Saturday afternoon, Boston College Men’s Basketball suffered a 66 to 51 loss at the hands of Virginia, ranked second nationally, but the story of the game really had nothing to do with the score. The 15 point differential made a game that was very good for the Boston College basketball program look disastrous, when in actuality, the first 35 minutes had SuperFans on the edges of their seats and dreaming of a possible court storm.
Before I talk about any of the basketball, though, I want to take a brief moment to commend the students for how they performed on Saturday. Conte was electric, loud, and more packed than it has been for any event all year. Superfans actually stood and yelled for almost 40 minutes of basketball. The crowd quieted in the last couple minutes of the loss, but that’s understandable. Fans were clearly invested in the game from the get-go, and the team took notice. Coach Christian commented after the game on the atmosphere, saying that it was “great to see the crowd giving the team energy.” This will need to continue for the Eagles next stretch of home games. The upcoming visitors to Conte, in order, will be 7th ranked Louisville, Syracuse, Miami and 12th ranked rival Notre Dame. Superfans weren’t perfect Saturday, but it was great to see Conte packed again for basketball.
As for the Eagles' on-the-court action, the basketball was almost as good as it could get. The team gave the undefeated Cavaliers all that they could handle. The Eagles were actually leading with under 12 minutes to go in the game. BC star Olivier Hanlan contributed 18 points and 6 assists, showing his ability to score and facilitate the offense. Perhaps the biggest factor in this game, though, was Patrick Heckmann, who continued to keep the Eagles close. Heckmann sparked the BC offense to start the second half, scoring 7 of the team's first 10 points, including a beautiful spin move in the lane to shake UVA defender Anthony Gill. Heckmann finished with 15 points, shooting over 50% from the floor, and continues to be the difference maker and spark plug for the Eagles.
UVA entered 16-0. The Cavs have by far the best defense in the country, holding teams to an average of 50 points per game and a shooting percentage of roughly 33% from the floor. If the Eagles can take anything away from this game, it is that they beat UVA's points-allowed average and shot nearly 40% against the best defense in the nation. Also, Virginia’s star player Justin Anderson, who was averaging nearly 15 points a contest, was held without a single field-goal. Not one bucket. Anderson wasn’t without impact, though, as he held BC’s dynamic combo guard Aaron Brown from scoring a field-goal as well.
In the end, the game really showed the flaws that keep BC from being able to compete with the ACC elites. UVA was able to grab 13 offensive rebounds and out-rebound BC by 15 boards overall. That kind of dominance in the paint will lead to a victory every single game. The Eagles won’t be able to win games if they continue to get dominated on the glass. The other factor that killed BC was depth. In a 40 minute game of intense ACC basketball, you need to have 7-10 guys that can play legitimate minutes and pitch in at least a few buckets. Only 6 Eagles had points on Saturday. Of those 6 Eagles, only 2 of them were in double figures. Even Coach Christian acknowledged this weakness, saying, “We just don’t have a deep team.”
The drastic lack of depth and weakness inside is what let the game slip away from the Eagles down the stretch. This can be looked at positively though. With a couple extra plays and the removal of what Olivier Hanlan labeled as “mental mistakes,” the Eagles could easily have upset the number two team in the country.
Boston College should be pleased with its effort in this contest, but not content. Inside play and bench contribution will need to improve going up against Syracuse on Tuesday as the Eagles look to earn their first ACC win.
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