Tuesday, February 4, 2014
game preview: Boston College
Date/Time: Wednesday, February 5; 7:00
Record against the Eagles: 9-7
Last meeting: BC 53, UVA 52; 3/3/13, Boston
Last game: UVA 48, Pitt 45 (2/2); ND 76, BC 73 (2/1)
UVA: 62.4 (#340)
BC: 63.3 (#326)
UVA: 109.1 (#87)
BC: 112.4 (#40)
UVA: 87.0 (#2)
BC: 111.1 (#287)
UVA: .9309 (#8)
BC: .5321 (#151)
PG: London Perrantes (4.4 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 3.8 apg)
SG: Malcolm Brogdon (11.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.2 apg)
SF: Joe Harris (11.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.2 apg)
PF: Akil Mitchell (6.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.3 apg)
C: Mike Tobey (7.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 0.4 apg)
PG: Joe Rahon (9.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.2 apg)
SG: Olivier Hanlan (17.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.9 apg)
SG: Lonnie Jackson (7.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.1 apg)
PF: Eddie Odio (4.9 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 0.8 apg)
PF: Ryan Anderson (15.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.3 apg)
I'm not gonna spend a lot of time on this because as I said yesterday, I have a to-do list. Tomorrow is Signing Day, which means our annual Signstravaganza. No, you're not getting up-to-the-minute updates because that's not how I roll. Yes, you'll get a pretty in-depth analysis of the class because that is how I roll. Thursday, I want to do a recap of the 2010 class, because I did that last year with 2009 and it was interesting. But Thursday is also the first lacrosse game of the year, so I'd like to maybe preview the team before that happens. Which means I'm gonna do my level best to make that happen tonight. Yup, it's a rare two-posts-in-one-day.
The story for this game is the same as the one for the next six that follow it: We should expect to win, probably need to in order to keep pace with Syracuse for the regular-season title, and regardless of these last two facts, will probably stumble at some point. Partly because math dictates the likelihood (KenPom probabilities give us slightly less than a 1-in-3 chance of slipping through the next seven totally unscathed.) Partly because February is a grind, it's always a grind, and it usually trips everyone up at some point because that's just how the season's dog days are. And partly because I'm still not totally sure if we can have nice things. All this said, if there's a tripping point in the coming month, it's probably not tomorrow night.
-- UVA on offense
Time for some really ugly facts about the opposition. They have six wins all season long. One is against something called Philadelphia University, which I'm assured by the Internet really does exist. Two are against Virginia Tech. BC would be winless in the ACC right now if VT wasn't such a clownshow.
The reason they're so rotten is defense. The Eagles don't seem to know how to play it. They're 287th in the country in defensive efficiency, sandwiched between 8-14 Eastern Illinois and 5-15 Central Arkansas. There's only one team they've held under a point a possession all season long. (I won't tell you who, but the answer's hilarious. And they did it twice.)
Up and down the list of stats that KenPom tracks, there's nothing BC does well. Especially bad: getting turnovers, blocking shots, defending threes. My sneaking suspicion: Teams are smart and know they can just pound the ball inside, as BC allows almost 50% shooting from two. So they do, and only shoot threes when it's a really good look, driving the 3-point shooting percentage close to 38% against the Eagles. That and scorers know they can get to the rim. BC's very low assist rate allowed (44% of buckets are assisted against the Eagles) and high percentage of 2-point shooting allowed suggest that it's fairly easy to break down their defense off the dribble.
Part of the reason for the ease in scoring in the paint is that BC has nothing resembling a center. There's freshman Will Magarity and that's about it, and he never played against Notre Dame in BC's last game. He's not going to be a difference-maker. Teams with centers - you know, like Mike Tobey - abuse BC's laughable post defense because their starting forwards are skinny beanpoles. Ryan Anderson is the biggest at 6'9", 216, meaning Anthony Gill has 15 pounds on him. Eddie Odio is 6'8", 209, and Alex Dragicevich, 6'8", 211. Tobey and Gill should have field days. Akil Mitchell should at a minimum get some putbacks, because the Eagles are cruddy rebounders too. Bottom line: Everyone else scores more or less at will on Boston College, so we should too.
-- UVA on defense
Back in my season preview of the Eagles I wrote what a weird collection of contradictions they are. Tall but lousy rebounders; great free-throw shooters but mediocre-at-best three-point shooting; a 6'8" guard (Dragicevich) but a 6'5" forward (Garland Owens.) Here's another one: BC is terrible at defense but the ACC's fourth-best offensive team, KenPom-wise.
The two brightest spots are Olivier Hanlan and Ryan Anderson. Hanlan's a terrific scorer who really knows how to break down a defender and can fill it from anywhere. Anderson's a very good low-post athlete. Both shoot a lot, both score a lot, and both draw just a ton of fouls.
Add to the mix Joe Rahon, who brings very good complementary scoring as a point guard, and three-point specialist Lonnie Jackson (awful when trying to score from two but a terrific shooter) and BC can hurt you a lot of different ways. They like to shoot threes and would have a really good shooting percentage as a team if they would stop certain players from taking them. (Anderson. And reserve guard Patrick Heckmann has been a better shooter in the past but is having a lousy year in that regard. Hanlan could probably stand to limit his shots somewhat too; his .330 percentage is OK but he leads the team in attempts, and shouldn't.)
BC has six ACC losses but has kept it close in basically all of them, even the 11-pointer to UNC and the 10-pointer to Syracuse, because they have a tendency to go on a run that nullifies their poor defense. They even led Cuse 51-46 after 30 minutes before the Orange got their act together and finished the game 23-8.
So as derelict as BC's defense is, their offense can almost keep up, making them at least a little dangerous. And they play nice and slow, as much so as UVA, which keeps games from getting out of hand. It's not like Tony Bennett will be jacking up the pace, so there'll be an onus on the defense to force Hanlan into volume shooting and take advantage of BC's lousy rebounding - one shot only.
Ist das nicht un crappy team? Ja, das ist un crappy team. But the Hoos must be extra careful not to suffer a letdown. It's the classic time for it. If they don't, things will go just fine. The pack-line should shut down the Eagle offense at least just enough to let our own offense jump out to a lead. It's OK to be confident; the last time I thought we might be in for a potential letdown, the Hoos ground out a 20-pointer over Tech. I expect a similar boring blowout.
Final score: UVA 67, BC 53