A coach's view on the Eagles
The clearest indicator that Boston College still is mired in an identity crisis is the Eagles' use of 6-foot-10 junior center Josh Southern, according to a coach whose team already has faced Boston College this season. Southern began the season in the starting lineup, providing the Eagles with front-court size and presumably a strong presence in the post.
But Southern was benched before Boston College faced Bryant on Dec. 20. With a smaller lineup, the Eagles hoped to generate more offense (not Southern's strength) at the expense of their defensive efficiency (to which Southern ideally would contribute).
Then, on Wednesday, Southern was re-inserted into the starting lineup. He tallied seven points, four fouls and two rebounds in 16 minutes.
"He's a kid I'd seen play in high school and he's a kid whose minutes have sort have gone up and down as they search for how they've got to play," said the coach, who is not being identified so he can speak candidly about the Eagles. "With their smaller lineup they're probably a little more effective offensively, but in [the ACC] they've got to be able to match up with bigger, physical people and will need him on the floor. But for whatever reason when he's out there they don't seem to get as much done offensively. It's been a struggle for them."
Without Southern in the starting lineup, smaller opposing teams felt more comfortable passing the ball inside, the coach said, even if that wasn't typically a part of the team's offensive game plan. If nothing else, the coach said, the smaller opposing teams could then kick the ball out and find open shooters on the perimeter.
Offensively, Boston College prefers a slow pace, the coach said. The Eagles don't turn the ball over much, but they also don't force a lot of turnovers.
"They're going to want a lower possession game," the coach said. "But when you play a low-possession game and don't generate those turnovers, your margin becomes so small that if a Maryland or a Duke spurts on you or makes a run on you, it makes it real difficult for you to try to make up an eight- to 10-point run."
Boston College shoots 44.8 percent from the field and 30.8 percent from three-point range. The Eagles were not a good perimeter shooting team even with their smaller lineup, the coach said.
The Eagles' leading scorer is junior forward Joe Trapani (6-8, 228 pounds), who is asked to be extremely versatile in Boston College's offense, according to the coach. With Southern out of the starting lineup, Trapani was moved to the 5 spot. When Southern does start, Trapani plays the 4. But either way, the coach said, Trapani competes with the mind-set of a wing player.
"I think what they're hoping is Trapani, if he's at the five, he's so comfortable on the perimeter -- in fact, I think he thinks more like a three-man (small forward) really in terms of his approach to the game -- you know, I think the hope is that they can draw those people away from the basket and then maybe create some opportunities for other guys to post, particularly in their flex action when they're cutting, their posting guards and they're doind different things," the coach said. "Their hope is that with Trapani on the floor, depending on his matchup, that might open up some things because they really concentrate on establishing themselves offensively in that eight- to 10-foot range around the rim and use that to open up things along the perimeter. But again, as a steady diet, when you go to the other end defensively, now Trapani, that mismatch he might enjoy on one end, I'm sure he doesn't enjoy that much on the other."
One of the players Boston College looks to create offensive opportunities for in the post is sophomore guard Reggie Jackson (6-3, 200 pounds).
"I feel like he's a power player, sort of, in a guard's body," the coach said. "It's not that he hasn't hit some perimeter shots, but we just felt like we had to really battle with him in that eight- to 10-foot range, because when he gets in there, he's very physical. He posts against man, or even against the zone. He gets a lot of work done inside. He didn't hit the shots on the outside to draw us out, and as the game went on we just clogged the lane. I mean, it got very crowded in there. If he's 6-7, 235, you know, he's an unbelievable player. But he gets a lot done at his size and really is a powerful force for them considering he's 6-3, and I may be being a little kind there."
As for Boston College point guard Biko Paris (6-1, 200 pounds), the coach said he has struggled to adjust to his role as offensive facilitator following the graduation of former point guard Tyrese Rice last spring.
"Although Paris is a nice player, the level of execution, the shots that they're getting now out of their offense as opposed to a year ago, is considerably less," the coach said. "The execution level has definitely dropped off. He's a very solid player, he caused us some problems, but that is a position where they've dropped off."
The Eagles were hoping for more offensive production this season out of junior guard Rakim Sanders (6-5, 228 pounds). He is averaging 10.9 points per game but is shooting 37.1 percent from the field and 30.0 percent (12 of 40) from three-point range.
"He's a streaky shooter," the coach said. "I feel like he's a key for them in the sense that they could establish another perimeter guy, you know, and that's not the only thing he does, but he's a guy that we felt like we could take a chance at, that we could play off of him and just get more people in the lane to slow them down offensively. But he's a guy that if that shooting percentage is 10-15 percent higher, it changes the whole attack. You can't load up on people; you can't clog the lane."
January 15, 2010; 10:28 AM ET
Categories: Men's basketball
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