Three Thoughts From BC-Harvard
By Paul Sulzer
I never thought I’d graduate BC 0-4 against Harvard in basketball. Yet here we are after tonight’s 67-46 loss in Conte Forum. The Eagles played well in short stretches, especially over the first five minutes, but they failed to counter the Crimson’s adjustments. After BC opened on a 12-3 run, Harvard controlled the rest of the game. Here’s how it happened:
- Match-up issues: When Harvard went small following BC’s run to open the game, the Eagles bent to the Crimson’s will instead of exploiting a significant size advantage inside. BC played Patrick Heckmann (13 points, five rebounds, six assists) as a fourth guard, and the freshman from Germany drove to the hoop almost at will. But BC wound up giving John Cahill 14 minutes on the wing, getting minimal productivity (one point and one assist). Those minutes could have been better spent on 6-foot-8 power forward Ryan Anderson, who played just 16 minutes (his second-lowest total of the year). His absence hurt BC on the boards, where Harvard held a 36-22 edge despite playing a consistently smaller group.
- Faulty rotations: In my opinion, Steve Donahue isn’t getting the right players on the court at the right time. You can make a pretty compelling case that BC’s five best players are Jordan Daniels, Lonnie Jackson, Heckmann, Anderson, and Dennis Clifford. Yet that group never saw the court together. It’s important to spread out the scoring a bit between the first and second unit. But the five best players should be playing during the most critical stretches of the game. In the first 15 minutes of the second half, when the game was still within reach, Anderson and Clifford played together for just three minutes. Meanwhile, Matt Humphrey (five points, 2-of-10 shooting, 1-of-5 from 3) played 31 mistake-filled minutes. He’s a ball-stopper – someone who inhibits ball movement by holding it for too long. Give his minutes to a more efficient passer, like Daniels or Gabe Moton.
- Failure to break down the Harvard defense: The Crimson are up there with St. Louis among the best defensive teams the Eagles have faced this year, so BC’s shooting struggles (27 percent from three) and turnover issues (17 giveaways) are understandable. That doesn’t make those shortcomings acceptable, though. BC bricked plenty of open looks and committed plenty of unforced errors. Running isolation plays for Jackson (zero 3-pointers attempted) could have helped him shake free from Oliver McNally. Finding Anderson in the post instead of on the wing would have played to his height advantage.