Scouting Boston College
Boston College held the lead at one point during the first half Wednesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium and trailed Duke by only three points at halftime. Then the Blue Devils scored eight straight baskets in the second half and breezed to a 20-point win.
It's been that sort of season for the Eagles, who are 10-7 (1-2 ACC) entering Saturday's matchup against Maryland at Conte Forum. Boston College has struggled to find its identity, and consequently it has suffered several occasions similar to the bipolar performance it turned in at Duke.
"You saw what BC’s seen all year," Boston College sophomore guard Reggie Jackson told the Boston Globe following the game Wednesday. "A tale of two teams."
Under 13th-year coach Al Skinner, the Eagles have not adjusted well to life without star guard Tyrese Rice, who had assumed a heavy offensive load for much of past two seasons. Rice completed his collegiate career having scored more points than all but four players in the program's history and having played more minutes than all but three players in the program's history.
"It’s very frustrating." Jackson told the Globe. "We’re playing basically to what polls and everybody’s said, that we’re not a competitor without Tyrese."
The Eagles have gone through this season in a perpetual state of flux. Junior forward Corey Raji, junior guard Rakim Sanders and junior forward Cortney Dunn were suspended for the first two games of the season for a violation of team rules. In the third game, Sanders turned an ankle just a few minutes after making his season debut and missed the following six games. Senior forward Tyler Roche missed two games with back problems.
And then on Dec. 20, Boston College underwent a significant lineup switch that altered the Eagles' look and plan of attack. Junior center Josh Southern (6 feet 10, 248 pounds) was benched. Junior forward Joe Trapani (6-8, 228 pounds) slid over to play the 5. Raji (6-6, 218 pounds) slid over to play the 4. Sanders (6-5, 228 pounds) slid over to play the 3. And Jackson (6-3, 200 pounds) moved into the starting lineup to play the 2.
With a much smaller look, Boston College was hoping to make enough strides on offense to compensate for the size disadvantage it would have to deal with on defense. The move produced mixed results, and on Wednesday against Duke, Southern was moved back into the starting lineup. Jackson returned to the bench. How'd that work out? Well, Southern got into foul trouble, played 16 minutes and tallied seven points and two rebounds. Jackson finished with 20 points in 27 reserve minutes.
So what look will Boston College show Maryland on Saturday? It's likely that Skinner will stick with Southern as his starting center in order to maximize any sort of size advantage Southern might provide*. And clearly Jackson can be effective coming off the bench.
* Skinner also will consider that Florida State and Wake Forest held significant size advantages over the Terrapins, and that didn't translate in either case to victories in the rebounding battle. So perhaps he'll swap Southern for Jackson once again after all.
Southern is averaging 6.6 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, while shooting 50.6 percent. Jackson is averaging 13.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. He is shooting 43.5 percent from the field and 27 percent from three-point range. Jackson also averages 4.1 assists per game, the second-highest rate on the team.
Boston College's leading scorer is Trapani, who competes in the post with the mind-set of a wing player. Trapani has attempted the most three-pointers of any Eagle and is making 34.2 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. He is averaging 14.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.
Raji is averaging 12.0 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, while shooting 52.3 percent.
Running the point for the Eagles is junior guard Biko Paris (6-1, 200 pounds). Paris is averaging 6.9 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. He owns a 1.9 assist-to-turnover ratio. He is accompanied in the back court by Sanders, who Skinner has said is still not 100 percent after suffering the early-season ankle injury. Sanders is averaging 10.9 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.
Sophomore guard Dallas Elmore (6-5, 210 pounds) provides relief for the Eagles' back court. Elmore is averaging 3.4 points and 1.9 rebounds per game.
Reinforcing Boston College's front court are Roche (6-7, 218 pounds), Dunn (6-8, 242 pounds) and sophomore forward Evan Ravenel (6-8, 255 pounds). Roche is averaging 7.3 points and 2.1 rebounds per game, while Dunn is averaging 1.0 points and 1.9 rebounds per game. Ravenel chips in 3.2 points and 2.4 rebounds per game.
Boston College doesn't shoot particularly well (44.8 percent from the field; 30.8 percent from three-point range) and doesn't defend very well, either. The Eagles are allowing opponents to shoot 42 percent from the field, which ranks No. 11 among ACC teams. Boston College possesses a minus-0.5 turnover margin.
The Eagles own a plus-7.5 rebounding margin, but that likely is largely a product of their nonconference schedule. Duke and Clemson -- Boston College's most recent opponents -- controlled the boards in their respective games against the Eagles.
Chief among Boston College's problems, though, appears to be focus and effort. Skinner cited a lack of both after losses to Clemson and Duke.
"At the beginning of the year, we thought we’d be better than this," Jackson told the Globe. "We obviously know that we want to prove the polls wrong, and we want to prove the spectators wrong and the analysts. But so far they’ve been right. We’ve got to get together as a team and change this."
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