I hope I captured your interest with the title as I have found the perfect analogy to our beloved Boston College basketball team: The New York Knicks. After finally being able to come out of hiding and watch the Knicks without having the urge to strangle someone (thanks Isiah!), it felt like I was watching a professional version of BC at times. I’m not really sure what to make of the similarities between the two teams , most likely nothing, but I had a fun time comparing them.
Offense: As discussed previously on this blog, BC lives and dies by the three (see last week’s game versus Miami as a dying example). BC has already attempted over 400 three-pointers, not including the Miami game, which is good for 19th in the country. As a result, BC has drastically improved its scoring average from the Skinner era to 76.1 points a game.
Under Mike D'antoni, the Knicks have been the model of a Run N’ Gun offense. They lead the NBA in PPG with 107.18 and take an outstanding 25 three pointers a game. Some of D’antoni's sets revolve around his patented “Seven Seconds or Less” which involves pushing the ball and settling for the first open look, most likely from 3 point range. Both offenses are extremely fun to watch and I think most BC fans are more than happy to watch this offense instead of Skinner’s “Flex to Death” offense.
Defense: While BC’s offensive performance is often exciting to watch, their defensive performance leaves a lot to be desired. They give up an ugly 69.1 points per game, good for 206th in the country. Opponents FG %? Even worse at 44.1% allowed which is 221st in the country. I wouldn’t hold your breath expecting BC to become a defensive power under Donahue anytime soon.
The Knicks, as expected, also suffer on the defensive end giving up 106.08! points a game while allowing opponents to shoot 46.5%. Just the other night against Utah they managed to give up 131 points in regulation! Even better, Amar’e Stoudemire was quoted in the NY Post that he was never taught defense in the NBA under D'Antoni. I think that pretty much sums up all you need to know about the Knicks defense.
Unquestioned Leader/Star Player: For BC, Reggie Jackson has undoubtedly emerged as one of the most talented Eagles since the days of Jared Dudley and Tyrese Rice. He has the capacity to take over games with his ability to get to the basketball but also with his impressive range from 3 (48.7%). Without Reggie, BC would be lucky to finish .500 and most likely would be fighting with Wake Forest to be the ACC’s bottom dweller.
As mentioned in the intro, the Knicks have been unwatchable in the 2000s and haven’t won a playoff series in 11 years. The 2000s was the “Lost Decade” to Knicks fans. Thankfully, things have turned around this year for one sole reason: Amar’e Stoudemire . He has brought hope back to Knicks fan and as an unquestioned superstar, and he has led the Knicks to a 22-17 record, good for 2nd in the Atlantic Divison. Similar to Reggie & BC, remove Amar’e and the Knicks fall back into mediocrity. He is putting the Knicks back on the map and will be credited with ending the Knicks playoff drought.
The Shocking Surprise: Even after a recent stretch of rough games, Danny Rubin has been a pleasant surprise for the Eagles. He was an unheralded recruit who was a late signee in Donahue’s first class. In fact, Rubin was committed to be a preferred walk at Colgate (imagine his surprise when he received a full scholarship offer from an ACC school). He is an excellent three point shooter who has thrived in Donahue’s offense and even though he has tailed off a little bit in ACC play he has exceeded expectations thus far.
When Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver announced “the Knicks with the 39th pick in the draft take Landry Fields” everyone, including Chad Ford, went "who???" This was such an obscure pick Chad Ford admitted he did not research him as he was not in his top 100 players (remember the NBA draft is only 60 picks). Well Landry has been a little bit of everything for the Knicks. He has a high basketball IQ and does those “little things” coaches love but don’t show up in the box score. Landry has gone from being an unknown 2nd round pick to being mentioned as a key piece in a potential trade for Carmelo.
Exceeding Expectations: To say public perception for both these teams coming into the season was poor would be an understatement. BC was predicted to finish 10th in a water-downed ACC with a new coach and unimpressive incoming recruits. There were serious questions concerning how players would adapt to his system and I think it’s fair to say even the most optimistic fans projected nothing more than an NIT bid. Donahue now has the Eagles on track for an NCAA bid with some impressive victories (Texas A&M) but also some mind-numbing defeats (Harvard & Yale).
The Knickerbockers were projected to finished 8 games under .500 and slotted anywhere from a potential 8th seed in the playoffs to the 11th team in the Eastern conference. Similar questions arose about the Knicks influx of new players and whether Amar’e was enough to turn a team around (hint: he is). With the solid and even unexpected contributions from Raymond Felton and the above-mentioned Landry Fields, the Knicks are now projected to finish above .500 and will be fighting for the 5th-6th seed as the playoffs draw near. For a BC and Knick fan like myself, it’s a pretty good feeling that I can actually look forward to some post season basketball action this year.