Saturday, December 31, 2011

Predictions for 2012

I've seen this in other places, so I thought I would do a BC-sportscentric one as 2011 comes to a close. This is not a wish list. Just some hunches I have...

BC will be bowl eligible in 2012. We underachieved in 2011 and have plenty of talent returning. I like the change in Doug Martin. But I don't think 2012 will be much fun. I still expect Spaz to blow some games for us.

Gene Defilippo will announce his "retirement" in 2012. Gene has pissed off plenty of people lately. I think there is a chance that the powers that be will let him know that the 2012-2013 school year will be his last.

BC will win at least one game in the ACC Men's basketball tournament. The Harvard game should have been a wake up call for me, but I am still drinking the Donahue koolaid. I think we will get better in ACC play and pull off an upset in Day 1 of the ACC Tournament.

BC will make it to another Frozen Four. It doesn't feel like it right now, but does anyone doubt Jerry York's ability to peak at the right time?

Sylvia Crawley will be fired after the 2011-2012 season. I know she has a young team too and has had success so far at BC, but I just think there are enough things in play that BC might make a change.

Frank Spaziani will not be fired. I think being bowl-eligible and my predicted change in the AD spot will save Spaz. If BC does change AD, it is probably better that the new AD decided Spaz's fate in 2013.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Hockey loses, Hoops loses and other links

Hockey returned to action after their long break. Unfortunately they began the new portion of their schedule they way they ended things prior to the break: with a loss. Thursday's disappointment came with a 4-2 loss to Michigan in the Great Lakes Invitational. The have a chance to redeem themselves in the consultation game against Michigan Tech.

I had a lot of optimism about the basketball team taking on Harvard. It wasn't to be as they lost 67-46. The big concern was the inability to score in the second half.

Blauds comes out with a defense of the talent that left the program during the Donahue-Skinner change. I loved Al but I am not going to kill Donahue for running these guys off and/or not doing more to keep them. As painful as this season is, Donahue's legacy will be about what he does with his own players.

BC recruiting target Jamil Pollard recommited to Penn State. I know Spaz didn't want to take advantage of his alma mater's downtime, but I wish we had exploited their issues a bit more. It is disappointing that we lost a kid to a school in the middle of a scandal and without a head coach.

It looks like former BC Defensive Coordinator Phil Elmassian will take the same role at UMass.

As I tweeted, the New Yorker wrote an article on Don Bosco. It is an interesting read considering all the BC-Bosco connections over the years.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A reminder about giving to BC

With 2011 coming to a close, many are making their final charitable donations of the year. Some frustrated BC fans have said they won't give to the school or Flynn Fund as long as Spaz and/or Gene are still around. I understand the logic but strongly recommend an alternative. If you planned on giving to the Flynn Fund but won't this year, please give to the BC Fund.

Even at a nominal amount, it is important to support the school. Your money goes to a variety of projects and needs. Think of all those things you love about BC. Most of those aspects were influenced and helped by a series of small gifts from people like us. Plus it helps the school's rankings.

We all keep close ties to BC in part because of athletics, but sports are not BC. The school and community are ultimately what it is all about. That community and ideal is supported by the BC Fund.

Finally, if you are frustrated, bypassing the Flynn Fund and giving to the BC Fund will give you a voice. You can share your thoughts and frustrations with BC. And if enough money shifts from one fund to another, the school will finally have to address the issues they have with their athletic leadership and their most visible team.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Recruiting news and other links

BC's has new competition for Illinois running back David Smith. Oklahoma is coming on with late interest and Smith seems interested.

Not surprisingly, BC is still in the basement of the ACC Basketball power rankings.

Congrats to BJ Raji on his first Pro Bowl.

For those who missed it, Sean Williams was very Sean William-y in his return to the NBA.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Voice of Flutie era retires and other links

I am always jealous of college programs with established radio play-by-play men. One of the big upsides of having a "voice" is that their is an added depth and connection to all the big moments. The man who called BC football for a decade -- Dan Davis -- retired right before the Christmas holiday. Despite his tenure and his moment in Miami, Davis hasn't been associated with BC for decades. It's a shame that even since Davis moved on we haven't had a long tenured voice of BC sports. Maybe we will luck out and have Meter calling BC games for years to come.

Davis's call

Future Eagle Justin Simmons earned a defensive honor from his local paper.

BC is going after IL Olineman Logan Tuley-Tillman.

BCI has a good update on the potential division shifts within the ACC. Let me restate that I would looooooove to see us drop Virginia Tech as the cross division game in exchange for Syracuse.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Blogging will continue on the 26th. For now enjoy the day and your friends and family. Also, check out BC's special Christmas post: Christmas Message from Father Neenan

Friday, December 23, 2011

How Matt Barkley is different from Luke Kuechly

USC's JR quarterback Matt Barkley made headlines this week by announcing he will return to USC for his senior season. This was big news because Barkley was likely to be a high pick. Most experts projected him to get drafted before our star player Luke Kuechly. With most of these cases I think the player should leave. I understand why Barkley wants to return. Unfortunately his reasons don't apply for Kuechly.

Barkley would have been the second or third QB taken this year. If he has a great senior season, he could be the first overall. That would come with much more money. Kuechly is expected to be a mid-first rounder. But he is unlikely to move much higher. Teams just don't use No. 1 overalls on linebackers. With new slotting of draft spots the signing bonus between No 16 this year vs No 9 next year is nominal. The difference for Barkley between No. 10 this year and No. 1 next year is significant.

Team strength
Barkley has the chance to be part of a national championship. That sort of team accomplishment is worth delaying a professional career. Most never get a shot at a championship. Kuechly won't be playing for a national title. He is better off getting his pro career underway rather than risking injury in the Tire Bowl.

The real unknown is Luke Kuechly's elbow injury. If he cannot work out at the combine then returning makes sense as he would need the senior season to prove he is healthy.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

If you can't get Steve Logan, you might as well turn to Doug Martin

Earlier this week when Doug Martin interviewed for the OC position, I had the following email exchange with a guy who knows Jags and Steve Logan.

Me: Given his connection to Jags and Logan, would Doug Martin actually take a job under Spaz and Gene?

Him: Very little chance.

That exchange shows the gossip and speculation is often a bad predictor. But now that Doug Martin is our new Offensive Coordinator, the question should be asked: why?

Why after picking Spaz over Steve Logan three years ago and scrapping his offense are we bringing in a Logan-disciple? Why are we changing offenses from a more prostyle to spread when we have been recruiting players into a prostyle scheme for three years. And why would a guy who clearly can get an inside opinion on all the nonsense that goes on between Flip and Spaz take the job?

When guessing about unanswerable questions, I revert to Occam's razor. My guess is that Gene and Spaz talked to a lot of guys and felt that Martin was the best candidate willing to take the job. Switching from prostyle to a more modern spread might lead to growing pains, but production was so bad there was no reason to lock into the other scheme. Also, I am sure Martin feels he can adapt his scheme to the current BC personnel. As for Martin taking the job...Jags and Logan both liked what BC represents and the type of kids you coach at BC. Logan's son even worked for Gene. Regardless of how things ended they probably spoke highly of BC as a program. Martin might know there are issues and Spaz is on the hot seat, but all things being equal, he is being well paid to coach at a BCS program.

There are a million things to analyze as far as what Martin will do, but these are my short Day 1 thoughts. Some are good. Some are not.

-- I like that Martin is a well know personality in Ohio. He won't be a key recruiter, but he can help our efforts, especially in Northeast Ohio.
-- I've always liked Martin's ability to find under the radar skill guys like Joshua Cribbs, Eugene Jarvis, and Julian Edelman.
-- I like that his offense has been pretty consistent. Martin is no Mike Leach, but I think he is our best OC since Steve Logan.
-- I wonder what he will want to do with the offensive line. Do we go back to a more strict zone blocking scheme?
-- Will the other staffers support him or does he have input on staff changes?
-- Why didn't the players know more about the pending change (see the twitter responses)?
-- How will we use our deep roster of Tight Ends?
-- Does he want a QB who can run or will he adapt year to year based on player's strengths (like Logan did with Ryan and Crane)?

I thought keeping Brock in place was the best solution for BC's 2012 season. Now I am talking myself into the Martin hire. If he can recapture any of the Logan magic, we could be a surprise team in 2012. But my fear is that his two new bosses Coach Flip and Coach Spaz will screw it up in some other way.

Dawson done: surprising first staff change

Most of BC observers have anticipated a staff shakeup. A 4-8 season merits one. However, I was somewhat surprised that Mike Dawson was the first assistant to go. BC said he is leaving on his own and pursuing opportunities outside of football. I've been known to shoot down BC press releases before, but I actually believe this for a moment. Being an assistant can be a tough game. Dawson was probably doing well financially at BC, but he is only one staff shakeup away from being a MAC or FBS assistant again. Regardless of where you coach, the hours are long and the season can be a real grind. And there is always recruiting. Some guys get off on hitting the road to find the next star. Others hate trying to sell to 17-year-olds. So until he pops up at another college program, I am going to take BC and Dawson at his word that he is leaving college football.

As for what it means to BC, the timing isn't great. While not an ace recruiter, Dawson was still the lead guy on some key prospects. I think our Special Teams were pretty good, but we weren't doing anything that was not replaceable. Dawson also helped out with Defensive Line. It will be interesting if that area is addressed when we bring in a replacement.

Spaz now has nine staffers officially. He has to bring in one more. We know he's interviewed multiple Offensive Coordinator candidates. Given the last line of the press release ("Spaziani said he would make further announcements about his staff in the near future."), I think we will see more than just a new OC.

Another win for basketball

Some think getting excited about beating a team like Sacred Heart is a sad sign of lowered expectations. I don't. I think each win is a benchmark of improvement. BC could have let this game slip away but didn't. Now we have another off week to keep getting better. Here are my thoughts. As always, leave yours.

-- Matt Humphrey bouncing back. I don't know what to make of Humphrey yet. We need him to be a solid, senior leader. Instead he's been streaky so far. After a terrible game against Bryant I worried about his shot. It fell tonight.
-- Making our foul shots. Steady improvement from our team of shooters. Jackson -- who clearly can shoot -- was the only guy who didn't make the majority of his free throws.

-- Defense as Sacred Heart cut the lead. Now that we've seen glimpses of this team's scoring potential, we need them to be more consistent defensively.
-- Jordan Daniels' shooting. I like Daniels. He's got good ball handling skills and helps our tempo. Right now he is not a real threat to score away from the basket. That needs to change or else everyone will play off of him.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

When did the BC fanbase's perception change on bowls?

BC's not in a bowl this year and I sort of miss it. Bad BC football is better than no BC football. While I think that most BC fans would watch any BC bowl game, I think any pride or passion related to our string of bowls is long gone. This morning I started to wonder when that changed.

Even if we didn't travel in droves, BC fans used to get excited about bowl games. I think they lost their luster to us as the number of bowls increased and some of the destinations and opponents left a lot to be desired. That travel apathy then started to hurt BC's reputation, which then started a vicious cycle of getting sent to even worse bowl games.

If you go back through BC's bowl timeline, I think things turned south with Detroit. Let's look back and see if you agree...

1940 Cotton Bowl
1941 Sugar Bowl
1943 Orange Bowl

These three were the pinnacle of BC's Bowl history. It was such a different time and place, I don't think fan interest is relevant to BC's current football program.

1982 Tangerine Bowl
1983 Liberty Bowl
1985 Cotton Bowl

The Flutie era bowl games are also of a different time and place. While not as prestigious as the BC Bowls in the 1940s, we still faced elite programs and had one of the most exciting offenses in college football. Most BC fans cared about these games.

1986 Hall of Fame Bowl

The Hall of Fame game is an interesting comparison to our current issues. It was post-Flutie and a bit of a bounce back year. We played a elite team in a typical bowl destination. BC did travel well and fan interest was good. If we were to bounce back next year and end up in a decent bowl game, I question if our fans would respond like the BC fans did in 1986.

1993 Hall of Fame Bowl
1994 Carquest Bowl
1994 Aloha Bowl

These were the Coughlin/Henning era bowls. 1993 was a big year for BC and we showed up for the Bowl. The Carquest was a major letdown after fumbling away the Sugar Bowl with the loss to West Virginia. BC fans didn't really show up. I always felt the Aloha Bowl under its older form was the perfect bowl game for BC. It was an appealing destination for the players, it usually had a good opponent, it was the only game on Christmas Day and we were never expected to bring fans.

1999 Bowl
2000 Aloha
2001 Music City Bowl

For TOB's first bowls we did not travel. Random dates and locales made this understandable. Yet the opponents and the excitement of being back in the bowls made most BC fans still care about these games.

2002 Motor City Bowl

In my opinion, the Motor City Bowl changed it all. We played Toledo. The game was a weekday after Christmas. Our casual fans started asking "we are playing who? In Detroit?" Any reward or excitement about being in a bowl was gone. Fans watched but no one cared.

2003 San Francisco Bowl
2004 Continental Tire Bowl
2005 MPC Computers Bowl
2006 Meineke Car Care Bowl
2007 Champs Sports Bowl
2008 Music City Bowl
2009 Emerald Bowl
2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

Three trips to San Francisco. Two to Charlotte. A trip to Disney World and to the Blue turf thrown in. Some of these games were actually very fun and memorable, but none of them did anything the general fanbase's attitude towards bowls.

I would love to see BC champion a playoff. It would be a much better system for a school like us, but in the meantime, I just want BC back in a bowl. My fear is that if Spaz is the coach to return us to a lower-tier bowl, fans will care even less.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Year in Review: Biggest Disappointments

In the past when I've done the "Biggest Disappointments" people felt it was unfair to single out college kid for being disappointments. In keeping with the tradition but softening the criticism, I did not target any particular player this year. Also, I could say 1. Spaz 2. Spaz 3. Spaz and be done, but that's not the spirit of this. We all know how bad Spaz is. This series is about looking at more specific aspects of this season.

1. Kevin Rogers/Dave Brock. Gary Tranquill was the scape goat of Spaz's first two seasons. That was all suppose to change this year. We know what happened. We had the worst total offense in the ACC and scored the fewest points. Our national rankings were also pitiful. Rogers can escape some of the blame since he wasn't around very long and our Northwestern game wasn't bad. But he still was around long enough to make an impact and didn't. I've been advocating that Brock stay on as OC, but that is not an endorsement of how he handled things. We remained ultra conservative, put in predictable packages and never did one thing well.

2. Offensive Line. Apologists for Spaz and Sean Devine will say that our offensive line is lacking talent. I disagree. I think many former BC Oline coaches could have molded these guys into better units. As I pointed out during the season, we had trouble executing a basic double team.

3. The hype surrounding our schedule. I was as guilty as anyone of thinking our schedule was tough. It was a paper tiger. Northwestern was very beatable and lost to Army. Central Florida dominated us, yet never looked the same again. The Florida State team that killed us had serious issues. Spaz thought Notre Dame was a "Top 5" team yet they had four losses.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

More baby steps with win over Bryant

If you watched the entire game, you know things could have gone another way. But BC stayed composed and pulled away from Bryant for their second straight win. There were many positives and a few concerns. My thoughts are below. Feel free to leave yours.

-- Lonnie Jackson's 3-point shot. We know that Donahue needs shooters. It looks like he might have one in Jackson, who made seven three-pointers on Sunday. Jackson won't get that many good looks going forward, but his ability and the mere threat of him nailing a bomb will open other things.
-- Ryan Anderson's all around game. Anderson wasn't flashy, but he put together another solid game. You can tell by how he moves around the basket that he's going to be a consistent and smart rebounder.
-- Jordan Daniels's tempo. Daniels is not a scorer. He also pushed the ball when he didn't have any teammates with him. But I like that he gets the ball up court quickly. The guys will get used to playing with him and start joining him on rushes up the floor.

-- Humphrey's shot selection. It is not just the misses. It is the fact that he doesn't drive to the hoop more.
-- rotations. How did we let them back in during the first half? I think the big issue is that without Daniels running the point and a shooter, BC settles for bad shots. I know Donahue has to make many people happy and see what works. But it is important that he starts to get a regular rotation. BC cannot afford a rotation that doesn't produce consistent points.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Momah gets 6th year! and all the others are able to come back too UPDATE

UPDATE: I wrote the post based on the tweet. BC's article later clarified that Momah still needs NCAA approval. I assume he will get it.

Injuries to college athletes are especially unfair. Their respective careers are so short that any game or season missed is one less chance to shine or contribute. Of all the guys who missed time this season, I felt especially bad for Ifeanyi Momah. He was a guy who came in with such raw potential, did what was asked of him, yet never got a chance to put it all together. It seemed like 2011 might be the season where it finally clicked. He was healthy and back on offense full-time and had a new offensive coordinator. Things were going according to plan until he got hurt. Now he gets the rare sixth NCAA year. I hope he makes the most of it and we get something special.

Also of note is Montel Harris's opportunity to return. He comes back to a much more crowded backfield than the one he left. But another season means another chance to break the ACC's rushing record. I also feel he was misused and rushed a bit this year. Let's hope all the time off means he'll finally be healthy in 2012.

Ramsey should be a contributor if he is elects to use his fifth year. I also look forward to seeing Jones and Wujciak back.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Year in Review: Biggest Surprises

Although it felt like a series of low points, there were plenty of pleasant surprises on this BC football team. As part of the Year in Review, I looked back on three guys who exceeded expectations.

1. Ryan Quigley. Quigley has been a solid punter from Day 1, so it may be hard to call him a surprise, but this year he took it to a new level. He was fourth in the nation in punts inside the 20...many of which were pinned inside the 10. Quigley was consistent and also did very nice job with our kickoffs. There were many times that I felt Spaz went too conservative and was too quick to punt, but Quigley always bailed him out. Many things went wrong this year, but anything related to Quigley did not. I wish he didn't punt so often, but it was a pleasure watching his work.

2. Dominic Appiah. When Spaz's defenses are at their best, it usually starts upfront. For the past three seasons we haven't really had a game changer up there. We expected guys like O'Neal or Quinn to step up or maybe get some big contributions from Ricci, but Appiah was the one who really progressed as the season wore on. As a DT, his job is to push the line and clog the middle. One of the reasons our defense got better towards the end of the season was because Appiah finally gave us a difference maker at DT. As we used more three-man fronts, Appiah was often the lone DT out there and played well. Plus I like his hustle. The defensive line has been an issue for a few years, but I think next year it will be a strength.

3. Manny Asprilla. Asprilla's rise was very similar to Appiah's. Other young DBs were supposed to make an impact this year. Not much was expected of Asprilla. Yet as the season wore on, he was getting more and more snaps. He was the one making tackles. Our corners are expected to cover and make plenty of tackles. Asprilla showed a toughness and instinct that should serve him well going forward. I also liked his quickness on corner blitzes. If his freshman year was any indication, Asprilla has a chance to be special.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Kuechly AP All America and other links

At this point I don't know if one award means more to Luke Kuechly than any other, but he has been named to the AP All America team. This is fairly prestigious due to the legacy of the team and the diverse voter set.

Luke made SI's team earlier in the week.

As BCI noted, BC football had its worst attendance numbers since Alumni expanded in 1994.
Donnie Fletcher picked an agency. He is predicted to be a mid-round pick.

Robert Francois is making the most of his playing time in Green Bay.

BC High Tight End Jameson McShea is considering BC. He just decommited from Temple.

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Miami

Sorry for the delay in putting this out. I have been on the road a good bit since Thanksgiving and didn't even get to watch the game back until Monday night. It was interesting to have the time to digest it all. Since the game, Gene'e spouted off about Spaz, Spaz has had the clumsy interviews with the Globe and Herald and the football world has taken shots at BC for keeping Spaz. But I see the Miami game as microcosm of what should have been in 2011 and what we may be in 2012.

Offense: B

This is really what Chase Rettig should have been all season. We moved him around out of the pocket early to get him space and some time and he hit his throws. We followed it up with some good protection and he made some darts from the pocket. He stood up to some tough pressure and made really great decisions. It was only later after some failed Bordner stuff and line shuffles, that the happy feet and "run for your life" look came back. But overall it was probably his best game of the season. I think he has a bright future. I just hope another change on offense doesn't screw things up. Josh Bordner also got a bum deal out of the Miami game. It is the most telegraphed offensive set in the country. Against a good defensive team like Miami, his plays are doomed. The fumble was bad, but I blame that more on just Bordner not getting enough reps. Protecting the football comes, in part, from practicing carries and getting hit in games. I think Bordner deserves a shot at becoming our QB, but not at the expense of having a totally different offense for him. That's not a sound strategy for any team.

Finch had another strong game. He hit the holes well and ran hard when we needed to keep drives alive. Williams had some nice tough runs, but also had a few where he got tied up in traffic. Kimble didn't get to do as much.

Anderson and Pantale both played well. I also liked using Anderson as sort of an H-back and having him go out for passes. Pantale found the spaces in Miami's coverage and made some nice catches. He also ran hard after the catch. Swigert was good and BC did a good job of getting him in motion and in space. Elliott made some nice catches.

We used a lot of different offensive line combinations. Some were more effective than others. I hope that next season we stick with one lineup. I think the switches midgame just create confusion. Spinney had probably his best game in a while. Harris Williams looked good at times but also got overpowered on occasion. Richman has similar issues. In pass protection he seemed to struggle, but was good pulling and in run blocking. Solid game from Cleary. Wetzel was good. Betancourt looked good in his time.

I liked the offensive scheme. I thought we planned well for Miami. We had a good mix of conservative plays but also still challenged them deep. We added a few new wrinkles. My complaints were simple: the use of Bordner and going ultraconservative late. Both times they brought Bordner in, it killed drives and momentum. If you want a package for him, why not use it when the team needs a spark? Rettig was playing well. He was making throws. There was no need to pull him.

Defense: B

Edebali also closed out the season with his best game. He brought pressure. He was good in coverage and his tipped pass was a thing of beauty. I don't know if he read the running back's face or just put his hand out there, but it was a great play. Appiah played well again. Holloway was good. Mihalik, Ricci and O'Neal played well albeit in limited snaps. Quinn was fine.

For all his tackles this season, Kuechly didn't change every game. That is not a criticism. Just more fact. He had to do so much and react to so much that many of his tackles were three of four yards down the field. His pass coverage was often a step out of place because he had to do other things too. Yet against Miami it all came together. It was easily his best game in pass defense. He also had some tackles behind the line of scrimmage. I think it shows that if his teammates play a little better, Luke can create real havoc around the field. Divitto played well too and made some nice saving tackles. Duggan wasn't as active. KPL was decent but not near the ball as much.

The first big pass was bad, but I don't think it was Fletcher's fault. I think he was expecting Safety help. The rest of the game was really good for Donnie. Asprilla played well too. The safeties weren't as strong early. On both of Miami's explosive plays, the safeties were out of position to make a stop. As the game wore on, things got better. Hughes looked good late.

I didn't have any problems with the defensive approach. The big plays early were an issues, but I think those were more mistakes and breakdowns as opposed to being caught in the wrong formation or blitzing or failing to adjust. In fact, I think the adjustments were pretty good. We were getting plenty of pressure from the front four so we only blitzed on occasion. As the game progressed we used even more three man fronts. Overall it was a good effort.

Special Teams: B+

Quigley was his usual very good self. Swigert attempted returns in traffic. Since we kept their scoring down, Evans wasn't as busy, but was fine. McCaffrey made another special teams tackle. It was the usual.

Overall: B

It was probably our best game of the season, yet things were still in doubt towards the end. And the fact that they were is on Spaz. As I mentioned up above, the shuffle at OLine doesn't make sense to me. I also think we killed scoring opportunities with the Bordner stuff. We burned timeouts again.

I was glad to see the team rally from a deficit. I also was glad to see us go for it on a fourth down. At the end of the day, the guys had nothing to play for, yet played hard. And winning always feels better than losing.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Nagurski Award added to Kuechly's Trophy case and other links

After receiving the Lott Trophy, Luke Kuechly added yet another honor on Monday by winning the Bronko Nagurski Award as the nation's top defensive player. It's been an incredible run. With all the accolades, if he does come back BC should try to position him for the Heisman.

Luechly also made ESPN's All America list.

Two of BC's top verbal commitments are taking other visits and hedging a bit on their commitments. Let's hope BC is able to cherry pick a few recruits from other schools in transition. BC is still in the mix for RB David Smith.

The New York Times college football blog thought Spaz had one of the worst seasons in college football this year. But according to Blauds its only nameless people in chat rooms that are critical of Spaz.

The baseball team picked up a commitment for their 2013 class.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Win over Stony Brook gives another glimpse into team's potential

In normal years we wouldn't think twice about a win over Stony Brook. This year is a bit different. We have no identity and wins look like they will be hard to come by. But the best thing about these wins is that you are starting to see things come together. Here are my likes and dislikes. Leave yours in the comments.

-- Jordan Daniels as the main (only) point guard. Daniels has some real issues and it will be interesting to see if ACC teams exploit his size in matchups, but for now he's just what we need. He's got good handle. He can start the offense. He can penetrate. Improvement is needed on his shots and as the clock winds down, but Daniels can play.
-- Ryan Anderson near the basket. You can see how Anderson is going to improve as he thickens out. He moves well without the ball. He also has a good eye for rebounds.
-- Heckmann and Jackson's 3s. These guys made some big shots to change momentum and kill their momentum. Heckmann had a nearly perfect shooting night. As GMan said, having him come off the bench might be a nice dynamic.

-- Shot selection. There is still not enough penetration or driving to the basket. They dumped it to Clifford plenty but I think we need to see more dribbling/driving towards the basket to get some easy shots and more movement.
-- Offensive rebounding. We need more second chance shots. Plus these guys seem to have a bad habit of swatting and tipping it to a teammate instead of rebounding.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Blauds writes worst BC article in history

The line-by-line takedown of a mainstream article by a blogger is a trope at this point. Yet after reading Mark Blaudschun's feature on Spaz, I felt there was no other choice. I hope Blaudschun didn't spend much time on it since he could have just asked Coach Flip to write the article himself. Prepared to be pissed...

When you are the coach of a team that went 4-8, as the Eagles did this season, you get a lot of questions. When you coach at BC, where the underground chatter overwhelms the public utterances, you can easily be swept away.

This season, some of the feedback was downright vicious, coming from all areas, including the student paper, whose sports editor wrote a sermon-on-the-mount column telling Spaziani and the local media what was wrong with the way things were being run at BC.

“I view it as my duty, therefore, to keep the administration honest, especially when The Globe and The Herald refuse to do so,’’ wrote the editor.

“With the football team struggling through its worst season in over a decade, the two most prominent papers in Boston have accepted the excuses of head coach Frank Spaziani and athletic director Gene DeFilippo at face value. They have chalked up the team’s record this year to injuries, youth, and bad luck. Neither The Globe nor The Herald has criticized the decisions from the sideline.’’

Blauds and BC have no idea what real scrutiny is like. "underground chatter" vs "public utterances" is part of every sports fanbase in the country. In fact in most places the "chatter" is not underground. It is in your face every day. Do you think the Patriots would be worried about "underground chatter" after losing 2/3rds of their games? How about the Red Sox? Or what about the teams of the SEC or Big Ten? One of the reasons the Spaz hire and Gene's actions get so little notice is because in general our fanbase is loyal, has relatively low expectations and doesn't like to air laundry publicly. Gene and in turn Spaz have taken that relationship for granted and blatantly insulted any logical fan with some of their self-serving comments.

Thank God for The Heights Sports Editor Paul Sulzer for using his platform to state the obvious and give voice to the ignored. Blauds is just upset that a Senior in college out worked him and called him out for his hack efforts.

Other criticism comes in Internet chat rooms, where it is easy to throw grenades without attaching a name to them.

I love the Internet chat room cliche. Does anyone at the Globe read what Blauds is writing? Look at any article on BC and you will see tons of comments attached by readers to those articles. It is not chat rooms that are harboring these BC fans. It is on blogs, message boards, Twitter, Facebook and other media. And for every anonymous grenade thrower, there are hundreds with their names and BC affiliations attached who aren't afraid to share their opinion. If Blauds every actually paid attention to Twitter he would see dozens of Spaz's former players mocking him and criticizing him openly!

It has been a tough year for the AD, whose public utterances have created a firestorm in some quarters. Much of it has come from DeFilippo simply telling the truth.

It could be a dreary winter at BC, with both the men’s and women’s basketball teams looking like bottom-feeders in the ACC. Even the men’s hockey team, which has national championship trophies on display, has hit some speed bumps.

But BC does one thing as well as anyone. It brings in good kids who become better adults. For the most part, it turns out poster boys for everything a parent wants in a child, people such as Matt Ryan, Luke Kuechly, and this year’s Scanlan Award winner, Ryan Quigley.

I could go on and on with Gene's firestorm comments but one thing he is not doing is telling the truth. Anyone with rudimentary math skills can tell you that. Basketball and hockey are unrelated to Spaz and the problems with the football team. You can certainly question some of Gene's decisions regarding those sports, but no one is calling for his head because of that.

I am glad Blauds recognizes that BC produces good kids, but that is part of the culture that preceded Coach Flip or Spaz ever setting foot on campus. Coach Flip is quick to take credit for it, but there are thousands of BC athletes in all sports who come in as good kids and leave as good adults that never say more than two words to their AD. And most become good adults because of who they are, the values their families had, the environment in which they matured at college, the education they received and often because of the coaches and assistant coaches they had while at BC. This has little to do with Gene or Spaz. They didn't create this culture. They are just care takers. BC will be producing great student athletes long after these two excuse makers are gone.

I'll skip over the talent and record issues Blauds gets to next. It is just more fluff that no critics are really concerned with. I want to get to the most egregious stuff Blauds spewed.

Were mistakes made? Of course.

Dubious coaching moves during games caused some inner turmoil. The issue of fan treatment is ongoing. But BC fans are different than their brethren. The core base is loyal beyond belief and needs to be treated with extra tenderness and consideration.

The student body can be indifferent to the point of distraction. Let’s face it, BC athletics is not the only game in town, unlike many other college outposts. Not even close.

But the bottom line for BC is that Spaziani is the man in charge, and he sees a big picture that many outsiders - and even insiders - do not.

Mistakes? There are too many to recount. But that is what all the Spaz apologists fail to address. Forget talent. Forget Jags. Forget injuries. Spaz is not a good in-game decision maker. He is cowardly in his approach and a fool when it comes to use of timeouts or scoring. This is costing BC games. There is no one to blame.

Dubious coaching moves didn't just cause inner turmoil. They created a meltdown at halftime of the Central Florida game that led to Kevin Rogers' firing. God forbid Blauds ever dig deeper on that. I get in trouble for passing on gossip, but given the statements last week in the Globe regarding Spaz possibly taking over the defensive reigns regardless if McGovern got the UMass job and the weird statements he's made regarding the Offense, do we just want to call it inner turmoil? People reading between the lines would say Spaz doesn't have a ton of goodwill on the staff.

The biggest part of the problem is that Spaz is not the man in charge. Coach Flip is. If Spaz was the man in charge he would have 100% say in his own staff.

“In this world, as you go forward, success is important,’’ said Spaziani, who in three full seasons at BC has compiled a 19-19 record. “It is the barometer that everybody measures you with.

“Success is subjective. It is someone else’s measuring stick for what you did. That’s the way the world works. We have to function in it.

I don't think Spaz gets it. One of the beauties of sports is that success is not subjective. If you are an artist or a teacher or a lawyer or a business person, success has a degree of subjectivity. Your measuring stick might not be the same as your competition or your peers. In sports, someone wins and someone loses. It is objective. 4-8 is not the same as 8-4.

There will be issues, of course. Internal staff changes could be coming.

But Spaziani says he sees a clearer picture than anyone else. He sees a foundation being laid for not only next season but the year after that and beyond.

“To the guys coming back,’’ said Spaziani, “you’ve seen the edge. Why did we get better? You kept working and you started to get an edge. You need to keep that edge.

“Step back, nonbelievers. There is a foundation here.

“In four years, we won’t be talking about 4-8. We won’t be talking about who is in the Orange Bowl. We will be talking about what we did.’’

If we don't turn the corner, there won't be a "year after that and beyond." Spaz is on the clock and so is Gene. The anger you read and hear now will only grow as these two continue to insult their critics with nonsense.

Spaz is talking about four years from now. I am not trying to be an ageist, but Spaz will be 65 next season. In four years he will be eligible for Social Security. People are questioning his desire and motivation now. Are we to expect him to have a burning desire in four more years?

In an era when coaches are fired after two years, when critics call for their heads after only one season, BC is different. Give DeFilippo credit for having patience under fire - heavy fire in some quarters.

Changing head coaches would mean more turmoil. Four coaches in seven years is not the way to build a program.

Frank Spaziani knows that. And while there are no guarantees that things will improve dramatically next season, there is nothing to say they won’t.

BC is not different from other schools and Gene DeFilippo is not patient. He fired Jags after two years and showed no patience. Do you think he is going to show any patience with Sylvia Crawley? Would a patient program be on their fourth offensive coordinator of the Spaz era?

I could list dozen of programs that have had frequent coaching changes over a short period of time. Turnover doesn't matter when you make the right hires. When you have the right coach the progression is obvious. Just like the decline is obvious now.

But if four coaches in seven years is even a consideration, why isn't that Coach Flip's fault? How does he escape blame from Blauds? Coach Flip let the winningest coach in BC football walk. He fired Jags after two seasons. He made the decision to promote Spaz, even though he himself didn't give the job to Spaz two years earlier.

Blauds is right that there are no guarantees things will get better. But what is guaranteed is that Spaz's approach will cost us wins and both Spaz and Gene will continue to make excuses for their losses and take credit for things that are about BC and not about them.

Friday, December 09, 2011

New recruit and other links

BC added a bit more size to its recruiting class by securing the commitment of Arizona DT Jaxon Hood. Hood is not particularly highly rated, but did have solid interest from a few other programs. He would be the first Arizona guy we've had on the football team in a long, long time.

BC lost to UMass-Lowell 3-2 on Friday night.

BC Draft held a Q&A with CJ Jones.

The best scenario discussed in ACC expansion would be BC playing Syracuse every year and allowing Pitt to become annual rivals to Virginia Tech.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Baby steps in loss to Providence

Things are getting better. BC still lost, but the team kept it close for most of the game.

The best part of the game was a breakout performance by Jordan Daniels. With Moton's ankle hurting, Daniels played most of the game. He played good defense and was pretty controlled on offense. If he develops quickly he will ease the pressure on some of the other freshmen and open up the offense.

The team also made a lot more shots. We know they can shoot and we know the staff is loaded with guys who teach shooting, so for most it is only a matter of time before shots start falling. The bigger issue is staying aggressive on offense.

I'll have more on the basketball team on Friday.

Honors everywhere and other links

Luke Keuchly added the Lombardi Trophy to his list of honors. This has been a busy week for Luke, but he won't be on ESPN's award show tonight. Amazingly Kuechly was not a finalist for the Bednarik Award for best defensive player.

Other BC athletes and coaches were also honored Thursday. The National Soccer Coaches Association of America named Ed Kelly their South Atlantic Region Coach of the Year.

The women's soccer team placed three players on the All-Southeast Region.

BC finished 2nd for the services of IL defensive lineman Faith Ekakitie. He said all the right things about BC, yet still picked Iowa.

Here is an interesting article on Dave Emma's post Hockey career in Finance.

Saucony is rolling out a campaign around Mark Herzlich.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

We hardly knew ya, Mike Faragalli; the coaching rumor mill keeps turning

Earlier this week Spaz hinted to the Herald that he would hire a new offensive coordinator to replace Dave Brock.

Wednesday, numerous message board posters on Eagle Action claimed that current Virginia Running Backs Coach Mike Faragalli would be named the new offensive coordinator and play caller. By late morning the football coaching sites were claiming a done deal too.

Spaz was on the road recruiting (with Dave Brock) so there wasn't any official confirmation. But by late Wednesday the earlier rumors were being shot down. The afternoon updates were worse as the reports said Spaz offered Faragalli and the Running Backs coach turned the job down.

Now we are back to square one. Based on the rumors and the fact that he is still on staff, I hope that BC has been upfront with Brock. Letting him twist in the wind would be unkind and leave BC looking stupid if the end of with Brock as OC again. For now let's hope he is onboard with the change and ready to help BC win again.

The struggles to land Faragalli -- when this would be an obvious step up from position coach to coordinator -- speaks to the challenges BC will have filling the spot. Being Offensive Coordinator at BC is not that great a job right now. Outsiders will wonder about our talent level, the Gene-Spaz relationship, Spaz's track record with Coordinators, Spaz's future, what happened with Rogers, the cost of living in Boston, and inheriting a bunch of position coaches. With all those issues, BC will have a hard time convincing someone with a stable job to take the risk with Spaz.

There plenty of good coaches looking for work. BC will find someone. But based on whats happened so far I don't think we will have an A-List blockbuster hire. Instead we will hire a coordinator who has as many questions as BC does. Until then, we will let you know what the rumor mill is saying.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Tidbit from another tone deaf article and Kuechly speculation

Others have already tackled the Herald's Spaz article. It was more of the same of lowering expectations, not taking ownership of the current situation and addressing some of the gossip regarding staff friction. What I found interesting is that Spaz sort of gave credence to the growing rumor that Brock is out as Offensive Coordinator.
In that regard, Spaziani admits that likely being on his fourth offensive coordinator next season in as many years is not what he hoped for.

As I've said before I want Brock to stay on as Offensive Coordinator. He has experience. He has the relationship with Rettig. He was who Spaz wanted all along. The results stunk this year, but give the guy a full season of prep and his own playbook. Why force another OC on Spaz that he doesn't want? If Coach Flip is going to keep picking Spaz's coordinators, why doesn't he just drop the pretense and officially put on a headset on the sidelines? As of now nothing is official and Brock still doesn't know his fate. Even if he does come back the above article isn't the greatest confidence builder for 2012.

Also all the message boards are buzzing that Luke Kuechly needs Tommy John surgery on his elbow. He sustained the injury in the NC State game. The severity of the injury is not keeping him from making the rounds on the awards circuit. Surgery is always serious, but this is not a huge deal for a football player (as opposed to a pitcher). I don't think it will impact Luke's decision either way.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Statistical Snapshot of the Basketball team

We are not a good basketball team right now. But because we've struggled through the easier part of our schedule it is going to be tough to measure progress in terms of wins and losses. If we only get one win in ACC play does that mean we didn't get better? I think to measure success, we should measure our statistics and efficiency. Right now Donahue has no set rotation. He is giving his minutes to everyone and looking for anyone to step up. Six weeks from now I believe we will have a more consistent rotation, a more consistent use of minutes and guys who better understand our offense and defense.

To get a benchmark of where we are, I decided to use Kenpom's high level ratings. I did this because he measures efficiency not necessarily just points and averages.

Currently we are 254th in adjusted offense and 296th in adjusted defense.

I don't know how much that defense number will change but I think the offense will get much, much better. If it doesn't and our record is terrible, then we will have to start asking tough questions about this group of freshman. Until then though, let's do our best to measure the baby steps.

Butkus makes personal delivery to Kuechly

It's not every day that a Trophy's namesake flies to Needham to attend a team banquet, but that's what happened Sunday. In an unusual and surprise move Dick Butkus handed Luke Kuechly the 2011 Dick Butkus Award for being the nation's best college linebacker. It is an individual award and certainly doesn't replace a bowl trip, but I think it was a nice way for the team to end its season.

Other players recognized with individual honors included Ryan Quigley, Chris Pantale, Mark Spinney, Max Holloway, Lars Anderson, Will Thompson, Donnie Fletcher, Nick Lifka and Zach Wolfe.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

BC beats BU, BC loses to BU

The Hockey team salvaged some of their weekend by beating BU 6-1. This game was sort of the reverse of Friday. BU had more shots but couldn't capitalize. Neither team was strong with a man advantage. Congrats also to Goalie Brian Billett for his strong night inbetween the pipes. He saved 40 shots.

Unfortunately we didn't have a perfect day against BU. The basketball team lost to the Terriers 75-61. We had leads and played hard but there are so many problems with turnovers and shot selection. Sunday I will post a snapshot of Donahue's current struggle. I am not worried at all as I think this season will be bad regardless of what we try. But I don't think that Donahue can just forgive all the mistakes as growing pains. We need to get better over the course of the season and need to establish a decent rotation.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Rough start to the weekend: BU wins at Kelley

One thing I like about college hockey is the home and home aspect to much of the scheduling. That way when you lose on Friday -- like BC lost to BU 5-3 -- you have the chance to bounce back the next day.

Friday defined frustration as BC outshot the Terriers but still fell behind 3-0 after two periods. Power plays remain an issue as BC was just 2 for 11 with the advantage.

Saturday night the teams move down the street for another game. It will be the last regular season game between the two.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

BC bloggers stepping up and other links

One of the best things you'll read this week is BCI's Q&A with the New York Times Paul Myerberg. What I find interesting and refreshing is that Myerberg still thinks BC is a desirable job. It is a reminder that there is still hope.

Athough his twitter account has worried some BC fans, Spiffy Evans' interview with BC Draft shows that he is still committed to the Eagles. We just need the him to develop as a playmaker and run a kick off back too.
BC picked up its first recruit for the 2013 class in CT Tight End Andrew Isaacs.