Tuesday, March 13, 2007

It's been too long

Hey all,

I apologize for being out of touch. I just got back from vacation and I am revving up for the big game on Thursday.

Unfortunately, we are not coming into the tournament with the head of steam that I would have liked, but I still think the team can do some damage. I will be traveling down to North Carolina for the game on Thursday, and I am cautiously optimistic.

Normally, I would not be excited to face a Bobby Knight team in the tournament. He is one of the game's most prolific coaches, and he has the ability to extract the very most from his teams. However, Mr. Knight has one trait that might lead to his demise on Thursday: stubbornness.

Bobby is known for his man-to-man defense, and he will not stray from this philosophy. This bodes well for the Eagles, who might be able to exploit potential mismatches inside with Jared. While the ACC Player of the Year has struggled of late, I expect him to break out of his slump on Thursday. Dudley has been visibly exhausted recently, and the time off should enable him to give his all on the national stage.

Duds will likely draw a match-up against 6-6 Alan Voskuil or 6-5 Martin Zeno. I hope for the later, since Zeno is one of Tech's leaders and I think Jared could force him to the bench with foul trouble.

I'm a little bothered by the lack of minutes that Marquez Haynes has played recently. I believe Haynes to be BC's best on-the-ball defender, and I think he could shut down (or at least slow down) Tech's Jarrius Jackson. Jackson is a senior leader, and will look to carry Tech offensively. Haynes might offer Rice some support defensively, though Rice should bring the ball up the court (otherwise Knight will look to capitalize on Haynes' turnover problem)

This game should be hard fought and painful to watch for the BC fan. In the end, my crystal ball tells me that the three-headed monster will come to play, and the Eagles will squeak it out, 65-61. That would leave BC with a major challenge in the Round of 32, in which the streaking Hoyas are the likely opponent. I have already started dreaming about this game- I just hope the rest of the team hasn't thought that far ahead...

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sound Advice

Senior Spring Break will be taking me south of the border next week. Though I will not be able to post in this critical end to the regular season, I will be avidly cheering for BC on Sunday, and next week when they begin the ACC Tournament. My flight back into the States is that Saturday, and I will be sure to voice my thoughts then.

In the meantime, I will leave the BC Basketball Community with an inspired message from my mother, who has adopted the team as her own. In a heated college basketball debate between my mother and my father (not really- just late one night sitting on the couch), my mother shared a vision that help the boys achieve new heights. My mother's advice to help the Eagles soar:

"Relax. Regroup, Reunite. Then you will be awesome"

I love you ma.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Senior Send-off

In 2003, Jared Dudley and Sean Marshall stepped onto Boston College campus for the first time, and they had an instant impact. In the tandem's first game against Appalachian State, the Eagles rode Sean's nine points and Jared's seven rebounds to a 92-67 victory. Since that day, the Eagles have called upon the two seniors to contribute every game (exception: Kansas). It hasn't always been pretty, but the duo have helped the Eagles achieve three consecutive NCAA births, and have successfully weathered the transition into the competitive Atlantic Coast Conference.

Jared ended the season chipping in 11.6 points per game, was a unanimous Big East All-Rookie Team selection, and was honored as Rookie of the Year by the New England Basketball Coaches Association. Last night, in his final game in Conte Forum, Jared broke out of his recent slump to remind BC fans just how valuable his presence on the court is.

The Eagles' 59-54 victory over the Clemson Tigers brought the team one step closer to the round of 64. BC's big three (Dudley, Marshall, and Rice) adopted a Machiavellian approach to the game, proving the ends justify the means, scoring all but four scrappy points for the Eagles.

ATL Eagle and Bitter Eagle discuss the individual performances in greater depth, but I want to spend time discussing the position the Eagles are now in. The season has been an emotional roller coaster, and BC's performance has been as volatile as any team in America (sometimes looking like ACC contenders, and sometimes looking hopeless against inferior opponents).

The Eagles have always preferred to flying under the radar, winning games that they shouldn't, and dropping the ones with odds in their favor (BC sports, in general). The past few games- Duke, UNC, and Virginia Tech- have been tough to watch as a fan, but must be weighed in the greater scheme of the season. Having lost Sean Williams, a man that hunted down Webster to redefine 'athleticism', it was difficult to imagine that the Eagles would get to ten conference wins...

The Eagles were visbly tired on the floor yesterday, and the week off before traveling to Georgia Tech will give the team the rare opportunity to recover. After losing McClain and Williams earlier in the season, BC has played with a short bench, relying on players to ignore any nagging injuries.

The relentless ACC schedule proved to be physically taxing on the players, recently translating into dropped passes, careless fouls, and dispicable free-throw shooting.

With only one game in a span of almost two weeks, the Eagles should be able to take a deep breath and prepare for the conference tournament, and hopefully the NCAA tournament.

Dudley has been hounded of late, with teams doubling down on the POY candidate and taking him out of his rhythm. After a rough first half last night (6 points), in which the Tigers were manhandling him inside (unabated by the refs), the Eagles latched onto Jared's cornrows and the senior captain brought home the W.

Winning was critical for BC's confidence down the stretch, and should be enough to quiet the media's recent 'BC Hate Campaign.' These Eagles will be a tournament team, and they have the leadership to do some real damage...

One side note- I'm sorry that the Eagles had so much trouble inbounding the ball of late, because I would have loved to see Tyler Neville get in the game. I don't want to put the blame on Al, who's thoughts appeared to be elsewhere, but this kid should have been on the floor of Conte when BC was up five with 4 seconds remaining. Thanks Tyler!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Bump In The Road

Now is not the time for Boston College to get complacent. Just over a week ago, the Eagles were sitting alone atop the ACC, with an NCAA birth all but locked up. Senior Captain, Jared Dudley, was making a strong case for ACC Player of the Year and a spot on the All-American roster.

Visits from Duke and North Carolina to Chestnut Hill, and a trek down to Blacksburg have weighed heavily on the Eagles, dragging them down from their ACC perch. Last night's 79-62 debacle poured salt on the wounds from last week, and the Eagles are no longer a "lock" for the tournament. The Eagles must get to ten conference wins, which they will have the chance to do on Saturday at home against Clemson.

The Eagles' recent struggles have exposed my biggest pet peeve with Boston College bandwagon fans. They are on board when times are good, yet they jump ship when things start to go south. I know that John Kerry is from Massachussetts, but Eagle fans cannot flip-flop their opinions based on the course of one play, one series, or even one game.

Case in point: Jared Dudley missed three big free throws at the tail end of the North Carolina game. The widely acknowledged Player of The Year candidate was being badmouthed by Superfans and alumni alike. I'm sorry, but hasn't this kid stepped up at critical times throughout his career, achieving the unthinkable.

Case in point: John Oates has killed BC at certain points this season by hoisting up three-point shots early in the shot clock. While the Superfans spend the majority of the game chanting "We want Blair!," they go nuts when one of Oates' buckets falls and they parade around as if they predicted it.

Moral of the story is this: if you are going to be critical of the Eagles, I can appreciate that. If you don't like Skinner... fine; if you don't like Oates... fine. However, stop riding the Eagles' momentous upswings and downturns with your 'I told you so' bullshit.

As for the rest of the season, I am optimistic. The Eagles have proven that they can compete, but it is critical to build some momentum going into tournament season. Despite three straight losses, every Superfan should be in attendance Saturday to see Jared & Sean compete in Conte Forum for the last time. Go Eagles!!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Jared needs your support

Log onto ESPN today and vote for Jared Dudley as the player of the year. Despite a tough week for Duds, his leadership all season long has poised the Eagles to make a run at the ACC and National Tournaments.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Carolina Blues

It was a fitting finish to a disapointing week for BC Sports. The women's hockey team victory BU to win the Beanpot was overshadowed by a heartbreaking overtime loss on the men's side and two tough losses on the hard court. The mens hockey team responded by sweeping Maine at home, and the BC hoopsters will look to do the same against Virginia Tech on the road Wednesday.

Saturday night, the Eagles fell to new ACC leader North Carolina 77-72 in arguably the most anticipated regular season BC basketball game in history. The game seemed just beyond the Eagles' reach the entire game, and when the final buzzer sounded, UNC proved to be a little too much.

There were many missed opportunities down the stretch that can be pointed to as "reasons" for the loss, but BC played its heart out and it would be unfair to point fingers. The intensity of the match-up seemed to suggest that the two teams will face each other again in tournament play (conference or national).

It took me a long time to compose myself, subdue my emotions, and really determine what lessons should be learned from the game:

1. Skinner did a nice job. After a week of being torn apart on the message boards, he managed the game much more effectively Saturday. The technical foul was bogus, but I'm glad to see him exhibiting some emotion. There was no reason for the calls against Jared earlyl on, and I was happy to see Al go down swingin'. Also, Skinner used the team's timeouts effectively and substituted players on the floor appropriately.

2. The atmosphere in Conte tonight was explosive. As a fan, it was the best experience I have had on The Heights. While the court-storming victory over Syracuse challenges this one (a loss), the move to the ACC is really starting to captivate fans all over. I was glad to see Craig back in Conte to witness it. Having GameDay on campus in the morning was an additional plus, allowing the students and fans to rally around the team's achievements.

3. It was disapointing to see Jared picked up his third foul early in the first half. Duds is BC's emotional leader on the floor, and with him on the bench, BC spent the last few minutes of the half trying to stay within striking distance, rather than build a lead. Other than his struggles from the line, Jared played a great game.

4. Tyrese Rice does not back down. His performance Saturday (20 points) allowed him to show the world how dynamic of a player he is. While the electric Ty Lawson ran up and down the court, with no apparant tar on his heels, Rice successfully got into the lane and scored some big buckets. He has come so far, and is only getting better.

In my opinion, the critical differences in the game were rebounding in the first half and free throw shooting (the ten missed three's in the second frame didn't help either). BC matched the talented Tar Heels in terms of field goals... they were just more effective from the stripe and they had more second chance opportunities.

All in all, it is hard to be upset about the result. It was a hard fought game that both teams deserved to win. Unfortunately, the Eagles came up a little bit short this time, leveling the all-time series to 3 wins apiece. BC will potentially see the Tar Heels again this year, and revenge will be sweet.