Analysis: Daniels Runs The Show

By Austin Tedesco

Although the win came against a Stony Brook team that isn’t very good and could hardly make a shot, things are starting to come together for the Boston College men’s basketball team. In a 66-51 win, Jordan Daniels cemented himself as this team’s point guard and the catalyst for offensive efficiency. Here is what he’s doing well and how his play is improving the BC offense as a whole.

Creating High-Percentage Looks

Early in the season, Donahue’s motion offense was a bit of a mess. Anyone from Patrick Heckmann to Gabe Moton to Matt Humphrey would bring the ball up the court and initiate the offense in all sorts of ways. This inconsistency continuously led to low-percentage shots early in the shot clock. The Eagles did not have a feel for when a good shot would be available, so they took the first decent look they saw, which usually ended up being a long, contested two-pointer. This rarely happens with Daniels running the offense. Almost every time now, the offense begins with a ball screen between Daniels and one of the big men. The big man rolls to the rim while Daniels surveys the court. This adds some necessary structure for these young players trying to execute a free-flowing offense. Instead of early shots, BC actually ran out of time on the shot clock a few times Sunday. This led to Daniels having to shoot a few rushed threes that didn’t fall, but it’s great that these guys are looking for the best possible shot now. Daniels finished 0-for-8 from behind the arc, but after the game Donahue said those shots will fall and that he was just a little rushed.

Being a Facilitator

Rarely does Daniels end up being the one who actually dishes out the assist, but he begins the whole process. He’s the facilitator who allows the other guys to flourish. On one possession against Stony Brook, Dennis Clifford rolled to the rim after screening for Daniels and was wide open but Daniels didn’t have a good angle to throw the pass. Rather than force it inside, Daniels swung it to Heckmann who could feed Clifford perfectly and it led to an easy bucket. Daniels is also helping with the transition game. The second he gets the ball in the backcourt, he eyes the rim and is looking to hit ahead. The BC roster is loaded with capable shooters and Daniels has done a great job finding guys like Lonnie Jackson, Humphrey, and Heckmann in transition. He finished with zero assists (which I’m pretty sure is an error), but Donahue noticed that and said Daniels was responsible for most of the offensive production and that sometimes guys just didn’t knock down great shots he had set up, or that he was setting up other people to make the assist.

Controlling Matt Humphrey

Allowing Daniels to run the offense takes a lot of the pressure off Humphrey. Donahue said that early in the season Humphrey felt like he had to do too much and carry too big of a load offensively. On Sunday it looked like Humphrey almost completely let go of that trigger-friendly mentality. He only took five shots and they were pretty much all good shots. Some of the credit should go to Humphrey for maturing, but I think Daniels is responsible for a lot of it. Humphrey looks more comfortable that the offense is going to run smoothly and that someone will find him if he’s open.

Scoring Distribution

Almost everyone got involved for BC on Sunday, and I think that’s when BC is most successful. Clifford was 4-for-4 with nine points, Ryan Anderson added 10, Daniels had 12, Humphrey tallied 7, Jackson was 3-for-5 from three, and Heckmann was a perfect 5-for-5 from the field, netting 18 points. Daniels did a great job of setting up guys in their best position to score. He found Humphrey and Jackson when they were open on the perimeter. While Jackson is still a little hesitant to drive, Humphrey pumped faked one time and (finally!) finished at the rim. Anderson and Heckmann are most efficient in one-on-one situations against smaller or slower players. Daniels made sure to hit them when those mismatches presented themselves. Clifford is improving his post scoring every game. He’s using his size to his advantage and is starting to make smarter decisions down low. Daniels made sure to look for the center every time he posted up. Daniels is also not afraid to score himself. He’s becoming the definition of a true point guard. While his main job is to set up his teammates, he takes advantage when he can get by his defender or is given some room to shoot.

All of these improvements may have come against a pretty bad Stony Brook team who shot 15 percent in the first half even when given plenty of open shots, but this process started against a good Providence squad. Daniels still needs to improve a lot, as he didn’t handle traps that well coming off ball screens and his on-ball defense is still suspect. Also, playing 39 minutes a night, especially when conference play begins, is going to be tough. With that said, it’s a great sign for the Eagles that they can have confidence in a point guard who can run a complicated offense, and it should be huge for this team’s improvement going forward.

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