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.