Column: Departure of Jordan Daniels Shrinks Eagles’ Ceiling for 2012-2013
(Photo by Graham Beck/Heights Editor)
By Austin Tedesco, Asst. Sports Editor
The Boston College hoops ceiling just fell a hair over five and half feet.
Five days before the season opener, sophomore point guard Jordan Daniels has decided to transfer from the Heights, per a release from BC Athletics. The move was first reported by John Rothstein of CBS.
“I’d like to thank Boston College for the opportunity to be a part of this community, ” Daniels told The Heights. “Coach Donahue has a great program, however I feel this is the best decision for me at this time. It’s been a pleasure to develop a bond with my Eagle teammates and I sincerely wish them all the best.”
“It’s a surprise yeah, for sure,” head coach Steve Donahue told The Heights. “We had talked a couple of times in the preseason about where his role is and things of that nature. I just think it got to a point for him where he just wasn’t enjoying himself in the role that he saw himself in. He talked it over with his parents and then we talked about it real serious last night that he thinks he’s going to stop playing and transfer.”
The decision came as a shock, especially since just last week Heights editors sat down with Daniels to discuss the upcoming season.
“I think we made a little progress but that’s just one year under our belt,” Daniels said at the time. “I feel like we have a ways to go. Part of changing the basketball culture here at BC is we have to improve and win games too. We’ve gotta keep getting better and give our students something to watch.”
Daniels was clearly focused on the upcoming season, and for good reason. Despite all the hype around freshmen guards Oliver Hanlan and Joe Rahon, who are both very talented and have a ton of potential, Daniels was going to be a big part of Donahue’s seven-man rotation. He’s killer in the pick-and roll, underrated on the defensive end, and played a bigger role than anyone else in the upset over Florida State last season.
The freshmen are going to struggle. Donahue has conceded that Rahon is in a shooting slump lately and that Hanlan wasn’t able to make plays or get to the rim with the ease he was expecting against Northeastern. These are only a few of the issues that are going to come and go for both guys from now until March.
Despite Daniels’ lack of size and strength, he had a whole season under his belt and plays with an impressive amount of composure. He would’ve been able to come off the bench and settle down the offense when the inevitable turnovers start racking up for Hanlan and Rahon. Last season, Daniels only broke from his stoic nature one time on the court, letting out a joyous scream when the Eagles sealed the victory over the ‘Noles.
The rotation of consistently reliable players now only stands at Dennis Clifford, Ryan Anderson, Lonnie Jackson, Rahon, Hanlan, and Patrick Heckmann. Heckmann is himself still a bit of a question mark after missing so much time last year and disappearing during games.
“All of these things that happen – they’re all part of growing the program,” Donahue said. “I think the guys are going to miss him. He’s a great kid and he was a great member of our program. We’re a tight knit family. I think in that part we’re still trying to get used to him not being here. We’ll get over it, fortunately – or unfortunately depending on what way you want to look at it. I think we’ll be a good basketball team. I’m real confident in the guys that are playing. Going forward you’ve obviously got to make sure you get another guy that can handle the ball and I think we’ll do that over the next couple recruiting classes.”
Before Daniels’ departure, the combination of Andrew Van Nest, Eddie Odio, John Cain Carney, KC Caudill, and Danny Rubin looked reliable enough for the eighth and ninth guys, but one of them will need to step in and log some serious minutes. So far, no one has stood out. If the Eagles are going to be successful this year, the top six are going to need to log an absurd amount of minutes or one of these bit players will need to make a serious jump.
Daniels was concerned with his playing time, but he stated to The Heights before the season that he was comfortable with the competition Rahon and Hanlan brought.
“[The freshmen] coming in it makes things more competitive,” he said. “We all want to be out there, but I think that when you look at the big picture that just makes us better as a team. Going at each other each day and just making each other better. I feel like they just add to the team.”
Donahue did say Monday, however, that he’d had to talk with Daniels more than the other three guards about playing time.
“Everybody has a chance to jump over another guy and get the role that they probably want, so I can’t set on [a rotation],” Donahue said. “As we go forward it’s something that we have to communicate with them and make sure it’s something they understand – I’ve had that conversation with Jordan in particular. The other three I haven’t necessarily – all four are playing a lot, probably a little more than Jordan, in his mind, but that can change.”
In terms of future success, this is a setback but not a major one for the Eagles. Daniels isn’t built to be a starter on a competitive ACC squad, but he could’ve been deadly as a backup point-guard to Hanlan in the next three seasons. He could’ve confused and shook up defenses with his unusual size and speed and it would’ve given the Eagles a strong advantage on the offensive end with a productive second unit, but those dreams leave with Daniels.
This squad will struggle more than initially projected, especially early, without Daniels in the rotation, though it does open up more playing time for Hanlan and Rahon to grow. The team might be better prepared for a tournament run next season or the season after because of the move, especially since it opens up another scholarship for Donahue.
Daniels is a great kid, maybe almost to a fault on the court, and has always gone above and beyond to be polite and helpful with the media.
“Lonnie competes on the court, that’s what Lonnie naturally does,” Donahue said. “I think Jordan is working to that. Jordan is such a nice person that he has to be able to turn it on and off and it’s probably something that he has to think about each day, where Lonnie is just – when he’s in competition, it’s competition.”
Daniels will be missed, and hopefully he does well as he continues his career. The future for BC basketball is still bright, but for this season, at least, the Eagles just took a significant step backwards.
Quick Hits: BC 56, Georgia Tech 52
By Stephen Sikora, Heights Staff
A brief analysis of Boston College’s 56-52 win over Georgia Tech on Senior Night:
A Tale of Two Halves
BC led 33-22 at the end of the first half. Its offensive movement, execution, and shot selection contributed to one of the best 20 minutes we’ve seen from the Eagles all season. BC shot 12-of-24 from the field with eight assists. Matt Humphrey led the team with 13 points and three assists, and inside players Dennis Clifford and Ryan Anderson also played well. They combined for 19 points and 15 rebounds, and BC was only outrebounded by five.
The Yellow Jackets began the second half on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to seven. BC did get it back to 51-34 with 11:05, but Tech then scored 13 unanswered points over the course of six minutes to get within four. Over that time, the Eagles turned the ball over four times and took a number of ill-advised shots early in the shot clock. The offensive movement that was there in the first half just didn’t come through in the second. On the defensive end, the Eagles gave up 10 second-chance points to Tech, and 18 points in the paint.
Donahue’s Opening Statement
“I thought for long stretches we really played good basketball. Obviously that 18-2 run in the first half was about as good as we can play on both sides of the ball. [We had] seven or eight straight stops, moved the ball on the offensive end, were really crisp, [and had] only three turnovers in that first half. I thought that was good basketball.”
“I think what you see sometimes with the droughts and the sluggish play is that we’re not very deep and we’re young. We’re playing young guys probably way too many minutes. It’s just the situation we’re in. Hopefully we go back here in two years and say we benefitted greatly from all this grinding out now that we’re bigger, stronger, and they’re the guys giving it to the other team.”
The Humphrey File
Humphrey was at 13 points at the end of the first half. After the final buzzer sounded on BC’s win Humphrey had … 13 points. He was 0-for-6 from the field in the second half, including 0-for-5 on threes. In the first 20 minutes he couldn’t miss, draining open shots including a three that bounced high in the air and came down for the basket. The shots he took were open and well set up by his teammates. He also showed a nice passing touch with three assists to lead the team at that point. These included setting up Anderson for a dunk, and another dish inside to him on a drive in the lane.
However, things took a turn for the worse in the second half. A botched drive by Humphrey in the first minute contributed to Tech scoring seven unanswered points to begin the half. Rather than continuing to pick his spots shooting the ball, he began launching threes early in the shot clock and could not connect from downtown when open either. After a missed three by Humphrey with nine minutes left, Donahue talked with him before the next play. On the ensuing possession he drove to the basket early and committed a turnover. Donahue was visibly upset on the sideline and immediately called upon Gabe Moton to replace Humphrey.
Daniels Gets his Confidence Back
Coming into the game Jordan Daniels had scored 10 points in his last three games and was 4-of-19 from the field, 0-for-7 on threes. He finally broke through tonight, with nine points on 3-of-7 shooting, going 3-for-5 from beyond the arc. After going 0-for-4 in the first half, he made all his shots in the second. This included a three with no time left on the shot clock on a possession when the Eagles had nothing going. It was a huge momentum shift as it stopped a 13-0 Tech run and put BC up seven with five minutes left. Daniels has been streaky this year, but when he’s on it’s hard to beat BC. As he gets older, look for him to develop more confidence in his shot and hit threes at a higher rate.
For more from last night’s game, read more here.
Jackson and Daniels: A Dynamic Duo
(Graham Beck/Heights Editor)
By Jack Garvey
In front of yet another packed (-ish) crowd at home in Conte Forum, the Eagles of Boston College took the court Sunday against the Bulldogs of Bryant University. Other than the brief playing of Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow”during the pregame warm up (Bryant’s team colors), the game was all Maroon and Gold. In front of upwards of 300 screaming fans, the young Eagles put on what was one of their best performances of the season, coming away with the win, 75-55. Although Bryant is statistically one the worst teams in the nation and is currently buried at the bottom of the standings of a not-so-powerful Northeast Conference, head coach Steve Donahue and the boys will take it.
The Arrival of Lonnie Jackson
In a game that saw four freshmen in the starting lineup, freshman guard Lonnie Jackson stole the show. Jackson was sensational, dropping a game-high 26 points on just 13 shots, including 7-for-11 shooting from beyond the three-point line. In a second half in which the Eagles shot 57 percent from the floor and 58 percent from three, Jackson led the charge with 17 second-half points (the whole Bryant team only had 23), going an absolutely scorching 5-for-6 from long range.
Realistically assuming that Jackson cannot maintain 64 percent three-point shooting (but hey, who knows?), this game was anything but a fluke for the promising young guard. Jackson’s minutes have been steadily growing over the last four games. After averaging just under 10 minutes per game for the first five games of the season and scoring just one total point, Jackson scored 12 points in 20 minutes against New Mexico. Two games later, Donahue gave him the start against Boston University, and he has since played 32, 34, and 32 minutes, and started all of the last three games. As his playing time has increased, so have his shot opportunities and scoring, culminating in this career performance Sunday afternoon.
While his scoring has certainly been improved of late, Jackson looked like a completely different player on the court against Bryant. He was aggressive all game, frequently calling for the ball and fading to the perimeter for kick-outs from Jordan Daniels. Where he looked especially assertive was in the transition game, calling for the ball and sinking it in transition on more than one occasion.
Seven of Jackson’s eight field goals were 3-pointers, and although he shot four foul shots, one would like to see him get more aggressive in driving to the basket as to avoid becoming a one-dimensional scoring threat. But Jackson insists that this is not an issue. When asked about this possibility in the post-game interview, he explained that he shot a lot of threes because that was how the defense was playing him, and he is confident in his ability to respond to defenses in the future with either spot-up shooting or quick drives to the basket. Donahue expressed similar confidence in Jackson in his post-game interview.
And if Donahue is right, the sky is the limit for this talented freshman.
Jordan Daniels’ “Quiet” Game
Between a career high performance from Jackson, solid games from key contributors Dennis Clifford and Ryan Anderson, and lights-out second half shooting from the Eagles, it is easy for Jordan Daniels’ quiet three points to go unnoticed on the stat sheet. But two of his stats that simply cannot be ignored are 9 and 0: that is, 9 assists and 0 turnovers. In a game dominated by strong shooting, Daniels turned in an ideal performance any coach would desire from his point guard.
Three elements of his stat line reflect his performance. First off, he took just four shots, making only one of them, which at first glance seems disappointing. On the contrary, this reveals that as he witnessed his teammates’ hot shooting (namely Jackson), his focus became almost exclusively finding his teammates (again, namely Jackson), whether it be on pick and roll kick-outs or in transition. Three of his shots came from deep, and most of those were bailout attempts with the shot clock winding down. Nine assists speaks for itself: a career high for Jordan, and three times the amount of his previous career high (3). Zero turnovers is absolutely stellar. A nine to zero assist to turnover ratio is outstanding for any player at any level, not to mention a freshman guard playing in his 11th career game. Daniels started, played 25 minutes, was the team’s primary ball handler and the initiator of its offense, and defended Bryant’s second best player. His assist to turnover ratio demonstrates a poise and game-control ability beyond his years, only further solidifying his role as the team’s point guard of the future.
Needless to say, the offense looked at its best when Daniels was on the court. To open up the game with freshmen Daniels, Jackson, Clifford, and Anderson, the Eagles went on an 18-4 run. When Bryant closed it to a 34-32 deficit at the end of the first half, the starters came out in the second half and, led by Jordan, picked up right where they left off, going on a 24-11 run to increase their lead to 58-43. The connection between Daniels and Jackson was impressive: of Daniels’ nine assists, six were to Jackson. Daniels consistently looked for his classmate not only in transition but also in the half-court offense. Daniels frequently kicked the ball out to him on the perimeter following pick and roll plays in which Jackson got open. This chemistry was not imagined, Jackson affirmed in his post-game comments that he and Daniels had been working a lot together in practice on getting him open shots in the half-court offense. If Sunday’s game was any indication of this newfound chemistry, this lethal combination could prove to be quite the handful for future opponents.
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.
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.