It’ll be a process. It won’t be measured on one day. It won’t be like ‘This is the most physically demanding day I’ve ever had’. No, no, no, no, no. It’ll be like ‘This is the most physically and mentally demanding offseason I’ve had,’ and that’s going to be measured over time. It’ll be a series of days and weeks and different things we’ll do over time that will make it very, very challenging. — Head football coach Steve Addazio on preparing for what he calls the toughest offseason his players will have ever had.
Breakdown: Mark Gottfried Bests Donahue On Two Key Plays
By Austin Tedesco, Asst. Sports Editor Two back-to-back possessions decided the outcome of Boston College men’s basketball’s 78-73 loss to No. 23 North Carolina State yesterday. Both head coaches, BC’s Steve Donahue and NC State’s Mark Gottfried, had the opportunity to draw up plays coming out of timeouts. With under two minutes left and BC down by one, the Eagles tried to pull ahead but couldn’t find a good look. Scott Wood then drained a dagger for the Wolfpack on the next possession off of a perfectly designed play which would all but seal a victory for his team. Here’s a breakdown showing how both plays developed and what BC could have done differently. Lonnie Jackson inbounds to Olivier Hanlan with 1:27 left and the Eagles down 69-68. BC has a great opportunity coming out of a timeout to run a play and take a lead, putting the pressure back on the Wolfpack. Hanlan swings the ball around to Patrick Heckmann who then hits Joe Rahon. Hanlan exchanges spots with Lonnie Jackson. Rahon quickly hits Heckmann who swings it back to Jackson. Ryan Anderson remains isolated on the block, but does not post up while this action takes place on the perimeter. Then Rahon sets a screen on the man guarding Heckmann, forward C.J. Leslie, and Jackson kicks it back to the other side of the court. When Heckmann catches the pass, he has guard Lorenzo Brown on him because the Wolfpack were forced to switch on Rahon’s screen. Heckmann dribbles to the corner, but doesn’t attack Brown. Anderson then moves ball-side to post up as Heckmann passes back up to Rahon. Rather than feed Anderson inside letting the big man go to work for a basket or a trip to the line, Donahue calls for Anderson to set a screen for Rahon. With Leslie on Rahon and another forward, Richard Howell, checking Anderson, BC should have the advantage running a guard/forward pick-and-roll against two forwards. If Donahue’s goal with all of that extra action was to get this matchup, then it worked. It makes sense to put the ball in Rahon’s reliable hands, and to have the versatile Anderson as the screener. Howell steps out to check Rahon who starts driving to the lane. As Rahon attacks he’ll have very good shooters spotting up around the arc, a smart and effective big man rolling to the rim, and the ability to drive on one of the forwards defending him with the potential to draw a foul. Howell plays good defense on Rahon, but Rahon gets into the lane and has a few options here. He can lob the ball up to Anderson who looks like he has Leslie sealed, he can try to kick it out to Hanlan in the corner or Jackson up top and either one can launch a three or drive on a close-out, or Rahon can continue going to the rim. Rahon makes the unwise decision to try and score on his own and as Howell switches over to Anderson, the long and athletic Leslie comes over to challenge a tough fade-away runner by Rahon. Hanlan is open in the corner and Anderson now has Howell sealed, but Rahon is too far into his shooting motion to pass. He puts up a tough shot that falls short. NC State gets the rebound and dribbles it up the court. Gottfried calls a timeout and takes his own chance to set up a play. Wood, the Wolfpack’s deadly shooter, inbounds the ball to Brown and then runs to the block. Donahue has Jackson, who has not been very good chasing offensive players around screens, covering Wood. Then Wood comes off the block and catches on the perimeter. Brown comes back to get the ball and Wood takes off on a curl to the rim as Jackson chases him with a screen from Howell waiting. Brown could probably safely throw a lob up to Wood right here for an easy two points given how well Howell set the pick on Jackson, but he doesn’t need to. As Jackson sprints to catch up to Wood, Howell turns around to set another screen and Wood changes course. He then heads back up to the top of the key and Jackson gets caught up with Howell for long enough to give Wood space to launch a three. This is more than enough space for Wood, who drains the shot and puts the Wolfpack too far out of reach for the Eagles. BC would have another chance later in the game, but NC State won these two pivotal possessions that mattered the most. If BC could’ve found success on either one the game might have ended differently. On first viewing, it didn’t look like Donahue designed much of a play for his team, but after watching it a few times that wasn’t the case. He put Rahon in a position to create and got the pick-and-roll mismatch he wanted. Rahon decided to pursue the one option that definitely was not going to work, but his aggression is difficult to condemn. Gottfried went with a much more simple approach. Donahue’s play had four different scoring options, while Gottfried’s really only had one, Wood’s 3-pointer. With Jackson covering Wood, the result of the play was almost a foregone conclusion. Rahon or Hanlan probably could’ve stuck with Wood a little better, but that would’ve meant putting Jackson on Purvis or Brown which would’ve been a liability to get beat off the dribble.
From The Locker Room: Freshman Walk-On Drew Jacobs Gives An Inside Look Into BC Basketball
Editor’s Note: Drew Jacobs is a freshman walk-on from New Jersey playing guard for the Boston College men’s basketball team. He will be blogging periodically for The Heights during conference play. In his first entry, Jacobs looks back at a turning point in the season as the Eagles get ready for No. 23 NC State on Saturday.
Over the last few weeks, I think that our team has really begun to come together as a unit and realize what it takes to achieve our goals to be competitive in the ACC. Throughout the preseason and the first couple games in the season, our team worked so hard to get in great shape and perfect our offense and defense for the tough schedule ahead. However, we hit a rough patch and took longer than expected to develop, and realize the importance of what our coaches were teaching with regards to offensive and defensive philosophies. On December 4, our squad suffered a loss to one of our local opponents, Harvard, in a game that we really wanted to win.
The day after the game, our team was searching for answers. We were 3-5 and nowhere near where we wanted and needed to be as a team. Coach Donahue and his staff pulled us aside before practice. They could’ve easily yelled at us and radiated negative energy towards us. However, the coaches told us that we had come such a long way as a team and encouraged us to keep our heads up. We were right there, but we needed to make some key changes in order to have success. It was a pivotal point in our year, but the coaches made sure we recognized that becoming a winning team and successful program was not completely out of grasp despite a tough start to the season. He told us to keep the faith in each other and told us that we would be doing some things differently from then on.
Coach Donahue told us that we needed to preach competitiveness and hard work each and every day. We could no longer afford to play selfishly and not hustle for every ball. Since that point, our practices have become intense and extremely focused on winning each possession and drill. Our team really embraced this new mindset and I think that there couldn’t have been a bigger wake-up call to the squad. Nobody on the team complains about the ratcheted up intensity. Every single guy in the locker room is excited to go out and improve as an individual and a team daily. To top it off, our team has seen some encouraging early returns on our hard work and perseverance. We have won our last five non-conference games and all continue to improve each day in practice.
The team knows that being complacent with the success of the past couple games will not lead us to be successful in the future. Our schedule upcoming is tough, as every team in the ACC is extremely dangerous, but our team is more focused on the aspects that we can control as a team. We will continue to go our hardest each day in practice, share the ball on offense and help one another on defense. The coaches always tell us that it’s the little things each and every day, coupled with having a mindset of winning in everything we do, that will lead to building a successful program. The thing I love about our team is that everyone has a vision for the future, and we won’t be happy until our goals are reached.
Team USA Advances To Gold Medal Game Behind Two Goals From Gaudreau
(Alex Trautwig / Heights Senior Staff)
By Marly Morgus, Heights Staff
Team USA faced one of the most daunting tasks in the sport of hockey in the early hours of Thursday morning. Going up against an unbeaten Canadian squad to whom they had suffered a 2-1 loss only four days, the U.S. team was fighting for a spot in the gold medal game of the World Junior Championship.
With arguably the biggest powerhouse in the world standing between them and the final, the American team did not seem likely to advance, but Boston College forward Johnny Gaudreau stepped up and had a standout performance. He notched two goals and assisted on a third to aid his team in a statement-making 5-1 win over Canada.
Gaudreau started off strong just four minutes into the game, getting an early backhand chance that went just high of the crossbar. The U.S. did not stop pressuring, though, and just three minutes later Jake McCabe of the University of Wisconsin put Team USA on the board. The Canadian defense struggled throughout the first period, showing an inability to clear the puck. A second goal by McCabe with just four minutes remaining gave the Americans a 2-0 lead going into the first break.
Gaudreau came out firing in the second period. After an impressive Canadian chance and a save by American goalie John Gibson sent Team USA back up the ice, a toe drag and quick forehand shot from Gaudreau netted his first goal of the game. His scoring did not end there, as ten minutes later he earned another point with an assist on Harvard freshman Jim Vesey’s 4-0 goal.
With Team USA ahead by four, the Canadians made a goaltending switch and held off the Americans for the rest of the period. Early in the third, a goal by Canadian Ty Rattie of the Western Hockey League cut the American lead to three, but Gibson didn’t relent in net, stalling any sort of Canadian comeback. With just over four minutes remaining, Gaudreau scored his seventh goal of the tournament and second of the game to ice the cake on a significant American victory.
Gaudreau’s seven goals and two assists in the tournament give him the most goals and points for the Americans as they head into the gold medal game, set to play Saturday against Sweden, another unbeaten foe. The Americans are riding a strong wave, however, as dominant victories in their last three games have led them to outscore their opponents 21-4. Sweden has had slightly closer victories, edging out Russia 3-2 in the semifinal, but high save percentages from Swedish goaltenders Niklas Lundstrom and Joel Lassinantti forecast a challenge for Team USA. Despite Sweden’s talented goalies, another strong performance from Gaudreau could lead the Americans to their second gold medal in four years.
How To Beat BC: A Scouting Report Heading Into ACC Play
(Graham Beck/ Photo Editor)
By Austin Tedesco, Asst. Sports Editor
The Boston College men’s basketball team is heading into conference play with an 8-5 record and a five-game winning streak. A lot more preparation goes into ACC matchups than non-conference games, and these are the main areas that the Eagles’ opponents should focus on in their scouting reports.
Containing Ryan Anderson
The sophomore forward is leading the Eagles in scoring, but that number is misleading. Rather than the offense running through him, he constantly uses his high basketball I.Q. to find his spots in the flow of the motion system. The competition so far has had trouble slowing him down, but a strong ACC forward should fare better by zoning in on Anderson and ignoring his help duties. Anderson doesn’t respond well to being pushed off his spots with physical play. After a few possessions where he is fully denied and not allowed to make an impact, he’ll get frustrated and a major weapon in the Eagle offense will be shut down. There should always be one athletic forward on the court whose only goal defensively is to frustrate Anderson by not allowing him to catch the ball or make plays.
Handling the Guards
If the man guarding Anderson is in full deny and not focused on help defense, the pressure will shift to the freshman backcourt to create plays. Olivier Hanlan and Joe Rahon both have solid all-around games and it will be a challenge to check them defensively. When either one blows past his man, it’s important that the perimter defenders bluff and recover instead of sliding in all the way to help. Hanlan and Rahon will hit the open shooter, and if shots start falling from beyond the arc, the BC offense gets dangerous. It’s better to force the guards to try to finish around the rim against bigger and stronger ACC frontcourts, rather than give up open threes to strong shooters.
Trap the Post Until The Risk Outweights the Reward
If BC tries to establish Anderson or center Dennis Clifford in the post, throw a double team their way. Neither big has proven to have the ability to punish defenses by hitting the open man when the extra defender comes. Even if Clifford or Anderson swing it out to the right man, the perimeter players are slow to make the extra pass and find the best shot. This strategy is more to get BC out of rhythm rather than prevent low-post buckets, as the big men haven’t been all that effective one-on-one down low.
Push the Ball in Transition and Crash the Boards
BC is no longer horrific in transition defense, but the team is still not good. The most effective shots against the Eagles come on either the primary or the secondary break. If the lane isn’t open immediately on the fast break, look for a trailing player on the perimeter. A BC defender should be late picking him up and an open shot will probably be there.
This will also lead to good opportunities for second-chance points. The Eagles do not box out consistently and struggle to take advantage of teams that attack the glass on offense. BC’s transition offense is not that effective yet, and there isn’t a significant risk in not getting back quickly on defense.
If Possible, Run Everything Through the Post
The Eagles’ biggest weakness so far has been post-defense against mediocre big men. Entry passes deep on the block come very easily, and both Anderson and Clifford allow offensive players to take easy shots near the rim. The perimeter defenders are aware of this and start ball-watching, which leads to open shooters or good driving opportunities. A decent power forward or center should have a good game against BC and the better ACC bigs have the potential for career days.
Force BC to Make Rotations
Rahon is a smart and reliable defender, but everyone else is a liability due to inconsistent play on the defensive end. Try to get Heckmann or Jackson caught defending pick-and-rolls or chasing guys around the court with screens off the ball. This will lead to mistakes during these plays, or it will wear them down, making it easier to beat them off the dribble late in the shot clock.
Gaudreau Competes With U.S. Squad At World Junior Championships
By Marly Morgus, Heights Staff
With negotiations stretching on and on, the players and owners of the NHL are on the verge of reaching their own fiscal cliff. Over the past few months, hockey fans have struggled to get their dose of action as the NHL lockout has cancelled more than half of its regular season. If an agreement isn’t reached in the next three weeks, fans, players, coaches and owners can all say goodbye to the second season in nine years. Boston College fans have had slight relief, but with winter break comes a gap in the schedule only filled by BC forward Johnny Gaudreau as he heads off to Ufa, Russia.
Every year, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) holds a tournament for the most promising under-20 hockey players from around the world, giving the Canadians two national holidays on December 26: Boxing Day and the beginning of the IIHF World Junior Championships. Wednesday brought a much-needed hockey fix for those missing the regular season action and gave an opportunity to glimpse into the league’s future.
After being cut at the U.S. camp in 2012, Gaudreau made the American roster for 2013 as the squad competes for a world title in Ufa. The tournament is played out over the course of 10 days, starting with group play then leading into a four round tournament.
The U.S. has traditionally performed strongly in the tournament with its main competitors being Canada, Russia, Sweden, and the Czech Republic. The past three years have shown a tournament win in 2010, a third place finish in 2011, but a disappointing 7th place finish in 2012 that leaves the team ready for redemption.
The team started off strong with an 8-0 shutout over Germany, setting a strong foundation and earning three points in group play. Despite the strong performance, the U.S. fell to Russia 2-1 today. Gaudreau has yet to earn a point in tournament play, something that will have to change if the team hopes to compete in the next few days.
Starved hockey fans can tune into the NHL Network at slightly odd hours in order to find coverage of each of the U.S. games and watch Gaudreau and the other Americans fight their way towards the title game on Jan. 5th.