Wednesday, November 30, 2011

season preview: Boston College

This is an earlier start than I usually get for basketball season previews, but then, when I finish we tend to be halfway through the conference season anyway, so let's get kicking while we wait for our bowl fate to be sorted out.  Besides, I've got a lot planned for when we finally learn our opponent.  These will come sporadically til I'm done.  As always, the goal is to make FOV readers the best-informed of any UVA fans on the ACC competition.

Boston College Eagles

Media prediction: 12th

Last season:

Record: 21-13 (9-7) - ACC 5th seed
Postseason: NIT second round
KenPom: 68th of 345

Returning scoring: 10.8%
Returning rebounding: 11.5%
Returning assists: 11.4%

2010-11 All-ACC:

1st team: G Reggie Jackson
2nd team: none
3rd team: F Joe Trapani
HM: none
Rookie: none
Defensive: none

(Italics indicate departed player.)

Starting lineup:

PG: Patrick Heckmann (Fr.)
SG: Gabe Moton (So.)
G: Matt Humphrey (Jr.)
F: Ryan Anderson (Fr.)
C: K.C. Caudill (Fr.)


C Dennis Clifford (Fr.)
G John Cahill (Sr.)
G Jordan Daniels (Fr.)
F Eddie Odio (Fr.)
G Lonnie Jackson (Fr.)
G Danny Rubin (So.)

Coach: Steve Donahue (2nd season)

ACC schedule:

Twice: Georgia Tech, Miami, NC State, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest
Once: Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia

Attention anyone who thinks their previous coach left the cupboard bare: He did not.  Not when compared to what Al Skinner did to Boston College basketball.  This ought to be a Building A Program-type show on TV; I'd watch.  The storyline is bizarre and fascinating: when Steve Donahue took over, he found a roster completely loaded with mostly seniors, a few juniors - and not one single freshman or sophomore.  If he had done nothing in between being hired and starting the season, that's what his roster would have been.  In what has to be considered second-degree criminal negligence, Skinner did not sign anyone in the recruiting class of '09; this means that the only junior on the roster is a transfer.  The only sophomores are those hastily recruited by Donahue after finding his entire '10 recruiting class also nonexistent; those that were there bolted shortly after Skinner's firing.  Any seniors are either walk-ons or useless, or both.

Here is BC's regular lineup, in PPG order, by their class:

Junior transfer from Oregon
Walk-on who joined last year

That is disastrous.  Only two of those guys - the sophomores, Danny Rubin and Gabe Moton, played any meaningful minutes last year (they are the aforementioned hastily-recruited class of '10 members) and Rubin's minutes dwindled to near-nothing by the end.  It's a wonder their game tape doesn't look like the AND1 streetball highlight tape reject clips, and a credit to their coaching that they can actually defeat Division I competition besides.

This team is a mess of epic proportions.  They can barely score and cannot defend.  In the KenPom standings, they are one notch above Florida-Gulf Coast and just below Troy, Charleston Southern, and Fordham.  Forget the ACC; Boston College is an average America East Conference team (made up of such standouts as Maine and New Hampshire) and a perfect geographical fit, too, come to think of it.  Boston College 2011-2012 is a fascinating, absurd, bizarre train wreck of an outfit, and it's the fault of nobody currently involved.  (Maybe the AD.)  Al Skinner has set the new standard for leaving behind bare cupboards, a feat surpassed only by SMU football circa 1988.

So, what to make of this roster that we've never seen?  Small sample size caveats apply to every player evaluation from here on out, since they've played all of six games and I haven't seen any of them.  The highest-rated and most-sought recruit in their freshman class was Ryan Anderson, a skinny beanpole who plays forward and who is one of just two players to start all six games so far.  Anderson is the team's leading rebounder, and that seems likely to continue.  He's kind of a stretch-the-floor four who shoots threes, albeit not especially well.  Patrick Heckmann was also recruited by several teams, Michigan among them, out of the German semi-pro leagues.  He's the team's leading scorer despite being outshot almost 2-to-1 so far by the inefficient Matt Humphrey, who transferred in from Oregon.  BC is still working on a big man rotation between K.C. Caudill and Dennis Clifford; Clifford measures in at seven feet but Caudill is a whopping 280 pounds.  Caudill chose BC over offers from Northwestern, Harvard, and Penn, so there's brains to go with the brawn; however, he's a more recent addition to the rotation.

Obviously that rotation is still shaking out.  This time last year, Danny Rubin looked like a real find - he was in the starting lineup and hitting threes with efficiency and aplomb, but played his way completely out of the rotation by year's end and has struggled to crack it again.  Steve Donahue has a lot of work to do, obviously, and settling on a rotation is priority #1 right now.

If Boston College had an average ACC schedule, I'd call 'em a contender to pull a Detroit Lions and go 0-16 in the conference.  I don't even know when that last happened.  Wake Forest came close and went 1-15 last year and that's as close as anyone's come in ages.  If anyone can do it, it's this BC team.  But they happen to have the cushiest schedule in the conference (that doesn't include themselves.)  UNC, Duke, FSU, UVA, Clemson - all one-time opponents.  Virginia Tech, and maybe Miami, are the only NCAA tournament contenders that they play twice.  They get two shots at GT and Wake, the other two likely ACC bottom-dwellers.  It's really a waste of a good schedule.  BC has already been smoked by Holy Cross and needed OT to beat UC-Riverside - further ugly OOC losses are probably in their future, and then BC fans will probably concern themselves entirely with hockey once the ACC schedule begins in earnest.  There is zero chance of this team playing a single postseason game past the first round of the ACC tournament, and we can only hope things start improving in later years of the Donahue era.  Fortunately, nobody will ever judge him on this one.


I have to blab for a bit about last night's Michigan game, which - well, the truth of it is that Michigan was probably dealing with a little post-Maui fatigue, and it was probably no accident that the big Virginia run came in the second half.  The other truth of it is that the selection committee won't care a whit.  Consider the TCU game erased when it comes down to whether or not UVA should be a tournament team.  As long as Michigan takes care of business from here on out and has even a middling result in Big Ten play (likely the toughest conference top-to-bottom this year, and by the way I have no doubt they will) then this win will stand out like a nice shiny diamond.

UVA fans will be astonished to learn how much of a free-throw disparity there was; we had a 22-7 attempt advantage at the stripe.  I looked it up and that hasn't happened since 1871.  Chalk it up to the frontcourt advantage - UVA did an absolutely terrific job of nullifying Michigan's better guards with the pack-line defense as Michigan often resorted to playing into UVA's hands by waiting out the shot clock, and at the same time UVA also did a great job of controlling the interior on offense.  Mike Scott couldn't be guarded by one person.  At all.  The amazing thing is that Assane Sene didn't score at all and we didn't even need him to; Scott was a one-man matchup nightmare and completely controlled everything Michigan did down low.  I cannot wait to unleash this fucker on the ACC because every time I watch a UVA basketball game I have to shake my head to remind myself he's on our side.  I thought Travis Watson was pretty awesome but guys like Mike Scott don't come around but once a decade if that.

I have to also mention Malcolm Brogdon for quietly having a terrific game.  Very quietly.  I was completely surprised to look at the box score and see he had 16 points on 5-of-7 shooting.  I particularly enjoyed the sequence in the second half when Brogdon bricked a three, a teammate got the offensive board and passed to an open Brogdon and he didn't hesitate in shooting again and knocking it down on the second chance.  Confidence: dude haz it.

I thoroughly enjoyed that game but I'm also surprised to be saying this: I'm glad it's over.  It was so weird watching, say, Joe Harris knock down a three and going "yes!....kinda."  Michigan's Jordan Morgan found a wide-open lane once for an Air Jordan slam and I said "hey, now that was cool.  Wait, no it wasn't.  What the shit was that kind of defense?"  It's very weird.  I expect the two teams will meet in lacrosse at some point in the next couple years and that'll be even stranger.

Other news bits:

-- In the least surprising attrition news ever, Michael Strauss will transfer and appears to be headed to a localish I-AA program.  This fulfulls my prophecy from like last year that the third quarterback in the race between Rocco, Metheny, and Strauss will leave the program; there's not much reason to sit in fourth place (including David Watford) with even more quarterbacks set to come in next year.

In a long-overdue move, I've updated the depth chart; since Strauss has already left the team and wasn't even on the sidelines for the Tech game, I've already deleted his entry.  From a roster-management standpoint, that means the 2012 recruiting class puts us either three or four spots over the limit of 85.  (I'm not completely sure of the status of Drequan Hoskey - I don't know if he's on track scholarship or not and if he is, he's a counter toward 85.  Someone clarify.)  Anyway, between guys who'll likely prep in the recruiting class, non-invites for a fifth year, and the usual attrition, this is a "problem" that'll take care of itself.  UVA is not Alabama.

-- In a decision that is entirely correct, Mike London is the ACC Coach of the Year.  Clemson Clemsoning the end of the season cemented that one, because Dabo Swinney was the only other logical competitor.  If UNC had done better, Everett Withers would've been in the running.  I figured London would eventually win a COY award as long as he produced a winning season at some point; this is because the media was never going to expect us to do well until we actually did.  Awarding him the COY is their way of saying "we weren't wrong at the beginning of the year, it's just that London is that good of a coach."  Congratulations, Coach, now never win another one because if you don't it means we were continually good without dipping into the below-.500 nether regions.

-- "ACC Officiating Reaches All Levels."  OH GOD NO.  There's a reason I like to use a #GoodOldACCRefs hashtag on Twitster.  If your local high school referee calls pass interference on someone who has two hands on the ball and none on the receiver, now you know why.


Anonymous said...

I still think we need KT Harrell to develop. While I've been impressed with Brogdon, Harrell seems to have the athletic potential to be the guy on the team that could create for others through attacking. Jontel is willing to attack, and is perhaps a bit reckless with it at times, but he doesn't have the finishing ability, either with his shot or at the basket, so teams aren't concerned. Joe Harris has improved in his ability to drive to the hole, but still isn't a guy that threatens teams all that much in that respect.

If Harrell can attack the rim a bit more, rather than settling for long jumpers, this team improves quite a bit as he has enough finishing ability to force teams to commit, but enough vision and passing ability to kick out. Otherwise, we'll have to be almost completely an inside/outside team, which is fine, but a bit limiting.

Anonymous said...

Not sure why I've never thought of this comp, but Brogdon reminds me a bit of Roger Mason Jr. Solid athlete, but not elite, but very well rounded player.

Oy, thinking of Mason Jr. still makes me wonder what might've been during those years had Majestic Mapp been healthy. Granted, there were other issues, but if Mapp had been healthy, and as good as hoped for, some of those teams could've done some damage.