Tuesday, January 18, 2011

game preview: Boston College

Date/Time: Wed., January 19; 7:00

TV: none

History against the Eagles: 7-4

Last matchup: UVA 68, BC 62; 3/11/10 (ACC tournament)

Last game: Duke 76, UVA 60 (1/15); Miami 72, BC 71 (1/15)

Opposing blogs: BC Interruption, Eagle in Atlanta


National: UVA #100; BC #55
Offense: UVA #86; BC #4
Defense: UVA #120; BC #208

Finally: winnable ACC games. It was fun to think for a while that we might score a major-league upset against UNC and Duke, but the talent disparity caught up to us. The next month or so, w'll see a parade of good, but flawed, conference opponents. That's basically the meat and potatoes of the ACC's makeup this year. Boston College is a legitimate tournament contender, but they have a number of weaknesses that can be preyed upon.


- Test Reggie Jackson's ankle. Jackson is one of the ACC's premier players, a sure bet for first-team honors, and a candidate for ACC POY if he stays healthy. He also might not be healthy. Jackson hurt his ankle at the very end of Saturday's game against Miami, and while it's being said that he's not expected to miss any games, he might also not be 100%. The ACC is no place for mercy for ailing opponents; UVA should go hard after Jackson on both ends until and unless he proves his ankle really isn't a problem. Run him through every screen in the playbook, and hound him on defense.

- Attack the basket and convert layup opportunities. BC is one of the weakest defensive teams in the conference; they don't block many shots, they don't get many steals, and they allow opponents to have good days shooting the ball. The only true center on the roster is Josh Southern, and he's not a shot-blocker. None of their big guys really are; the leading shot-blocker is, in fact, Jackson. There should be some points to be had by taking it to the hole, and converting the layup chances when we get them. Part of the reason Duke only had a nine-point deficit to overcome and not a nineteen-point hole is because of our maddening propensity to miss layups in that game. That should be fixable here.

- Whatever we did to Kyle Singler, do that to Joe Trapani. Trapani is a poor man's Singler and one of the most underrated players in the conference, I think. He has a way of doing the most damage at the worst times. Joe Harris could be a good answer for him on the defensive end, because Trapani is a forward that can play both inside and out. Singler had a quiet game on Satuday and our chances of a win tomorrow go up quite a bit if we can do the same to Trapani.


- Get bombed out of the building. BC really loves the three-pointer and they're good at hitting it. And they have a lot of players who'll shoot it. The backcourt defenders will need to be on top of their game - rotating too far out of position could be deadly.

- Undisciplined defense. See above. To make it worse, BC is one of the best in the country at taking care of the ball. It's tough to get away with crazy risks against them because they're not going to panic in the face of inadvisable double-teams. They're a very veteran team and they've seen your tricks, and they're patient enough to wait for you to screw up - a potentially winning formula at home against a young team like ours. Discipline for the entire 35 seconds is crucial because Boston College has no problem waiting that long to shoot.


This game is funny because both teams are well-equipped to take advantage of the others' weaknesses. BC is one of the worst defensive teams in the conference, a welcome relief after playing the 14th and 4th best defenses in the country. The UVA offense is at its best when the guards can drive the lane, and opportunities to do so should be plentiful against a porous defense. Meanwhile, the Eagles are a patient, veteran bunch. They should find ways to score when UVA's defense has its inevitable freshman moments.

So it could be a relative barn-burner. Relative. These are the two slowest teams in the conference as well; their pokey pace would be slow even in the very deliberate Big Ten. Knowing that they won't likely be forced out of their comfort zone by an opponent looking to hurry it up the way UNC does could either be a bonus or deceptively lulling, but I'll go with the former because BC also has the least intimidating home court in the conference. Our team is still in learning-to-win mode, and this is a good opportunity for a positive lesson in that regard.

Which probably means we'll get spun on our ear and cause me to go "gee I wish they knew what the basket was for," but hey.

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