Sports, Basketball, Men's Basketball

Hicks Proves His Value Off the Bench in Loss to Florida State

Darryl Hicks is not the best basketball player at Boston College. He has made just one start, he averages just 13.7 minutes and 3.9 points, and he has never made more than one free throw in a game.

In many ways, he’s a great representation of this year’s bench—a group that BC (7-13, 0-7 Atlantic Coast) has needed to step up to help a streaky starting lineup. As has been the case for much of ACC play, Eli Carter missed twice as many shots as he made during BC’s Tuesday night matchup against Florida State (13-7, 3-5), and though Jerome Robinson picked up some of the slack, the Eagles couldn’t last a full 40 minutes. FSU’s bench outscored BC’s 21-13 on its way to a 72-62 win for the Seminoles.

Individually, Hicks put up a solid performance, knocking down 3-of-5 from the field, grabbing three rebounds, and playing better defense on forwards than should be expected from a 6-foot-2 guard. After slowly working his way back from a pair of devastating knee injuries that forced him to miss his first two seasons at BC, Hicks has turned into head coach Jim Christian’s scrappiest guy.

Darryl Hicks

Unfortunately, it took a hard crash onto the ground toward the end of the game for him to get real attention for it.

Besides point guard leaders Carter and Robinson, who play about 33 minutes a game, and fellow starters Dennis Clifford and A.J. Turner, who each average in the mid-20s, BC has six other players, including Hicks, who have played most games. In that time, those guys have made relatively little impact on the score—they have each averaged fewer than 20 minutes and five points a game.

Where some of BC’s losses in ACC play have ultimately come down to cold shooting performances and poor overall offensive execution, that wasn’t the biggest issue against Florida State—though as a team, the Eagles made just 2-of-9 free throws, their worst all-time percentage at Conte Forum, according to BC basketball’s media guide. From the field, however, the Eagles outshot the Seminoles 44.8 to 39 percent in the game and utterly lit up the 3-point line, making 42.1 percent compared to FSU’s 29.4. Take out a few desperate heaves by Carter near the end, and BC’s shooting would look even better.

The real issue was on the offensive glass. With both Clifford and backup center Idy Diallo in some early foul trouble, the Eagles were forced to play small, to the benefit of FSU’s Dwayne Bacon and Jarquez Smith, who combined for eight offensive boards on the night. In all, the Seminoles outrebounded BC 46-28, with a 16-6 advantage on the offensive side.

“We’re not very big to begin with, it’s hard rebounding sometimes out of zone, because assignments get a little shaky,” Christian said.

This is where Hicks really comes in. Despite being 6-foot-2, two of Hicks’ three rebounds were on the offensive side. He jumps up in the air for those boards, he hustles and dives on the ground for loose balls—all aspects that have been notably missing from BC’s young team this season. He’s also playing in tough spots on the defensive side, filling in down low on the zone on a guard-heavy BC squad.

“He’s in a tough spot,” Christian said. “He plays two, three, and four for us because of our team. But he does battle. One thing about Darryl, he’s probably our toughest kid.”

Christian likened Hicks to Clifford—an apt comparison, as both have missed extensive time due to their respective injuries. They’re also the two guys currently playing hardest on the court for the Eagles.

“When the game is taken away from you, you kind of reevaluate things,” Christian said. “So I think he’s just happy to be playing. But he does compete.”

Toward the end of the second half, this intensity caught up to him a bit. Just minutes after Robinson came out of the game after slamming into the ground on a breakaway dunk, Hicks attempted to make a steal, fell, and his face slammed into the floor, making a sound no coach ever wants to hear.

Hicks walked off the court, but didn’t return to the game—the first in a while that BC has been close enough to start the foul game at the end, though it never got too close. Yet the effort he made on that play alone stood out. Christian has said earlier this season that while Carter and Clifford do have certain roles as leaders on this team, it’s also up to the younger guys to take up the responsibility. Hicks is showing just how that can be done.

Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor

January 26, 2016

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