Quick Hits: BC vs. Baylor

By Stephen Sikora, Heights Staff

The Boston College basketball team faced No. 16 Baylor in the Charleston Classic on Thursday afternoon. After leading at the half 43-41, the Eagles were in the game until Baylor pulled away in the final few minutes.

Even in the loss, this was a strong performance by a young team who looks ready to put the nine-win season of last year behind them. Here’s some instant analysis:

Ryan Anderson’s Breakout Continues

After a dominating 29-point, 17-rebound performance in his first game of the season, Ryan Anderson delivered the goods once again on Thursday. He scored 19 points in the first half en route to a 25-point performance on 9-of-16 shooting, adding six rebounds.

Anderson continued to look better finishing at the rim, and showed his versatility by making 2-of-4 3-pointers, including a half court shot at the end of the first half to give BC the lead. He also drove hard in the lane at times to get to the free throw line, where he was a perfect 5-of-5, a nice development after he struggled from the charity stripe last year.

It’s evident that Anderson is the Eagles go-to guy, both on and off the court. Teams will now be equipped with game plans to stop him. If he can work with Donahue to figure ways around these while continuing to develop as a player, there’s no limit on his potential this season.

Checking in on Joe and O

BC’s point guard play is in a much better position this year. Freshman Olivier Hanlan is a capable ball handler and has shown a willingness to drive to the basket to create plays.

Hanlan was 6-of-11 from the field and 2-of-3 from beyond the arc to finish with 16 points and six rebounds. He limited the turnovers to three while being an essential part of most plays. If Anderson’s the leader on the floor, Hanlan is second in command and calls out plays for his teammates while handling the ball the majority of the time.

Joe Rahon, on the other hand, didn’t have as great of a game. While his three assists certainly helped the Eagles—which included driving and quality passing of his own—he had a couple of dumb turnovers that could have easily been avoided.

Rahon also shot 1-of-6 from downtown and is now shooting 1-for-11 overall on the year.  Rahon is a capable player that will be crucial to BC’s success in the future, and developing his shot will only help that cause.

Van Nest Emerging

It’s always difficult to project how a transfer player will work out. In the case of Andrew Van Nest, it looks like we have our answer: quite well.

After a solid debut in which he played minutes for Dennis Clifford because of a smaller FIU lineup, Van Nest once again demonstrated that he deserves quality playing time for this BC squad. He shot 5-of-6 from the field, including 2-of-3 from three, and contributed three assists and no turnovers in his 14 minutes of play. The Eagles certainly could use another interior presence after Clifford, and if Van Nest can continue to connect from downtown, he could be a better played than we had ever imagined.

This Year’s Different

At the end of the game, ESPN broadcaster Jay Williams said, “I’m telling you now, BC is going to upset some big-time program in the ACC this year.” The potential the Eagles have shown in their first two games confirm that they’re a much better squad than last year. The three sophomore starters, most notably Anderson, have each made strides from last year. The two freshmen guards are doing a good job executing Donahue’s half court sets, and have been able to get out in transition.

With 7:35 left in the game, BC trailed by one, and though it was outscored 20-11 from that point on, the team has shown it can compete with quality teams. With such a young squad, there’s no question mistakes will happen throughout the year, but the Eagles’ age also leaves room for them to improve substantially this season.

Baylor vs. BC Likes and Dislikes

(Photo by Graham beck/Heights Editor)

By Austin Tedesco, Asst. Sports Editor

Boston College pushed No. 16 Baylor for about 75 percent of its matchup this afternoon in the first round of the Charleston Classic, before falling 84-74 to the Bears. Here are three likes and three dislikes from the game.

Likes

1. Ryan Anderson

Offensively, the power forward couldn’t have been better in the first half. His post moves are at another level this year, he’s extremely confident, and he’s executing well. Rolling off the screen, he can either spot up from the elbow or finish at the rim with a dunk in a more explosive fashion than he ever could last season. The offense strayed away from him a little more than it should have as Baylor pulled away in the second half, but the guards were turning the ball over and Baylor began putting more pressure on Anderson. He did a good job of staying on his feet when defending Isaiah Austin in the post, and didn’t give the star freshman too many easy looks. Overall, he had an incredible game and the future is very bright for the BC star.

2. Donahue’s willingness to make adjustments

Baylor was killing BC off the dribble and on pick-and-rolls (which will come up later), but Donahue made a smart move and switched to a 2-3 zone to slow down the Bears. The Eagles gave up some easy 3-pointers because they either helped too far in the post or didn’t rotate quickly enough, but the zone did its job and slowed down Pierre Jackson enough for BC to take the lead. Donahue isn’t afraid to make any adjustments necessary to get the victory, and it’s a great thing to see in a coach. Yet again, Donahue proved his ability to be an impressive in-game coach, especially with his ability to draw up clean looks out of timeouts.

3. Rahon and Hanlan’s playmaking

Joe Rahon and Olivier Hanlan both did a good job running the point guard position. When even one of the two guards is off the court, the offense isn’t nearly as effective. Both freshmen did a great job hitting Anderson in the pick-and-roll as well as pushing the ball in transition. Rahon should shake his shooting slump as he gets more used to the college game, and Hanlan will figure out ways to finish at the rim at this level. Against a long and athletic Baylor squad, both rookies played admirably on the offensive end.

Dislikes

1. The defense, all of it

There weren’t a lot of positives on the defensive end for BC, with the biggest negative coming on pick-and-roll defense. Donahue said going into the season that he felt comfortable switching the pick-and-roll defense to a more aggressive attack where the bigs show and recover quickly. That didn’t happen against the Bears. As the guards slid underneath the screens, the big men stayed glued to the screener and Jackson, especially, found open look after open look. It’s fine for the guard to go under a couple of times if he has to, but only if the big man defending the screener is already hedging with a hand up. If the big plays lazy defense by sticking to the screener, then open shots like the ones Jackson nailed will occur time after time. Unlike Anderson and Dennis Clifford, who have struggled with this in both games, Andrew Van Nest has done a great job defending the pick-and-roll the right way. The 2-3 zone was better, but the rotations were poor and it led to too many easy shots. Baylor has some monsters up front and BC should’ve been expected to give up some offensive boards, but on too many occasions the Eagles were late to even get a body on Corey Jefferson or Austin. BC dominated FIU on the glass because of a size advantage. The Eagles won’t be able to rely on that when conference play starts. BC will need to box out early and effectively.

2. Jackson’s one-dimensional game

Lonnie Jackson is a great three-point shooter when he is on, but when he’s off he shuts down too quickly and too easily. He’s streaky, and streaky shooters need to find other ways to affect games. After Jackson had a big game against Sacred Heart last season, he insisted his game went beyond just perimeter shooting. He needs to prove that. If his shot isn’t falling, and in plenty of games this season it won’t, he either needs to find ways to get to the rim or create for his teammates. There’s nothing wrong with continuing to take open looks, as long as they’re open, until he gets hot, but he also needs to mix in some variety in order to be effective on the court.

3. Transition defense

Baylor started way too many fast breaks off of made baskets from BC. The Eagles aren’t finding guys spotting up on the arc in transition early enough and it led to too many points for the Bears. Even when BC does get back, early screens or cuts have been hurting this squad. The furthest player back needs to sprint back to the rim after a make, miss, or turnover, and then work out from there with the other players finding shooters and stopping the ball as quickly as possible. It’s one more important step for this team to take before it starts knocking off elite opponents like this, and those wins probably won’t come until mistakes like this are fixed.