“Right now it’s all about keeping your focus on this first phase. Don’t even worry about phases two or phase three. Forget all of that. Forget about plays. Forget about offenses. Forget about defenses. Forget about schemes right now. Just be completely submerged and locked into what’s at hand right now. Which is having a tremendous work ethic, pushing yourself beyond what you’ve done before, being accountable, and pushing your teammates. That’s what’s important right now.”—Head football coach Steve Addazio told his players to only focus on phase one right now, which is winter conditioning that started today.
“It won’t be measured in one day. It will be measured over time. Will today be hard in [workouts]? Well, yeah. Their strength coach is working them and it’s new, it’s different. It’s not just about moving weight right now. It’s about accountability. It’s about detail. It’s about the exactness of everything. That’s our style. It’s exact instructions and exact everything, because you’re not just developing conditioning and strength right now, you’re developing accountability and mental toughness. That’s just not something you do by yelling at somebody, that’s something you do every day.
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 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.
On a day when Boston College was hurting in size, the battle in the paint is what earned the Eagles the win. Ryan Anderson turned in a gutsy performance with 17 second-half points to give BC a 71-68 win over Providence at Conte Forum.
Freshmen Olivier Hanlan and Joe Rahon both played the entire game and contributed in major ways, as Hanlan recorded his first collegiate double-double (17 points, 12 rebounds) and Rahon shut down the Friars on the defensive end.
The game featured 14 lead changes throughout the 40 minutes, and in the end, the Eagles came out on top.
“I thought it was a well-played game,” said head coach Steve Donahue. “Neither team could shake the other team.”
It was BC that finally shook off the Friars, as a 3-pointer from Patrick Heckmann with 5:59 remaining gave the Eagles a 59-56 lead that they would never relinquish.
BC hit seven 3-pointers on the day, but it was the play in the key that gave the Eagles the edge over Providence. With time winding down and the Friars hanging around, Rahon found Anderson underneath the basket twice in the final minutes to keep BC ahead.
“[Providence] had a lot of size on their team and with Dennis being hurt and Andrew Van Nest being out with a concussion, I just took it upon myself to be the force in the paint for us tonight,” Anderson said.
The second play from Rahon to Anderson came with the shot clock in its final seconds, as Rahon made something out of a broken play to find his big man for two points.
“I thought it was incredible—end of the shot clock, staying poised, finding [Anderson] in a tight spot and Ryan’s so good at finishing those with his hands,” Donahue said.
Donahue said he trusted Rahon more than anyone else in that situation to handle the ball, and his guard came through for him.
“I just have so much respect for Joe and his understanding of the game,” Donahue said. “He’s just a winner. You gotta make game-winning plays. Someone’s going to have to step up and stop him because he doesn’t lose his poise. He stays with it.”
The Eagles committed a season-low eight turnovers, as taking care of the ball down the stretch allowed them to hold off Providence in the waning minutes.
“It’s huge for us every game,” Donahue said of the low turnovers. “We’re not necessarily going to be the most athletic and physical team, so we got to be great with the basketball. We were great with the ball today. I don’t think there was any bad decision.
“We have to get less than 10 turnovers [per game] in this league if we’re going to be competitive this year.”
Dennis Clifford returned to action for the first time since Nov. 28 in limited playing minutes, still battling an ankle injury and sore knees. But the big man contributed four points and five rebounds, and more importantly, was a force on the defensive end for BC.
“I think a big lift we got was from Dennis,” Donahue said. “I know it doesn’t show too much, but he hasn’t played basketball, literally—except for a couple of games—in two months. He’s not healthy. He’s hurting. His knees are killing him. And his ankle’s not good. But he thought he could help us bang some bodies and I thought he did a great job.”
Hanlan’s 12 rebounds were a career-high for him, and his effort in the paint helped Anderson control Providence’s forwards. Rahon guarded LaDontae Henton—who came in averaging 16.6 points per game—and held him to just four points on the day. The play of the guards helped Anderson slow down the Friars down low, especially when Clifford wasn’t in the game.
“I thought a lot of the guards came in and helped me out on the rebounds,” Anderson said. “I don’t know how many Olivier and Joe had but they were really in there battling for a lot of rebounds for us. I thought it was a team effort of combating their size and strength inside. That was the key to the game.”
The win got the Eagles above .500 going into their small Christmas break, and was a big step forward in the team’s progression. Providence resembles the kind of team that BC will be facing in a lot of its ACC competition, and a win against the Friars did a lot for the young squad’s confidence.
“To pull [the win] out,” Anderson said, “is just big for our program moving forward to continue to grow as a team.”
Brown and Day Announced As Defensive and Offensive Coordinators
By Greg Joyce, Sports Editor
Don Brown has been named the new defensive coordinator at Boston College, head coach Steve Addazio announced today.
“We’re very excited to have Don Brown joining our Boston College family,” Addazio said in a statement. “Don is a New England guy who has tremendous ties and relationships in the Northeast to go along with a great coaching resume. He has tremendous character and is a great family man who is a perfect fit here at Boston College.”
Brown most recently held the same position at the University of Connecticut from 2011-2012 and the University of Maryland from 2009-2010. Prior to that, he was the head coach at UMass from 2004-2008.
“Coach Addazio has presented me with a great challenge – one that I am very excited about,” Brown said in the release. “I’m excited to be back in the ACC. “The positive thing for me is that I’m a New England guy. I’m from Massachusetts. Coaching at Boston College has always been a wish of mine.”
In 2012, Brown’s defense at UConn was ranked 10th nationally in total defense, while BC placed 101st in the same category. Most notably, the Huskies’ defense allowed just 97.92 rushing yards per game this year (seventh in the FBS), as opposed to the 214.08 rushing yards per game that the Eagles allowed—112th in the FBS.
"I’m a firm believer that you play the game on the balls of your feet, not on your heels," Brown said. "From day one, we’re going to be aggressive. We’re going to attack the line of scrimmage. We’re going to get after the quarterback. We’re going to play with our hair on fire on defense. I’m a big believer in playing for tackles for loss and being disruptive and making life difficult for the quarterback. We’re going to attack. That’s the style of defense that I’ve employed. We’re going to fly around and attack the pass.”
Brown, 57, will take over at DC for Bill McGovern, becoming the second official hire by Addazio.
Last January, Brown was thought to be leaving UConn to be named the head coach at Yale, but pulled his name from consideration late in the process.
During his time at UMass, Brown coached a team that won 43 games, as he compiled a .694 winning percentage—the best in UMass history.
BC also officially announced that Addazio has named Ryan Day the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
“He [Ryan Day] played for me and I coached with him,” Oregon head coach Chip Kelly said in the release. “He was a great kid and one of the bright minds as well as one of the best players I have ever coached. I think he is one of the best young coaches in the country and it was just a matter of time before he was running the show, offensively, somewhere.”
BC vs. UNH: Breaking Down The Final Play of Regulation
By Austin Tedesco, Asst. Sports Editor
With 17.5 seconds left in regulation today, the Boston College men’s basketball team had possession with the score tied at 52-52 against UNH. Head coach Steve Donahue called a timeout and drew up a potentially game-winning play for his team. The shot wouldn’t fall, but the Eagles went on to win in overtime. Here’s a breakdown of the last play of regulation and where it went wrong for BC:
After the inbound pass, freshman guard Olivier Hanlan hands the ball off to Joe Rahon who initiates the play on the left side of the court, as shown above. Hanlan runs through to the other side of the court while sophomore forward Ryan Anderson gets ready to run a pick-and-roll with Rahon. The intention here, Donahue said, is to use the ball screen as a misdirection hoping to catch the UNH defense ball-watching. Anderson is a good choice as the decoy screener given his offensive success during the game.
As Anderson sets the screen for Rahon, Hanlan and Heckmann get ready to set a stagger screen for sophomore Lonnie Jackson, who is in the corner. Donahue is trying to get Jackson an open 3-point look and the play is run early enough to allow for an offensive rebound if the shot is missed. Up to this point in the game, BC was 0-19 from behind the arc and was only three misses away from the NCAA record for most three-point attempts without a make. Despite that, Donahue said he had confidence in Jackson taking a three if it was open and if he could get his feet set.
Rahon uses the screen, and Heckmann’s man sags all the way into the paint to prevent a pass to Anderson off the roll without seeing Jackson. Jackson’s man is also watching the ball and is ready to help if Anderson rolls so he gets stuck on Hanlan’s screen. Anderson’s 23 points were a big reason this play almost worked. UNH’s main goal is to keep him from scoring. With Hanlan’s man playing tight as Hanlan sets the first of the two staggered screens and Heckmann’s man watching the ball, it looks like Jackson is about to be wide open.
If Rahon throws this pass now, Jackson would be able to get off a very good and very open shot and there would be enough time left for Anderson or Heckmann to grab an offensive board and get up a put back if Jackson misses. Instead, Rahon “fell asleep at the wheel” according to Donahue and hit Jackson late. Donahue said Rahon admitted that he should’ve passed it to Jackson earlier. Since Rahon waits too long, the UNH defenders already start to run out at Jackson before the ball has even left Rahon’s hands. Jackson is also further away from the line than he would’ve been if Rahon hit him earlier.
When Jackson finally does get the ball, the defense is already back in position and he’s forced to hand the ball off to Rahon who launches a deep, contested three that misses.
This was a good play design by Donahue that almost worked perfectly. He has been great designing plays out of timeouts during his time at BC, and this was no exception. BC was ice cold from three all game, but Jackson has proven that his confidence is always high and I don’t think Donahue would want anyone else taking that clutch shot. If the play was designed to hit Anderson in the post or to have Hanlan attack the rim, there would be too much risk for a mistake. This was an easily executable play that didn’t work because Rahon hit Jackson just a split-second too late.
Eagles Allow Second Half To Snowball Out Of Control In Fifth-Straight Loss To Harvard
(Graham Beck/Photo Editor)
By Austin Tedesco, Asst. Sports Editor
When head coach Steve Donahue sees his team shoot almost 60 percent from the field, he expects them to win. Despite the apparent offensive efficiency on Tuesday night, the Boston College men’s basketball fell to Harvard 79-63 in the program’s fifth straight loss to the Crimson.
“It’s hard to imagine you shoot 58 percent and lose by 16 pretty handedly,” Donahue said. “There’s a mental toughness side on both sides of the ball that they had and we didn’t. That was, I’m sure, apparent to everybody. In particular, when they pressured us – even though we were scoring we were never understanding and staying poised and confident in our offense. But when we pressured them they just moved like clockwork to the next thing. And like I said it’s kind of mind-boggling to put up those kinds of numbers and lose pretty handedly.”
Ryan Anderson opened the game by scoring 11 of the Eagles first 13 points and it looked as though the Crimson didn’t have an answer for the BC forward, but after the first five minutes his offense began to fade.
“Part of our offense is everyone moves and everyone touches the ball,” said freshman guard Joe Rahon. “Looking back we probably should’ve tried to make more of an effort on the court to try to get it to him when he was hot, but they did do a good job of keying on him. When we were driving they were shading him a little bit more than they did at the start of the game, but looking back we probably should’ve tried to ride him a little more there.”
BC kept the game in reach until the second half, when Harvard went on a run that the Eagles couldn’t match.
“The Achilles’ heel for us is that we allow a play that just happened to snowball to the next play, and it happens in all facets of basketball,” Donahue said. “It’s something that I can’t tell you how many times we talk about it, we harp on it, and we show it to them on film.”
The Harvard players methodically attacked the BC defense on their way to tying their highest point total of the season so far. They made BC defend for the whole shot-clock before finally finding a clean look that consistently fell through the net.
“That’s the two hardest things to do in basketball,” Donahue said. “Is to push it early on and stop them, and then to have the poise and toughness and confidence at the end of the shot clock, and they exploited both ends of that.”
On the offensive end, BC was flustered by the Harvard pressure which broke the rhythm of the motion offense.
“They did a great job of pressuring us and trying to deny easy swing passes,” Rahon said. “I think we didn’t handle it as well as we needed to. We knew they were going to do it. We knew it was coming and we were trying to just get backdoor cuts, get sharp cuts, and move the ball, but they did a good job of taking us out of our rhythm there for a little bit, and we were never really able to turn it around and get over the hump.”
Donahue wouldn’t chalk up the loss to experience, though.
“Can’t say experience anymore,” Donahue said. “I’m done with that. The defense was poor. It’s got to get better. We’ll work at it, but the defense was really poor.”
Although many of the Eagles looked out of sync and worn down during the second half, Donahue said it wasn’t an issue with effort.
“It’s not effort,” Donahue said. “It isn’t. We have to, my staff and myself, get them playing at a certain high level, consistently, all the time, and not missing a beat. It appears at time that it’s effort, but I just think it’s the mental toughness part of it that the guys don’t have the ability to fight through. These guys will continue to get better at it, we’ll continue to bring people into this program that understand it, and we’ll build a culture similar to what we did at Cornell and similar to what Harvard has – but to say they’re not trying? No, they try. They try really hard.”
His players need to be more mentally tough, and he says that will come through failures like this as he continues to build the program.
“I love these guys, as I say all the time,” Donahue said. “I have great confidence that they’ll get it and we’re going to work extremely hard to do it. Unfortunately, and I know I sound like a broken record, but we’re going to have failures here. We’re going to have some extreme frustration, but that to me is the only way you can be successful.”
UPDATE: Steve Addazio Hired As New Head Football Coach
By Greg Joyce, Sports Editor
Steve Addazio will be the next head coach of the Boston College football team, athletic director Brad Bates announced today. Addazio will leave his job as head coach at Temple University to take over for Frank Spaziani, who was fired just nine days ago.
“I’ve only been here six weeks,” Bates said. “I’m looking for a partner who I can be joined at the hip with and really strive for excellence in Boston College athletics. [Addazio] is a key leader in this department.”
Bates interviewed Addazio on two separate occasions before making the hire official today. Addazio will be signed to a six-year contract, though the money was not disclosed.
“The process, as I’ve said all along – I wasn’t really strictly adhering to a timeline,” Bates told The Heights, just after he met with the team to announce the hire. “We had to make sure we got a perfect fit. The process was meticulous and deliberate enough that there’s no question in my mind we were able to accomplish that.”
Bates met with the media on Tuesday night to further discuss the hiring.
“I really believe that Steve Addazio is a great coach who is a great fit for Boston College right now,” Bates said.
Since he met with the players nine days ago and talked about what they wanted in a new head coach, Bates knew that he needed to hire a coach the players could build a strong relationship with.
“Everything in Steve’s background demonstrates that he’s going to create a family culture in the program that’s a team,” Bates said.
Secondly, the team wanted a coach who brought great passion to the locker room and the field, and Bates said he found exactly that in Addazio.
“You’ll see [Addazio] has incredible passion and energy,” Bates said. “He is one of the most energized, passionate people I’ve ever been around. His enthusiasm is contagious. Just sitting around him, you’re going to feel more inspired. So imagine that playing out in a coaching methodology.”
The third factor the team wanted in a coach was someone who was going to win, and Bates said that Addazio “certainly has a background in competitive success and winning.”
During the search process, Bates talked to NFL owners, NFL coaches, commissioners, college head coaches and assistant coaches, executive directors, and more. He reached out to those people he trusted in order to figure out if certain candidates would be a good fit at BC.
At the end of the 2012 season, multiple BC football players came out and said there was a lack of accountability on the team. While the players said the responsibility falls on them to change that, Bates believes that Addazio can help improve that attitude as well.
“He’s got a plan, he’ll be a disciplinarian,” Bates said. “He will be incredibly demanding on and off the field, but at the end of the day, the students are going to know he genuinely and sincerely cares about them.”
Bates told the players in a team meeting at 5 p.m. today, and wanted them to hear the announcement from him first.
“We wanted to make sure the players heard it from us,” Bates said. “We try to do everything we can to make sure they’re not hearing it secondhand. We tried to be as stealth as possible so that they’d hear it from us.”
Though he didn’t want to put words in their mouth, Bates said the players’ reactions “seemed to be a general level of excitement and enthusiasm.”
While the coaching carousel in college football is ongoing and unpredictable, Bates made it seem like he didn’t think Addazio would use BC as a stepping stone in his career.
“This is a guy who grew up in the Northeast and has dreamed of being at Boston College,” Bates said. “He is thrilled to be here and he’s already hitting the ground running. We bounced over a lot of things today in terms of what needs to be prepared and what he’s already getting into.
“Who can predict the future? Is any place a destination anymore? The landscape of college athletics is evolving so quickly, and there’s so many different variables that are involved in how people choose jobs and their longevity. I can’t predict the future completely. But here’s a guy who’s incredibly enthusiastic to be at Boston College.”
Bates said he was looking for a coach who would provide some stability in a program that has had a lot of attrition in recent history.
“Continuity is an incredible cohesive force in building a team,” Bates said. “And so having attrition is disruptive. This team has had a lot of disruption in terms of that continuity.”
Bates said that Addazio has been on his list of potential coaching candidates “for a number of years.”
Addazio compiled a record of 13-11 at Temple in his two years there—9-4 in 2011 (as a member of the MAC) and 4-7 in 2012 (as a member of the Big East). Prior to that, Addazio was the offensive coordinator at Florida in 2009 and 2010, and an assistant at various spots from 2005-2008. While at Florida, Addazio was part of a staff that won the BCS national championship in 2006 and 2008. He served as a mentor for the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Tim Tebow during that time.
Bates first got to know Addazio when he was at Florida, and has been watching and studying him since then. He also got to see Addazio firsthand when Temple faced Miami in a game during the 2011 season.
“I saw him firsthand two years ago because I was at Miami University and Temple was still in the MAC,” Bates said. “I had actually gotten to know him a few years ago when he was at Florida, and I have been really watching him since his work at Florida and [I have] been studying him. So that’s why he was on my shortlist to begin with.”
Former BC assistant coach Ryan Day worked under Addazio at Temple this year, and Bates said that while he didn’t talk to Day directly, he did get Day’s take secondhand.
“I talked to a lot of people, but not directly,” he said. “I didn’t want to do things … there are two ways of approaching it. You can have trusted colleagues make calls so there’s no direct communication, but people that you know and trust, you can call directly. I don’t know Ryan personally, so there was communication that was taking place, but it was secondhand.”
Regarding the current BC coaching staff, Bates said it is something that has yet to be decided in terms of who will stay and who will go.
“All of that’s undecided,” he said. “We’ve certainly had conversations, but nothing that would be definitive at this point. We’ve talked in general terms. He clearly has some ideas of what he wants to do, but he’s going to research the context. He’s going to visit with the team, he’s going to visit with the staff.
“This is a well-connected guy in the football community. He’s going to have an amazing collection of coaches that he can assemble. The key is going to be making sure that he gets a group that has diverse skill sets and experiences so that they compliment one another.”
Speculation had surfaced this morning from outlets including ESPN that the three finalists were Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, Ball State head coach Pete Lambo, and the New Orleans Saints’ offensive line coach Aaron Kromer. Addazio’s name had not come up as a candidate throughout the process, and in response to the supposed list of finalists, Bates said it was “interesting.”
“Honestly, I don’t know what the speculation was,” Bates said. “Steve was actually someone on my short list from the beginning. He’s got a tremendous reputation, people speak very highly of him. People that I respect in the industry have enormous regard for his talents and what he’s done in his coaching background.”
Addazio, 53, will be introduced in an official press conference at 3 p.m. tomorrow in the Yawkey Center at BC.
“We’ve talked in general terms. He clearly has some ideas of what he wants to do, but he’s going to research the context. He’s going to visit with the team, he’s going to visit with the staff. This is a well-connected guy in the football community. He’s going to have an amazing collection of coaches that he can assemble. The key is going to be making sure that he gets a group that has diverse skill sets and experiences so that they compliment one another.”—Brad Bates, asked about what will happen to the current Boston College football staff with the hiring of Steve Addazio as head coach.
Boston College will hire a new head football coach in the next 24-48 hours, sources told The Heights Tuesday morning. Athletic director Brad Bates later tweeted that he met with the seniors on the team this morning to “keep them informed about [the] search.”
“Important for team to hear news first when we’re ready for announcement,” Bates wrote in the tweet at 11:56 a.m.
ESPN’s Brett McMurphy is reporting that the three finalists for the job are Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, Ball State head coach Pete Lembo, and the NFL’s New Orleans Saints’ offensive line coach Aaron Kromer.
Bates is currently on campus in Chestnut Hill, and according to Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune, Diaco is in Arkansas for the Broyles Award Luncheon, where he is expected to be honored as the top assistant coach in college football.
Notre Dame is the No. 1 team in the country, and Diaco’s defense will be playing Alabama in the national championship game on Jan. 7. Lembo’s Ball State went 9-3 this year, and will play in the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl on Dec. 21. Kromer has been an NFL assistant since 2000, and before that was an assistant coach at Miami University in Ohio from 1990-1998.
In its first true road win since the spring of 2011, the Boston College men’s basketball team managed to get back on track after an ugly loss to Bryant with a 73-61 win over Penn State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday night in State College.
The Eagles were led by freshmen guards Olivier Hanlan and Joe Rahon on the offensive end and also received some solid bench play from Lonnie Jackson and Andrew Van Nest.
Both teams started off slow from the field in the first half, but BC managed to find its stroke first. A Jackson three and a dunk by Ryan Anderson opened up a 10-2 lead early on before PSU began making shots. While neither team played at its best on offense, the first half turned into a back and forth affair. Van Nest made a late 3-pointer to give the Eagles a 10-point lead, but the Nittany Lions hit one of their own just before the buzzer and BC went into the break leading 31-24. Head coach Steve Donahue was pleased with his team’s effort in the first half and spoke about the Eagles’ high level of intensity.
“I thought we came out with the right mindset,” Donahue said. “We had the energy level that you need to compete and I think that’s something that hasn’t been consistent with us this year. I thought we did a great job of really coming out and playing hard, playing physical, and playing with great passion.”
The Eagles came out hot in the second half and looked ready to bury PSU. Hanlan, Rahon, and Jackson led the offense for BC, who saw its lead grow as high as 20 points with just over five minutes to play.
The Eagles then fell victim to Penn State’s full court press and struggled to move the ball past half court. Several turnovers and some timely shooting from the Nittany Lions cut the lead to as little as three in just more than two minutes. It was a concerning stretch for the BC, who saw a number of games get out of hand last season due to similar struggles. Donahue said the late run was concerning, but he appreciated the way his team responded.
“I think that was a lot of crazy things that happened all at once,” Donahue said. “Obviously we didn’t handle the pressure, but they made shots and got fouled a lot. I was impressed because when they cut it to three, there were still three minutes left in the game. We were able to regain our composure and go on another run. Obviously we’re disappointed it got that way, but on the road when that happens with three minutes left, you’re concerned you’re not going to recover at all.”
Hanlan came to the rescue for BC. Time after time he managed to get to the basket, driving by Penn State’s defense with ease on consecutive possessions. With the lead at three, Hanlan drove to the basket and made a layup while being fouled, pushing the lead back up to six. On the next possession, he drew three defenders towards him and hit a wide open Van Nest for an easy dunk. From there, he and Rahon managed to control the ball much better and hit their free throws to put the game away. Donahue was particularly impressed with the play of his two freshmen.
“I think they’re going to have to be the guys who have to do it,” Donahue said. “I think they’ve shown already early in their career that they’re guys we can rely on to make good decisions and handle the ball. And they’ll keep getting better and their decision making isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty impressive what they’re doing early.”
Here is a compilation of all the Heights Sports coverage on Frank Spaziani’s firing and its effect on the Boston College football team. Be sure to check the blog here, bcheights.com/sports, and follow @Heightssports for more on the story this week.
RALEIGH — It was never about the game. It was never about what happened on the field at Carter Finley Stadium on Saturday afternoon. It was never about whether Boston College could end its season with a win against North Carolina State.
Instead, it was about the uncertain future of a fallen program.
To many, that meant it was about one man who paced back and forth on the BC sideline for 60 minutes—head coach Frank Spaziani.
The Eagles lost their tenth game of the season, 27-10 to the Wolfpack, but most of the conversation after the game wasn’t about where the game was lost or what personal achievements were recorded.
Instead, the conversation honed in on the uncertainty surrounding the program—who will be the head coach next year? Where does the team go from here? How do you fix what went wrong this season?
Spaziani was first. He entered the room to give his press conference, a white towel around his neck. He was offered a stat sheet, but turned it down, saying he already had it all in his head. He congratulated NC State, talked about how turnovers and penalties killed his team, and answered a few other questions about the course of the game.
Then it got down to what everyone wanted to know: what’s next? Spaziani was asked if he would have a meeting with Athletic Director Brad Bates in the coming days. He paused, then faced the reality of the situation.
“Um, I would think I would,” Spaziani said.
And in that meeting, if he was given the chance to make a case for why he should be kept for a fifth year as the head coach in Chestnut Hill, what would he say? Spaziani kept his thoughts mostly to himself, as he has throughout his tenure, especially this year.
“It wouldn’t be here right now,” Spaziani said. “I wouldn’t be stating it right now for public laundry.”
“I do have a case.”
Beyond that, Spaziani was not up for talking much about his future.
“It is not to be discussed right here,” he said. The rest of the questions he answered by telling reporters they should probably ask Bates directly. That’s because at this point, it’s out of Spaziani’s hands. His work over the last four years speaks for itself, mainly in his 22-28 record as head coach. There are positive intangibles that he brings to the job, but at the end of the day, those will be outweighed by his win-loss record.
And for that, Spaziani days in Chestnut Hill are likely numbered.
Pushed one last time for whether Bates had asked to meet with him, Spaziani deferred the question again, before giving one last answer under his breath.
“I don’t even tell my wife that,” he said.
While Spaziani kept his thoughts on the future close to his chest, his players were more willing to talk about next year, knowing they’ll still be around.
Quarterback Chase Rettig took a beating in the game, but still came out with a positive outlook.
“I can promise everyone that this offseason, I’m going to do a lot to improve,” Rettig said.
Rettig had a tough game, but it did not reflect the leaps and bounds he’s taken this year as a college quarterback. In the second quarter, he surpassed 3,000 yards passing for the season, becoming the fourth Eagle to do so, but the first non-senior to pass that mark.
Yet that record doesn’t mean much for Rettig in a season like this. He had his head down the whole time after the game, clearly emotional after the loss and the end of a trying season.
“It gets emotional for guys,” he said. “We had some opportunities to maybe have a better day today, we just didn’t get it done. But there are bigger things in the scheme of life for those guys that are leaving, and you just got to go tell them how much they mean to you and how much you’re going to miss them.
“You just got to talk to all the seniors. Those are your brothers and your friends. Regardless of the talk, it always ends whenever the last game of the season or postseason is. You just go talk to the guys you’re not going to be around next year and hug them. Everyone worked so hard, it just didn’t happen for us this year. Those are our closest guy friends and you want to send them out with a win. But unfortunately we weren’t able to tonight, so now we got to go and do something next year for them.”
In the end, Rettig left it up to the media to sum up the season. He gave his piece—one of hope despite the plight of the program—but seemed to know it might be painted in a different light.
“I think you guys know how we feel,” Rettig said. “I think it’s pretty obvious. There’s just a million different—I wouldn’t say negative feelings, but … we had a lot of hope this season in different times. You can break down the season however you want. But we had opportunities and obviously we didn’t take advantage of them. However you want to write that, that’s how we feel.”
Another player who set a record on the night was wide receiver Alex Amidon, who became BC’s single-season receptions leader. That achievement does not mean anything to Amidon right now though, as he’d rather have the wins. Despite the tough season, he has a message for next year, and it starts with him and his teammates.
“We’re going to turn it around,” Amidon said. “It’s on the players. It’s on me. I take responsibility for a lot of what happened this year—not being a leader, not stepping up, not holding people accountable. The kids coming back next year—we’re going to change it. We’re all going to change it.”
Amidon talked more about a need for leadership and coming together as a team to hold each other responsible for playing up to their potential.
“We’re not going to let people slack off anymore—not that that necessarily happened, but we need to step up as leaders,” Amidon said.
The one player who won’t be around to see the future unfold is Nick Clancy, the fifth-year middle linebacker who rose to the starting spot in training camp and took full advantage of his opportunity. He was the last player out of the locker room to talk to the media, almost in fitting fashion. He won’t get to suit up in the maroon and gold next year, but he had five years to look back on and think about what he’d change if he had the chance to do it all over again.
“Personally, my leadership role would have been more vocal, in terms of pulling guys aside and letting them know the right way of doing things,” Clancy said. “I feel like that was something we missed this year in terms of leadership, was guys not calling other guys out. That’s just how it is on a team. You can’t be afraid to call somebody out when he’s not doing something right. On the other half, the guys getting called out should be man enough to know that what he’s doing is wrong and he needs to change it for the betterment of the team. That’s one thing I wish I could have done a better job of.”
He won’t get a chance to fix that, but the underclassmen on the team will. They’re planning on it, and Clancy will remind them of it.
“I’m going to definitely reach out to a few individuals,” Clancy said. “It’s going to be the guys that I think have leadership qualities, guys that are going to be older guys next year. What the message from me is, ‘Hey man, you just need to go out there and you need to lead by example. You need to do what’s right. You can’t be afraid to call anybody out because that’s just the way it is.’
“Iron sharpens iron. If you’re going to say you want to be the best, then you have to perform like you’re going to be the best. You can’t just BS people—you gotta be about it, you can’t just talk about it.”
Right now, all the Eagles can do is talk. They won’t get a chance to prove themselves again until September of 2013. Until then, all they can do is go back to work, and take each day to get better.
Who their coach will be next September is uncertain. That’s out of their control, and it’s out of Spaziani’s control. Bates will likely make that decision in the coming week.
But what is certain is that there is a renewed sense of urgency in the locker room. The players are tired of losing. They saw what brought BC to a 2-10 season, and they’re ready to correct it. They’re not playing for the name on the back of their jersey—the records they set meant nothing to any of them. They’re playing for the name on the front of their jersey—Boston College.
They want to win. They want to revive a falling program. And now, it seems they’re ready to hold each other accountable for doing just that.
A little over nine months from now, they’ll get another chance to prove it.
On Wednesday, the Boston College men’s basketball team pulled off a close 50-49 victory against the Auburn Tigers at Conte Forum. The Eagles were led by their freshman backcourt of Olivier Hanlan and Joe Rahon, while scoring leader Ryan Anderson struggled to overcome a lingering foot injury. Hanlan ended with a game-high 19 points, while Rahon was equally as pivotal to the outcome with 15 points. While the home squad led by as much as eight in the second half, the contest proved to be a battle of wills until the final buzzer.
“At the team meeting yesterday, we talked the things that winning teams do,” Rahon said. “We talked about making tough plays, and giving it for all 40 minutes. Then we all went home last night and watched Butler give it to North Carolina. They played hard. They did all the little things. They battled on the boards. They were able to beat a team that’s more talented than they are. We started texting each other, texting around, saying, ‘That’s how we have to play.’ So we came out here with a bulldog mentality, and hopefully we’re going to keep that for the rest of the year.”
The first half saw Hanlan and Rahon act as the main catalysts behind the BC scoring effort. The squad’s typical scorers—Anderson, Dennis Clifford and Lonnie Jackson—went a combined 0-for-10 from the field, while their freshman teammates combined to go 7-for-13 from the floor and 4-for-6 from beyond the arc. The Eagles struggled to penetrate the lane in the early portion of the game, and were forced to play mostly around the perimeter.
Head coach Steve Donahue was impressed with the pair’s leadership today, and believes that they will continue to contribute to making the offense more effective.
“Our guards had great confidence,” he said. “They have really good basketball IQ. The thing I asked them to do today was manage the game. I think they have the ability to do that for us, and it’s going to keep getting better. We still don’t have an identity sometimes on the offensive end. The ball gets moved around and we wonder why that guy takes a shot. I think everybody occasionally does that. Where’s the flow? Where are our roles? That comes with times and chemistry. These two guys, I just think, are all around basketball players that are going to be terrific in this league.”
Hanlan contributed early, hitting two straight 3-pointers to start the Eagles’ scoring. Rahon added a few outside shots himself, while the rest of the starters were unable to get anything going from the field. Despite a lack of size for Auburn, Clifford only attempted one shot in the half, and looked to pass before shooting on most possessions. Anderson, despite going 0-for-5 and 1-for-4 from the free throw line at the half, finished with six of his seven rebounds.
“I think Ryan had a lot to do with us winning,” Donahue said. “It could’ve been easy for him not to play. Obviously, he was nowhere near 100 percent, but he competed, and got seven rebounds. We just don’t have the depth to do that and win this game. I know it looks in the box score like he didn’t do much, he’s just not healthy. Obviously foul shots and not shooting well from the field, but seven rebounds in limited minutes is huge in a game like this.”
The half saw 12 lead changes, but it appeared that the Eagles would finish on top after Rahon drilled a three from the corner to give his team the 22-19 advantage and then followed with a midrange jumper to extend the lead. With one second left, however, the Tigers’ Frankie Sullivan sank a 3-pointer to give his team the 26-25 halftime lead. The Eagles finished the half shooting 32 percent from the floor, but were 41.7 percent from three-point range. Auburn shot 46 percent, however it was 2-of-7 on 3-pointers.
In the second half, Hanlan continued to control the game with a strong shooting stroke. There were large lulls in the scoring from both sides. With 15 minutes left in the half, Clifford backed his defender in the paint and spun around for the hook shot and put his team up 35-28. The Eagles would not score again for five minutes. The Tigers were stagnant during this period as well, helping BC maintain its lead.
With the minutes winding down, Auburn finally began to mount the comeback. Sullivan proved to be a formidable scoring option against the Eagles. He finished the game with 23 points, including 15 in the second frame. The Tigers got the score to within three, but then Anderson hit two free throws and Hanlan hit a jumper to extend the score to seven. A 3-pointer by Noel Johnson and two successful free throws for Rob Chubb lessened the deficit to two for the visiting squad.
After some more back and forth from both sides, Sullivan went for the three-point shot with his team down by four. Rahon came up too aggressively on his man, and knocked Sullivan down. The shot was good, and Sullivan made the foul shot to tie it up.
“I was mad at myself about that,” Rahon said. “The kid hit a great shot. I just wanted to go down, and either make a play for a teammate or make a play for myself or do something for redemption.”
On the next play, Hanlan drove to the lane and was fouled on the drive. He made the first free throw but missed the second, giving his team the one-point lead. Sullivan let the clock wind down before taking a desperation three, but the shot was no good.
“I thought it was a physical game for sure, and I thought we played hard with the little things that for us are important like outrebounding a team like that,” Donahue said. “I think that’s a typical, physical ACC team that we face. We outrebounded them, and turn it over 12 times. I thought we really competed with them physically. We just weren’t making shots, although I think we had a lot of open ones. For the most part, I thought we really competed.”
The Eagles entered the game with a three-game losing streak in the Charleston Classic, and were attempting to head into the Thanksgiving break with a win. For Donahue and his team, this win was much needed after such a challenging stretch.
“Obviously, it’s tough to go anywhere and lose three straight, but I think we’ve made great progress,” Donahue said. “We’re going to have failure. This isn’t going to be easy, but what I like is that these guys were really determined to try to get a win. Anytime you get a win it’s huge but I just don’t want to get caught up in the results. It’s still not there yet.”
Spaziani Trying To Get The Right Mentality Back To BC
By Greg Joyce, Sports Editor
Yesterday, fifth-year captain Emmett Cleary said that much of the Boston College football team’s struggles over the past two seasons could be attributed to a lack of seniors and fifth-years. Multiple players from Cleary’s class have left, either for personal or academic reasons.
Today, head coach Frank Spaziani tried to put into words the effect that the attrition has had on the Eagles and their downfall in recent years.
“It was something that you would rather not have happen,” Spaziani said about the players leaving. “You would rather have those guys being fifth-year seniors or seniors now. That would be more of a strength, but it just wasn’t. You worry about who’s here rather than who’s not here.”
Spaziani has been a coach on the Heights for 16 years, but he said it wasn’t always the case that this many players left BC.
“There weren’t many people leaving,” Spaziani said. “In the first 8 to 10 years I was here, there weren’t many people transferring out, I don’t remember any. And then did we lose somebody academically? I don’t remember any of those.”
The perfect example of the kind of player that made BC what it was during its successful years a few years ago is BJ Raji, Spaziani said. The night before Raji was set to begin his fourth year on the football team at BC, he was declared academically ineligible for the season.
“He could have just went, ‘I’m going to the NFL,’” Spaziani said. “But he went, ‘Okay. I’m going to class, I’m going to scout team, and I’ll play next year. That was the quote ‘attitude.’ That’s what we need.”
Asked if that “attitude” has changed or if it is not present among the current group of players, Spaziani backtracked a little.
“Attitude wasn’t the right word,” Spaziani said. “It’s just what the place represented and why you came here and all of those things. The guys, even though maybe it wasn’t working out for them—because it doesn’t work out for everyone. You recruit 20 guys, you don’t have 20 starters in four years. It doesn’t work out that way. But they liked it here. They came here for the education, the community, and that blend. It was worth it to stay here for them. And then it got changed. “
Why did that mindset get changed? Spaziani paused for some time, then chose his words carefully.
“Recruiting…three coaches in four years,” he said. “Different stuff.”
Despite the change, Spaziani said he thinks it’s moving back to BC getting the right players—the ones who want to be in Chestnut Hill for the right reasons.
“I think so,” Spaziani said. “You’ve got a constant. Whats been the constant?”
Pointing to himself, Spaziani answered his own question.
Drew Jacobs of Mendham High School walked off the court in Plainfield, N.J. after a crushing 74-36 loss in the New Jersey SIAA tournament championship. After a State Championship his sophomore year, two Morris County Championships, and over 1,000 points scored, the point guard had been relegated to a non-athletic regular person (N.A.R.P.). In just seconds, the first team All-Morris County athlete went from the biggest game of the season to being finished with competitive basketball.
Late in his senior spring, however, Jacobs’ N.A.R.P. status began to lose its certainty. “I really didn’t have college basketball on my radar. I was extremely lightly recruited and was expecting to go to college as a student,” said Jacobs, who had already chosen Boston College for school in the fall.
Then his coach Jim Baglin sat down with Jacobs and said he’d like to put him in contact with BC’s Director of Basketball Operations Izzi Metz. Jacobs credits Baglin for giving him the goal to walk on to the Eagles’ basketball team.
“My high school coach was the one who convinced me to give it all a shot,” Jacobs said.
Over the course of the summer, Jacobs remained in contact with Metz and met with head coach Steve Donahue during orientation. His fate hardly sealed by a phone call, Jacobs had a lot to prove.
Jacobs is not your typical Division I recruit. He’s a pale guy, and at 6-foot-1, he’s nearly the shortest kid on the team. He is a far cry from the highly recruited Ryan Anderson or the athletic fellow freshman guard Olivier Hanlan. Jacobs did not even receive more than a passing mention in The Heights’ Basketball Preview last week. Most unlikely of all for a DI basketball recruit, he was put on Newton Campus.
Taking just this into consideration would be short-sighted and naive. Last season, Jacobs averaged 22 points per game. He was the only returning starter on a team that had won four Morris County championships in a row, and led his inexperienced team to a share of the NJAC division title.
“Drew is a great leader and a great all-around player,” former teammate David Yee said. “He always takes charge. If you give him the ball, he will do something special with it.’’
If you give Jacobs just about anything, it seems he will do something special with it. Without a guaranteed roster sport, but just a potential tryout, Jacobs was up at 6:30 a.m. every morning preparing for just three practices with the team in September. Between pool workouts in the morning and individual basketball skill training sessions in the afternoon nearly every day over the summer, Jacobs was hardly the average freshman college student. Even on Newton Campus, Jacobs took advantage of what some consider second tier to Upper Campus. While most people were playing Xbox after dark, “that kid,” as he was affectionately called, could be seen seemingly chasing the shuttles up the parking lot until he reversed direction for the last leg of his suicide sprint.
For a potential walk-on at BC, though, this has to be the attitude. Jacobs’ learning curve will primarily involve adjusting to the quickness of the college game. He calls it his biggest obstacle.
“I had to overcome the difference in the pace and speed of the game,” he said. “I have never faced athletes even remotely close to the ones I have seen and am seeing now. The moves that worked in high school, where the biggest guys were 6-foot-3, simply don’t work at the DI college level.”
In late September, Jacobs did his best to take advantage of his small sampling of play. In early October, he was told that he had earned a spot on the 14-man roster. When asked if he ever had doubts, Jacobs said, “I tend to overthink a lot of stuff, but my personal philosophy has been that, if you doubt yourself as a player, you’ll never be successful and able to reach what you’re capable of doing.”
Currently, Jacobs’ role on the team is that of a practice player. In the season opener against FIU he remained in sweats during the game. Despite the lack of early action, the walk on might gain some unlikely minutes. After the transfer of sophomore Jordan Daniels, Jacobs could see some time. Donahue likes to have two point guards on the floor at times—Daniels and Hanlan would have run that scheme. With the departure of Daniels, Jacobs could find a few minutes as one of the other point guards on the team. Additionally, he could also see time as a quick-fix defender, given the defensive skills he honed over the summer.
“Over the next four years, I plan on helping the team out in any way I can,” Jacobs said. “I plan on playing as tough as possible during practice and helping everyone prepare for high-level competition. I feel like if you are working your hardest and pushing everyone to reach their potential, good things will happen.”
“My freshman and [sophomore] year, and even this year a little bit, I’m looking at the other people’s sidelines and they have 100 people, and I’m thinking, I’m a freshman and there’s a couple of fifth-years in the huddle with me and there’s some seniors and then last year it was the same thing. And then I went on to Scout and we had a lot of—or we should have had older guys the last two years, even this year. A lot of guys have left. That could obviously play a role in something, but just having older guys is good to have in the locker room. Starting next season, my class will be—no one’s left in my class, and so we’ll have a full team and that will help us out a lot.”—Chase Rettig, on the impact he thinks a lack of fifth-years and seniors has had on BC’s struggles over the past two years.
“Honestly, I think it was – we were winning when we showed up. The year we were recruited we were in the ACC Championship game and then our freshman year we were in the ACC Championship. I think a lot of guys from our class didn’t immediately understand what it took to get there, and expected to play right away, expected that it would be easy in a way. Guys who maybe weren’t playing a lot their second year or weren’t starting by their third year took that as either a shot at their self-confidence or just that they somehow weren’t being treated fairly. When you look at the teams that have been good here – like Jamie Silva didn’t see the field until his fourth year in the program. For us to be good, guys need to marinate a little bit, and I guess my class didn’t buy it so they all took off and this is what you get.”—More Emmett Cleary on the attrition from his class affecting the success of the program.
“We’ve talked about this hundreds of times among the older guys. I think a lot of these games were lost three or four years ago when my signing class, which was I think 36 including walks-ons – there’s nine of us left. So, it’s hard to win when you don’t have experienced players and experienced depth. We’ve had a lot of young players playing and they’ve really played their asses off these past couple of years, but I think you’d prefer to have those guys redshirt and have experienced backups when injuries and losses happen.”—Fifth-year senior and football captain Emmett Cleary on the biggest reason the team hasn’t been successful the past two seasons.
"Let me say this about that [call]. And I do understand that it’s a point of contention and people would have different opinions on it. But that situation has been produced in practice and simulated in scrimmages. That exact situation came up in one of our scrimmages, which we script. We script different times, we script overtime … That situation came up. We hailed off the cuff as you would in a scrimmage, in simulated game. We made a decision on that day, and then we went back in and reviewed it and discussed how we would do this in a game, was that right—we second-guessed ourselves ahead of time. Some of the factors that went into it were, ‘Okay, well we decided to go to overtime. Well why would you decide to go to overtime?’ How was your offense playing? How was your defense playing? How was the flow of the game going? What was the pulse of the players? It’s a little bit more than just, ‘Oh there’s 59 seconds left, let’s make this decision.’ And I do understand that. But we as coaches have to do a little bit more than that. Is there second-guessing? You better believe it. But under those circumstances, we thought that was our best chance to win. I’ll tell you why: throwing the ball we were 13-for-something. We were getting sacked. Our guys weren’t open. We were having pressure there. We were playing some good defense. We felt going into overtime was our best calculated [chance] to win. It turned out wrong. Now, did it turn out wrong because of that? I don’t know. There were a lot of other things. There’s a lot that goes into that. Second-guessing? I don’t know, maybe we would have thrown a screen rather than run a draw on the first play [of overtime]. But the decision? I would do the same thing. I would do the same, taking into account everything that I just told you. It’s a little bit more than—that’s why we try to take the feelings out of it. We try to do a professional job with it. That’s what coaches do.”
“You can disagree. That’s what fans are. We got great fans and great students. Gotta love that—anyone can disagree. But it’s 59 seconds on our 16-yard line. And my job is to give our kids the best chance and make a calculated judgment on what our best chance is to win. And we felt going into overtime that we could hold them to a field goal and we felt we could score. We felt we would not give up a touchdown. That’s the way we felt. It didn’t turn out that way, but not for a lack of effort or thinking about it. A lot of thought went into it.”
”—Head coach Frank Spaziani on if he had any second-guessing of his decision to take a knee at the end of regulation and take the game into overtime, which BC lost 30-23.
Column: Breaking down BC basketball's defensive issues
(Photo by Graham Beck/Heights Editor)
By Austin Tedesco, Asst. Sports Editor
FIU’s style of play and Baylor’s high-skill level could’ve misconstrued where this Boston College basketball team is defensively, but, after falling 87-71 to Dayton on Friday afternoon, it’s pretty clear now. This squad just can’t guard consistently. It’s not that the players are bad defenders, because they aren’t, and it’s not that head coach Steve Donahue has a bad defensive scheme, because he doesn’t. On the court, it looks like a team that has made a really impressive leap offensively while still just not getting it on the defensive end of the court. Most of the players have the potential to be good defenders and Donahue is using typical man principles, but the execution just isn’t there and it will need to be fixed if BC is going to stop losing games it shouldn’t. Here’s a breakdown of what is happening in each aspect of the defense.
This is easily the weakest aspect of BC’s defensive game, and all three opponents have attacked it well. The issues begin with the big men defending the screeners. Ryan Anderson and Dennis Clifford have not consistently been in the right position. The pick-and-roll defense is at its best when Clifford and Anderson step out with their hands up as the ball-handler uses the screen, and then immediately sprint back to their man without losing track of the ball. This has only happened on some occasions. Most of the time, the big man won’t show long enough or won’t show at all, and it leads to a wide open three or a drive to the rim. Andrew Van Nest has done an incredible job at this position, and it’s the reason he’s seeing more playing time.
Another issue in the pick-and-roll is the on-ball guard. Too often, the guard, whether it is Olivier Hanlan, Joe Rahon, or Lonnie Jackson, waits too long to start fighting over the screen. This puts the bigs, especially Clifford who lacks serious lateral quickness, in an awkward position because it means they have to defend a smaller guard for a longer period of time. Hanlan has been the defender in most pick-and-rolls so far since BC’s opponents have been running the play through the point guard. Hanlan has done a good job at times of picking a spot and forcing his way there as he fights over the pick. If the screener tries to keep him from getting there, it should be a foul, as most of these picks are being set while the screener is on the move. If Hanlan can eliminate possessions in which he does his work late and gets stuck chasing his man around the screen rather than cutting him off as he fights over it, then most of the pick-and-roll issues will start to go away. It’s a really difficult thing to do on every possession, but it’s the only way the defense is going to get cleaned up.
Defending the Post:
Post entry has also been a serious problem for the Eagles. For starters, the guards make it way too easy for the pass to get to the opponent’s big men. When BC defends the ball on the perimeter, there hasn’t been a lot of pressure and that has allowed for easy and composed passes to the block. The bigger issue, though, is where and how the BC bigs are defending the man posting up. Both Anderson and Clifford too often find themselves entirely on the back of the man they are defending. Other teams have done a good job of running their post players through some motion before settling on the block, but Anderson and Clifford have to be ready for this. They need to see the post up coming and get themselves in a three-quarter front. Both bigs do this when the post up is obviously coming, but, again, they lack consistency. The three-quarter front, making the entry pass possible only if it is low and near the baseline, takes away so many options for the opposing player in the post and it also makes the guard less comfortable throwing the pass inside. Clifford and Anderson are also not pushing their men off the block enough. This is a tough thing for two young, developing players to do on every possession, but if they keep allowing post players to catch the ball right on the block without pressure, then opponents will keep shooting at a high percentage.
Rotation from the Guards:
Hanlan and Jackson are the biggest culprits here, as Rahon is fundamentally sound on defense and doesn’t struggle with this as much. Both Hanlan and Jackson find themselves watching the ball way too often. They aren’t necessarily losing their men, but they don’t keep themselves in a position to easily help or easily recover. They are choosing one or the other. This leads to both players getting turned around and having to turn all the way back around as they close out to the perimeter. Easy three-point looks for the other team will decrease significantly once Hanlan and Jackson figure out the right position and stay there through each possession.
Two issues stand out here. First, the ball is being stopped way too late. Rahon and Hanlan are both very quick and very talented at on-ball defense. They should feel comfortable picking up the dribbler around half court and they should make it their job to do this every time. Instead, the point guard or lead guard in transition is getting near the NBA three-point line before he is slowed down and this is causing too many fast breaks. The other issue is that too many players are finding their man in transition and sticking to him. This just can’t happen. With one or two players still running back on defense, whatever players are already below the three-point line need to favor the other team’s best shooter and buy time in whatever way they can as the other players get back. Transition is a team endeavor, it’s not the individual matching up that is happening too often right now.
Bob Picozzi, who called the game for ESPN with Jay Williams, accused BC of lacking fight and not wanting it as much as Dayton on Friday. That’s not what I saw at all. A team doesn’t take this many charges without fighting hard. There was probably an emotional letdown from the Baylor game and, with a short rotation, the back-to-back games couldn’t have been easy on the body. All four of these fixes on defense take a whole lot of effort on the court, and if the Eagles can fix all of them it wouldn’t just make a good defensive team, it would make them elite. That won’t happen in the next week or even month, but over the course of the season all of these concepts need to improve. The offense is finally getting there. It’s time for the defense to catch up.
The Boston College basketball team faced No. 16 Baylor in the Charleston Classic on Thursday afternoon. After leading at the half 43-41, the Eagles were in the game until Baylor pulled away in the final few minutes.
Even in the loss, this was a strong performance by a young team who looks ready to put the nine-win season of last year behind them. Here’s some instant analysis:
Ryan Anderson’s Breakout Continues
After a dominating 29-point, 17-rebound performance in his first game of the season, Ryan Anderson delivered the goods once again on Thursday. He scored 19 points in the first half en route to a 25-point performance on 9-of-16 shooting, adding six rebounds.
Anderson continued to look better finishing at the rim, and showed his versatility by making 2-of-4 3-pointers, including a half court shot at the end of the first half to give BC the lead. He also drove hard in the lane at times to get to the free throw line, where he was a perfect 5-of-5, a nice development after he struggled from the charity stripe last year.
It’s evident that Anderson is the Eagles go-to guy, both on and off the court. Teams will now be equipped with game plans to stop him. If he can work with Donahue to figure ways around these while continuing to develop as a player, there’s no limit on his potential this season.
Checking in on Joe and O
BC’s point guard play is in a much better position this year. Freshman Olivier Hanlan is a capable ball handler and has shown a willingness to drive to the basket to create plays.
Hanlan was 6-of-11 from the field and 2-of-3 from beyond the arc to finish with 16 points and six rebounds. He limited the turnovers to three while being an essential part of most plays. If Anderson’s the leader on the floor, Hanlan is second in command and calls out plays for his teammates while handling the ball the majority of the time.
Joe Rahon, on the other hand, didn’t have as great of a game. While his three assists certainly helped the Eagles—which included driving and quality passing of his own—he had a couple of dumb turnovers that could have easily been avoided.
Rahon also shot 1-of-6 from downtown and is now shooting 1-for-11 overall on the year. Rahon is a capable player that will be crucial to BC’s success in the future, and developing his shot will only help that cause.
Van Nest Emerging
It’s always difficult to project how a transfer player will work out. In the case of Andrew Van Nest, it looks like we have our answer: quite well.
After a solid debut in which he played minutes for Dennis Clifford because of a smaller FIU lineup, Van Nest once again demonstrated that he deserves quality playing time for this BC squad. He shot 5-of-6 from the field, including 2-of-3 from three, and contributed three assists and no turnovers in his 14 minutes of play. The Eagles certainly could use another interior presence after Clifford, and if Van Nest can continue to connect from downtown, he could be a better played than we had ever imagined.
This Year’s Different
At the end of the game, ESPN broadcaster Jay Williams said, “I’m telling you now, BC is going to upset some big-time program in the ACC this year.” The potential the Eagles have shown in their first two games confirm that they’re a much better squad than last year. The three sophomore starters, most notably Anderson, have each made strides from last year. The two freshmen guards are doing a good job executing Donahue’s half court sets, and have been able to get out in transition.
With 7:35 left in the game, BC trailed by one, and though it was outscored 20-11 from that point on, the team has shown it can compete with quality teams. With such a young squad, there’s no question mistakes will happen throughout the year, but the Eagles’ age also leaves room for them to improve substantially this season.
Boston College pushed No. 16 Baylor for about 75 percent of its matchup this afternoon in the first round of the Charleston Classic, before falling 84-74 to the Bears. Here are three likes and three dislikes from the game.
1. Ryan Anderson
Offensively, the power forward couldn’t have been better in the first half. His post moves are at another level this year, he’s extremely confident, and he’s executing well. Rolling off the screen, he can either spot up from the elbow or finish at the rim with a dunk in a more explosive fashion than he ever could last season. The offense strayed away from him a little more than it should have as Baylor pulled away in the second half, but the guards were turning the ball over and Baylor began putting more pressure on Anderson. He did a good job of staying on his feet when defending Isaiah Austin in the post, and didn’t give the star freshman too many easy looks. Overall, he had an incredible game and the future is very bright for the BC star.
2. Donahue’s willingness to make adjustments
Baylor was killing BC off the dribble and on pick-and-rolls (which will come up later), but Donahue made a smart move and switched to a 2-3 zone to slow down the Bears. The Eagles gave up some easy 3-pointers because they either helped too far in the post or didn’t rotate quickly enough, but the zone did its job and slowed down Pierre Jackson enough for BC to take the lead. Donahue isn’t afraid to make any adjustments necessary to get the victory, and it’s a great thing to see in a coach. Yet again, Donahue proved his ability to be an impressive in-game coach, especially with his ability to draw up clean looks out of timeouts.
3. Rahon and Hanlan’s playmaking
Joe Rahon and Olivier Hanlan both did a good job running the point guard position. When even one of the two guards is off the court, the offense isn’t nearly as effective. Both freshmen did a great job hitting Anderson in the pick-and-roll as well as pushing the ball in transition. Rahon should shake his shooting slump as he gets more used to the college game, and Hanlan will figure out ways to finish at the rim at this level. Against a long and athletic Baylor squad, both rookies played admirably on the offensive end.
1. The defense, all of it
There weren’t a lot of positives on the defensive end for BC, with the biggest negative coming on pick-and-roll defense. Donahue said going into the season that he felt comfortable switching the pick-and-roll defense to a more aggressive attack where the bigs show and recover quickly. That didn’t happen against the Bears. As the guards slid underneath the screens, the big men stayed glued to the screener and Jackson, especially, found open look after open look. It’s fine for the guard to go under a couple of times if he has to, but only if the big man defending the screener is already hedging with a hand up. If the big plays lazy defense by sticking to the screener, then open shots like the ones Jackson nailed will occur time after time. Unlike Anderson and Dennis Clifford, who have struggled with this in both games, Andrew Van Nest has done a great job defending the pick-and-roll the right way. The 2-3 zone was better, but the rotations were poor and it led to too many easy shots. Baylor has some monsters up front and BC should’ve been expected to give up some offensive boards, but on too many occasions the Eagles were late to even get a body on Corey Jefferson or Austin. BC dominated FIU on the glass because of a size advantage. The Eagles won’t be able to rely on that when conference play starts. BC will need to box out early and effectively.
2. Jackson’s one-dimensional game
Lonnie Jackson is a great three-point shooter when he is on, but when he’s off he shuts down too quickly and too easily. He’s streaky, and streaky shooters need to find other ways to affect games. After Jackson had a big game against Sacred Heart last season, he insisted his game went beyond just perimeter shooting. He needs to prove that. If his shot isn’t falling, and in plenty of games this season it won’t, he either needs to find ways to get to the rim or create for his teammates. There’s nothing wrong with continuing to take open looks, as long as they’re open, until he gets hot, but he also needs to mix in some variety in order to be effective on the court.
3. Transition defense
Baylor started way too many fast breaks off of made baskets from BC. The Eagles aren’t finding guys spotting up on the arc in transition early enough and it led to too many points for the Bears. Even when BC does get back, early screens or cuts have been hurting this squad. The furthest player back needs to sprint back to the rim after a make, miss, or turnover, and then work out from there with the other players finding shooters and stopping the ball as quickly as possible. It’s one more important step for this team to take before it starts knocking off elite opponents like this, and those wins probably won’t come until mistakes like this are fixed.
The gimmicks are over, and the real test is about to begin for the Boston College men’s basketball team. A strong surge in the final 10 minutes pushed the Eagles past Florida International University in the season opener on Sunday, but the game was only a small test for the upcoming season. The Golden Panthers ran a bunch of full-court presses and switched-up zones with their smaller players, and it’s a look that BC probably won’t see again for the rest of the season.
“I thought there were a lot of good things,” said head coach Steve Donahue after getting a chance to look at the tape. “Obviously there’s a lot of room for improvement, but I thought we did a good job of attacking the pressure for the most part, but then we got lazy and made some careless mistakes, in part to do with the fact that I think they did a good job staying with [the press] the whole game. We’re just not used to that. The defense was good in spurts, but at other times, I thought in particular dribble penetration really hurt us.”
Stopping dribble penetration will be especially important when the Eagles open up the Charleston Classic with No. 16 Baylor on Thursday.
“It’ll be more of a—you know, they won’t be pressing the whole time and changing defenses every possession or in the middle of possessions like Florida International did,” Donahue said. “In that case, it’ll be more of a game like we’ll see more this year.”
The Bears are led by senior guard and preseason Big-12 Player of the Year Pierre Jackson, who has had no trouble getting to the rim so far this season. The quick and elusive guard is deadly off the dribble, and the Baylor offense becomes extremely difficult to stop once he gets into the lane. Freshmen guards Olivier Hanlan and Joe Rahon will have a size advantage over Jackson, but Rahon, especially, had trouble staying in front of FIU’s Deric Hill, who is around the same size but not nearly as skilled.
“Baylor’s very good,” Donahue said. “There aren’t many teams more talented than them, with their length, experience, skill level, it’s just a terrific basketball team.”
If Jackson can beat the BC guards off the dribble, then Baylor’s length becomes even more effective. Seven-foot-1 freshman center Isaiah Austin is expected to play against the Eagles after suffering an ankle injury in the Bears’ first game, and the big man will be a tough matchup for BC center Dennis Clifford. Clifford struggled to defend the pick-and-roll against FIU, and Austin has the ability to flash all the way to the three-point line for a triple or roll hard to the rim for an alley-oop. If Clifford struggles to stay with Austin, the Eagles may need to rely on transfer Andrew Van Nest again on the defensive end.
“They have great length, no matter if Austin plays or not, they still have great size and more importantly length and the kid Austin—he may be seven feet but he’s a long guy, skilled, and one of the best recruits in America,” Donahue said. “So no matter what, I think it’s a great challenge for both our bigs to figure out how to get around that. When you’re playing around really good length and athleticism you’ve got to be a little smarter, a little more understanding of the size around you, but I expect both of them to really accept that challenge and really go play their game.”
The Eagles have been game-planning for Baylor since the beginning of the week, and it’s something Donahue feels much more comfortable doing compared to last season.
“The last two days, for instance, we focused in on Baylor, where last year I just literally had to talk about how to compete in a college game,” Donahue said. “I think the guys get that now. It’s just a different vibe. I think we understand how we’ve got to play and what we’ve got to do against any opponent, but in particular we can give them things now in preparation for Baylor where I think it would be a positive, where last year we could start overloading that too much and guys start going in the other direction.”
While Clifford tries to check Austin, sophomore forward Ryan Anderson will have his hands full with Baylor forward Cory Jefferson, who has been averaging over 20 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks in the Bears’ first two games. Both Jefferson and Austin have done a great job attacking the rim during Jackson’s penetration, which has lead to easy dunks. The Eagles rotated poorly against FIU on defense, and that will have to improve if BC is going to hang with the Bears. Freshmen forwards Taurean Prince and Rico Gathers also present size and length challenges, while guard Brady Heslip, who transferred from BC after Donahue took over, will force Lonnie Jackson to chase him around multiple off-ball screens on his way to the arc, which Jackson struggled with in BC’s first game.
With the FIU defense switching between different zone defenses for most of the game on Sunday, BC didn’t get many opportunities to run Donahue’s motion offense in the half-court, but the Bears will be a good litmus test for the offense.
“I think it’s a game where we can see where we’re executing and see where we are,” Donahue said. “And I said that to our guys. We really didn’t do a good job of executing in the half-court when we had our opportunities. I think that’s a real good test to see where we’re at with that as well.”
Anderson led BC with 29 points on Sunday, but most of those came from either finding gaps in the zone for easy buckets or by running the floor in transition. BC will have to work the ball around more effectively for clean looks against Baylor.
The Heights:What are your thoughts on the outside criticism of Frank Spaziani, and how much weight do those opinions carry?
Brad Bates:"The highest priority is student development, so we’ve got to focus on how we’re doing that within any program, but the next priority is how we serve our fan base and our customers and our stakeholders and our alums. Our alums are the essence of any of our programs. They’re the ones [whose] standards to which we strive every day. When there’s high expectations, that’s awesome, because our alums set those high expectations when they were students here."
The Heights:What is your assessment of the resources you have available to you?
Bates:"I’m still kind of immersing myself in that and looking at matrices. Not every variable has the same weight and application. I’m still piecing together different variables that fit in to matrixes and assigning weight to them just to assess where we can gauge our human and financial resources with our program relative to our competitors and our peers."
The Heights:Can you expand on the matrices?
Bates:"Every school where I’ve been we’ve developed a matrix that we’ve used – and coaches have helped us develop it. So part of this is going forward, that’s something that’s got to be jointly developed. I’ve never met a coach that didn’t want to win every game. I’ve never met a coach that didn’t want to win and didn’t want to excel and didn’t want their program to win championships. I didn’t hire one coach that’s here, and so the conditions by which they were hired and the conditions by which they were evaluated and assessed was really under a different set of conditions, potentially, to what we will form and evolve as we work together."
The Heights:Do you have any ideas on improving facilities, short-term or long-term?
Bates:"One of the great things about this job is that Gene and the university and the administration has a facility plan – it’s a long term and short term facility plan. Part of it is maintenance and part of it is significant renovation. What I am in the midst of doing is trying to understand that plan and trying to understand my role in it, because it’s not always all going to be institutional resources a lot of it will be private. So I’m plugging in strategically how we will raise that money and elevate our facilities, or for a better term, athletic classrooms."
The Heights:What do you think are some things you can do regarding the idea for a new baseball and softball stadium on Brighton campus, and what can you do to push that in the right direction?
Bates:"We’ve got to remember that we’re in a neighborhood and we have neighbors and we have to coincide in ways that are mutually beneficially. And so there’s a sequence of events that has to take place. The university if very much aware of that sequence and they’re striving to expedite that sequence. They realize the value to our baseball, softball, and intramural sports in having that new facility and, you know, I will probably be part of that conversation and trying to develop future strategies to expedite it but I know the university is very, very much focused on making that process happen quickly. But again, we’ve got to work with our neighbors.
The Heights:What are your thoughts on how you can connect the students that are not student-athletes to the athletic department?
Bates:"A variety of things go into the student experience and students coming to events, and it’s not just athletics. We can’t sit over here in the athletic department and just expect students to show up to our events. It’s got to be a reciprocal relationship, right? So when there are student theater productions, are our student-athletes attending those events and supporting their classmates? When there are concerts on campus, are our student-athletes supporting the activities of other student groups? So that’s got to be a reciprocal relationship. In terms of studying the student attendance patterns over time, I haven’t looked at that yet. You know, I’ve been here two weeks. I’ve been to eight to 10 athletic events in a variety of sports. Have I looked at if our student attendance patterns are consistent with where they were when we were competing for the ACC Championship game? I haven’t gotten a chance to look at that. As I study that and look at it, we’ve got to look at how we entertain our students. We’ve got to look at what our win-loss record is, because part of this is winning and losing. We’ve got to look at how we’re promoting the events and communicating it to our students and how we’re connecting our student-athletes to the student population. Here’s an interesting statistic—one out of every 12 undergraduate students at Boston College is a student-athlete. That’s a very significant percentage of our population, and so our student-athlete body can have a really positive impact on the rest of campus on the issues that are important to other student organizations and groups in the same way that the other student organizations and groups can have a significant impact on our games. I see this as a culture and a family and the more that we develop relationships with one another and be fully integrated, the more we’re likely to support one another, even beyond just the winning and losing."
The Heights:How do you feel about the total number of teams competing at BC right now?
Bates:"This is a very preliminary response, but I very much believe in the ideology of a holistic, educational experience for students, and when you have a lot of sports that provides that many more opportunities. The other advantage of this particular position is that it also oversees the Rec Plex and the intramural and club sports. So when you take that number that one out of every 12 undergraduate students is an athlete, and then you add the number of students who are involved in intramural and club sports in the Rec Plex, you’ve got an incredible responsibility to a very large percentage of students on this campus, and that’s one I take very seriously and I feel an enormous responsibility and obligation to make sure that we add to the quality of the experience."
The Heights:What are your thoughts with competing but working with the professional sports teams in Boston?
Bates:"They’re an incredible resource and the ownership and leadership at all of the professional organizations have really close ties to Boston College. So partnering with them in mutually beneficial ways that serve the entire community, I think, is one of the great opportunities of this position. The fact that we have these celebrity athletes in this community is a huge asset, but even beyond that in terms of competitiveness, surely, we have to better in customer service. We have to be as good as anyone, because that’s who we compete, but with the demographic of Boston—there are plenty of people in the community who we can regularly attract to our events and we’ve got to creative in how we do that and do it consistently. And when they come here we’ve got to deliver on the promise. They’ve got to have a great experience so they come back."
The Heights:Did you have any expectations coming in or a to-do list of top things you needed to address?
Brad Bates:"I really have a hundred-day plan, and there were definitely key stakeholders that I wanted to meet and talk to and get in front of. Some, because of proximity don’t live near enough so I had conversation with them. There were certain areas that I really needed to study. I needed to get a handle on the budget and I need to focus on where we are academically with our students. There’s been staff that have really brought me up to speed on that and tutored me in that regard."
The Heights:Was any of the groundwork with scheduling football games with Ohio State laid before you got here?
Bates:"Yeah, I can't take credit for that. That was signed before I came here. It was just something that Ohio State and Boston College decided to go public with, coincidentally after I was named [AD]."
The Heights:That's a big recruiting state...
Bates:"We’re excited. We are going to be very strategic in how we schedule football games that generate a lot of enthusiasm for our fans and help our coaches recruit to the program because players want to play against the best teams. Also, it’s going to position us nationally so we get a lot of attention and it’s going to help our competitive success, so we’re going to be very deliberate in the way that we schedule games."
The Heights:Any update on who you'll schedule for the 12th football game next year?
Bates:"No, I was hoping we’d have it sometime in the next week and a half or so, and I’m cautiously optimistic that we can still do that. We were really thrown a curveball with the vote, and there are not a lot of teams out there that are looking for games. So we’ve been in discussions with about a half dozen schools and we’re really looking for what best serves Boston College and our program next year."
The Heights:What factors do you consider when scheduling out of conference opponents?
Bates:"There are a variety of factors. It goes into your personnel and what your team is going to be. Typically when you really want the national stage is when you’re going to have a lot of experience on your team, whereas when you’re young and you’re developing that youth, you’re probably going to schedule a little more lightly. You’re going to look at other teams and their personnel and their recruiting and deciding whether they’re veteran teams and other factors like that. We’re going to look at years when we think we can compete for national championships and ACC championships and you want to schedule the right teams so you can be in the mix in terms of the rankings. You always want to try to pair up with television opportunities, like this weekend [against Notre Dame]. The problem is that you can’t always predict how good teams are going to be. We have no idea where Ohio State is going to be in the year we’re going to play them down the road, so there’s got to be continuity to what you try and do and we feel like we’ve got a pretty good philosophy in how we approach it."
The Heights:Do you feel like you need to wait a certain amount of time between gaining knowledge and making decisions?
Bates:"The quick answer is that decisions have to be made right away. There are certain things that require immediate attention and there were decisions that I had to make on my first day on the job here. But then there are other decisions that are not time-sensitive. One of the things we want to do in the coming years is develop a strategic plan. We want to define where we are, where we want to go, and how we want to get there and that’s going to be a pretty significant process. That’s going to involve a lot of internal and external constituents. Any decision you make, you want to be as informed as possible. You want to gather as much data and information as you possibly can. That, ultimately, will lead to better decisions, but sometimes the timing doesn’t allow you to gather as much data. The quick answer to your question is that decisions are being made every day, and they’re being made on the timelines which best serve our department."
The Heights:Did you ever have any coaches face adversity or tough seasons at Miami?
Bates:"With any program, whenever you go through adversity, what people tend to forget is the coaches—the first thing they’re going to do is they’re going to look in the mirror and asses themselves before they start assessing a strategy to deal with the adversity. Coaches are very self-critical and very analytical and they’re going to look at ways that they can improve the situation. No one wants to lose, and so in dealing with programs that have struggled the two things you’ve got to look at is how can we support the program? How can we provide resources? How can we provide creative initiatives that help that program, whether it’s short term or long term, to achieve their vision of excellence? And then the second part of it is you’ve just got to make sure that you’re a soundboard, that you’re giving observations and feedback, and that you as an athletic director can provide feedback that hopefully help the program in some capacity."
The Heights:A lot of people thought expectations were being lowered by the last administration when certain teams were struggling. In terms of football, do you think we have to quell expecations?
Bates:"Why would you ever squash expectations? We want high expectations. That’s our mantra, ‘Ever to Excel.’ Are we always going to go undefeated every single season? No, but that shouldn’t diminish what our goals are and what our vision is for any of our programs. I also want to tie this in to student development. I honestly believe that there is only one way that you can justify athletics in higher education and that is to ensure that it is inherently educational, and part of that is competitive success. There are very few opportunities that people have in our society or in the academic curriculum where they can come together as a group, strive toward a shared vision of excellence, literally face daily scrutiny and adversity, learn to cooperate within this intensely competitive environment, and unless they achieve at least part of that vision of excellence then they’re never going to fully realize their maximum development. I really believe that winning and competitive success is grounded in student development. When you win a championship, you acquire a set of skills that will serve you in any future endeavors you engage the rest of your life. And so competitive success to me is part of our athletic curriculum and maximizing the development of our students."
“Deuce did what Deuce is supposed to do. He looked like the guy that we were familiar with at the beginning of the year. Once again, he has to practice and continue doing what he did to get him where he got to last night, and then his role will certainly increase. Once again, there’s certain things you have to do. We just can’t project him into a more active role until he demonstrates that he has earned it, and he certainly stepped up and looked like a good back [Saturday] night.”—On Sunday after reviewing the tape, head coach Frank Spaziani talked about what he saw from Deuce Finch’s performance in Saturday night’s loss, Finch’s first action since Week Three at Northwestern.
“First and foremost, our customer service has to be outstanding. We are in a very competitive market in terms of entertainment with the professional teams and our local colleges – and we have to be better than our local movie theaters. So all of our staff has to bend over backwards and absolutely provide the greatest experience they can, so that’s been a big focal point. Beyond that, we’ve got to be creative. We’ve got to do things that will make a wow experience for all of the people that come to the game, but the overarching focus has been that this is our game, this is in our house, and this is about Boston College. So you’re going to see us showcasing our students and our student-athletes and our programs on campus both on TV and in the stadium and we’re really looking forward to that opportunity.”—Brad Bates on how the athletic department is preparing for Saturday night’s football game vs. Notre Dame in the national spotlight