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MEN'S BASKETBALL: BC's Odio, Defense Shine Against Blue Devils

Assoc. Sports Editor

Published: Monday, February 11, 2013

Updated: Monday, February 11, 2013 01:02

Eddie

Graham Beck / Heights Editor

 

Despite culminating in a crushing 62-61 loss, the Boston College men’s basketball team’s duel with Duke last night featured two encouraging signs—the solid play of BC’s defense and the electric performance of sophomore forward Eddie Odio.

The Eagles faced a Blue Devil squad that boasts the nation’s sixth-best points per game average, yet recorded one of its most complete efforts of the season against a conference rival. 

As part of BC’s early run, a defense anchored by Odio forced its opponent to commit nine turnovers while outrebounding Duke 11-7 on the defensive glass. 

“I thought we’ve really made progress each and every game,” said head coach Steve Donahue, “but I think after the Virginia game, we really talked for a while and said, ‘If we’re going to win, we’ve got to be a grind-it, tough, gritty team on defense … we charted way more deflections, we turn Duke over 13 times, and we get 11 steals. They’re getting better.”

A major reason for the Eagles’ ability to stay competitive for all 40 minutes was their prevention of long Duke runs. On paper, Duke’s 79 points per game and noticeable size advantage led by six-foot-10 forward Mason Plumlee could’ve reasonably overwhelmed an undersized BC squad. 

Yet the Eagles held the Blue Devils to 40 percent shooting from the field, while outscoring the Blue Devils by a total of eight points in the paint over both halves. 

“We talked about it quite a bit, trying to stay out of those four or five –basket runs that they go on,” Donahue said. “The guys just had matured a great deal where I think they would have hung their heads and felt that they were letting the game get away where I think the attitude now is, ‘Let’s grind it out, let’s get a good possession here. Worry about the moment and not get caught up in it.’”

The Eagles’ impressive effort against a top-five team owes much of its credit to the energy sparked by Odio on both sides of the ball. 

Contributing four points, five rebounds, and three steals off the bench, the forward wreaked havoc while Duke had the ball and generated momentum for BC on the offensive end as well. 

In particular, Odio’s slam dunk off of a Joe Rahon lobbed inbound pass under the net brought the Eagles to within one point of a second-half Blue Devil lead. 

Despite thriving in a big-game atmosphere, Odio considers performances like today as a part of his role as catalyst. 

“I believe that’s why Coach puts me in the game, is to bring energy plays and work hard,” Odio said. [Dennis Clifford] is a big asset, and he’s obviously not 100 percent. I just try to fill the role by playing hard and doing what I need to do.” 

Donahue understands that a productive Odio not only adds depth to BC’s rotation, but also realizes a steady player’s potential to be great.

“I think he’s just scratching the surface of where he’s at,” Donahue said. “When we recruited him, I thought he was a kid that, ‘If we could get a redshirt year out of him.’ You guys probably still think he’s thin, but you’re not realizing he’s put on 25 pounds of muscle. He still has 20 more pounds to go, but he’s got a terrific IQ, a great motor, an unselfish work ethic, and he’s a terrific athlete. I think good teams have guys like that. So as we get better, he’s really going to be an asset.”

Between a collective defensive effort and the contributions of Odio, BC can salvage foundations for future success from hard-fought loss.

“It’s not just Duke,” Donahue said. “This is every day to focus [on] what we’re trying to do. You’ll see it here. We’ll get there, but that’s how we’ve got to play. We’re not going to be the longest, most athletic team so we’ve got to be really tough, aggressive, and intelligent.” n

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