Saturday, March 31, 2007

Weekend links

Many of you may have seen these links in other places, but here is a little weekend post. This upcoming week I'll have more hoops grades, more Frozen Four, a little football and AOL stuff.

Anthony Castonzo gets some nice pub from his local paper. He's an interesting case in that he started classes in January. This "greyshirt" concept allows him to practice this spring, well ahead of his fellow recruits. Most big programs use it, but we haven't done much of it. Hopefully, under Jags, we'll get more kids on campus early.

Burried in this post is a mention of Al as a candidate for the Iowa job. I am posting it just to say that he will never leave for a place like Iowa. The article mentions Alford's problems with the marketing ans schmoozing part of the job. If a school wants a schmoozer Skinner is not a fit.

A Kiwi feature from

Friday, March 30, 2007

Basketball Season Grades: Tyrese Rice

Dudley carried the team, but we expected that going into the season. The bigger quesiton mark was Tyrese Rice. Could he handle the point? Could he step up? He answered...big time. Rice was the second best player on the team, one of the better players in the ACC and is the future of BC basketball.

Rice improved but still had a few weaknesses. His defense is still average. He had trouble with the press. He still had a few games where he was too careless with the ball. But those were the few problems. Everything else was great.

Rice proved he could score every game. He can create his own shot. Off screens he is deadly. He is tough and not afraid to drive into traffic. He has great touch around the basket and from beyond the arc. He is our most clutch foul shooter. He learned to distribute.

Great season for a great kid. Rumors keep popping up about Rice testing the draft. I hope (and think) this isn't true. He needs to come back and keep getting better and we need him to carry the team next year.

Grade: A-

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A few links

BC becomes more popular every year. I am proud that the school is so desirable. Of course this means that the admissions process becomes more competitive each year. Raising the bar is a good thing, but they better hold a spot for baby ATL_eagle in the class of 2028.

Bob V sent along an article on the ACC's payouts. I made a post out of it on the Fanhouse. Good to note that even with a partial revenue share BC is making more than it ever did in the Big East.

Plenty of practice articles going around. I found this one in the Herald to be the best. The thought of Ryan pitching the ball scares me, but I do have faith in Logan. And I don't think Jags will screw up our best player.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Frozen Four Guest Blogger: Mook Williams

Fatherhood is a strange thing. Your world changes every day. Take Mook Williams for example. Around the time of the Beanpot he was so up to his neck in diapers that he could barely pay attention to BC hockey. Now he is getting the hang of things and, with a newborn, basically homebound, so he's been watching a ton of college hockey. Thankfully he is sharing that knowledge in anticipation of BC's return to the Frozen Four. I asked him some questions regarding the team. His answers are below.

1. Why does the NCAA spread out the regionals from the Frozen Four? It is nearly two weeks between games. It seems like it would hurt BC's momentum. Do you think it will have much of an impact?

Mook: It could have an impact, I suppose, in that BC might lose a bit of their edge for the beginning of the game on April 5. However, the stage is too big, the opponent too strong (and familiar in this setting), and the sting of coming so close last season will be too real for BC to play poorly against North Dakota for any time longer than the first 10 minutes of the first period. If you aren't yet a believer that Coach York can't repeatedly get guys up to play NCAA tournament games close to or at their full potential, then you'll never be after this season and last! I personally am drinking the York Kool Aid after witnessing back to back hibernation-busting hot streaks at just the right time in consecutive seasons with young teams, and you should be drinking it too! You just can't do anything but BELIEVE in York and his squad, and that they are going to post a strong effort against North Dakota, carrying their momentum forward. Could they play a good game and still lose? Of course. But I'd be shocked if this team laid an egg, bowing out in a manner similiar to their exit in 2005 when the team was ravaged by injuries and started a freshman Schneider in net instead of a senior Kaltiainen.

In terms of why the NCAA schedules the Frozen Four the way that they do, it's simple - they do not want the Frozen Four completely overshadowed by the hoops Final Four. The NCAA hockey tournament is one of the few NCAA tournaments that actually turns an annual profit, and the Frozen Four is about 90% of the reason why. The NCAA needs to preserve the strong cult following behind the Frozen Four, and although it could still be there anyway if held the same weekend as the hoops Final Four, the NCAA isn't going to take any chances.

2. Aside from being more experienced, what is the main difference between last season's Frozen Four squad and this year's version?

Mook: Well, on paper, this team is a heck of a lot worse. They are missing an explosive scorer who could make his own scoring opportunities and convert on them, in Hobey Baker finalist Chris Collins. They are missing an elite defenseman, in Peter Harrold. And they are missing a great grinder in Stephen Gionta. Their replacements? None of this year's freshmen are standouts, although Ben Smith has started to score as of late.

However, down the stretch, this year's iteration has played nearly perfectly as a TEAM, even more so than the 05-06 Eagles. I swear, at points during this winning streak, the BC Eagles were playing perfect, and I mean PERFECT team hockey in all aspects of the game. It might have only lasted for a few minutes, but perfect team hockey was displayed. I didn't see this kind of cohesion from last year's squad during their hot streak - rather, last year BC rode the tide of several outstanding individual performances to victory (many of them provided by Collins). I love the move of Boyle back to defense, as well. He looks like a natural at that position, and somehow this move has had an "addition by subtraction" effect on the BC forwards. We're seeing the forwards skate harder, forcheck harder, and move the puck quicker without Boyle up front. Gerbe is far better this season - what a pleasure he is to watch out there. Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Corey Schneider is playing the best hockey of his career. I'm not sure whether BC would have gotten by Miami and the tough first period that they threw at BC without the brick wall imitation portrayed by Mr. Schneider.

3. BC struggled midseason and obviously got hot late. Is there any reason to fear the team reverting to the lackluster form?

Mook: See above. Not outside of the first 10 minutes of the first game. And Schneider will be there to save their asses in those first 10 minutes, in all likelihood - NHL calibur talent of North Dakota's be damned. But let's face it, this team is still fairly thin on the blue line. Every one's been playing fantastic back there for weeks now, but I couldn't blame any of them if they made a few mistakes, outside of any conscious fault of their own. Hey, this is college hockey after all - these kids will make mistakes, even when they are playing "perfectly."

4. How do we match up against North Dakota?

Mook: That's a tough question, because BC v. North Dakota next week will be a parade of high octane NHL talent like no other matchup in the 06-07 season can provide. I wouldn't be surprised to see another high scoring game between these two, as the floodgates should open as soon as the puck drops, in terms of odd man rushes and end-to-end action. DO NOT MISS this hockey game. It's going to be as entertaining as you can get.

I'll give slight edges to North Dakota's forwards and defensemen - the depth there is amazing. Ryan Duncan could win the Hobey, and he is part of a who's-who of NHL prospects with names such as Oshie, Toews, Bina, and 6'7 240 pound sophmore defenseman Joe Finley. However, I'll give BIG edges to BC's goaltending and special teams. Do you realize just how hot BC's PK and PP are? In the playoffs, goaltending and special teams win titles, and that's why I think that BC is going to break the "alternate wins" pattern that BC/ND has been stuck in since 1999.

We are seeing a team on a 12 game winning streak versus a team that hasn't lost in regulation since January 5 (and that was 1-0 on the road), so this is going to be . . .as they say . . . a BARNBURNER!!!

5. Assuming we get by the Sioux, who would you rather face in the Championship game?

Mook: Maine. It's a farce that Maine even got a #3 seed in this tournament. I wouldn't have been surprised if they weren't selected at all, actually, and I certainly wouldn't have been upset for Hockey East. Maine then got the blessing of being placed in one of the weakest regions the NCAAH tournament has ever seen since it went to a 16 team field, and managed to ride a rejuvinated Ben Bishop to wins over a St. Cloud Team that couldn't beat a team in the NCAA tournament that had a pulled goalie for the entire game, and a UMASS team that had never played in the Tournament before, and had just came off a physical overtime victory the night before. Not too impressive.

On the other hand, MSU is a team that should be consistently in the top 5 next season. They are STOCKED with young talent, even beyond their "'09" line. Rick Comley, their coach, knows what it takes to win a national title, haven done so with Northern Michigan in 1991 when they beat BU in the longest, and arguably most dramatic, game in NCAA post season history (how the heck did they head into overtime at 7-7, and stay they for so long????). MSU is far more of a threat than Maine, so I'll be rooting for our Hockey East bretheren and "Big" Ben Bishop to stonewall the Spartan upstarts.

2006 3rd Down Data

Brian created the 2006 version of his 3rd down tool. I ran the BC graphs. We were below our peers on the offensive side and one of the better defenses. Considering our new playing calling on offense and the return of our Defensive staff and talent, this is good news.

This first graph shows how we performed on offense on 3rd down. The center line is the average for college football. Green means we performed above average. Red below. As you can see, last season we were one of the better teams on third and short. Everything else…not so great. This means most college football teams converted at a higher rate on third and long.

Defense is a much better story. Third and short – we were in the top half of college football. Third and long – we were great. The area that gave us problems? The intermediate length: 3rd and 3, 3rd and 5, etc. Good story on the defensive slide overall.

This next graph the red and green can be a little misleading. We had more third and shorts than most college teams. In turn we had fewer third and longs.

On the defensive side, we put teams in third and longs more often than our peers. Another good sign.

These last two are raw numbers. The red indicates successful conversions from each down marker. The blue represent failed conversions. On the offensive side you want to see as much red as possible. On the defensive side blue is good.

Third down doesn’t mean everything, but it can be the most important down in a series. Bible’s numbers declined year over year. The good news is that our defense improved last season and should get better this year.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Basketball Season Grades: Sean Marshall

I am not a big Sean Marshall fan. Through most of his career, he frustrated me as much as Oates. But this year he did improve enough for fans and announcers to start grouping him with Rice and Dudley as the “Big 3.”

The highpoint of his season and career came in the final seconds of the Florida State game. His buzzer beater won the game and gave Sean his moment in the sun.

Despite the FSU heroics and improved production, this season still contained a few Marshall lapses. In these games Sean was a nonfactor scoring and often a liability defensively. Other smallish gripes: Marshall never became an effective open court ball handler, still looked for his inconsistent outside shot, even though he was much better cutting to the basket, and still threw up ill advised shots (the fling against Gtown still sticks in my mind).

But overall, Sean did get better throughout the season. His maturity and consistency served as role models to the team. He won’t be remembered as an all time great, but he did keep the team together during a turbulent season.

Grade: B

Comments on the news

Most of you have probably read these articles or heard this news, but I thought I'd just give my brief take on each. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments sections...

As expected Ross Applegate is leaving BC. His future destination has not been announced. Despite never seeing the field Ross was a controversial figure in some BC crowds. Many TOB critics saw his scholarship and recruitment as a sign that TOB was mailing it in and no longer going after the top players. I always had a soft spot in my heart for Ross because of the Atlanta connection and the nice feedback I got from his family. I know this is not a Jags thing, because word was last fall that TOB and Bible thought young Flutie was proving to be the better QB. I wish Ross had stuck it out, because I believe BC is a great college experience and these guys are all lucky to attend. In the end they also have to do what is best. Best of luck to Ross and his family.

Jared Dudley earned second team All America honors. Well deserved. I felt he was getting slighted by the national press most of the year, however, our finish didn't help his first team chances.

Finally, my boy, Bruce Pearl is the leading candidate for the Iowa job. The timing might never be right for him to return to BC, but I am sad to see him leave UT. I was hoping to get up to Knoxville one time to meet with him. Iowa isn't a day trip from Atlanta.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Basketball Season Grades: John Oates

For someone of whom I expected so little, John Oates really disappointed me this season. I never expected him to be a star, but I did expect year over year improvement. Until the final two weeks of the season it could be argued that his play regressed this season.

He was more aggressive in taking his shots from the perimeter. He was not more successful at making them. He cost us possessions and worst of all on these bombs – he neither got in position to get the rebound or got back on D.

His chucking upset me. His lack of interior effectiveness had me slamming counter tops. Oates doesn’t have quickness or hops, but he does have size. Yet he routinely got pushed around and couldn’t finish.

With the Williams departure, Oates had a chance to step up. He didn’t. This season was just one frustrating moment after another…until the ACC Tournament. Oates played well. Shot better. Rebounded. Improved defensively. Functioned on the court at the same time as Blair. It was a redemption. It gives me hope for next year and improved his final grade. He’s not a great player and never will be, but he peaked at the right time and left the door open for a serviceable season next year.

Grade: C+

Sunday, March 25, 2007

"You guys are in that thing every year"

I can't find Jags’ exact quote regarding Jerry York and BC making the Frozen Four, but he was dead on. York has our boys back for the 6th time in nine years. Quite an amazing accomplishments. Now let’s go get Jerry another championship. I’ll have more authoritative hockey guys post later in the week.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

BC charity auction

A bunch of BC MBA students are raising money for the Franciscan Hospital for Children in Brighton. Part of the campaign includes an eBay auction for the following items below. Check it out. Bidding ends Saturday.

Item number: 120099061448 : Autographed BC Hockey Jersey
Item number: 120099040368 : BC Football signed by Team Captains
Item number: 120099060159 : BC Basketball Autographed by the Team
Item number: 120099067594 : Doug Flutie Autographed Football
Item number: 120099072242 : Doug Flutie Autographed Football Jersey
Item number: 120099073688 : Doug Flutie Autographed BC Picture
Item number: 120099035360 : Josh Beckett Autographed Baseball
Item number: 120099062325 : BC Mini Hockey Stick Signed by Team
Item number: 120099075295 : Doug Flutie Autographed Patriots Picture
Item number: 120099079972 : Tim Wakefield Autographed Picture

Friday, March 23, 2007

Haynes gone

Long rumored, now official, Marquez Haynes will transfer. Don't blame him as his minutes did not increase this year. Skinner also has a policy of telling kids where they stand. I am guessing that he told 'Quez that he would not be a starter next season. This hurts but we should be fine in the long run.

Help a fellow Eagle out

BC grad Enrico from AOL Sports and the great Philly Blog the 700 Level was nominated by Sports Illustrated for the best Phillies blog. If you have a moment check out his blog and throw him a vote. BC guys (and gals) have to stick together.

Spring Practice To Do list

Saturday marks the start of Spring Practices. Limited to 15 practices and with a highly tenured staff, the past few springs have defined uneventful. Not so this season. Jags gets hands on with the guys on the field and the whole program (players, trainers, coaches, etc) all work together for the first time. There are a million things to do (and I touched on some of them over at AOL’s ACC Fanhouse), but here are the big “to do”s for our new coach.

1. Get the offensive line ready. Fortunately Jags made his name as an O Line coach, because he is going to working overtime with this group. He’s got to find two new starters, evaluate two part-time starters and teach a new scheme. One of Jags’ mentors, Alex Gibbs, has been consulting the new staff. This should get Logan and Turner up to speed on the Gibbs philosophy. Cherilus will anchor one side of the line. Then about eight guys are in play for the remaining spots. O-Line U is not going to fall apart overnight. But this spring needs more attention than it has in years.

2. Get the QBs up to speed. Because of injury and surgery, Matt Ryan is probably going to have to take it easy on the field. However, off the field he is in for a chore. The guy knew his old playbook forward and backward. Now he has to digest Logan’s scheme. Crane also needs to get ready. Ryan’s man of steel routine shouldn’t be taken for granted. He could go down at any minute. The next few weeks are also a chance for Crane to gain credibility with the new staff. If he performs well, he should become the heir apparent.

3. Adjust Special Teams. Special teams improved last year but many of the contributors (Ross, Sele and Anam) have moved on. They need to find new speedsters and implement any formation changes.

4. Find any hidden or forgotten talent. The nice thing about a mostly new staff is that many players get a fresh start. A.J. Brooks is one guy that everyone mentions but there are probably one or two other guys who might surface as real contributors who just never fit in under TOB.

5. Establish a culture. The guys have all talked to Jags. They’ve all heard different things. First impressions are over. However, this is the time when they’ll start to learn to communicate. They’ll learn how to read each other’s moods. If you asked BC fans biggest gripe with TOB, many would list flat performances. I don’t think lack of emotion will be a problem with Jags. These 15 practices are his time to start bonding with the team so that when he needs to fire them up or calm them down in November or December, he knows what buttons to push.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Basketball Season Grades: The Bench

The bench is tenuous spot on an Al Skinner team. I often feel like that if Skinner had his way he would use five guys for 40 minutes. In the past Skins employed real spark plugs off the bench like Sidney or Watson. He even had the occasional game changer like Sean Williams. This year’s bench showed promise but the Williams-McClain episode thinned things out pretty quickly. Although Spears and Roche both spent time as starters, for the purpose of this exercise I am grouping them as bench players.

Tyrelle Blair
The bright spot of the nonstarters. In his first game as Williams primary replacement (at Clemson) he was beyond timid. We knew he was skinny, but he got pushed around like a rag doll. Fast forward three weeks later and he was making a game winning shot to beat Florida State. Blair improved more than anyone on the team. He remains limited, but provided solid help defense, adequate offense and enabled Al to go with a big lineup. He’ll never be Williams and will probably never be a great post defender against widebodies, but he was a definite bright spot on the season.

Marquez Haynes
What a lost season. Haynes provided good defense coming off the bench but is still so limited that he could not be used more than his paltry minutes. His ball handling is still suspect and he is not enough of a shooter to pick a spot on the court and wait for his moment. Haynes may be the best athlete on the roster. I am frustrated that he did not get better this year. If not for his nice close (good ACC Tourney minutes and a great job against Texas Tech), I would expect him to transfer. Maybe the end of season play is a sign of things to come.

Tyler Roche
Roche went from DNPs to starting in a very short time. Considering the minutes he got, he is still a blank slate. I don’t know what his upside is because he never showed what he can do. He rebounded well when asked. He rarely asserted himself in any other way. Overmatched defensively he forced us into 2-3 (not necessarily a bad thing) periodically. I have hope for his potential. We need a good spot up shooter. I just don’t know if Roche can be that guy.

Shamari Spears
Another part-time starter that raises more questions than he answers. Is his game built for his body-type? He is not the finisher or rebounder that Smith was yet mid range offense is very good. His back problems were well documented, but they don’t explain some of the mental lapses I saw down the stretch. Before the season, I hoped he would be our next ‘diamond in the rough.’ He is not. Now let’s hope that he can be a solid 4-year contributor.

Overall, this group was lacking. A few bright memorable moments don’t mask the uneven performances or lack of spark. All four are scheduled to be back next season. Hopefully they will all get better.

Grade: C+

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Midweek links

Former BC basketball coach Dr. Tom Davis announced his retirement from Drake. Davis sparked a hoops revival at BC and is now known as Bruce Pearl's mentor. Like Jags he is also a Wisconsin native and product of the UW system.

This guy from St. Joe's is questioning the BC football relationship.

Here is a report card on all the ACC basketball teams.

The nice thing about the AOL job: I have a place to use my TOB knowledge.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Al rumor, Gene D extension and links

In the comments section of a prior post, Jeff linked to this Daily News blog mentioning the "Al leaving BC for the Charlotte Bobcats" rumor. This could happen, but I don't see it. Let me explain and address the other hoops rumor while we're at it. I am hardly an insider. My only interaction with Al over the past five years was at the Clemson postgame press conference. However, I occasionally talk to and hear from others around the program. At the Georgia Tech game I specifically asked a pretty good source about the rumored Al/Gene discord and about Spears leaving. This is what I got back and I believe: 1. Al and Gene are on good terms. 2. Al loves the NBA game but it would have to be a sweet deal to leave and he wants his girls to go to BC. Given the Bobcats' rep for being really cheap, I don't see Al taking the job. If this were the Knicks or Nets or someone was going to break the bank, I'd be concerned. But I don't think Al is going to leave the BC to be the NBA's lowest paid coach in Charlotte. 3. I don't think Spears is leaving. His girlfriend is set to play at Virginia Tech next season, so "going home" won't bring him any closer to her. He had a legit injury down the stretch. Who knows...he may leave but I doubt it.

Gene is going to be with us a few more years. Well deserved in my opinion. The ACC move and the TOB divorce were delicate and could have blown up in 10 different ways. Gene got us through them relatively unscathed. Hats off.

Think you're paying a lot for football parking? Some UGA fans are putting up 30K next year. BTW, all nonstudent UGA season ticket holders most donate to the school.

Regular reader Tom C. sent along this article on changes in the NCAA admissions rules. Don't think this will help us much. I am all for the bar being raised higher, but I think the football and basketball factories will always find a way to get the kids they want.

Basketball Season Grades: Assistant Coaches

This is part I of my End of the Season Evaluations. I am starting with the Assistant Coaches.

This season marked a big change in Al’s staff. Gone to head coaching gigs were two longtime cogs in Bill Coen and Ed Cooley. In their places, Al promoted Pat Duquette and Bonzie Colson. He then hired Mo Cassara and Preston Murphy to fill the duties formerly performed by Duquette and Colson.

Assistants play an important role for Skinner. They do much of the recruiting legwork, the scouting and many of the day-to-day duties. I am not close enough to anyone on the team to know how each coach did individually, so I grade them as a collective.

We pretty much run the same schemes regardless of who were are playing, so it is hard to guage how good our scouting is. That said, I do think our staff does a good job. We rarely get surprised by an opponent. Most of our problems came in game. Adjustments are on Al (grades coming for the Skinman), so the staff gets a pass for that. Another sign of how good our scouting is: what the players say. In interviews the guys slip in little nuggets that show they are well prepared for their opponent. And not just the “stats and stars” quotes. Guys like Dudley, Oates and Rice have all mentioned tendencies that they knew about prior to the game.

This was my biggest concern and seems to be where the new staff most excelled. The incoming class is the highest rated Skinner has ever signed and on paper may be the best class since the late ‘80s. Guys like Coen and Cooley were great at finding diamonds in the rough and guys who would fit in at BC. Will these new superstar type recruits come in with the same sort of work ethic and attitude that the Bells and Dudleys showed? No one knows, but it is encouraging that we have finally made inroads with more sought after prospects.

Player Development
Another area that really speaks well to the future. I think this the first time in the past six years where everyone got better over the course of the season. Rice really took the next step. Marshall had his best year. Oates played well down the stretch. Blair took huge leaps. The much maligned Roche got better. Haynes even contributed down the stretch. The only two regulars who didn’t clearly improve from November to March were Dudley and Spears. I am just being nitpicky with Dudley. He was awesome throughout and just ran out of gas during the ACC stretch. And in my opinion that is not on the Assistants. Spears is another matter. I know his back was bothering him, but he needs to get better and it is going to be up to the staff to teach him and get him to understand what his role is and what he needs to do.

Overall I am very pleased with the Assistant Coaches. Al has always had an eye for good assistants and it appears like we are in good hands.

Grade: B+

Now that’s a fight song

This is the Dropkick Murphys rendition of ‘For Boston.’ It has been floating around the message boards and Alex posted it last week, but I thought it deserved more notice. The bagpipes are a nice touch. Can we get the marching band to add bagpipes?

More shots from Winston-Salem

Here is a second batch of photos from the Regional. Thanks again to Adam and Slemp for sharing.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Monday links and getting on the Tennessee bandwagon

A Superfan before the Superfans

Upset BC didn’t go further in the Big Dance? So is the ACC. Here is a breakdown of how the tourney money is earned on WRAL’s blog.

Boston folks probably heard more about this than they wanted, but Eagle fans outside the Hub might have missed this mini-scandal involving a BC Law student and a risqué photo shoot for Barstool Sports. I don’t see what the big deal is? Even if a BC student posed nude, I don’t think there is much the school can and should do about it. This shoot wasn’t all that different from the types of things you’d see in Maxim or FHM or even SI’s swimsuit issue. I doubt Reynolds got paid much for this. Maybe she can parlay this into an FSU cowgirl thing if the story ever goes national. Finally, and I am sure others will disagree, but I don’t think she is all that great. Look at this photo gallery. Sure, she is tall, thin, blonde, but I don’t know…just nothing special (feel free to disagree in the comments section).

Finally with BC out, I am turning my allegiance to the one “BC guy” left in the tournament -- Bruce Pearl. I know many inside and outside of BC dislike him and see him as sort of a used car salesman, but there is something about him I like. Even if he didn’t go to BC, I’d still get a kick out of the sweaty suits, the panting his body, and the PTI interviews. He is obviously very smart and doesn’t take himself to seriously. In a sport ruled by the likes of Coach K and Calhoun, who carry themselves like they are above everything, Pearl is refreshing.

Slemp and Adam's pics from Winston-Salem

True Superfans Adam S. and Slemp sent along these pics from the weekend. The game action is always appreciated, but what I found interesting is the upgrade going on at Groves. Glad to see Wake is building on last season's football success.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

We still have Hockey

Since it is hard to follow BC Hockey from Atlanta, I rarely post about it on this blog. Well now that basketball is over and postseason hockey has started, I'll sprinkle in a little hockey coverage over the next few weeks. Congrats to the guys for winning Hockey East again. They enter the tourney red hot and will hopefully bring home a title to the Heights.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Georgetown Thoughts

It's all on you next year, buddy.

We almost had it. This team overachieved throughout the season and was about five minutes away from knocking off one of the hottest teams in the country. They ran out of gas and Georgetown proved too much. Over the next week I’ll take a deeper look at this season and pass out grades. I’ll also look to next year, but before I get into my thoughts on this game, I need to give special thanks to Jared Dudley and Sean Marshall. I would have preferred a different ending, but both gave BC plenty of good times over four years. They are the only BC players to play in four NCAA Tournaments and did more at BC than anyone could have expected. Thanks guys. Now my thoughts:

-- 2-3 adjustment: We started in our normal defense. It didn’t work. We went 2-3 and the game changed. I think we probably should have used it more often this season as it masked some of Roche’s liabilities and created opportunity for Haynes to get involved despite his size limitations.
-- The first half comeback: We didn’t panic. We stuck with the plan. Found good shots. Rotated the ball well and made some killer 3s.
-- Rice’s scoring: Dudley is the star but the team really rode Rice’s momentum (and I think our failure to get Rice good shots cost us late). Next year is all on Rice and I think he can carry the load. Give him an open look from anywhere and he’ll make it.
-- Dudley’s final game: Classic Dudley. 8-14, 8 boards, 2 assists, 4 steals. Directing traffic. Great career. Great kid.

-- Shot selection down the stretch: Dudley was killing them from the top of the key, but we went away from it. Marshall drove right into the teeth of the Georgetown defense. Rice got isolated with Hibbert and he had trouble.
-- Oates and Blair: These guys have overachieved of late, but were overmatched Saturday. Hibbert is awesome and gets the calls but they also got pushed around on the boards. These guys will be solid next year but we needed more from them to beat Georgetown. I also blame the big guys for our offensive rebounding woes.
-- The tempo: The offense played well, but we needed to speed things up. The Hoyas dictated the pace and limited our offensive possessions.

This season could have been different…but, shit happens. Once again, I feel lucky to have witnessed the Dudley years. We lost, but considering we didn't get the calls, were overmatched physically, and had next to no production outside of the big 3 at least we went down fighting.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Hack preview, my preview, Oates' diary

Here is Hack a Bracket's take on Saturday's game. All the trends favor the Hoyas. Vegas has them as an 8-point favorite.

My take
We haven't really faced a team like Georgetown this season. Since NC State scrapped their Princeton offense no other ACC team runs anything similar. However, Al and Co have faced it many times and with much success. I think we'll start in the amoeba, but move to 2-3 early and often. I haven't been able to watch Georgetown all that much, but from what I've read, the 2-3 gives them problems. They lost to Syracuse late in the season. Our only common opponent is Duke (how did we play Providence, but Georgetown did not? Gotta love the 16 team Big East.) We lost to the Devils twice. Georgetown lost once.

I think we can and will score Saturday. Especially if Oates can draw Hibbert away from the basket. They won't disrupt our play or put a ton of pressure on us full court. It will really be about running the Flex in the half court.

Georgetown should be favored. They are a great team having a great season. If we play like we did Thursday, we can win. Ever the optimist, I think we pull off the upset.

My prediction: BC 71, Georgetown 63

We won, so that means Oates' continued his diary.

Stats and notes

Here are a few things to note going into the Georgetown game:

-- While at BC Skinner is 4-4 against Georgetown
-- Skinner is 1-0 against John Thompson III
-- BC has won 3 of its last 4 against the Hoyas
-- While at BC, Skinner is 1-3 in the Round of 32
-- Skinner has never lost in Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Georgetown is a very good team. Just look at their profile from Kenpom. Kenpom's number crunching of Day 1 also confirms what I have been saying: our offense is not a problem. Our defense is.

Hack the Bracket has better news: while great all year, Georgetown's play may have peaked. They are still consistent and dangerous, but they are not playing at the same level they were midseason.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Texas Tech thoughts

That's it boys. Take 'em one at a time

Very good game and good start to the Tournament. As I said before the tourney, unless you’re an elite team, much of NCAA tourney success is about matchups. We matched up well against Texas Tech. I also think we matchup well against Georgetown, but I’ll leave that for Friday’s blogging. The Big Three all played well. I could praise them but I’ll use the space below to focus on the less obvious things about the win:

-- Defensive Rebounding: We grabbed 24 defensive boards to their 7 offensive boards. This really came into play late in the second half when we needed stops and we started building a small lead.
-- Marquez Haynes: I haven’t mentioned Haynes much this season. He has been a nonfactor. But with Texas Tech not pressuring Haynes could be on the floor for long stretches. He didn’t light up the stat sheet but his defense was stellar. He shut Jackson down in the second half. We need and have needed a defensive specialist for a while. Hopefully Haynes can turn it on over the next three weeks.
-- Defensive variety: We played the amoeba. We played straight man. We played 2-3. Hell we even threw a little box and 1 at them. Who says Al doesn’t make adjustments? The defense was not great, but it did enough. Against Georgetown we’ll probably need to get creative, so I am glad we experimented today.
-- Johnny Oates: The first half was his best half of basketball this year. This is three straight solid outings for the big guy. His defense was somewhat lacking in the second half, but he played well…again.

-- Dudley’s foul trouble: This has been brought up by everyone. Terrible decision by Al and terrible play by Jared. I could excuse bringing Dudley back in if we had fallen behind, but why risk it when the team was hanging on? Dudley also should know better. His third foul was a flop. You can’t take that risk at that time. We are lucky the foul trouble never became a factor.
-- Blair’s turnovers: Blair played well, so this is somewhat nitpicky, but he’s got to be more careful. Two of his turnovers came after he made a big defensive play.
-- Perimeter defense: What is the one thing Tech’s big men do well? Shoot the 3. Yet we gave them way too many open looks from beyond the arc.

It is going to take another effort like that from everyone to beat Georgetown. But it can be done.

Nice job

A bit of a nail biter, but overall a really solid game from everyone. I'll post my thoughts later tonight. C'mon Belmont!

Live Game Feedback Post (for those of us at work)

People seemed to enjoy this thread during the Miami game so I will open up one again for those of us at work. I'll be at lunch during the first half and probably back online later in the second half. Reminder, you can listen to Ted online and also press your luck with the Video feed from CBS. To post comments below, you need a free registration from google and/or blogger.

Gameday links

Here is an article on Oates with the added bonus of his "diary" at the end.

More SoCal coverage of Sean Marshall.

One last chance to join the bracket. Group ID#: 87363. Password: dudley

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Trends favor BC

Hack the Bracket sliced and diced the numbers and they all say BC will beat Texas Tech.

Here is their profile on BC.

Wednesday links

Here is the all important coverage map for Thursday.

Jared is finally getting attention in San Diego.

Kanu dives into a bunch of tourney stats in this, but it is comforting to note that the winner of the 7-10 games has a pretty good record of advancing to the Sweet 16.

Kenpom doesn't like our chances.

Guest blogger Double T Nation posted a preview on his blog too.

Here is a look back at the last time Texas Tech and BC met in the tourney.

While we've played well in Winston-Salem, Texas Tech and Knight have not.

Guest Blogger: Double T Nation

I haven't seen much Texas Tech this year, so I thought I would go to a better source. I've asked Seth from Double T Nation to answer some questions about the Red Raiders. For more on BC's first round opponent, check out Double T Nation.

1. Texas Tech is undersized on the front court and is struggling on the boards. Not common for a Knight team. What is the problem?

DT Nation: Boston College fans will be witness to one of the most unathletic frontcourts in the NCAA tournament. Jon Plefka, bless his heart, does a decent job of guarding the opposing team's biggest frontcourt player, but he can only do so much. Neither he nor the rest of the club is adept at rebounding (Martin Zeno leads the team in rebounding at 5.3 per game). The other problem is that there's not much depth in the frontcourt, the Red Raiders rely on Plefka and senior forward, Darryl Dora. Forwards Decensae White and Michael Prince occasionally help in in the paint, but they are really small forwards and shooting guards.

2. Everyone has heard of Jackson and Zeno. Who else should BC fans focus on?

DT Nation: That's been a much bigger for problem for Tech, there's no consistent third scorer. Sometimes it's Alan Voskuil, sometimes, it's Plefka or Dora or White. That's the problem, there's no consistency and Knight has to figure it out as the game plays out who is making a contribution. Personally, I really like Decensae White who's emerged as a decent player for Tech. He's a 6-6 SG/SF who's not afraid to take a shot, is capable of hitting the three and can mix it up inside as well. In two of the three victories over top 10 opponents, the Raiders got scoring from either Plefka or Dora (v. Kansas - Dora: 19; v. Texas A&M - Plefka: 17.

3. Recently teams have had success doubling Jared Dudley or working to deny him the ball. How do you think the Red Raiders will address him. Will they vary from the famous Knight man-to-man?

DT Nation: That's going to be an interesting matchup. If I had to guess, Knight just might gamble with Zeno guarding Dudley, relying on Martin's quickness to tackle Dudley's size. It's not a conventional tactic, but Knight did employ this in the second game against Oklahoma State's Mario Boggan and was successful. Knight doesn't tend to double-team opposing players (see Kevin Durant), but you'll see plenty of help on defense. Tech's best low post defender is Damir Suljagic. He is big and has a knack for making life somewhat miserable for his opponent.

4. Texas Tech has been very streaky this year. Winning some big games yet losing to the likes of Baylor. How do you see this game playing out?

DT Nation: It depends on which Texas Tech team shows up. If it's the team that beat Kansas and Texas A&M twice, then there's a helluva good chance. If it's the team that showed up against Kansas State, then you'll hear Tech fans give a collective, "meh." I think Knight knows he has a limited team and the Red Raiders will only go so far as Jackson and Zeno can carry them. Jackson is a special player, and has the ability to create shots whether it be in the lane or on the perimeter and Zeno can be an absolute terror on the baseline, but has broken out a three-point shot over the last two or three games. I think the game will be close, and because I'd be lambasted if I didn't pick Tech, I'll take the Red Raiders, 77-75

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Skinner in the First Round

This season marks Skinner’s sixth Tournament appearance as Head Coach at BC. While he has a pretty good record of advancing past the first round, it hasn’t always been easy. Here is a short trip down memory lane. (I apologize if I get anyone a little nauseous our uneasy about this Thursday.)

BC 68, Southern Utah 65. March 15, 2001. Uniondale, NY. This was Al’s breakout season. BC entered the tournament hot, having won the Big East and received a 3 seed in the East. Southern Utah was making their first NCAA appearance ever…and we almost made them a classic Cinderella. Things were bad right away. Bell didn’t make a field goal in the first half and BC trailed by six at the break. Bell was not alone in his off night. The team as a whole shot 32%. Fortunately we rebounded well. In the second half Bell, Sidney, Agbia and Harley all grabbed clutch rebounds as BC tied the game up. The final minutes were agonizing. We’d go ahead and they would tie it up. Singletary made a huge 3 with a minute left to give us the lead. Southern Utah answered with a quick basket. Troy made two free throws to move the lead back to 3. One final shot…and Southern Utah rimmed out a 3 that would have tied the game.

BC 57, Texas 70. March 15, 2002. Dallas, TX. This is one of those games where the final score is not indicative of how lopsided the game was. Texas blew us away early and got the lead up to 22 in the first half. BC was a bubble team to begin with and backed into the tournament. Troy played well but Sidney did not, going 0 for 9 (Sidney was never the same after he broke his jaw during the 2002 season). In the second half BC narrowed the lead before Texas pulled away for good. There was a lot of unrest about having to play Texas in Dallas. Many felt like the Big East wasn’t doing enough to help BC regarding seeds or placement. Regardless of the distractions, the 2002 team played with a malaise that they could never seem to shake and the flat effort in this game was the perfect example of it.

BC 58, Utah 51. March 19, 2003. Milwaukee, WI. After missing the tourney in 2003, the 2004 team surprised everyone with a strong season and good seed in the Big Dance. Probably the best first round effort of the Skinner BC teams considering the opponent. (Utah was led by Andrew Bogut.) BC controlled early against a good, but not great Utah team. The Utes made it interesting towards the end, but BC grabbed their misses and kept making our foul shots. Solid day from Smith with 19 points.

BC 85, Penn 65. March 17, 2005. Cleveland, OH. As expected BC rolled here. The Ivy League Champion Quakers were overmatched. We were more athletic and bigger upfront. Dudley had a bid day. Smith had a big day and we were making our 3s. It helped that Penn was stone cold.

BC 88, Pacific 76. March 16, 2006. Salt Lake City, UT. I still have nightmares about this game. We were in control late only to squander a 14 point lead. Pacific tied the game with a 3 when we left there best player wide open with 9 seconds. OT seemed like a lost cause. BC was down early. Yet we clawed back and Smith made a pair of clutch free throws to send it to double OT. At this point every BC fan in the country had thrown up their lunch. Fortunately BC didn’t mess around in the second overtime. Williams made a few big plays and we pulled away for good.

Quick links

I'll have a guest blogger lined up for the Texas Tech game and some other things lined up for Tuesday. Until then, here are some links:

Over at the AOL Fanhouse we are putting up Spring previews. Yesterday I wrote one for Georgia Tech. Here is my take on BC.

Last year I wrote the Deadspin preview for BC. This year Brian Scheid beat me to it. I don't know Brian or his connection to BC but if anyone does know him send along my congrats. He did a good job.

For the most part we are getting ignored by the pundits, however, Luke Winn thinks we are overrated.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Tourney links

Here are a few links to get you ready for Thursday's game. If you haven't already seen, we are at 12:25, so tell the boss you are taking a long lunch.

The LA Times gave Sean Marshall some ink in this article.

If you want some good info on Texas Tech, check out Double T Nation. posted an article on the upcoming matchup.

Sunday, March 11, 2007 bracket

I've set up a bracket on yahoo for anyone who wants to join. Go to the link below and join our group.

Group ID#: 87363
Password: dudley

I'll have a to be determined prize for the winner.

Gut reaction to our bracket

Considering our style and how we finished, in my opinion, this is our best draw of the Skinner era. Now I have no idea which BC will show up, but if we play well this team should make the Sweet 16.

First Game
Texas Tech is more athletic than we are but not a particulary strong offensive or defensive team. They played a tough non-conference schedule but struggled against teams like Air Force, UNLV and Stanford. In conference they were very streaky. They are a Bobby Knight team so they play man D and run the motion offense. This is a very winnable game. Plus we've played well in Winston-Salem.

Second Game
If we advance, our next opponent is likely Georgetown. Georgetown is a great team playing really well...BUT...once again, I like how we match up against them. We always play well against the Princeton style offenses. They are big but not as physical as say a Georgia Tech. It is all about matchups. I think we can beat Gtown and if we don't I think the Hoyas will make the Final Four.

The rest of the bracket
Now I am really getting ahead of myself. Getting to the Sweet 16 would be a huge accomplishment considering the events of the season. However, if we get out of Winston-Salem things look good. Take a look:
-- Washington St.: slow it down defensive team. Won't run us out of the building
-- Vanderbilt: not a great road team. No answer for Dudley or Rice.
-- UNC: we know them. Both games could have gone another way. Beating a team three times in one season is tough.
-- Texas: Really scares me.

I'll go with my heart and take BC to win it all. I see the world through maroon and gold glasses but things could break our way in this bracket.

More pics from Bob V

Thanks to Bob for sending these along. If anyone is going to the regional please take your camera. I always get good feedback on people's shots.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Looking at potential NCAA opponents

"As I told my guys, once we get out of this freaking ACC, we're going to do OK."
-- Al Skinner after the UNC game

Al may be right. I am inclined to agree with the Sportz Assassin's assessment: “This is the kind of team that could be a sleeper for the Elite Eight, or could also get run out of the gym in the first round. I think they win one and then are done.”

We will probably be an 8 seed but could fall anywhere from 7 to a 10. We won’t face another ACC team in the first round. We will face a fellow flawed team. 7 through 10s are either uneven teams from major conferences or mid-majors who are probably lacking talent. Here are teams that seem to be in the mix and my initial reaction on who would be a good matchup and who would give us trouble.

Good matchups
Texas Tech
Old Dominion

Bad matchups
Air Force
Holy Cross
Notre Dame
West Virginia

If we advance, we will face a very high seed in the second round. Here are the ones I would like to see and the ones who would probably run us out of the building.

Good matchups
Ohio State

Bad matchups

Once we've been slotted feel free to share your thoughts. I will be on a plane and won't be on until late Sunday night.

UNC thoughts

To beat UNC we needed to play our best and hope they had an off night. Neither happened. The second half was better, but every time we looked like we might make it interesting the Tar Heels broke away again. The issues: some familiar -- the defense inside; and the unexpected -- a cold first half for Rice and Dudley. Here are my thoughts:

-- John Oates' ACC Tournament. Points in the first game and 8 defensive rebounds against UNC. Oates will be remain a liability for the majority of his career, but give the kid credit. He played very well for two days. He was obviously overmatched against Wright, but still a very productive outing for the big oaf.
-- Sean Marshall's all around game. No show Friday. Great day Saturday. Who knows? The turnovers were messy, but his offense kept us in the game and he hit the boards too.
-- Offensive ball movement. It is a shame we didn’t score, because the guys moved the ball really well. Many of the looks were quality. Dudley got space. Marshall came off many curls. Roche knew where to go. The shots just weren’t falling.

-- Offensive rebounding. It was a bizarre game. We usually struggle with defensive rebounding. Not an issue Saturday: we had 16 defensive boards for the Heels 15 offensive boards. However, we got killed on the offensive boards – which is usually our strength. The Heels grabbed 25 defensive rebounds for our 9 offensive boards thus limiting our scoring. Those boards also sparked UNC’s transition.
-- Rotation for the transition. Gman broke it down on the regional broadcast that when Rice drives there is no one back to slow the UNC break. Simple but true observation. Roche or Marshall need to move over when Tyrese starts driving.

I am not heart broken over this. The Miami win was needed. This would have been nice but I didn’t expect much. If the shots had dropped things might have been different, but not a terrible game.

Tampa photos from Bob V.

Bob V closed his Florida swing with a stop at the ACC Tourney. Despite his Uecker seats he still got some good shots of the Miami game and shared them with us.