Friday, December 31, 2010

Keys to Success: BC Basketball

As BC finishes up its non-conference schedule and starts looking toward ACC play, most BC fans and basketball analysts are surprised with the Eagles' 10-3 record thus far. After all, this is a team that mirrors last year's team with the exception of losing Tyler Roche (not a huge loss) and adding two last minute, unheralded recruits. So why are the Eagles exceeding expectations? The obvious (and, in my opinion, correct) answer is Coach Donahue’s impact which has already been discussed on this blog. But I want to take a closer look at 3 other, less obvious reasons that may surprise you.

1. The 3 Ball – OK, so this one isn’t too surprising but a little deeper analysis shows that in fact through 12 games (not including Rhode Island) they have shot over 23 3’s per game as compared to only 15 per game last year. This is only good if you're actually making them, which BC is doing at a much greater percentage, hitting 38.6% this year as compared to only 32.6% last year.
Donahue did an excellent job of emphasizing the 3 in the offseason as he has turned marginal shooters (I’m looking at you Biko & Reggie) into good ones.

2. Biko Paris – Before this season I regarded Biko as an average backup quality PG with no 3 point shot (27% average last season). I was worried how he would transition to a quicker paced offense that places such a strong focus on shooters, but under Donahue he has transformed into an efficient scorer and ball distributor. He had only 4 double digit scoring efforts last season – he already has 7(!) this season and we are not even in ACC play yet. Donahue's high tempo offense requires two key things - crisp ball movement and quick, accurate shooters. Biko’s drastic improvement in fulfilling these crucial areas in the offense is a major reason BC has looked good in the early going. Our depth at guard isn’t the strongest so if Biko is out for awhile with the injury he suffered against Rhode Island this will have a major impact on the remainder of the season.

3. Josh Southern – Seriously, who is this Josh Southern in the #52 jersey and what happened to the old one?
(Doesn't matter - we don't want the old one back). Southern’s play has been by far the most surprising aspect of BC basketball this season. For the past 3 seasons, he has been the clog in the Skinner’s Flex without a jump shot or post move to his name.
This season marks a different story as he is not only scoring but doing so efficiently by shooting a remarkable 69.2% from the field. Scoring efficiently means Southern isn’t taking shots away from Reggie or Trap who need to be our volume shooters. Southern has fulfilled an important niche in the offense by being able to score in his limited opportunities. Of course his rebounding is still severely underwhelming at 3.9 boards a game but I must admit it’s nice seeing some production by our center.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Stock Up/Stock Down

In full disclosure, this stock report was written before last night's basketball game but got held up in the editing process because law students rarely know how to write acceptable English.

Welcome to this week's stock report! Let's get started.

Stock Up

  1. Josh Southern: Southern is creating a lot of news with his improving skills and stats. Donahue finally whipped the big man into shape and its paying off early against the weaker part of the schedule. Although Southern is averaging just 9.2 points per game and less than 4 rebounds per game, it is clear that he is making strides as a basketball player. The problem is that the improvements are not likely to be enough against ACC talent. Therefore, I refuse to buy stock in Josh Southern until he proves himself for against the tougher part of our schedule.
  2. Sean Devine: Anytime your offense can sub in running backs and still get 100 yard games, you have to look to your O-Line. Although the unit started out inconsistent, as the year went on, we saw improvement in both pass protection and run blocking. There are still some aspects that concern me about Devine, particularly when Castonzo talks about correcting his own form mid-season. Shouldn't Devine have seen that on the tape? I don't see Devine as a strong buy at this point. I think that next year will be a make or break year for him given the question marks that will surround the O-Line once Claiborne and Castonzo leave. I've had several players tell me that the offense will go as far as the O-Line will take them next year, which means Devine is going to be in the spotlight for better or worse.
  3. Mike Siravo: Not many people know Mike Siravo's name but you should because he is having himself an excellent year. Currently the defensive backs coach and the recruiting coordinator, Siravo is showing marked improvement on both fronts. BC had 15 interceptions this year, good for third in the ACC, and BC's recruiting class is now ranked at number 33 by Rivals. There seems to be a lot of debate on BC blogs concerning how much trust to put in these rankings, but this certainly seems to be one of the best classes put together by BC football since I've been following. Although Siravo did not impress me during the Jags years, I'm buying into his new-found success. Hopefully he can continue to build on it and turn in that top 25 recruiting class we've always coveted.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

End of the Year Grade for The 'Stache

C's get degrees, and sometimes contract extensions as well. I really could have gone with a B- here but this team was disappointing in that it was fairly talented and had an easy schedule. I honestly thought at the beginning of the season that we may have had the makings of an '07-type run, even without the help of Matty Ice. Overall, I think it is unfair to say that Spaz had a terrible year, but I would characterize it as below average, and hence the C+


Frank Spaziani
Overall Grade: C+




Likes
  1. Recruiting: To me, this is the most surprising element of the Spaz coaching era. I had the opportunity to talk to Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe shortly after Spaz was hired and he told me that he honestly thought that Spaz would surprise a lot of people with his recruiting capabilities. In particular, he pointed to Spaz's ability to connect with teenagers and his work ethic, both of which are virtues that serve him well on the recruiting trail.
  2. Defense: The defense has been, and will continue to be, the strongest part of the BC football team. Having grown up in the shadow of some of the great Bill Parcells defenses in New York (my dad still recounts some of the more amazing Lawrence Taylor plays he saw), I have a real appreciation for our growing linebacker tradition. Although BC is known as O-line U, I think we are becoming one of the better schools for linebackers to play at, as evidenced by this year's recruiting class, which sports four linebackers ranked in the top 50.
  3. Sideline Emotion: From what I've seen, I love Spaziani's sideline demeanor. He is not afraid to show emotion when needed and he usually doesn't hesitate to get in the ear of a ref who he thinks made a bad call. One of my biggest complaints with O'Brien is that I could never tell just by looking at his face how he felt about the game. Sometimes the players need that emotion to feed off of during the course of the game. Jags brought decidedly more emotion to the BC sidelines than O'Brien, but sometimes looked like an eight year old girl when doing so (Va. Tech anyone?).
Dislikes after the jump.

End of the Year Grade for the Student Body

I once had a professor at BC who hated plagiarism so much that she told us on the first day that if we were caught cheating in her class she would not fail us, she would give us a D- instead. Her thinking was that BC students could retake any classes they failed. A student retaking her class might conceivably get an A and the two grades would average to around a C, something she just couldn't live with. Inspired by her example...

Student Body
Overall Grade: D-



Likes

  1. Cult Fans: There are a handful of BC sports fans that can be found at every single sporting event, whether that be football or women's ice hockey. These students are BC sports junkies and their passion for BC sports in incredible, even if their grades suffer in the meantime. About three thousand more students like this and the athletic department would be in great shape.
  2. BC Band: The band is one of my favorite BC sports memories. Although I was never in it personally, I love the songs it plays and the passion that it brings each and every week. I wish that it had better half time shows (boogie woogie bugle boy? Really?) but overall the band gives a lot of heart and a hell of a lot of time and they just aren't appreciated enough. Without the band, the BC game-day experience would not be nearly as good as it is now.
  3. Growing Number of BC Traditions: It seems like each year the athletic department brings out a few new traditions and some of them stick and some of them don't. A lot of that has to do with the students. Fairly strong attendance at IceJam, an absolute passion for when the band plays "Shippin' up to Boston," and a loyalty to the Superfan t-shirts help make the BC sporting experience decidedly more unique and the students deserve a lot of credit for that.
Dislikes after the jump.

Roundtable: Donahue - Lucky Start or Long Term Answer?

Welcome to The Roundtable! This will be a weekly feature here where we post a question surrounding BC Sports and hear arguments from all of our writers and at times, outside contributors. Unfortunately for this first Roundtable, only 3 of the main writers were available but going forward you should easily expect 4+ different (and hopefully persuasive) arguments.


Roundtable Discussion: Coach Donahue - Lucky Start or Long Term Answer?

Mike: I'm going with long term answer on this one. When coaches have lucky starts early in their careers a la Charlie Weis, there are certain tell-tale signs. In Charlie's case, it was the fact that almost every major part of his team was laid out before he got there. His first season at ND therefore told us very little about his ability to evaluate and recruit talent.

This is not a similar situation. We know Donahue has brought a change of culture through his increased intensity on the floor and by nature of the fact that his players have lost weight across the board. We know that he has the ability to recruit because next year's recruiting class is the most highly regarded in recent history. We also know that he has the ability to recognize talent (hello Danny Rubin!) because we now have walk-ons getting serious playing time and holding their own. All of these things point to long term success on the heights and I couldn't be more excited to see this team play over the next few years.


Ralph and Alex's comments after the jump.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

End of the Year Grade for Gene Defilippo

Overall grades will be given out to several BC individuals and groups between now and the end of the year. In each post, we will be sure to note what we like and dislike, preventing ourselves from wearing maroon and gold glasses while refraining from being the classic, overly pessimistic fan. Enjoy!

Gene Defilippo
Overall Grade: B+


Likes
  1. Hiring Donahue: This was a very bold move at the time because not too many people were sure whether Donahue could handle the ACC. With hindsight, it seems to have been the perfect move at the perfect time, and even Bob Ryan has bought into the classy Ivy-Leaguer.
  2. Emergence of Women's Soccer and Basketball: A lot of schools can put together excellent mainstream sports, but it is always nice to see some secondary sports play well and awaken the student body.
  3. New Baseball Field on the Brighton Campus: While this project is far from completed, I love the idea of a new baseball field. I have mixed feelings about it being in Brighton. While this may work to our advantage in exposing the local community to BC sports, it may also backfire if students aren't willing to make the trip across Comm Ave.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

'The Heck Was Gene Thinking?

Monday afternoon the bomb dropped on embittered Eagle faithful when Boston College announced a 2-year contract extension for head coach Frank Spaziani. The move comes after a less than inspiring regular season including a 5-game slide against ACC opponents and Notre Dame. Following an announcement full of hope and reassurance the question remains: what the heck was AD Gene DeFelippo thinking?

Let's get one thing straight. I am not a Spaz hater. Truth be told, if pressed, I would consider myself a Spaz supporter. I have loved his stout defenses as much as the next fan. I like his demeanor and the respect and admiration he seems to command from his players. He's not the most exciting head coach but I wasn't unhappy about his hiring.

With that out of the way let me say Frank Spaziani should not have been offered a 2-year extension after the lackluster play we saw this year. Granted, much of this year's struggles can be attributed to offensive coordinator Gary Tranquil. Even so, The Stache is not exonerated.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Stock Up/Stock Down

Stock Up/Stock Down is going to be a staple around this blog so let’s get some ground rules set up from the beginning. First, if you’re looking for a blog to simply tell you who’s been hot lately and who hasn’t, then go someplace else because anyone can do that. Instead, we are going to tell you whether or not to buy into the hype that surrounds players and coaches. Should you be adding Andre Williams to your fantasy NCAA football team? Are you sure you’ve seen the last of Thomas Claiborne? Read more to find out!

Stock Up
Coach Donahue: Donahue’s name is very hot right now given BC’s meteoric start (we’re going to forget that Yale ever happened for a second). His assertiveness on the sidelines is a nice change from Al Skinner, and the team is in better physical shape than I’ve ever seen them. The 3’s are dropping and the W’s are piling up.

This is an easy buy. Everyone (including myself) thought we were in for a tough year, and while we still might be, this is a much better start than anyone could have ever expected. I can’t wait to watch this team over the next few years.

Coach Spaziani: New day, new extension. Not much to say here except that it took everyone by surprise.

Eagle in Atlanta may not be buying this, but I am. The body of work Spaz has put together over the past two years has been good, but not great. The recruiting and the consistent vision for the program will pay off though. Can anyone remember a more talented recruiting class than this year’s freshmen? And next year’s class is supposedly even better. Things are finally looking up for the stache.

Andre Williams: 185 yards for a freshman RB on the road is nothing to sneeze at. It’s very clear that Williams is not only a capable back, but one which will eventually start at The Heights. He still seems like a very raw talent, and it may be another year or two before we have a better idea as to what his ceiling is (which is a very scary thought for the rest of the ACC).

The high expectations for Williams are simply unfair right now so I’m not buying any of this stock. Williams is going to be a great back here for a long time, but numbers like this will not hold up over the long haul. Look for BC to employ the two-back system next year. If the two-back system works well with Harris/Williams, I think Spaz will make it a staple in the offense, which will mean less carries, yards, and TDs for the main back.
 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Welcome to Around The Res!

Welcome to Around The Res! Formed by several recent Boston College graduates, Around The Res will be a platform to share our ideas, discussions and arguments concerning all things BC sports. We hope to offer readers several different perspectives on BC sports loosely presented in a roundtable discussion format by several main writers, but also featuring contributions from others who closely follow BC sports. We hope to provide many different perspectives on BC sports topics to try and capture all sides of the argument. We will also have articles, analysis and interviews with BC sports personnel. Without further ado, here are the four main writers for Around The Res:

Ralph graduated from Boston College in 2010 with a double concentration in finance and accounting from CSOM. At BC, he served as co-founder and treasurer of the BC Historical Society and actively participated in intramural sports, including basketball, flag football and volleyball. He currently works at a firm off Wall Street and is extremely thankful to BC for preparing him for this opportunity.

His favorite BC sport is basketball followed by football and hockey. It absolutely disgusts him that no one supports and goes to basketball games. His favorite player is Mark Herzlich who he famously boasted would be a first round pick after his freshman year. He remembers the Matty Ice Miracle like it was yesterday and accidentally gave his friend a black eye while celebrating.

Mike graduated from BC with majors in political science and economics. While at BC, he was editor-in-chief of The Observer at Boston College from the fall of 2008 to the spring of 2010. During his time there he helped develop a new sports section, which became known for its exclusive on-campus sports reporting and cutting-edge photography. Mike was also EIC of Campus Magazine Online from 2008-2009. He is currently studying at BC law and hopes to work in business law when he graduates as a double eagle.

Mike’s favorite BC sport is football, but he’s also interested in BC’s lesser known sports. He thinks that Luke Kuechly is superman, Alex Albright is currently his favorite player, and he has a picture of Mark Herzlich on his wall (which he hopes to get signed one day). He rues the fact that BC hockey isn’t appreciated on campus and thinks that BC’s lack of a healthy tailgating environment is one thing that simply must change. His all-time favorite BC guy is Matt Ryan, closely followed by Sean Marshall.

Alex is a 2010 graduate of Boston College. He majored in finance and theology. While enrolled at BC he was a member of the St. Thomas More Society and the Sons of St. Patrick. Alex is very grateful for his time on The Heights. Some of his favorite things from that period include studying under the Jesuits, exploring the city of Boston, admiring Gasson Hall, and of course devouring the Honey-Q wrap at Stuart Dining Hall.

Alex's favorite BC sport is football followed closely by hockey and basketball. He is a firm believer that Conte Forum should eventually be renamed to honor Jerry York. His favorite current Eagle is Joe Whitney. His favorite Eagle from his time at BC is a tie between Matty Ryan and Jared Dudley. A proud Minnesotan, Alex also supports the Golden Gophers (especially on the ice). Alex currently resides in Boston and works in the insurance industry. His blogging influences include Eagle in Atlanta, BC Interruption, Broston College, and Every Day Should Be Saturday. His hobbies include arguing about BC sports, studying philosophy, smoking cigars, and continuing to explore Boston.

Nick is at law school at Columbia but remains a loyal Eagle. He's mainly a basketball and football guy, but would watch more BC hockey if it were ever on TV outside of the Boston area. He and Ralph went to every home basketball game their junior and senior years, and also wishes more people would go to the games. He's also a hardcore Boston sports fan but is still kind of depressed at how little pub BC gets in the local media. Oh, and he's the smartest and wittiest of this bunch by far.