BC started the game looking good, with Trapani, Rubin, and even Elmore hitting threes. Of course, after about five minutes the wheels came off, due primarily to terrible turnovers on offense and even worse play on defense. Tyler Zeller and John Henson dominated the interior, especially on defense (where Henson had two monster blocks early), but all-in-all the offense was as good as it usually has been this season. It was on the defensive side where BC looked like my high school JV team. Prime example: Reggie Bullock - shooting 32% from beyond the arc on the season - lit it up from three to the point where one of the announcers suggested, without a hint of irony or humor, that "maybe [BC] should consider guarding him."
The second half didn't really matter, as the game was pretty much over by the end of the first. BC's only hope coming out of the locker room after halftime was to get a few quick stops, hit a few threes, and make the game manageable, but the Eagle defense looked as puke-inducing in the second half as it did in the first. While BC could theoretically make the NCAA tournament even with this loss, the larger lesson I take from this game is a simple one: BC just isn't that good this year.
More scattered thoughts after the jump:
- UNC (as well as Duke to some extent last week) basically laid out the blueprint for how to beat BC: smother Reggie Jackson on defense (he was held to 6 points tonight), dominate the interior, and let everyone else on BC take as many long threes as they want. This is the danger of having only one truly great player and a simple, easily understood offensive gameplan.
- BC simply got outhussled today, as evidenced by two factors - steals and transition. The Eagles - normally one of the best teams in protecting the ball - gave up a six ugly steals, and were consistently beat down the floor by UNC both ways. If there was ever a time for Donahue to freak out in the locker room after the game, it's now. Then again, if BC couldn't get a wakeup call from its humiliation at the hands of Duke, they might just be permanently asleep.
- After the NC State game I hoped that Southern had finally found his place in the offensive scheme. Well, that proclamation may have been a little premature. Southern was nothing short of terrible tonight, traveling two straight times immediately after coming into the game, then looking lost on offense and missing easy rebounds. BC fans may have to accept that Southern is just not good enough to play well against the better ACC teams.
- I can't figure out what the main issue is with this team. As I see it, there are two options: there simply isn't enough talent on this team, or Donahue's system is just not complex enough for the ACC. I sincerely hope it's the former and an influx of talent is all we need, but I'm starting to wonder whether Donahue's simple zone defense and single-minded offense (shoot the three!) are going to cut it in the ACC going forward.
- The one bright side in this game was Joe Trapani, posting a nice stat line of 25 points (including 4 of 6 from downtown) and 15 rebounds. Much of this, I suspect, was due to the pressure UNC was putting on Jackson all night, but Trapani's play was encouraging nonetheless - especially considering he seemed to be the only BC player who gave a crap after about five minutes. If the Eagles can ever get Trapani and Reggie both going at the same time, they can be an elite offensive team. Of course, the defense remains horrible either way.
- Stay tuned this week for the second half of my preview of BC's ACC schedule. Here's a preview of the preview: it's not looking great for BC's NCAA tourney chances.