Notebook: Big Men Learn To Battle Through Size Disadvantage Vs. Miami

By Austin Tedesco

Asst. Sports Editor

Published: Sunday, January 29, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013

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Graham Beck / Heights Editor

The Boston College men's basketball team's home loss against Miami yesterday was deflating and disappointing, but lost in the final score were a few bright spots for the Eagles. It would be unfair to ignore the fact that this team played some inspiring basketball up until the seven-minute mark in the second half, showing signs of the type of play necessary to get wins in the ACC.

Defending the post

The Eagles' biggest mismatch against Miami was at the center position. Reggie Johnson brought two more years of experience and an extra 50 pounds against BC center Dennis Clifford. Head coach Steve Donahue decided to trap the big man when he received the ball in the post, and at first, the results were ugly. Johnson kicked the ball to wide-open Hurricane players for easy layups and threes. Then the Eagles began communicating and rotating better, eliminating those easy looks. Defensively, this may have been BC's best game. The team is developing good chemistry, especially when it comes to help side defense. Rarely do you see one of the Eagles taking a play off on defense. They close out hard, talk constantly, and give up fewer easy shots every game. Donahue is best known for his high-powered motion offense, but strong defensive efforts like this will be huge for the Eagles when shots aren't falling.

Battle of the boards

The Hurricanes started two huge post players in juniors Kenny Kadji and Johnson, each weighing in at over 250 pounds. While BC had trouble scoring in the post, they did a great job of rebounding against Miami's big duo. The Eagles outrebounded the Hurricanes 32 to 30 and did an incredible job boxing out, limiting the projected second-round draft pick Johnson to only five boards. Both Johnson and Kadji attacked the glass hard, but Clifford and Ryan Anderson consistently found their men and boxed out, driving away from the basket. The Eagles have had trouble controlling the glass this season, so the improvement against Miami was a welcomed one. On most of the offensive rebounds allowed by BC, it was the guards who were caught not boxing out when the ball clanked off far away from the rim. BC gave up 12 offensive boards, and with the guards looking to the big men as an example of consistent boxing out, that number can continue to decrease.

Humphrey settling into his role

Junior guard Matt Humphrey has played fantastic basketball since conference play began. While his shot total has decreased as the offense is focusing more on the big men and Lonnie Jackson, Humphrey has found other ways to affect the game. He grabbed seven rebounds while allotting only one turnover in the game, and had a huge block that ignited a BC run in the second half. His three-point shot has been money lately, draining three of his five attempts last night and all coming when the Eagles desperately needed points.

Humphrey is also starting to become a leader for this young squad. Jackson struggled most of the game, but Humphrey, who shares the scoring mentality Jackson does, kept talking to his teammate in an attempt to get him going. When the Hurricanes started stretching their lead and BC's younger players hung their heads, Humphrey kept his swagger going, refusing to give up. His play of late should give Donahue confidence heading into next season that he will have a strong senior leader pushing the rest of the team forward.

The Crowd

There was actual noise in Conte Forum yesterday afternoon, and it was beautiful. It looked like the stadium was packed with families who created a ruckus, spurring the Eagles on. It was tough to spot empty seats—besides those in the student section. Given the closeness and intimacy of college basketball games, having an engaged crowd is a huge part of making runs in close games. Having more students there to help out would be great, but for now it looks like the locals are taking it upon themselves to support this squad, and they are doing a wonderful job.

Heckmann out with mono

Freshman Patrick Heckmann will sit out the whole month of February, according to Donahue. The German has been diagnosed with mononucleosis and hopes to be back by March.

 

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