MEN'S BASKETBALL: Down And Out
Lack Of Experience Adds Up
Published: Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 22:01
A ball dribbled off of a foot. An easy layup bounced off the back of the rim. The opposition beat a defender off the dribble with ease. These scenes exist in every basketball game, and would be inconsequential for most teams, but as Boston College fail to hit a stride offensively and defensively, these small mistakes add up quickly and cost victories.
Tuesday night the frustration in Conte Forum was palpable as the Eagles lost their sixth ACC game to the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. A significant and vocal Tar Heel fan section was able to drown out the Superfans in attendance, just as the Tar Heel players were able to overwhelm the now 9-11 Eagles on the court.
The game opened with the intensity that the Eagles have been showing in their previous match ups. Ryan Anderson scored the first points of the game with a 3-pointer, quickly followed by an uncontested dunk. The first minutes of the half were dominated by perimeter shooting, with the Tar Heels’ P.J. Hairston making two 3-pointers in two minutes, cutting the Eagles first and last lead of the game to two. Once the Tar Heels took the lead from the Eagles, the game quickly devolved into a contest of catch up, with the Eagles staying almost consistently 10 or more points behind the Tar Heels for the remainder of the game.
As the final minutes of the half wound down, Tar Heels player’s Hariston and Dexter Strickland collided under the net, which caused Hariston to sustain a concussion and leave the game. Although the injury looked serious, Hairston was seen walking under his own power during the second half of the game. From there, the Eagles ended the half trailing the Tar Heels 48-33.
The second half illustrated the issues that plague the young Eagles squad. Freshman guard Olivier Hanlon was the only player able to consistently penetrate the defense and open up shots for the Eagles. The communication between the players diminished as play continued, with the players appearing intimidated by the Tar Heels’ man defense. BC’s attempts to stay on the perimeter were undercut by the teams’ inability to drop big shots when necessary.
The team struggled to find flow in its offense, and there were continuous substitutions executed by head coach Steve Donahue. By the end of the game, five players had approximately 30 minutes of play, with two more trailing in the mid teens. Team captain Dennis Clifford only played four minutes, and is still battling a painful knee injury that Donahue feels will affect him for the remainder of the season.
“To be honest Dennis, is really struggling physically,” Donahue said. “Going in, he’s a cornerstone of our team, and he was terrific all off-season, the Spain trip, and we just thought he was going to have a monster year.”
Defense proved to be extremely difficult for the Eagles, something Donahue also recognized.
“All these guys are trying, and that’s a hard thing for me as a coach, because obviously we’re poor defensively and that bothers me,” he said.
The team was regularly beat off the dribble, and shied away from the physicality of the Tar Heels.
The Tar Heels felt comfortable making shots over BC defenders, as well as fighting for offensive rebounds and capitalizing on them, allowing them second-chance shots that the Eagles could not afford to give. In the final two minutes of the game the Eagles were able to come within ten points of the Tar Heels, but with the clock winding down, the Eagles were out of opportunities, and fell 82-70.
The game did showcase moments of excellence from the Eagles. BC shot 58 percent from the 3-point range, and were 75 percent in free throws. Hanlan showed his prowess as a point guard, leading scoring in the game with 22 points. Eddie Odio was able to bring momentum to the Eagles at multiple points in the game, culminating in a spectacular block followed by a dunk in the final five minutes of the second half. In the four short minutes he played, Clifford was able to show his dominance as a center with a huge block. Anderson contributed 16 points and seven rebounds to the Eagle effort.