Men's Basketball

The Economics Of Another Loss

In economics, many ideas are floated around. One of them is the sunk cost, which is a cost one cannot recover. It is a decision made that cannot be recouped.

For example: back in September, you bought tickets for the Boston College men’s basketball game at home against Syracuse on Jan.13, but the game is at 9 p.m., and you have to be up early for a big meeting at work the next day or you need to impress for your first 8 a.m. class of the semester. You can try to sell the tickets, but it is difficult to find a buyer. According to economic thought, you make your decision on attending the game based on what you want to do in the moments leading up to the event without considering the price of the ticket. If you get more pleasure from going than skipping, you go, and vice versa. The bottom line: once you buy those tickets, the fact that you paid does not matter. You go to the game because you want to, not because you bought the ticket.

The idea seeks to eliminate decision making that hinges on the past, which encourages forward thinking.

Losing seven straight games to Division I opponents, this idea is pertinent to the men’s basketball team, which started the meat of its ACC schedule with a 62-60 loss to Clemson.

The Eagles were abysmal in the first half and went into their locker room trailing 31-17. Clemson’s stout defensive performance allowed it to make BC the third team it has held to under 20 points in the first half this season. The other two teams: Stetson and Furman.

Olivier Hanlan put up 22 points in the second half, five more than the entire team did in the opening period of play. But for Hanlan, the second half mentality couldn’t be based on that of the first. Things had to change, and Hanlan going off for tons of second half points is nothing new.

“I think it’s maybe a product of Oliver trying to please his coach and please his teammates and there’s a fine line,” head coach Steve Donahue said.“We as a team have to encourage Olivier to go out and make plays early in the game and even if you screw up, we understand.”

Donahue called on Hanlan’s teammates to encourage him to make a play if needed in the first half, before stating the sophomore guard’s importance to the squad.

“It’s something that will help us if he realizes that sometimes, he’s gotta go make plays consistently, early in the shot clock, earlier in the first half,” said Donahue.

But Hanlan’s second half play is a good sign for Donahue, as it shows last season’s ACC Rookie of the Year has the ability to gain confidence and use it to produce. The numbers indicate that Hanlan does not dwell on missed shots in the past, but instead on the possibility of making more shots down the stretch.

It seems that Donahue is picking up on this as well.

“I do feel, we come out, just not confident, indecisive,” Donahue said, “Unfortunately, it’s probably a product of not being successful … My job is to get these guys back believing.”

The Eagles improved in the second half, winning the period by a superior 43-31 margin, though it was not enough to overturn the 14-point halftime deficit they faced.

On a macro scale, Donahue scheduled a very difficult non-conference lineup for his experienced side, but worrying about the run of games BC has lost is not worth it—it is a sunk cost—as the games have already been played.

“Our non-conference schedule is pretty hard and a lot of road games and a lot, played against a lot of good teams,” Hanlan said. “We try to not focus too much on what it looks like, so we just try to approach every game being positive. We feel like we can compete with anybody though.”

But the Eagles play conference opponents the rest of the way, unless they can pull off a plethora of victories to nab a NIT birth or make a miracle run at the ACC Tournament to go to the NCAAs.

Nothing can be gained by complaining about the schedule Donahue’s team has played, as it is in the past, and the same goes for Clemson, which used a different scheduling tactic.

“Steve goes out and challenges himself with a tremendously hard schedule and mostly road games and now people are upset with him, because he’s challenging … I mean, I guess it’s hard,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. “I went the other way.  I’ve scheduled soft to build confidence for our team, because we were coming off a 13-18 year and we needed to win some games so we could think we could beat somebody.”

At this point in the season, the non-conference schedule is a sunk cost and it is time for the Eagles to move on.

“My whole focus is Virginia Tech,” Donahue said. “Try to get back to 1-2 in this league.

“The other games … nothing we can do about.”



January 5, 2014