STS: Shakin the Southland
BCI: BC Interruption
Last season BC struggled to an 8-24 finish. As a result, they replaced head coach Steve Donahue with Jim Christian from Ohio University. Can you give us some background on that transition and the overall opinion of your new coach?
There was definitely a change required at the top. I think people forget how consistent a winner BC was in the decade before Steve Donahue had gotten here. Now it had slipped a bit at the end of the Al Skinner era, but remember, the Eagles were in the ACC Championship game in their first year in the conference and had every chance to beat Duke.
Donahue though never got it going. The debate was whether could he recruit ACC caliber talent coming from Cornell and although he had Olivier Hanlan and Ryan Anderson, the rest of the cast is underwhelming. People viewed the hiring of Christian as "just a guy," there were a lot of people who were hoping Bruce Pearl might come home, but that was never going to happen.
I believe Christian has done a good job with this group, he definitely hasn't lost them despite the record, but the jury is still out on how this will play out in the long run. The big thing there will be, can he recruit and get the talent level up to where it needs to be to not only compete in the ACC but win. He's already accomplished the compete piece.
After some chatter about Olivier Hanlan declaring early for the NBA, he returned for his junior year. Last year he posted a stellar 113.4 offensive efficiency rating, but this year it's down to 99.6. This is partially due to increased usage, as he is in the top 30 in %Min and top 100 in %Shot, however his 2P%, 3P%, and PPG are all down. What has caused this?
It's hard to say honestly other than the fact he simply isn't playing as well. People are making an issue out of his minutes, but they are essentially the same as they were a year ago. His overall shooting percentage is down, but the thing that sticks out most to me are his free throws. He is way down in both attempts per game and percentage, those are ways that scorers get easy points and often get themselves into the game more. Hanlan is -3.2 ppg from the line this season and his overall scoring is down 2.0 ppg. Dropping from 81 percent to 68 percent from the line sure doesn't help.
He's struggled from beyond the arc, but I don't think has fallen in love with the three, so he is still attacking the rim and getting into the lane. Those shots just aren't going.
The other factor is that he's lost any real help he had inside with Ryan Anderson. The Eagles have virtually no post presence, certainly no one to enter the ball directly to who can score. That puts a much bigger burden on Hanlan.
A season ago, Boston College had the worst defense in ACC play, surrendering a paltry defensive efficiency of 117 points per 100 possessions. Their defense has improved as the defensive efficiency in ACC play is now at 111.6 points per 100 possessions, but it's still 14th in the conference. Meanwhile, Clemson is 14th in the conference in offensive efficiency scoring just 100.9 points per 100 possessions through eight conference games. What, in your view, is the best way for Clemson to attack the Eagles' defense?
I do think this team defends better than last year's but it still is far from elite. The Eagles lack strength inside, so there is no question the easiest way to attack this team is in the post. Montrezl Harrell just dominated Clifford and Magarity physically Wednesday night, but Louisville stayed perimeter oriented and didn't exploit that matchup the way I thought they might. Clifford is 7'1, but not a shot blocker and has been sick for the better part of the last week, missing the Georgia Tech game and getting only nine minutes against Louisville.
Pound it inside and attack the offensive glass.
Since ACC football schedules were just released this week, let me ask you one football question. Florida State is coming up to Chestnut Hill on a Friday. How do you guys feels about playing home games on Fridays? Does this particular one work in your favor? Overall, do fans seem happy with the schedule?
Fans are livid with the home schedule. There is a feeling that Brad Bates was asleep at the switch to wind up with two FCS home games this season as the Eagles just signed on to play Howard, along with a previously scheduled home game with Maine. There is a question as to just how trapped Bates was to be left with that as his choice. A home non-conference slate of Maine, Howard and Northern Illinois isn't exciting anyone, particularly when the bar for bowl eligibility just got raised to seven wins with that extra FCS game.
The Friday night games, I personally dislike. With tailgating being so limited based on the neighborhood the campus sits in (you can't just drive your RV into town on Wednesday afternoon!), the people who will be at work during the day needing to adjust those schedules around football, and the fact Florida State is our biggest home game of the season, it is just a tough situation. Football isn't nearly as ingrained in Boston's culture as it is at Clemson and the more Saturday games and even Saturday night September games, the more likely it is to get people's attention.
Back to our main topic, how do you see Saturday's game playing out. Do you steal one on the road?
I expect a very competitive game. Christian has BC playing hard and staying in virtually every game they've played outside of the game at Duke. Clemson has had trouble scoring and the game will be played at noon time...so we will see if anyone on the court or in the stands is awake. That said, Clemson's defense is very impressive and will be enough to get this one for the Tigers. Clemson 67 BC 61.