Men's Basketball

Notebook: Despite Road Victory, BC’s Early-Season Struggles Continue

After back-to-back losses, Boston College men’s basketball was looking to get back on track against Hartford in the final game of a three-game road trip. Although a game against No. 1 Duke looms in the coming week, it was important for the Eagles to stay in the present against a Hawks team that pulled off a buzzer-beater upset just a year ago. BC was able to beat Hartford, 73-61, a game in which the backcourt duo of Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson each put up 20-plus points, while forward Nik Popovic added a double-double and three blocks. But BC (6-3) had no luck correcting some of its early-season miscues.

Three Up

1. Making History
Jerome Robinson needed just 13 points to become the 42nd member of BC’s exclusive 1,000-point club, and he scored 23. With nine minutes left in the second half, Robinson took a strong drive down the baseline for a tough layup off the glass to reach the milestone. Luckily for the Eagles, Robinson’s game was not just about reaching the four-digit mark. Once he got the highlight-reel layup, Robinson went on a tear, scoring nine points down the stretch. After Hartford (3-6) managed to tie the game with under six minutes left, Robinson had a big alley-oop jam just seconds later. The fastbreak dunk took Hartford out of their comfort zone, as they committed several turnovers down the stretch as the pace of the game increased. Robinson affirmed his veteran status by going 6-of-6 from the charity stripe and only committing one turnover. The game was also coach Jim Christian’s 500th as head coach.

2. Mighty Mitchell
Steffon Mitchell got the dirty work done for the Eagles on Saturday night. He shot just 1-for-7 from the floor, and missed his only free throw attempt, but was still a big factor in the comeback win. The 6-foot-8 Mitchell looked like an NFL cornerback on the floor. He read the eyes of Jason Dunne perfectly and made a beautiful sideline, toe-tapping interception on one end that led to a layup of his own on the other. He finished with a season-high three steals and four offensive rebounds. The mismatches at the guard position allowed Bowman and Robinson to take over the game, but without Mitchell, the Eagles may not have been able to pull away in this one.

3. Bowman’s Friendly Rolls
On two separate occasions, Bowman and the Eagles got lucky. The sophomore pulled up from deep twice, shooting a pair of 3-pointers that looked as if they were off the mark. The first went off the back rim and shot up at least ten feet in the air. The ball’s trajectory, however, stayed perfectly vertical and travelled right back down through the hoop. Bowman’s next shot bricked right off the end of the rim, rolled around, and landed softly in the net. The six points turned his 15-point outing into a 21-point season-high. The timing of the lucky shots also took the air out of the Hawks’ attempt at a late-game comeback. Hartford appeared to think that Bowman’s fortune would carry over to its own success, but instead went 4-for-17 from long range in the second half, including four embarrassing airballs.

Three Down

1. Slow Start
What is it with BC and its slow starts? Again, the Eagles let up an early lead to a lesser opponent. Their 2-0 advantage lasted just 21 seconds until John Carroll hit a 3-pointer, which started a 15-2 run for the Hawks—one in which BC was held scoreless for a four-minute stretch. The Eagles proceeded to go on their own 15-2 outburst, taking the lead with just under 10 minutes remaining in the first half. The fact remains, however, that poor initial showings have been a consistent theme.

2. Bench Play
The Eagles also need to improve in terms of bench production. Unfortunately for Christian, BC could not have done worse in the substitute department, as its bench failed to score a single point in the game. While the quartet of Bowman, Robinson, Nik Popovic, and Jordan Chatman combined for 71, Mitchell only contributed an additional two points. BC played well, but the imbalance of scoring on the court is worrisome. Freshman Vin Baker Jr. went up against his father’s old team, and was allotted 10 minutes of game time, but didn’t get a single shot up in the contest. The Eagles have 16 players on their roster, but only a quarter of them really showed up in the box score.

3. Perimeter Defense
Outside shooting allowed Hartford to keep it close, as it built an early 9-2 lead by knocking down three-straight triples. The Hawks’ starters went 10-of-23 from 3-point land, hitting six in the first half. Before missing seven-straight toward the end of the game, it appeared as if Hartford was going to give BC a run for its money. Heading into the Eagles’ first ACC game next weekend, they have to get things together. Bowman and Robinson may have combined for 44 points, but if they cannot get it together on the other end, it will be a long winter for BC. If Hartford can rack up a total of 30 points from behind the arc, how many will Grayson Allen and Co. be able to tally against BC before things get out of hand.

Featured Image by Jake Evans / Heights Staff

December 3, 2017