Sports, Basketball

COLUMN: BC-Providence Player-By-Player Breakdown

Disclaimer: This column is not, directly at least, about the fouls or the officiating. Those stories were done well here and here. Last night was the first real game action of the season for the Boston College men’s basketball team. Here’s a breakdown of who under and over-performed, and who met expectations for the Eagles in their 82-78 OT loss to Providence.

Joe Rahon

It almost seemed hard to believe that Rahon only finished with 13 points compared to Olivier Hanlan’s 23 and Ryan Anderson’s 21. Each of his five baskets seemed to come exactly when the Eagles desperately needed to score.

It doesn’t appear that Rahon has improved tremendously from last season to this season, besides fine-tuning an already reliable and consistent offensive game. As opposed to Hanlan’s use of athleticism, Rahon used his body and pacing to finagle enough space to either get off an open shot or draw a defender, allowing him to finish one of his five assists on the night.

“Joe was great,” Hanlan said. “When I was going 100 miles per hour he was trying to keep the pace and search and find guys. He did a good job with the ball.”

Despite the five assists, Rahon did rack up four turnovers. Two of them could be credited to the stop-and-go pace of the game that may have taken him—and everyone else—out of rhythm, but two were also bad decisions that need to be cleaned up.

Rahon’s defense was okay. With the new hand-checking rules, there wasn’t much he could do against Bryce Cotton. Cotton was held to six points in the first half, not taking advantage of the Eagles switching nearly every screen. Although Odio checked him at the top of the key on three plays in a four possessions stretch, Cotton passed out of the mismatch each time in the first half.

When Providence needed points in the second half, though, they let Cotton isolate Rahon or forced him into a ball-screen, and it rarely ended well, as Cotton finished the game with 28. At one point Rahon was so frustrated with the constant whistles that he guarded Cotton in the full court with his hands behind his back.

“I thought we did a good job on him and then they went ball screen,” Donahue said of Cotton. “I could’ve done a lot more strategic-wise, but I think he’s as good a scorer as there is in the country. Hard to guard, can make shots, uses both hands well. We didn’t do a good job on him.”

Ryan Anderson

It took 16 minutes for Anderson to get on the scoreboard, but he played fine up until that point. The BC offense was so disjointed in the first 15 minutes of the game trying to adjust to the officiating that the ball just never seemed to find him in the right spots. Everyone was moving too quickly to settle down and focus on using Anderson for points.

Anderson showed off two post moves in the first half that were both better than any he executed the last two seasons—a slight shoulder fake right finishing with an over-the-shoulder turnaround left and then an inside dribble that went straight into a fake left before going back to the right and finishing with his left hand.

The offseason improvement on his release was no joke. It was most noticeable from the foul line, as he went 7-8 keeping his left hand on the ball through the shot, but Anderson also looked much more comfortable drilling midrange jumpers when the defense collapsed.

His defense wasn’t bad. He actually did an impressive job of challenging a few attacks at the rim without making contact when he got in foul trouble. It’ll be easier to make an assessment on the progress Anderson has or hasn’t made as a defender in a less strange game. Most of this game defensively came down to adjusting to the officials.

Olivier Hanlan

Hanlan struggled with the officials more than any other BC player. He saw the cheap calls BC was whistled for at one end, and tried to get those same calls by putting his head down and going to the rim. Providence couldn’t have played him better. The Friars just flew out of the way when Hanlan pressured the basket, allowing the point guard to throw the ball up for misses that had no chance of going in.

He eventually adjusted, finishing the game with a team-high 23 points and finding his way to the line nine times. He swished a few very clutch free throws late in the game.

In the second half, Hanlan finally started to calm down. There was a nervous energy to him early in the game. Rather than picking his spots, he seemed so set on taking advantage of the quick whistle that it set him back.

Still, some of his plays were just ridiculous, including a step-back through-the-legs dribble into a 3-pointer that gave BC a 78-76 lead with 1:42 left in OT. Hanlan has talked a lot about becoming more of a playmaker on offense, but he also knows he needs to stay aggressive with his shot. That balance was out of whack yesterday, but he looked more like the better version of himself as the game progressed.

Hanlan didn’t spend a lot of time guarding Providence’s better offensive players, helping him stay out of foul trouble.

Eddie Odio

Not much stood out for Odio on either side of the ball, partially in a good way and partially in a bad way. There was hardly a defensive lapse out of him leading to Friar points, which is a welcome sight for the Eagles, but he also didn’t make any game-changing defensive plays like he did at times last season. He doesn’t need to force jaw-dropping blocks. It would help BC some, though, if he could use his length and athleticism to poke out a few balls on blocks or steals to start the transition game.

He still looked hesitant on offense, and he tried to compensate for that by throwing a slow and unbelievable pump-fake up at the rim on every single catch. When the defender knows for a fact that he isn’t putting that shot up, all the fake does is slow down the offense.

Having a player on the court that doesn’t make mistakes is a good thing. There’s not a lot to complain about, but Odio also didn’t do much, yet, to show he has more to add this season.

Graham Beck / Heights Editor
Graham Beck / Heights Editor

Alex Dragicevich

It was obvious at times how long it’s been since Dragicevich saw real game action, which Donahue noted post game. He flashed ways in which he’ll be able to contribute for the Eagles this season once he gets comfortable again on the court, but right now he’s not that reliable “3-and-D” player BC wants him to be as the starting small forward.

Patrick Heckmann

Just a quiet five points on two shots for Heckmann, but he showed remarkable poise and composure throughout the game. He’ll continue to challenge Dragicevich for the starting role, especially when he’s 100 percent healthy. Heckmann didn’t make many mistakes either, but that means a lot more for him than it does for Odio.

Heckmann’s biggest flaw through his first two seasons was inconsistent play. He’d make a few incredible plays followed by a few plays that didn’t make any sense at all. That didn’t happen last night. Heckmann either made a difference or fell into the background. If he can keep chipping away at productivity, BC will find plenty of use for him.

Graham Beck / Heights Editor
Graham Beck / Heights Editor

Garland Owens

His athleticism didn’t disappoint. It was clear that this was his first college game, looking hesitant and even slightly rattled at times offensively, but once he calms down a bit he will without a doubt surpass Rahon as the team’s best defender. Not only is he long and quick and aggressive, he also knows what he’s doing on the defensive end.

At one point when BC was trying to come back, there was a rebound bouncing around between Providence and BC players. Owens leaped up in the air three times in a row to tap at it, just higher than everyone on all three leaps. He then sprinted down the floor after BC got the ball without looking tired at all. He also defended his man off the ball through multiple screens as the offensive player ran sideline to sideline and back, and Owens didn’t let him get open. Those are skills no one else on the roster has.

It was surprising that, especially with the team’s foul trouble at the end and Donahue’s love of offense-for-defense substitutions, Owens never got a real crack at stopping Cotton. The worst case scenario would just be an Owens foul, which was the same result as Rahon’s defense. Owens would at least be able give an aggressive hedge and force Cotton left once or twice. It’ll be interesting to see if Rahon spends most of the time on Chaz Williams tomorrow against UMass, or if Donahue gives the freshman a chance early in the season to test out his lockdown defense abilities.

Will Magarity

Magarity proved himself as a legitimate player who will be able to contribute real minutes this season. He was stuck in a lineup featuring Rahon, Owens, Odio, and Dragicevich most of the time that he was on the court. That may be BC’s worst offensive unit, and the hesitancy began to spread, but Magarity did drain a three with absurd arc and didn’t show any hesitation getting it off. His minutes probably declined throughout the game because his defense in a strange contest under new rules couldn’t be trusted, but maybe there will be more Magarity tomorrow.

Sam Donahue

It would’ve been pretty amazing if Donahue’s first collegiate bucket had come off a set play drawn up specifically for him out of a timeout in his first seconds on the court. The ball just barely rimmed out, though. Smart move by his head coach to give him a chance, noticing that a much larger player and a bad defender would be covering him. Donahue got open and fired with no hesitation. Even if he only sees the floor as the fifth man in an all-out 3-point shooting lineup near the end of halves, it helps BC to have someone that can do that.

Danny Rubin

Notched the illustrious “0+” trillion. Had to be pointed out.

Lonnie Jackson

The junior guard can’t return quickly enough. His game may be somewhat replaceable on the court, especially as Owens and Dragicevich grow into their roles, but his presence isn’t. Before Anderson, Rahon, or Hanlan grew as vocal leaders, Jackson was the one to always get everyone going. They need him logging minutes to help the team rally when it falls into a rut. Also, one more guy that can catch fire from three doesn’t hurt.

Overall Takeways

BC will, obviously, regret losing this game if things don’t work out in its favor when Selection Sunday comes around, but the loss doesn’t say much about BC’s potential for the season. The game was weird. Most of the players played pretty well. It’s impossible to really say if the disjointed team offense and the matador defense had more to do with overall chemistry issues or poor adjustments to the officiating. Tomorrow’s game should say a lot more about this group that the loss last night didn’t or couldn’t.

And one quick take on the officiating: I thought they were pretty even with the calls both ways, but the no call on Odio at the end of the game had either the same amount of contact or more contact than a lot of the other foul calls. Also, I agree with the idea behind these new hand-check rules. It will make the game better eventually. It doesn’t make sense, though, to enforce those same rules on loose balls and rebounds. Fans want to see the players fight for boards. It doesn’t prevent offense or make the game boring. It makes it exciting. Those were the most disappointing cheap calls. Most of the other ones were understandable, although BC flopped pretty hard on a couple of those charges.

November 9, 2013