Basketball

Takeaways: BC drops a heartbreaker to FSU, looking ahead to Duke

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Photo Courtesy of BC Athletics

Recap:

Last Tuesday night, the Boston College Men’s Basketball Team suffered a loss to a tough Florida State team, by the closest of margins. After allowing the Seminoles to get out to a 19-4 lead early, the Eagles were able to claw their way back into the game, eventually tying the game at 52. However, the Eagles were unable to carry their momentum through the end of the game. In fact, they were never even able to take the lead. After a Devin McGlockton layup cut the FSU lead to 63-62, and the Seminoles’ Darin Green Jr. missed the front end of a 1-and-1, BC had 5.8 seconds to draw a play to win the game. 

And, to the chagrin of the dozens of students in attendance, the Eagles were unable to get a shot at the rim. In an especially pivotal game, where BC had the opportunity to make up significant ground in the ACC standings, they instead fell back to their usual 12th place. For a team that’s said time and time again that they want to be playing their best basketball in February and March, it was especially disappointing to witness the same story we’ve been seeing for the past two months. 

Same Old, Same Old:

Go down big early, fight all the way back in the second half, and come up just short of a win. Unfortunately, Eagles’ fans have had to witness this formula unfold several times throughout the course of BC’s ACC schedule. We saw it happen in the ACC opener against NC State, when the Eagles fought back from an 11-point deficit, just to lose in overtime. We saw it again against Syracuse, when Boston College went down 28-9, yet somehow were able to take a lead late in the second half, just to come up short of the W. Then, like clockwork, we watched them go into halftime against Virginia Tech down 44-33, cut the lead to just two points down the stretch, and then immediately give up five straight points to push the game out of reach. 

So, after a whole week’s rest after their win against Syracuse, one would hope that Coach Grant is able to have his team come out with a bit more fire. Instead, the Eagles spotted the Seminoles a 15-point lead before the second media timeout. It’s just incredibly frustrating to see the same story unfold for a fourth time. This is certainly not to say that all four of these games should have been Eagle wins because that’s just plausible. But, BC’s slow starts continuing to be a trend this late in the season is a real issue. 

To be fair, the Eagles have shown they can overcome these early deficits. In three of their four conference wins, they trailed their opponents by nine or more points. They trailed Georgia Tech by 16 early in the second half, Notre Dame by 12 in the first half, and Syracuse by 9 in the first half. So, they might be able to get away with it against the worse teams in the ACC, but against teams the Eagles are supposed to be competing with, it’s just not going to fly. All fans can do is hope that Grant figures out a way to shake the sluggish starts, but, with just nine games remaining on the regular schedule, patience is running thin. 

Final Play and Post-Game Quotes:

As mentioned in the recap section, despite going down 19-4 early in the first half, the Eagles still had a chance to win the game late. Trailing 63-62, BC rebounded an FSU missed free throw, and had a chance to draw up a play to win the game with 5.8 seconds remaining. Grant decided to inbound the ball to Quinten Post at the top of the key and trust his senior leader to make the right play. Unfortunately, the play was promptly shut down, and the Eagles failed to even get a shot at the basket. While I don’t think this was squarely on the coaches or players, it is still a pretty abhorrent way to end a basketball game at home. 

It was pretty clear that the coaches and players were not on the same page. When asked what they were looking for in the postgame presser, Post gave a jumbled answer that included “I couldn’t exactly tell you” and “…we wanted a good shot… I don’t think we got a good shot”.  Grant gave a much more in-depth answer to the question, explaining how they wanted Post to go to either Jaeden Zackery or Claudell Harris Jr., and if all else fails, drive to the hoop seeking contact. 

FSU pressured Post immediately on the catch, so the big man passed to Zackery, who was promptly doubled, before turning the ball over. Given how the Seminoles defended, the Eagles’ coaching staff likely would have preferred Post to take it to the basket himself. Regardless of the outcome, I’m of the opinion that giving the ball to your 7-footer 25 feet from the basket might not have been the best idea with just 5.8 seconds on the clock. 

Key Performers:

With all my negativity from this game, I would be remiss not to shoutout some key individual performance that allowed the Eagles to stay in this game. First, Post had a phenomenal game, putting up an efficient 21 points and 12 rebound stat-line. The Dutchman converted on 9 of his 13 field goal attempts and went 3-5 from behind the arc. But despite this fantastic performance, the big man was still visibly frustrated with himself, and the team, for allowing FSU to escape Chestnut Hill with a win. 

After Post’s performance, the Eagles’ second leading scorer actually came off the bench. And no, his name was not Claudell Harris Jr.. Mason Madsen had himself a very solid game, scoring 12 points on 5-11 shooting, including a pair of timely three-point baskets. While Madsen admittedly air-balled a wide-open shot with under a minute remaining, he still turned one of his better performances of the season. While Madsen is known for his prolific three-point shooting, the junior guard had a couple of tough finishes at the rim. 

What’s Next:

The Eagles return to action against an absolute buzzsaw of opponents. Grant’s team will be traveling to famed Cameron Indoor Stadium, to take on the 9th-ranked Duke Blue Devils. The Eagles will obviously be underdogs in this matchup, as the Blue Devils are 3rd in the ACC, and boast one of the most prolific home court advantages in college basketball. However, I do not think the Blue Devils pose a particularly bad matchup for the Eagles. While BC was obviously not comfortable with Florida State’s noticeable length and unusual playstyle, this Duke squad is built in a much more traditional in its playstyle. 

Lately, Duke has been starting three guards (Roach, Proctor, McCain), an athletic forward (Mitchell), and a dynamic center (Filipowski). With Aligbe’s recent injury, I think it is more than likely that Grant will start Zackery, McGlockton, Post, and two of Kelley III/Harris Jr./Madsen. So, while the Blue Devils are clearly the more talented team, in terms of matchups, I don’t think the Eagles will be terribly overmatched. Obviously, with a statement like that, I am setting myself up for disappointment. But, with the weekend that BC Athletics is having, why can’t the Eagles pull off the upset?

With a win, the Eagles would improve to 14-9 (5-7 ACC) on the season, and likely rise to t-10th in the conference standings. With a loss, the Eagles would fall to 13-10 on the season, and remain in 12th place in the conference standings, regardless of how teams below them perform. While I’ve had this matchup penciled in as a loss all season, I don’t think this Duke team is invincible to bad losses. This Duke team has lost to Pitt at home, to Georgia Tech in Atlanta, and let a bad Notre Dame team stick around for 38 minutes. So, looking at the ACC standings, a loss to BC would certainly not be their worst of the season. 

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