Men's Basketball, Column

The 12 Days Of Jim Christian’s Frustration: USC Drops BC

The 12 Days of Christmas, as sung by men’s basketball head coach Jim Christian

Boston College men’s basketball took on USC on Sunday, looking to advance to 7-3 on the year and remain undefeated at home. The Trojans had other plans, however, shooting at a high clip and fending off a late BC comeback on their way to a 75-71 victory.

It was a tough loss for BC—one which the team certainly could have won.

“It’s on everybody,” head coach Jim Christian said. “I don’t think anybody on the team played well today. I don’t think I coached well today.”

To sort through the different aspects of the game, here is a holiday-inspired run-down: The 12 Days of Christmas, according to Jim Christian. (Note: These lines are inspired from BC’s performance, and not directly based off quotations from Christian).

On the 12th day of Christmas Jim Christian said to me, 12 turnovers is too many to commit in a game.

Both BC and USC came into the game with high turnover totals: 14.6 and 13.6 per game, respectively. Neither team failed to deliver a fair share of sloppiness—USC especially gave up numerous possessions in the first half, committing seven more turnovers than BC. The Eagles made up ground in the second half, however, including one stretch of three straight. BC did manage to take better advantage than its opponents did, scoring 20 points off turnovers compared to USC’s eight.

On the 11th day of Christmas Jim Christian said to me, we allowed 11 more made free throws in the second half.

In their previous matchup against Binghamton, the Eagles went on a foul-spree, racking up 19 in the second half alone. Against the Trojans, BC demonstrated a similar trend, sending USC to the line three times in the first half compared to 16 in the second. While this total is skewed from intentional fouls in the final couple of minutes of the game, the Eagles still need to work on consistently keeping themselves between their opponents and the rim without fouling.

On the tenth day of Christmas Jim Christian said to me, how did we allow Elijah Stewart to go 10-10?

Game in and game out, BC’s opponents have turned to an unexpected scoring leader to light up the scoreboard. This time around, that man was Elijah Stewart. The six-foot-five freshman had averaged just 5.4 points in his first 10 games as a college player and has been largely overshadowed by classmate Jordan McLaughlin, who entered the game as USC’s leading scorer with 14.0 PPG.

In this contest, however, Stewart led the way. He played a team-high 36 minutes and finished with 22 points, including two made 3-pointers. While Stewart had the magic touch from the field, he had equally strong difficulties at the line, missing all four attempts. BC can take some solace in the fact it held McLaughlin to just 3-10, but the team has to lock down the entire opposing five if it wants to be successful.

On the ninth day of Christmas Jim Christian said to me, it’s our luck our starting center would go nine and nine.

Dennis Clifford almost got a double-double. But, “almost” is something that BC understands pretty well at this point. BC almost beat Florida State. BC students almost have enough money on their meal plans. “Mom, I almost passed my final.”

In the first couple of minutes in the game, it looked like Clifford could go for 30 points. He had six of BC’s first 10 points, using his body to convert on each of his first three attempts. After this, however, Clifford became a relative non-factor in the game. BC got him just two more field goal attempts, and although he would add two blocks, USC’s two-three zone made most of his 26 minutes quiet ones.

While it’s fair to say that Clifford has struggled at times so far this season, this game was not one of them. On nights when he’s looking as comfortable as he did against USC, the Eagles need to work harder to get him the ball.

On the eighth day of Christmas Jim Christian said to me, what happened to our 8-point lead?

It may not have been clear from watching the last ten minutes, but there was a point in the game when BC had control. Eight was the highest advantage BC ever gained, but it held a lead for the majority of the first half.

Coming out of the gate in the second half, two different teams emerged. USC was a reinvigorated squad, led by the effort of Nikola Jovanovic, who exploded with 10 quick points after the break. BC, meanwhile, struggled to find any consistent means of scoring and became the victim of a game-changing run.

On the seventh day of Christmas Jim Christian said to me, I can’t believe we only made seven 3-point shots.

Actually, he probably can believe it. Through its first nine games, BC was ranked 339th out of 351 Division I schools for 3-point percentage. On Sunday, BC was 7-25, making 28 percent. Sadly, that will actually raise the clip of .264 at which the team entered the game.

BC has shown that it can win without relying on 3-point shots, but that has been while shooting efficiently inside the arc. The team managed to shoot just 41.0 percent from the field on Sunday.

On the sixth day of Christmas Jim Christian said to me, I hoped my top guard would make more than six shots.

More specifically, Christian would like to see his guard be more efficient than just six of 21, including seven missed 3-pointers. Hanlan finished with 15 points and eight assists, but he never seemed like the prolific scorer he has been in the past.

This season so far has been one of inconsistency for Hanlan, the one exception being his time on the court. The junior guard has averaged 35.5 minutes through the first 10 games this year, more than any player in the ACC. BC has demonstrated it does not always need Hanlan to lead the way, but at times when the offensive flow stagnates, it could use his explosive spark. That did not come against USC.

On the fifth day of Christmas Jim Christian said to me, all I want for Christmas is a five-game win streak.

He didn’t get it.

The last five-game win streak for the team came in the final three weeks of 2012. BC will look to get back in the win column on Dec. 29 against UMass-Lowell. Until then, Christian will have to make do with presents of the unwrappable variety.

On the fourth day of Christmas Jim Christian said to me, I guess I’m glad my guys only missed four from the line.

BC hasn’t exactly been bad from the charity stripe this season, but it hasn’t been anything to write home about. Against USC, the Eagles made 14-18, which works out to 77.8 percent—a statistic that stands up with some of the best shooting teams in the country. Don’t expect BC to maintain that high of a percentage, but it’s always good to sign a team take advantage of the opportunities it’s given.

On the third day of Christmas Jim Christian said to me, where were my three top guards?

Hanlan, Aaron Brown, and Dimitri Batten combined for 30 points on the game, but needed 41 shots to do it. Even worse, the three were just 3-18 from 3-point range. It’s true that shooters go cold, and sometimes there isn’t anything you can do about it. In this one, though, BC struggled to get many good looks. The Eagles have to find a way to penetrate the two-three zone one way or another.

On the second day of Christmas Jim Christian said to me, I might want to start getting Lonnie Jackson more than two looks.

Lonnie Jackson played ten minutes in his second game this season. In both outings, he has taken two 3-pointers and come up empty on both. Jackson will certainly play a different role on a guard-heavy team this year, but BC could really use Jackson to heat up from behind the arc. He shot over 38 percent in his first three seasons at BC, and although he probably won’t get minutes in the mid-high twenties as he has in the past, he could fill a huge role for the Eagles.

On the first day of Christmas Jim Christian said to me, remember that time our football team beat USC?

Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Editor


December 22, 2014