Men's Basketball

Notebook: Robinson’s Dominant Performance Not Enough Against Cavaliers

In its second conference game of the season on Saturday, Boston College men’s basketball went neck and neck on the road against another top-10 opponent—Virginia. Despite sloppy turnovers and Ky Bowman’s ineffectiveness, Jerome Robinson stepped up, scoring 29 points and nearly delivering his team its second upset victory of the month. The Eagles fell one point short of the Cavaliers, losing, 59-58, at John Paul Jones Arena.

Three Up

1) Legitimate ACC Force

While a one-point loss is always a heartbreaker, it’s easy for fans to be excited by BC’s (10-4, 1-1 Atlantic Coast) performance in its first two ACC games this year. Beating No. 9 UVA (12-1, 1-0) at home is extremely difficult, especially with such a young team. But considering that the Eagles knocked off then-No. 1 Duke three weeks ago, and were one basket away from defeating the Cavaliers, it’s only reasonable to think that the rest of the conference, and even the country, is starting to recognize head coach Jim Christian’s team as a legitimate force. BC’s defense looks much improved, allowing only 59 points against a UVA team that was favored by 15 coming in, and poured on 71 the last time these two met.

2) Jerome Robinson

Saturday afternoon was more about the battle of the Jeromes than anything else in Charlottesville, Va. Ty Jerome and Jerome Robinson recorded 31 and 29 points for their respective teams. BC’s Jerome Robinson hit 12 shots on 55 percent shooting. He was the scoring punch that the Eagles needed to keep them in the game. Time and time again, the 6-foot-5 guard attacked the rim at will. Because of UVA’s pack-line defense, shooting from the outside was less than ideal. Robinson quickly adapted and made a home for himself in the paint. He proved that he can carry the team if Ky Bowman, who shot 20 percent from the field on Saturday, can’t find a rhythm.

3) Defense

BC’s defense didn’t have much of an answer for Jerome, who shot 65 percent from the floor, drilling six 3-pointers and dropping a career-high 31 points. That being said, the sophomore’s success wasn’t a byproduct of poor Eagles defense. Rather, he was simply playing lights out. It looked as if every shot Jerome put up was going in. The team did do a great job of locking down the rest of UVA’s players though, limiting the team to just 40 percent shooting and forcing nine turnovers, including eight in the first half alone. Even without a guy like Teddy Hawkins, Nik Popovic, Luka Kraljevic, and Steffon Mitchell held their own against UVA’s Jack Salt and Isaiah Wilkins.

Three Down

1) Turnover Woes Continue  

BC recorded double-digit turnovers for the 10th-straight game, coming as no surprise against a stingy Cavaliers defense that ranks first in the country in points allowed per game (52.3) and second in the country in opponent field goal percentage (35.9 percent). The turnover-prone Eagles coughed up the ball 13 times. Bowman himself gave up possession on five separate occasions in the first half. Popovic also turned the ball over four times, and committed an offensive foul before putting up the final shot of the game, all but sealing BC’s fate. While the Eagles took care of the ball better down the stretch, recording just four turnovers in the second half, their inconsistency and poor ball security has been an issue all year, and, as of late, there have been little to no signs of improvement.  

2) Interior Struggles

The Eagles had a tough time battling inside against UVA’s frontcourt tandem of Wilkins and Salt, who totaled eight offensive boards and six blocks. Wilkins was particularly spectacular, imposing his physicality on both ends of the floor and finishing two points shy of a double-double. When all was said and done, he carved out quite an impressive stat line: eight points, 14 boards, and four rejections—none more important than his potential game-saving block on Bowman with five seconds left on the clock. Aside from Robinson, BC had a difficult time penetrating, and often had to settle for deep two-pointers and 3-pointers.

3) Poor Shooting

Jordan Chatman once again was the only efficient player from deep, connecting on four of his five 3-point attempts. The rest of the team shot a mere 3-of-17 from beyond the arc. At times, Popovic, who missed all three of his shots from 3-point land, was forced to throw up distressed triples late in the shot clock. UVA’s iconic defensive scheme encouraged dribble penetration, tempting the Eagles to kick it back outside. But just when it appeared as if they had an open look on the perimeter, a Cavaliers defender would come flying in to contest the shot. If other players, namely Bowman, had been more effective from deep, the game would’ve been a different story.

Featured Image by Zack Wajsgras / AP Photo

December 31, 2017