Gritty BC Effort Downs Providence
By Greg Joyce, Heights Senior Staff
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.
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.”