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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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