Boston College Looking to Bounce Back, Ryan Anderson and Dennis Clifford are the Answer

By Brian Swanson
Michael Ivins-US Preswire

Last season the Boston College Eagles were the worst team in the ACC with just 9 wins and 22 losses, but they’re ready for redemption in 2012-13. Head Coach Steve Donahue has 4 of his starters returning this year, as well as 5 of last years top 6 scorers. BC did lose their second leading scorer, Matt Humphrey, who transferred to West Virginia University in the off season.

Last year was clearly a rebuilding year since 4 of their starters were freshmen, but now with a little experience under their belts this crew, led by stellar forward Ryan Anderson and 7-foot center Dennis Clifford, is prepared to break out.

Anderson led his team in scoring and rebounding last season averaging 11.2 and 7.4 respectively.  He can do it all and will be their go-to player all season. His ability as a shooter is fantastic with soft hands and a feel like no one else in the ACC right now. Being a power forward hinders his game though.

Anderson lacks a post game offensively and struggles to score with his back to the basket. He would thrive more as a small forward roaming the floor, and should be used in that role often. Anderson will deflate the egos of his opponents, as a face up big man with decent ball handling and his ability to hit shots from anywhere in the arena, slower forwards will have a tough time chasing him around. He will frustrate the opposition every game and give the Eagles an edge that they haven’t had since Reggie Jackson. Anderson is a good pick to be ACC player of the year.

I see him scoring close to 20 points and grabbing about 10 boards a game. If Anderson’s defensive skills are improved this year, there’s nothing holding him back. Last year he was a little undersized as a forward and didn’t have the physicality needed at this level. Also defensively Anderson has been a little slow on his feet.

It will be interesting to see how he has improved, or hasn’t, as a defender this season.  On an undersized frame Anderson managed over 7 rebounds a game, showing his motor, often going after offensive rebounds and put backs. He plays on feel and the game seems to be slowed down for him, which is a sign of a successful basketball future.

Clifford, being a 7-footer, is one of the more significant pieces for the Eagles. He will be used often in the pick and roll and succeeded at it as a freshman. Some of his post moves were a little slow on offense, but he does have some good moves and has been working on his quickness. Often overlooked is the passing ability of big men, and Clifford blossomed last year showing off his ability to hit his teammates cutting to the basket. He demands double coverage at times due to his size and will clear a gap in the post for easy cutting baskets.

Clifford does need to box out consistently for BC to improve their rebounding. In the 2011-12 season Boston College was the worst rebounding team in the ACC, and one of the very worst in all of Division 1 basketball. Undoubtedly this contributed to their horrid season, and hopefully Coach Donahue makes this a key focus day in and day out. Even though Anderson led the team in rebounds a year ago, Clifford becomes the face of BC rebounding for the fact that he is their starting center. For BC to rebound consistently this year Clifford will need to box out to improve his own position, and to clear space for Anderson to grab boards.

The rest of the starting line-up will be Jordan Daniels at point guard, Lonnie Jackson on the wing, and Patrick Heckman at small forward. Jackson and Heckman each averaged 8.3 point per game last year as freshmen. Both players have good vision on the wing and can find openings to help feed Anderson and Clifford in the post.

Jackson and Heckman are also both able 3-point shooters. Last season Heckman shot 34.9% and Jackson went 39.9% from behind the arc. Boston College was the third best 3-point shooting team in the conference last year and needs to continue to thrive from deep to succeed.

The 5’8” Daniels has a lethal pull-up jumper from 15-20 feet out. He will also knock down open looks from 3-point land. If BC is going to be successful this season, Daniels will need to use his ability to penetrate to find open shooters. His quickness gives him an advantage taking the corner and driving the lane, but he doesn’t do enough of it.

This would take some of the pressure off of players, like Anderson, to create their own shot. Daniels averaged only 2.6 assist per game as a freshman, hopefully he can double that number and provide the necessary assistance of a starting point guard.

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