Thursday, January 26, 2012

game preview: Boston College

Date/Time: Thursday, January 26; 9:00


Record against the Eagles: 7-6

Last matchup: BC 63, UVA 44; 2/26/11; Charlottesville

Last game: VT 47, UVA 45 (1/22); Wake 71, BC 56 (1/21)

Opposing blogs: BC Interruption

KenPom breakdown:

UVA: 60.2 (#339)
BC: 66.3 (#199)

UVA: 104.8 (#95)
BC: 91.8 (#292)

UVA: 84.1 (#4)
BC: 101.4 (#185)

Pythagorean win%:
UVA: .9046 (#16)
BC: .2655 (#262)

Common opponents:

Virginia Tech: UVA lost, 47-45; BC won, 61-59

Projected starting lineups:


PG: Jontel Evans (5.9 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 3.5 apg)
SG: Sammy Zeglinski (9.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.6 apg)
SF: Joe Harris (12.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.6 apg)
PF: Mike Scott (16.6 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.6 apg)
F: Akil Mitchell (3.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 0.7 apg)

Boston College:

PG: Jordan Daniels (5.8 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 2.3 apg)
SG: Matt Humphrey (9.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.3 apg)
G: Lonnie Jackson (7.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.6 apg)
F: Ryan Anderson (9.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.0 apg)
C: Dennis Clifford (9.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.1 apg)

Another stretch begins today of many games in little time, and this one's an even crunchier stretch with a game tonight, Saturday evening, and then Tuesday evening.  Three in six days.  A fine time to be missing our center with a broken foot, and, potentially, our #2 scorer with the flu.

Hopefully, BC is the cure to what ails ya.  One of the worst BCS-conference basketball teams in the whole country visits the JPJA tonight, so despite the depth issues and the injuries and all, UVA has to get a win - an easy one - or else face a bottomless well of doubts about the season's direction.  Right now the Hoos are getting a favorable narrative from the media - despite an ugly loss on Sunday, the line about UVA in Yahoo's bracketology is one about how our losses are only by a combined eight points.  UVA might not be in any bracket projections if they can't shake the shooting problems from Sunday and dispatch a terrible team with prejudice.

-- UVA on offense

Usually when I'm trying to find out how to beat a team, one thing I typically do is check out their losses and see if there's a pattern in how other teams did it.  With BC it's the other way around: how on earth did anyone lose to them?  The answer generally lies in their defense.  BC's offense would be below-average in at least 30 of 34 conferences, but their defense - while not ACC-level - has its moments.

BC will have the luxury, at least at first, of attempting to guard Mike Scott with one guy, because Assane Sene's absence means 7-footer Dennis Clifford can shadow Scott.  Scott's favorite move, the Sheed Wallace turnaround jumped, probably won't make it to the basket against a seven-foot defender, so we'll have to hope Scott can bang him around in the post.

On the perimeter, however, BC can be worked on.  Actually, their three-point defense is just to the good side of average, but it's the steals - or complete lack thereof - that I like.  They hardly get any.  Georgia Tech was another team I pointed this out about, and it played into our hands nicely as the Hoos only had eight turnovers.  BC is even worse, ranking 324th in the country at steals percentage.  Point guard Jordan Daniels is a midget at 5'8", 153, a good sign as our point guards typically are bothered more by size than by quickness.  This'd be a good game to give Malcolm Brogdon minutes at the point and force one of BC's bigger guards to defend him out there; in fact if I were Bennett I'd start the game that way just to mess with Steve Donahue and see what he does to counter.

Big-picture-wise, BC's defense has actually been improving (somewhat), so it'd be a mistake to judge it by the early-season games.  In ACC play they've allowed just fewer than a point a possession, which is actually better than their performance early on against the likes of Holy Cross and Rhode Island.  (Of course, the Hokies didn't have Erick Green when they played BC.)  Donahue likes to mix a little zone defense in now and again, even including a 1-3-1 sometimes.  Given the way UVA has been shooting threes of late, I wouldn't be surprised to see an early dose of the 2-3, to force the Hoos to find their range.

-- UVA on defense

Freshmen are stuffed into every nook and corner of the BC basketball program, and Donahue needed years at Cornell before his offense caught on and started really producing, so it's little wonder that the Eagles are so bad at it.  Not one player has a double-digit scoring average; not one player has an O-rating of over 100.  (Though the former is slightly unfair, as there are four players less than half a point away from 10.)

The most dangerous player will probably be Dennis Clifford.  I would say Lonnie Jackson, because he's got the team's best O-rating at 98.2 and is the only consistent three-point shooter, but Clifford presents a matchup problem because he's seven feet and heavily involved in the offense, and of course, no Sene.

Still, this end of the floor is major strength against major weakness.  Whether by design, incompetence, or both, BC is a terrible offensive rebounding team, and you know by now that the Hoos are an elite one on the defensive glass.  BC's offensive rebounding is just 23%, which ranks 342nd of 345 D-I teams.  (Even Tony Bennett's get-the-hell-away-from-the-rebound-and-play-some-damn-defense style has resulted in a slightly better than average rebounding percentage on offense.)  Not only that, but I look forward to unleashing Jontel Evans.  The Eagles have two options at point guard: the aforementioned midget, or Gabe Moton and his astronomical 30% turnover rate.  Evans is bigger than Daniels (who is a freshman besides) and probably just as quick, and he should be able to harass either one of these guys til they hop the train to Turnover City.

BC's well-roundedness is a strength, but if everything is playing out as it should, UVA has a comfort level and plenty of experience in playing a truly nasty, odious defense to try and score on.  That bodes very ill for an extremely green, freshman-laden team trying to run a complex offense on the road.  The 1-2 record in the last three games might be worrisome, but keep in mind the defense hasn't been the issue at all.

-- Outlook

One slot behind Boston College in KenPom's rankings, you'll find High Point.  One slot above: Pepperdine.  I would tell you who's just below BC in the Sagarin list, but you'll start having bad flashbacks and I don't want you to get your heart rate up.  (Hint: they're on the West Coast.)  In other words, theoretically this game should be easier than a lot of our nonconference ones.

It's a bad state of affairs in the ACC when that's true, but then again, funny things happen in the ACC.  But then, remember what I wrote earlier about defense: it's much less susceptible to inconsistency than offense.  This should be a good back-on-track kind of game, and hopefully after one win streak failed to launch, the second try will be a go.

-- Final score: UVA 63, BC 43

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