Wednesday, March 12, 2008

BC Preview

We've been lucky to have Bill from Eagle in Atlanta to give us a glimpse of Boston College sports over the last few years. He's back again this week as Maryland takes on Boston College in the Conan O'Brien game scheduled for a 9:30pm tip time. Mock me if you must but that is damn late for a basketball game. Last year the six versus eleven seed game between Georgia Tech and Wake Forest went into two overtimes and finished the next day, or might still be going on somewhere in the space time continuum for all I know.

I also answered some questions on Eagle in Atlanta that can be found here.

1. Some recent quotes from Al Skinner seem to indicate he isn't happy
with the effort and focus of this team and in some of the recent games
it seemed at times that the players were going through the motions. Is
this just a product of the recent losing streaks and the frustration
at a season that "got away" from a team or is it a sign of deeper

Eagle in Atlanta:I think Skinner is clearly frustrated. He's not the type to vent to the media or even share what's going on behind the scenes, yet this year he's been honest. He's tried everything and it just hasn't worked. I think the season did get away from the guys. Tyrese Rice even mentioned it in a recent interview. In late January, they lost to Virginia Tech at home in OT and then faced Duke, UNC and Clemson over a two week period. That rough road sent them in a tailspin that they weren't able to overcome.

I don't think there are deeper problems...more of a series of problems (age, talent, confidence and lack of focus) that manifested in this terrible second half. You'd hope things would improve with time. We won't know until next season how deep these problems go.

2. Sophomore Shamari Spears was a player I thought would be the first
option in the low post for the Eagles this season yet his playing time
has dwindled. Is he in Skinner's dog house and, if so, why?

EIA:I don't know if he is in a true doghouse. I just think he's not that good and didn't improve enough this year. He's a fine role player but doesn't have the skills to be BC's second scoring option. I think his and fellow Soph Tyler Roche's playing time has dwindled lately because Skinner is trying to shake things up and see what the freshmen can do with more playing time.

3. Freshman Corey Raji seems to be the second option behind Rice
lately. Is this just an anomaly or is he really separating himself
from the other freshman?

EIA:Raji is good, but at this point I wouldn't say he's going to be the best of this freshmen class. Rakim Sanders and Josh Southern both have more upside and could be great if they grow into their bodies. Raji is just a filling a void with hustle and smart plays. He's the type of guy who has thrived in Skinner's system in the past. Most of his points are coming off rebounds and mismatches in the flex.

4. In the recent losing streak what do you feel has been the biggest
problem for BC?

EIA:The biggest problem is the offensive efficiency. The D hasn't been very good for years, but BC could always score consistently and methodically. But Skinner's offense has worked best when he had low post players that were good rebounders and good passers. This year he doesn't. Our big men -- Oates and Blair -- are limited and have been killing the productivity. Too often it is just Rice creating his own shots and the other guys waiting around. We had a similar style under Troy Bell, but Bell was protected by guys like Uka Agbai and Ryan Sidney -- natural rebounders who could convert put back after put back.

If Rice returns, I think things will be better, but the young guys are going to have to mature fast.

Gary in the news

There is a great article in the Washington Times by Patrick Stevens about Gary Williams. I highly recommend it. Williams isn't especially gregarious and keeps his distance from all but a select group of people. The article is a rare window into the man. He is at times self deprecating but also fiercely proud of his accomplishments. He has done as much for his basketball program and University as any coach in America over the last 18 years. That isn't to say that fans shouldn't expect more than one winning ACC season in five years, there isn't much point defending that record. Williams prickly nature and reflex towards defensiveness is something that hurts him with the media and by extension some of the fans. You know he doesn't like the status quo any more than the rest of the Maryland faithful but he is loath to admit that it hasn't been good enough.

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