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Takeaways: Eagles drop both games in disappointing trip to Kansas City

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Recap:

This week, the Eagles traveled to Kansas City to participate in the Hall of Fame Classic, a four-team tournament which also included Creighton, Colorado State, and Loyola-Chicago. The Eagles lost their first game to the eventual tournament champions in Colorado State, by a score of 86-74. The Eagles were led by Quinten Post, Claudell Harris Jr, and Jaeden Zackery, who had 22, 13, and 11 points respectively. In this first game, the Eagles were able to bounce back from a slow first half, eventually cutting the Rams’ lead to four points in the second half. However, Colorado States’ shotmaking, coupled with BC’s struggling offense proved to be too much to overcome. Following their loss on Wednesday, the Eagles took on the Ramblers of Loyola-Chicago in the consolation game. After falling behind 35-30 at halftime, BC was able to claw their way back in the second half, eventually going up 66-57 with just under 4 minutes to go in the game. However, this set up for a collapse of epic proportions, as the Ramblers finished the game on a 14-2 run, handing the Eagles their second loss in as many days.

Game Management:

The main takeaway from these two games was some of the head-scratching coaching decisions by the BC staff. Each game had several key moments in which different coaching/personnel decisions could have led to very different outcomes. In the first game, the moment that stood out most was when the Eagles cut the Rams’ lead to just 4 points with about 9 minutes to play in the game, and got the ball back on offense. Many fans would have liked to see Grant call timeout and ensure that everyone’s on the same page regarding the offensive scheme. Instead, the Eagles settled for poor shots on three straight possessions, and turned the ball over twice, allowing Colorado State to extend their lead back up to 9 points. In the second game, when BC found themselves up 9 points with 3:53 to play, the Eagles let up a 9-0 run in a 2 minute span without calling a single timeout. With the game firmly in hand, the Eagles’ top priority should have been stopping any momentum the Ramblers could gain in the closing minutes of the game. Instead, Grant waited until they rallied all the way to tie the game before calling a timeout. While Coach Grant has been paramount in creating an identity that Boston College Basketball badly needed, he leaves much to be desired with his in-game adjustments.

Chas Kelley:

One of the few positives from these two games was the resurgence of Chas Kelley III. The guard had several flashes of great play as a freshman (many will remember his 17-point performance at Virginia Tech), but his sophomore campaign had gotten off to a slow start. In the first four games of this season, Kelley scored just 4 total points on 8 shots, and was yet to hit from behind the arc. Against Colorado State, Kelley scored 7 points in just 12 minutes, and against Loyola-Chicago , he scored 8 points and dished out 3 assists in 21 minutes. Unfortunately, neither performance was enough to push the Eagles’ to a win, but Kelly’s ability to provide a spark off the bench will be critical moving forward this season.

It’s a Long Season:

With the 2023-2024 season being less than 3 weeks old, it is easy to get caught up in a disappointing early season performance. However, if there’s anything that Grant’s first two seasons showed fans, it’s that the Eagles will get better as the season goes on. In 2021, the Eagles dropped a pair of games to Rhode Island and a game to Albany. In 2022, they dropped home games to New Hampshire and Maine. In both seasons, Grant had the Eagles playing much more competitive basketball in January and February. At the end of the day, the Eagles are in a better spot through six games than they were in either of Grant’s first two seasons. The remaining out-of-conference schedule consists of a road game at Vanderbilt, a pair of home games against Central Connecticut and Holy Cross, a neutral game against St. John’s, and a home game against Lehigh. Each of these games is extremely winnable, and if the Eagles can finish their out-of-conference schedule at 8-3, they will be in a very good position going into ACC play.

What’s next:

After a disappointing trip to Kansas City, the Eagles will look to get back on track in Nashville, where they will take on Vanderbilt Commodores on Wednesday night as part of the ACC/SEC challenge. The Commodores currently sit at 3-2 on the season holding wins over USC Upstate, UNC Greensboro, and Central Arkansas, and losses to Presbyterian and NC State. While a road SEC game will not be an easy environment for the Eagles, the matchup with the Commodores should be a competitive one. The Eagles return to Conte Forum on Saturday, December 2nd where they will take on their first ACC opponent of the season in NC State.

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Florida State 84, Boston College 76: Eagles struggle to defend Seminoles

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Boston College fell to Florida State 84-76 Tuesday night in Tallahassee, as despite a quick start scoring-wise the Eagles struggled to defend a similarly-hot-handed Seminoles team that dropped the Eagles to 6-9 in conference play.

It was back-and-forth very early on, with the first missed shot of the game not coming until almost four minutes in. The first half ended in a high-scoring 43-43 knot.

Things stayed even until roughly the halfway mark of the second half when FSU went on a 10-0 run that gave them a 70-61 advantage, the largest lead of the entire game for both sides. That ended up being the deciding factor, as the Eagles were unable to get within less than eight from that point on.

BC had four players in double-figures for scoring-wise, getting just eight points from the bench. Jaeden Zackery led the way with 19 on 3-for-3 from 3-point range, while Mason Madsen hit four 3s and put up 14. Quinten Post tallied 15 with seven of those points coming from the charity strike and Devin McGlockton also put up 13 points. The lone starting five member not in double-digits was Claudell Harris, who went just 1-for-5 from beyond the arch inducing just seven points out of him.

Boston College will continue the road trip and take on NC State Saturday in Raleigh at 2:00 p.m. ET, with the Eagles hoping to avoid the double-digit mark of losses in ACC play. The Wolfpack are losers of three out of their last four, however.

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Takeaways: BC Defends Homecourt against Louisville and Miami

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Mason Madsen hitting one of his seven threes. Photo Courtesy of Canes County

Recap:

Last week, the Boston College Men’s Basketball team was able to defend home court twice: on Tuesday night against Louisville, and on Saturday afternoon against Miami. Late Tuesday night, the Eagles were able to overcome a sluggish start, and an empty Conte Forum, and beat the last-place Louisville Cardinals 89-77. The Eagles saw six players reach double figures in scoring, led by Claudell Harris Jr.’s 20 points,  Devin McGlockton’s 19 points, and Quinten Post’s 17 points. This win was especially crucial for BC, as they were coming off consecutive losses to FSU and Duke, and allowed the Eagles to stay in contact with the middle tier of the ACC. 

After taking down Louisville in a desolate Conte Forum, the Eagles returned to their home court on Saturday to a much different scene. With a much more fan-friendly tipoff time of 4PM, Conte played host to an excellent crowd for their matchup against Miami. And, to the delight of the Eagle-faithful, BC got off to a scorching hot start, taking an 18-7 lead early on. While the Hurricanes were able to even the score at halftime, and take as much as a five-point lead late in the second half, Mason Madsen’s hot hand, and Post’s dominance in the paint were enough to propel the Eagles to an 85-77 victory. 

Offensive Excellence:

After scoring just 62 against FSU and 65 against Duke, I was beginning to lose faith in Coach Grant’s offensive system. However, these past two games have been excellent offensive showings for the Eagles. Against Louisville, BC scored a remarkable 89 points on 56.7% from the field, and 47.8% from behind the arc. And it wasn’t that the Eags were knocking down uncharacteristically difficult shots. Grant’s offense was actually able to generate great looks for open shooters, racking up 21 assists in the process. 

While it might not have been surprising to see the Eagles rack up 89 points on the last place team in the ACC, it was certainly encouraging to see them follow up with a similar performance against Miami. In Saturday’s game, the offense put up 85 points on similarly efficient splits of 47.5% from the field and 50% (15-30!) from three. Madsen and Post led the way offensively, accounting for 15 of the Eagles’ 28 converted field goals. If Grant can keep the offense humming the way it has for the past two outings, each of the six games remaining on the schedule look very winnable. 

Madsen Madness:

Since being inserted into the starting lineup against Duke, Mason Madsen has been an absolute revelation for the Eagles. In the past three games, the Eagles are 2-1, with their lone loss coming away at Duke. Throughout that three game span, Madsen has led the Eagles in scoring, averaging 17 points per game. And the highlight of this stretch came in his 25-point performance against Miami, where he hit (possibly) the most important three-pointer of the Eagles’ season. 

Madsen absolutely torched the Hurricanes from behind the arc, knocking down a career-high seven three pointers en route to the win. With Madsen’s latest hot streak from three, he is now shooting 45.8% from beyond the arc, which is well above the 90th percentile in Division One. With Madsen now in the starting lineup, the Eagles now have three serious threats from behind the arc, with Post hitting 46.1% of his attempts, and Harris Jr. hitting 38.9% of his. The spacing and offensive flow of Grant’s new-look starting five is enormously better with Madsen in for Aligbe, but we will see if the Eagles can survive without Aligbe’s size and added rebounding. 

Defensive Concerns:

While the offense was clicking on all cylinders last week, I cannot help but be a bit concerned about the Eagles’ defense. In an interesting contrast to Grant’s first two seasons, where the Eagles hung their hats on their ability to defend, this iteration of the Eagles’ roster is much more capable offensively, but has shown some cracks on the defensive end. For example, BC gave up 47 first half points on 51% shooting against Louisville. While Louisville has shown some ability to score, there is no legitimate reason to allow the last place team in the ACC to run up the score like that. Thankfully, the Eagles woke up on defense in the second frame, only allowing 30 second half points. 

Next, against Miami, at times it felt like the Hurricanes could get whatever look they wanted on offense. The Hurricanes shot 56% in the first half, and frankly, it could have been much worse. The Eagles seemed flummoxed by the Hurricane’s pick and roll, and whenever Post was switched off of Miami’s Norchad Omier, it seemed to always result in an open shot. Though I will give Grant credit for switching to his “amoeba” defense down the stretch. While Miami was able to exploit the Eagle’s man-to-man defense, they struggled with the matchup-zone look in the waning minutes. BC’s defense down the stretch was the key to igniting their 17-4 run to end the game. 

Outlook on the Remaining Schedule:

Thanks to the Eagles’ 2-0 homestand, they are now in contact with the middle of the ACC. After falling to 13-10 (4-8 ACC) after Duke, they were in real danger of dooming themselves to the basement of the ACC. But, with eight teams within two games of each other in the ACC standings, the Eagles will have several opportunities to continue climbing the ladder. BC’s remaining schedule consists of road games against Florida State and NC State, a homestand against UVA and Pitt, and a pair of road games against Miami and Pitt.

The good news for the Eagles? All six of these games are extremely winnable. The bad news? All six of these games are also losable. The margin for error is razor thin in this final stretch of the regular season. But, if the Eagles can find a way to win 3-4 of these games, they could be in contention for a first round bye in the ACC tournament, and perhaps a bid to the NIT. 

What’s Next:

Boston College returns to action Tuesday night at 7PM, when they will take on the aforementioned Florida State Seminoles. After losing a gut-wrenching 63-62 game to the Seminoles in Conte Forum, the Eagles will be looking for revenge. This game also has severe implications for the ACC standings, as FSU holds a one-game lead over BC in the standings. The Seminoles open as 4.5-point favorites against the Eagles. 

A win would go a long way towards securing that first-round bye, but even more so for the energy surrounding the program. We just saw what a packed Conte Forum can look like against Miami. So it is imperative that the Eagles return home with some kind of momentum, and get fans invested in the team’s stretch run.

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Boston College 85, Miami 77: Mason Madsen hits career-highs in Eagles win over Hurricanes

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Mason Madsen had a day to remember for Boston College Saturday, as he led the Eagles past Miami with a career-high seven 3-pointers and 25 points. BC won, 85-77, as they kept the momentum from a quick start all the way through.

The Eagles were ahead fast and early, jumping out to an 18-7 lead just five minutes into the ballgame. Miami eventually caught up to them though in a back-and-forth, high-scoring battle — the Hurricanes tied it at 29-29 with 7:41 to go in the first half. They battled until the end of the half, when it was tied 41-41 after 20 minutes of play.

It remained back-and-forth but Miami began to gain an edge about halfway through the second half. They then held on to a lead from the 12-minute mark all the way to the three-minute mark, but the Eagles’ deficit didn’t get further than four points away from the Hurricanes. A Claudell Harris Jr. layup with three minutes to go made it 74-73 Eagles, and they added on from there. Madsen knocked down a 3 before a pair of Devin McGlockton converted free throws put them in front by six with a minute to go, and they held on to that lead with a few baskets made from both sides to give BC the 85-77 victory.

Quinten Post had 23 for the Eagles, a big night for him after he had been struggling the past few outings, also knocking down a trio of 3-pointers. Harris Jr. had 15 while Jaeden Zackery added 11 to go along with seven assists. McGlockton picked up a team-best 10 rebounds.

BC moves to 6-8 in conference play Tuesday night in Tallahassee as they take on Florida State with a 7 p.m. ET tip. They continue the road trip with a matchup against the Wolfpack a week from today, as NC State plays hosts to BC next Saturday afternoon in the 2:00 p.m. ET slot.

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