense? I don’t know. At the NFL level I would take the chance with Will. 2nd round seems right. Even if he doesn’t work as a DB, I think he can and will be an NFL caliber return man for a good five or six years. Hopefully maturing and good coaching is all Will needs.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

YouTube: "boston college"

My draft preview continues tomorrow. In the mean time, here are some original BC-related videos I came across on YouTube (good time killers).

Some Jesuits singing Livin' on a Prayer.

Hallway boxing. We never had boxing, but Cushing Second had some quality hallway luge -- where the rider would eventually crash into the radiator. Jackass before its time.

A look inside Mary Ann's. This would conjure up more memories if I could smell the place.

Michael Vick putting on a show against BC.

Mod Racing.

Monday, April 17, 2006

ATL_eagle Scouting Service (BC’s Mel Kiper) Part II

Part 1 of this series focused on the guys who are long shots to get drafted. This part focuses on the two offensive lineman who are expected to hear their names called.

Jeremy Trueblood. Projected to go in the second round, Trueblood has the size to play in the NFL. Some have questioned his conditioning and strength. Speed guys might give him trouble, but he is smart and has good balance for someone with his frame. He was prone to letting his emotions get away from him, but that probably serves as an asset in the NFL. I know he didn’t have the perfect Senior year but I don’t understand why he would fall into the second and maybe even third round. He’s an NFL lineman and should have a solid career.

Pat Ross. Given the success of our recent interior lineman (including Koppen, Woody and Snee), I bet many teams are viewing Ross as an under the radar prospect and potential steal. I like Pat and think he had a good Senior year, but I really think his success in the NFL will depend on the system. He is good in pass protection and reading coverage. Yet, ironically for someone who moves well, he is not a great open field/run blocker. This was something I noticed as the year progressed. This probably sound nitpicky given how well he and his linemates performed this year, but there were a few occasions where I found Pat not getting to the right space in time or ole-ing someone in the open field. A probably fourth or fifth round pick, Ross has the chance to be an NFL contributor in the right system.

Patriot's Day

Throughout the year there are times I really miss Boston -- today is one of them. The third Monday in April is a local holiday called Patriot’s Day. The Red Sox play early, the Marathon runs right by BC and most importantly school is closed. While he is often maligned in blogger circles, Bill Simmons captured the Race perfectly in his piece three years ago.

While at BC I took full advantage of all the different Patriot’s Day experiences.

Freshman Year -- Patriot’s Day fell on the Monday after Easter. Easter caps Holy Week at BC, meaning you get a mini-vacation right at the end of the semester. So I was home and didn’t fly back to campus until late Monday.

Sophomore Year -- the archetypical BC student Patriot’s Day. Slept in, grilled with my roommates and they cheered and goofed on runners. My roommate Ralph was king of pointing out look-alikes among the runner. “Look, look, that guy in the short-shorts looks exactly like Steve Martin. GO STEVE!!” (You had to be there.)

Junior Year -- I was interning for WEEI at the time. I handed out bumper stickers all morning than got to sit in prime seats for the Red Sox game.

Senior Year -- Mrs. ATL_Eagle ran the race, so I waited for her downtown. Then fought to find us a cab, got her back to campus and helped her as she limped up the stairs.

Patriot’s Day is a great time to be in Boston. Reminiscing did get me thinking: why aren’t there more regional holidays that are just good excuses to host sporting events? Would anyone in the South object to some long weekend in October focused on college football and Patriotism? Maybe I’ll pick up the mantle if only for a chance to get off work and watch BC play.

Friday, April 14, 2006

ATL_eagle Scouting Service (BC’s Mel Kiper)

Since there are a few more prospects this season, I decided to roll out three different reports prior to the draft. This first contains my assessment of the guys unlikely to get drafted. All are hoping for some sort of pro career.

Ray Henderson. Ray is too small and maybe even too weak to play Linebacker in the NFL. Yet I think he could make a serviceable NFL safety. Ray is very good in coverage and has a real understanding for the passing game. Unfortunately I don’t think he’ll get that chance. His speed and lack of athleticism are not NFL quality. If he can sign on as a free agent and if he impresses, he may have a short career. I hope he does. I criticized Ray many times for his missed tackles, but he saved out butts on numerous occasions.

Ricky Brown. Brown impressed scouts with his speed during BC’s pro day. His size is slightly below average for an NFL linebacker. A solid tackler, Brown might be able to stick with an NFL team. He is not flashy and his numbers went down his senior year (due to less playing time) so I don’t think he will get drafted.

Quinton Porter. Porter has an NFL body. He doesn’t have an NFL arm or NFL body of accomplishments. Thousands of hours have been wasted (many of them on this blog) discussing what went wrong with Porter and who is to blame. Regardless of where you point the finger, all agree that Porter never really became comfortable running our offense. If he had trouble with our scheme, is there any hope he could adapt to the speed and complexity of the NFL? Some guys blossom late, but usually you have to have a cannon for an arm for NFL teams to wait for you to mature. Porter does not. I think he might be better off as a Tight End or possession Receiver. It doesn’t appear that anyone else is thinking of him in that way. Who knows? My guess is that he will get invited to some camps and get cut before August.

Francois Brochu. May have the best chance of all of these guys. Surely will not get drafted but good long snappers are always needed. If he catches on, he could turn it into a nice career.

Chris Miller. In my opinion, was one of the bigger disappointments of the season. Pretty good size, but never became a premiere blocker or even an average pass catcher. If Dave Kashetta did not get drafted, there is no way anyone will take a chance on Miller. I also think he is unlikely to make an NFL team as a free agent.

Al Washington. Good motor. Good kid. Good teammate. Just too small and slow for the NFL.

Jazzmen Williams. One of my favorites. Once again, too slow and too small for the NFL.

Good Friday tidbits

Stephen Gionta's pro career is off to a fast start. (Where were these goals last Saturday?!!) Good luck to Stephen.

Here's an update on former BC kicker Sandro Sciortino. He is recovering from cancer and ready to kick for the B.C. Lions.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Famous female eagles

I was reading Sports Illustrated today and saw a little sidebar on Shannon Miller. I don't know how I missed this before, but the gold medalist is a BC Law student. I am guessing her busy schedule and OU ties are the reason you never see her in the stands.

I am a sucker for reality tv and seeing BC alums on reality tv is a really guilty pleasure. Most come off like jerks, however, future Eagle Ayla Brown came off well on American Idol. Here is more on her story.

Going pro and staying

Two short hockey tidbits. Senior Stephen Gionta signed a deal with the Albany River Rats. He'll join the team for the remainder of their regular season.

Brian Boyle turned down an opportunity to sign with the Kings and will come back to BC for his Senior season.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Looking at Linebackers

Depending on Brian Toal’s recovery, BC’s starting Linebackers might be total different from the starting three from the 2005 BYU game. In other years this might be worrisome. Not so this year. I think our experienced second teamers will step in without missing a beat. (And if any of the highly touted recruits contribute, things will be that much better.) Why am I so high on our second teamers? Our historical consistency, their 2005 production and the unspoken endorsement from the coaching staff. Let me explain.

Football data is not as good as baseball or basketball data when it comes to analysis. There is a ton to track, a high degree of subjectivity and a lot of relevant information that isn’t captured. So lacking a magic stat, I looked at tackles. Even with the subjective aspect, tackles still provide a good barometer of productivity and activity for linebackers.

Historically, BC linebackers have accounted for 1/3 of our tackles.

YearTotal TacklesTackles by LBsPercent from LBs

So the share is consistent almost regardless of the lineup. I tried to find some correlation between overall defense or returning starters but there wasn’t one. It seems to be about talent. The unit that had the least experience/productivity entering a season was 2004. The Brown-Hendu combo only accounted for 12% of the 2003 production. But with Frosh Brian Toal, the three performed great in 2004 (as did the overall defense). However 2005 is where things get interesting and speak to how deserving Dunbar, Pruitt and a lesser extent Francois were/are.

Without getting into too much detail or posting table after table (which can be tedious to build in blogger) know that I looked back over the past few seasons for detail and a pattern emerged with our linebackers -- the starters played a vast majority of snaps as long as they maintained their productivity and stayed healthy. For example once Ott got to start his numbers were consistent. Same with Flores and Ciurcui. Yet when Henderson and Brown became Seniors their playing time decreased. As did Toal’s (even accounting for his injury). Henderson’s tackles stayed the same, but he had fewer interceptions and pass break ups. Brown and Toal’s tackles declined by 37% and 31% respectively. Did the overall linebacker contribution and percent of defense decrease? No. The total tackles and percentage were in line with 2004. Who was making the plays? Dunbar (50 tackles), Pruitt (37) and Francois (28). So for the first time in five season Spaz played his experienced linebackers less than he did the previous year and our linebacker production stayed the same and total defense got better. To me that speaks to the second team’s capabilities, the coaching staff showing signs of – gasp – adaptability and most importantly the trust the staff has in the second unit.

I want Toal to return. I want the redshirt freshmen to shine. I want Akins’ switch to LB to take. Yet I am not worried about any of those things, because I think Dunbar, Pruitt and Francois will have big years if given the chance.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

What I am reading

While I would like to think that everyone who frequents this blog comes here for my insight, wit and revolutionary discussion of BC sports, I know that for many people it is just a midday diversion from their work day. Since this is Holy Week it is a pretty slow news time for BC and BC sports, so I thought I would take the time to highlight a few other sites and blogs doing good work.

If you are a sports fan and not a Deadspin regular, you are missing out. Snark and substance and some of the best links around.

This is my hundredth or so endorsement of EDSBS, but they are really worth any college football fan’s time.

It is baseball season, so the guys at FireJoeMorgan get to sharpen their knives almost daily. Great funny reads and news analysis.

I found Chris’ blog when looking for Wake stuff. It turns out he has pretty interesting and funny takes on most sports. I especially enjoy when he answers PTI questions.

When BC has a major coaching change I hope I cover it as well as the guys from StateFansNation are handling their opening.

If there are other blogs I should be reading please email me or include them in the comment section.

More on assistants

There seems to be legitimate concern (in the comments on this blog and on the boards) about losing Cooley and Coen at the same time. Not to minimize their contributions, but I think we will be okay. Current and capable staff members Pat Duquette and Bonzie Colson are expected to get promoted.

But let me continue to explain why I am not worried. Every good coach thinks a step or two ahead. I am sure Al has played the "what if" game when dealing with the loss of any staff member(s). With Coen and Cooley in the mix for so many jobs, Al's prep and network would have been doubly important. And these things are rarely a surprise. For example, a friend of a friend is in Basketball Operations at Duke. He knows that if Johnny Dawkins leaves, he will be hired as part of Dawkins' new staff. I am sure Al has/had similar deals in place with his guys, hence Colson knew/knows that he would get a shot as a BC assistant if there was an opening. I am sure the other spot and the basketball operations spot will be filled quickly with names Al already has in mind. My hope is for a veteran assistant looking for work to fill out the coaching staff and seeing a young guy get the basketball operations position.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Non hockey news

The big news is the departure of basketball assistant Ed Cooley. He is taking over Fairfield's program. It also appears that Ed Coen is a short-timer. Personally I think this is as big, if not bigger, than losing Craig Smith. Both have been with Al a long time and understand how he works and what sort of players work for him. Once again, I have to calm my fears by looking at Al's track record. I thought the program would fall apart when Tim O'Shea left. It didn't. I think Al will find two equally capable guys to fill their slots. Best of luck to both.

Although I don't put much stock into the scrimmages, I still feel the need to report them. Akins moving to LB might be the most overlooked move of the spring. For the second straight year, we will have strong depth at the position. This allowed Spaz to do some different things in 2005. Maybe those tweaks and rotations will become part of our overall scheme.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Tough one

Tough break for a young team. They had a chance to tie it at the end. Overall they were just overmatched and couldn't get any offense going. BC should have a championship caliber team next year (we always do).

Friday, April 07, 2006

Guest Blogger: Mook Williams

Reading the piece in the Heights last week about WZBC sports was a stroll down memory lane. I was part of the ZBC staff nearly a decade ago (I feel old). One of my colleagues was Mook Williams. At the time Mook was the hockey guy. Despite being married and a lawyer now, he still manages to catch all of our hockey games. Mook generously volunteered to supplement my limited hockey knowledge and serve as the guest blogger for the NCAA Championship game. Here are my questions and his responses.

1. This team was floundering a month ago. What happened? What is the biggest difference between now and then?

The biggest difference is clearly goaltending. When the calendar turned to January, Cory Schneider was playing like his usual great self, and the youngest team in the country was headed towards a #1 ranking. However, as soon as they attained that #1 ranking, they ran into a BU team at home that was heating up. In front of one of the most jacked-up regular season crowds to watch a BC game in quite some time, the entire team imploded after the Eagles took an early 2-0 lead, including Schneider. The Eagles followed the BU loss with a mediocre 4-6-1 stretch that saw them squander the 8 point lead that they once had in Hockey East. The game at Lowell on Feb. 25 comes to mind as a great example of how off Schneider was during his second half slide, letting him some real stinkers in a 6-3 loss to a Riverhawk team that was headed nowhere. Oh, and don't forget that lost weekend up in Maine. To add insult to injury, after the last night of Hockey East play, arch-rival BU has squeaked ahead of BC by one point in the standings, and rival Maine had pushed BC down to a #3 seed in the Hockey East playoffs, thanks to winning a tie-breaker against the Eagles. Man, at that point most BC fans had written off the team as one that was experiencing growing pains, had done some "good things" this season, and would come back next season and show a major improvement. Sure, the defense in front of him wasn't great either, but Schneider was letting up some major league softies. However, Schneider came alive during the Hockey East Quarters against UVM, literally saving the Eagles' season with some truly clutch goaltending in front of a sparse crowed at Kelly Rink. What hardcore Eagle fan can forget the jaw-dropping save that Schneider made in OT of Game 1 of the series against UVM, where he somehow stoned UVM Center Torrey Mitchell on a highlight save? Less than 30 seconds later, Peter Harrold scored on a miracle shot to give the Eagles the win, and propel them forward into the Hockey East title game, where BC dropped a hard-luck OT decision to BU. And of course, don't forget the goal by Chris Collins in that game, which sent the game into OT, to begin with. It seems like that turn of events against UVM, anchored Scheider's goaltending really got the Eagles moving forward with some positive momentum. The BC defense still wasn't that great in the Hockey East playoffs, although freshmen D-men Brett Motherwell and Anthony Aiello really showed some improvement down the stretch.

I'm hanging this turnaround almost exclusively on Schneider - his dramatic play completely turned around this young BC team, got them thinking positive thoughts, and has motivated them to make the kind of improvements that the skaters made once the pock dropped against Miami in the NCAA tournament. It was kind of like a chain reaction, so to speak - Scheider put the team on his back, and the team eventually began improving in other areas as well, namely confidence, maturity, and on-ice awareness.

2. How do we match up against Wisconsin?

I'll give you the same thing I've said for every team that BC has played in its last several games, starting with Maine in the Hockey East semis - I don't see BC having much of a chance unless Schneider steals the show. Against Maine (and almost against BU in the Hockey East title game), this proved to be true - the BC skaters didn't play too great, but Schneider came through and nearly stole the Hockey East title. However, this young BC team has been full of surprises in the NCAA tournament. They've played unpredictably, getting contributions from many different players. Who would have thought that Dan Bertram, once every BC hockey fan's whipping boy for his ponderous mistakes that set the opposing team up on odd man rushes, would turn into a certifiable hero during the NCAA tournament, playing smart hockey and laying people out with his checks (!!).

Honestly, though, Wisconsin is going to be VERY tough to beat in the National Title game. They have a goalie who is arguably playing as good, or even better, than Schneider right now in Brian Elliot. They will have the obvious home ice advantage, having never left their home state for the entire tournament. I mean, this guy just had a 262:26 shutout streak, a WCHA record, snapped in Wisconsin's win over Maine! Considering it came during the most intense portion of the season...that's impressive as all hell. Wisconsin has the 3rd best PK unit in the country, and plays all around fundamentally strong hockey, especially in their own zone. They have far more upperclassman on their roster than BC...then again, what's new for the Eagles in that comparison?? The Badgers also have more balanced scoring. They are also bigger. This means one thing for the Eagles, if they are going to win - BC needs contributions from all 4 lines, and all 3 defense pairings on Saturday night...everything needs to be left out on the ice, and the Eagles HAVE to minimize the "rookie mistakes" that sometimes flare up in their game (you saw a bunch of them in the UND win). The edge is solidly in favor of the Badgers in nearly every category, but these Eagles make their own luck, are being carried by a great goalie, and are getting contributions from many of the younger guys on the team (which has to happen for this BC team to do anything). I'm calling a Badgers win, 4-2, but I would not be (completely) shocked if the Eagles pulled off a dramatic stunner and capped and NCAA run similar to the one that Rollie Massimino's Villanova Wildcats had.

3. What are the keys to the game?

Well, playing off what I said above, the keys are follows for both teams:

- minimize mistakes
- don't get discouraged by Elliot's play, keep up the pressure and get as many shots on net as possible
- stay aggressive on the PK...the aggressive Eagle PK unit has broken backs in March.

- play conservative and solid in front of Elliot - don't set up easy BC scoring chances.
- play the body, play the body, play the body - wear down the smaller and younger BC team, and set them up for a late-game loss
- get traffic in front of Schneider, for deflections and rebounds.

4. IF we win, how will this compare to the 2001 Championship? It seemed like 2001 was a culmination for a talented, veteran team. This year seems like some young guys who shouldn't even be here. Your take?

As I said above, I would equate this run to Villanova's run from the 1980s. A halfway decent team that had its struggles during the regular season, only to turn it around in as unlikley a way possible, first just getting themselves into the tournament to begin with (they would have been OUT if they did not beat UVM, or even Maine), and then getting themselves deep. Considering Coach York's battle against prostrate cancer, the fact that this is the youngest team in the country, the fact that this team was mired in what seemed to be a dead-end slump, and the fact that the title game is being played on the home ice of the team that has been viewed as the best in the country for most of the season...well, holy crap...I think I just convinced myself that this would be better than a bitchslap to Pat Ewing's Hoya grill!! With so much against these Eagles, a national title in these circumstances would be a tremendous, tremendous achievement, and should result in York getting waived into the Hockey Hall of Fame in an emergency induction ceremony before April has passed us by. This would be completely different from the 2001 title, but almost just as good. Win or lose, however, this BC team is set up for great things in the coming seasons, with the invaluable experience that they have gained during this run.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Next stop on the hockey bandwagon: Atlanta

I like hockey. I am proud of BC’s hockey team. I went to plenty of games and the Beanpot every year while at BC. Senior year the slider on my mod was shattered twice due to hockey-related incidents (stories for another time). All that said, I haven’t watched a single BC hockey game this year. My excuse is that I live in Atlanta and have little to no chance to see the team on TV or in person. I follow the updates on and in the Boston papers. I know the key players on the team. I don’t know anything about North Dakota. I am hardly invested in the Frozen Four. But it is not just me. There are thousands of BC alums outside of New England who like hockey but just don’t keep up. Well today is our day! BC faces off against North Dakota at 3 PM EST in the first game of the Frozen Four. If you can’t watch it at home on ESPN, you can follow it online at I can’t fake the emotional investment, but I can get excited about this game. Let’s go Eagles!

**If we win, I’ll try to get a good guest hockey blogger for Friday.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Together forever: the good and bad of coaching turnover

BC’s current Football leadership (TOB, Spaz, Bible) is heading into its eighth consecutive season together. Want to read something surprising? Only one other BCS conference school -- Iowa -- has had their head coach, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator in place for an equal amount of time. Every other school playing major conference football has had a change of some sort in the last eight seasons.

What does this mean? Good news first. BC’s staff has done a good enough job to remain in place. With each year, this togetherness and consistency should benefit the team when it prepares for games, recruits, and molds players. Each coordinator knows his role and has a good working relationship with TOB. BC’s foundation is solid, so there is no reason to think we cannot continue our success. BC fans, players, administration, parents, high school coaches, and opponents know what they are going to get.

There is a downside to all of this. While the team has done well, the three heads have not done enough to attract an opportunity that was better than BC. I know schools have reached out to TOB and Bible, but somewhere along the line the parties went their separate ways. No pro or college team has said “that’s our guy” and come hard after any of them. This group wins more than it loses, but still struggles against the elite, is still good for a trip up once a year and still frustrates the hell out of a core group of fans with their playing calling and management of their roster. But worst of all, this group has not won a big bowl game.

BC seems stuck in a rut. We put together an impressive streak of winning seasons, yet can’t seem to take it to the next level. I am starting to wonder if the current staff can and will. Kirk Ferentz’s annual flirtation with the NFL is bound to turn into something more, so in the near future BC’s core will have the longest concurrent tenure in major college football. Something’s got to give -- either a losing season or a Top 10 finish.

“Taking it to the next level” is probably going to be a major theme of mine this offseason. I clearly want TOB et al to win something big. Because another eight years of “pretty good” seems awfully boring.

Alumni newsmakers

Things are looking up for Tim O'Shea. According to multiple sources, he is the leading candidate for the Seton Hall job.

I don't cover racing here, but it should be noted that RahalLetterman picked BC grad Jeff Simmons to fill the open slot on their IRL team. Simmons has raced in the lower IRL circuits. He replaces Paul Dana who died in a crash earlier this year.

Lenny Walls found a new home. After being let go by Denver, the veteran DB signed a deal with Kansas City.

Unrelated to sports, but still BC focused, super blogger and BC alum Jason Mulgrew recently inked a book deal.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Lesson from Florida

I am not predicting BC will win the National Championship next year. But Florida’s run should give many teams hope. Here are three takeaways related to the Gator win.

Peaking at the right time

Florida started strong, struggled in the middle of their season and then rallied late (when it counted). Under Al, BC has either come out early and fizzled late or struggled early and finished relatively strong. Even though we only advanced one game further than past seasons, I think the ACC tourney run and the Sweet Sixteen are signs that Al and staff are building towards something, shaping the way they schedule and peaking at the right time.

Bench players can step up

Look at the preseason preview for Florida. They lost 59% of their offense. Noah, Brewer, Horford and Green had much smaller roles last year. Heck, calling Noah a role player would have been generous. Yet good coaching and a good system allowed them all to step up this year. I don’t think BC’s current bench has the same potential, but I could see Rice, Haynes, Williams and even McLain becoming much better players next year.


I know I am obsessed with blocks. I guess I like them because they are the most tangible defensive stat, they change games and in Williams’ case, are fun to watch. In a much broader sense, they have real importance in college because the game has fewer possessions and more contrasting styles of play and mismatches. A good shot blocker can hide many flaws. To reinforce my point look how important the move was to four of the last five NCAA champions.

YearChampionTotal BlocksTeam Leader
2006Florida197Noah (89)
2005UNC142May (38)
2004UConn315Okafor (147)
2003Syracuse247McNeil (100)
2002Maryland216Baxter (69)

UNC was the only one of the group that didn’t rely heavily on the shot block. And even they had a respectable number.

Sean Williams had 55 blocks this season in less than 500 minutes of playing time. Assuming he doubles his minutes next year, he is the type of player that can carry BC defensively. I made this same assumption last year. We know what happened. If he stays out of trouble this year, he should get those minutes.

Pool winner

Like most NCAA pools, the one for the readers of this blog was over a long time ago. No one had these two in the Finals. So reader The Legend of Beerbohm gets the crown. He got out to an early lead and then had UCLA in the Final Four. No cash in this pool, but Legend of Beerbohm please email me so I can send you your championship chotchkie.

Monday, April 03, 2006

News roundup

Slow time for BC sports...unless you count Hockey. I’ll focus on news and the Frozen Four this week and try to sprinkle in analysis here and there. In the coming weeks (and months), I’ll recap/preview the football team, do as many stat pieces as I have time, and preview all of our 2005 football opponents. Of course I’ll continue to post the frivolous fluff, the attempts at humor and anything else that pops up.

Here are my takes on recent headlines…

Two hockey articles from the Globe. The first is on Brian Boyle and his continued progression at BC. The second is on Jerry York and his ties to the “it” basketball coach, Jim Larranaga.

Looks like Tim O’Shea has a decent chance at the Seton Hall job. I am happy for Tim but sad that this won’t work out for me or BC. If he succeeds and builds a winner at Seton Hall, it is less likely he’ll return to BC if and when Al retires. If he doesn’t do well at Seton Hall, it would pretty much kill any chance he has to return to BC as the head man. So with BC out of the potential picture, I wish him the best of luck. I think he can build something in Jersey.

Speaking of college basketball coaches, Mike Jarvis might return to Boston as the Northeastern coach. Interesting how things work out. Jarvis turned his nose up at the BC job after O’Brien left and went hard after the St. John's job. We lucked out.

Here is an article on BC-bound Thomas Claiborne. Many bemoan the New England recruits, but I always thought the area was underrated for Football and overrated for Basketball. Because the prep football programs are not as strong, well coached or as popular as they are in other parts of the country, people dismiss New England football. In my mind an athlete is an athlete and TOB and staff should recruit and mold the local products. Plus as many have said, the Patriots' recent success and popularity is starting to bear fruit at the high school levels as more and better athletes play football. This surge in local talent will help BC immensely.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Hope Springs eternal

I understand why New Englanders turn their attention to the Red Sox this time of year -- BC Spring Football is boring and predictable. I don’t expect TOB to turn the program upside down every March and April, but it is usually the same thing every year:

-- A few positions changes that rarely have long-term impact
-- A few backups playing well all Spring, yet come Fall they either get buried on the depth chart or revert back to their old form
-- Very few philosophy or scheme changes

Take a look back at TOB’s springs.

1998. TOB’s first full Spring. Mutryn and Hasselbeck both played well, yet neither was named starter. (Mutryn would win the job in the summer.) Quinton Lee looked good all Spring. His non-football issues would continue to plague him at the Heights. Mike Cloud’s quiet Spring would not indicate the monster season he was about to have.

1999. Pitched as a battle for the starting QB spot, the Spring decided nothing and the most experienced QB was named the starter later in the summer. This Spring did see some major staff changes as Bible and Spaziani assumed their current titles. But little was written or explained about what sort of changes they might make.

2000. A recurring theme debuts here, quarterbacks who will either rarely see the field or switch to another position get a lot of snaps in the Spring and the Spring game. Kevin Kiley could not move up the depth chart with Brian St. Pierre firmly in place. Willie Poole also had a strong Spring, He would eventually be part of a Championship at USC.

2001. Ho-hum is the best way to describe this Spring. The only interesting development was Derrick Knight’s progression. Little was ever expected of him. His strong Spring provided hints that he might be able to carry the load as the feature RB.

2002. Unfulfilled potential is the theme here as Horace Dodd and Quinton Porter capped good practices with strong McGillis games. Brandon Brokaw also had a strong Spring before being dismissed from the school.

2003. Underused, nonfactors and position swithches. Gonzalez and Lilly showed promise. Only one would every see serious playing time. Dodd and Jeff (nka Survival) Ross had good Springs. El Nokali received most of the starters snaps as Porter was injured and Peterson was not on campus yet. Dan Berglund was still trying to make it as a QB.

2004. Another big Spring from Jeff Survival Ross. (He is the king of the Spring game). Porter played the best of the three QBs. (Peterson and Ryan would play well when it counts.) Blackmon had a strong Spring. Many hoped he would be a shutdown corner. 12 months later he would be learning a new position.

2005. Porter’s best Spring Game. Ryan played well too. This was the most active Spring as Blackmon switched to Wide out. But ultimately this Spring showed how little Spring and the Spring game mean as indicators. Raji and Dunbar both had great years, but you never would have known last April.

So the lesson here: don’t pay attention to Spring. TOB rarely does anything drastic, and too often the guys who play best disappear come September. Just enjoy the day and look forward to the games that count.