MEN'S BASKETBALL: Harvard Takes Fifth Straight
Published: Thursday, December 6, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
When head coach Steve Donahue sees his team shoot almost 60 percent from the field, he expects them to win. Despite the apparent offensive efficiency on Tuesday night, the Boston College men’s basketball fell to Harvard 79-63 in the program’s fifth straight loss to the Crimson.
“It’s hard to imagine you shoot 58 percent and lose by 16 pretty handedly,” Donahue said. “There’s a mental toughness side on both sides of the ball that they had and we didn’t. That was, I’m sure, apparent to everybody. In particular, when they pressured us, even though we were scoring, we were never understanding and staying poised and confident in our offense. But, when we pressured them, they just moved like clockwork to the next thing. And like I said, it’s kind of mind-boggling to put up those kinds of numbers and lose pretty handedly.”
Ryan Anderson opened the game by scoring 11 of the Eagles first 13 points and it looked as though the Crimson didn’t have an answer for the BC forward, but after the first five minutes his offense began to fade.
“Part of our offense is everyone moves and everyone touches the ball,” said freshman guard Joe Rahon. “Looking back we probably should’ve tried to make more of an effort on the court to try to get it to him when he was hot, but they did do a good job of keying on him. When we were driving they were shading him a little bit more than they did at the start of the game, but looking back we probably should’ve tried to ride him a little more there.”
BC kept the game in reach until the second half, when Harvard went on a run that the Eagles couldn’t match.
“The Achilles’ heel for us is that we allow a play that just happened to snowball to the next play, and it happens in all facets of basketball,” Donahue said. “It’s something that I can’t tell you how many times we talk about it, we harp on it, and we show it to them on film.”
The Harvard players methodically attacked the BC defense on their way to tying their highest point total of the season so far. They made BC defend for the whole shot-clock before finally finding a clean look that consistently fell through the net.
“That’s the two hardest things to do in basketball,” Donahue said. “To push it early on and stop them, and then to have the poise and toughness and confidence at the end of the shot clock, and they exploited both ends of that.”
On the offensive end, BC was flustered by the Harvard pressure which broke the rhythm of the motion offense.
“They did a great job of pressuring us and trying to deny easy swing passes,” Rahon said. “I think we didn’t handle it as well as we needed to. We knew they were going to do it. We knew it was coming, and we were trying to just get backdoor cuts, get sharp cuts, and move the ball, but they did a good job of taking us out of our rhythm there for a little bit, and we were never really able to turn it around and get over the hump.”
Donahue wouldn’t chalk up the loss to experience, though.
“Can’t say experience anymore,” Donahue said. “I’m done with that. The defense was poor. It’s got to get better. We’ll work at it, but the defense was really poor.”
Although many of the Eagles looked out of sync and worn down during the second half, Donahue said it wasn’t an issue of effort.
“It’s not effort,” Donahue said. “It isn’t. We, my staff and myself, have to get them playing at a certain high level, consistently, all the time, and not missing a beat. It appears at times that it’s effort, but I just think it’s the mental toughness part of it that the guys don’t have the ability to fight through. These guys will continue to get better at it, we’ll continue to bring people into this program that understand it, and we’ll build a culture similar to what we did at Cornell and similar to what Harvard has—but to say they’re not trying? No, they try. They try really hard.”
His players need to be more mentally tough, and he says that will come through failures like this as he continues to build the program.
“I love these guys, as I say all the time,” Donahue said. “I have great confidence that they’ll get it and we’re going to work extremely hard to do it. Unfortunately, and I know I sound like a broken record, we’re going to have failures here and there. We’re going to have some extreme frustration, but that to me is the only way you can be successful.”