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Rice The Assassin

Boston College may not rely as much on senior guard Tyrese Rice for point production as it did last season, but that doesn't mean Rice is any less of a threat to opposing defenses. One ACC assistant coach whose team has played the Eagles this season had extremely high praise for Boston College's leading scorer.

"He's as dangerous of an individual player as anybody in our league," said the assistant, who wished to remain anonymous because his team has to play Boston College again this season. "Maybe last year if you look, statistically, he took a higher percentage of their shots, scored a higher percentage of their points. In preperation and scouting back then, there was a bigger emphasis on, you know, if you could shut down Tyrese Rice, you can beat Boston College. He's still the head, and they always say, 'To kill the snake, you've got to cut off the head.' Well, he's the head. He is the guy. But they have dangerous components as well."

When asked what separated Rice from some of the conference's other top guards, the assistant noted Rice's mentality.

"He's an assassin," the assistant said. "He thrives on big situations. He makes big, big shots. He's got such a killer instinct in him, like a toughness or a swagger. I think it makes him special. Cause you look at him, he's small. He's not 6-1. But he's just got the heart of a lion. I really, really respect him in that regard. He's got such a confidence that almost borderlines on arrogance. But that's what makes him great. That's what makes him such a good player is the way he carries himself. The way he walks, the way he acts, nothing fazes him. A good word for him is fearless. I've been burned by Tyrese Rice too many times not to give him the ultimate respect."

One of Rice's supporting cast members is Joe Trapani, a sophomore forward who impressed the assistant with what he called "sneaky" athleticism.

"He's not the most athletic guy in the world, but you can't sleep on his athleticism," the assistant said. "When you play against him in person, you sort of respect his athletic ability a little bit better. The ability to put the ball on the floor, his explosiveness -- that's not his thing. His thing is he's a very skilled, very high basketball IQ player. He's dangerous becasue he just spreads the defense. Because they set so many ball screens for Tyrese Rice. He sets so many of them, and when he pops, you have to respect him from the three-point line so he stretches your defense."

The assistant said Boston College's offensive system is based on flex schemes that include plenty of baseline back screens and elbow-to-block pindowns. What makes the Eagles' offense so unique, he said, was the compact manner in which they operate.

"There's times when you'll watch them run their offense and they're five players and the five players on them, so there's ten players within a step and a half of the lane," the assistant said. "There's times when you pause the tape and it's almost laughable that their offense is run so tight and there's so many bodies so close together. But it's just inbred in them because it's their offensive culture. It's what they do and they run it so well. They're going to churn it out and put you in a grinder and screen you and make the passes where they want to make them. It's amazing to watch at times. You do your best to deny the passes, but they wedge their bodies in and almost post you up out on the floor."

The assistant said he and the other coahes on his team's staff call the method Boston College uses to execute its offense "bowling for baskets" because "they almost roll the ball to each other to make passes from elbow to elbow."

Once an opposing defense breaks down Boston College's initial manner of attack, the assistant said the Eagles will turn to Rice and set him up with a series of ball screens.

"They spread the court for Tyrese and allow him to sort of make a play, whether it's score off the dribble or kick out for threes or pop it to Trapani," the assistant said.

By Steve Yanda  |  January 26, 2009; 10:06 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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