It’s hard to criticize Boston College‘s effort in a narrow 72-70 loss to No. 18-ranked Connecticut tonight, considering it was, without a doubt, the best overall game the Eagles have played so far this season. But you still can’t help but feel like the Eagles put themselves in a little bit of a hole with their over-reliance on the three pointer, launching 26 but hitting just eight.
You really have to wonder if the game may have turned out a little differently had the Eagles looked to attack the rim earlier, especially when you take into account that, after finding themselves trailing by nine late, they fought their way back when they finally started taking it inside.
From the early stages of the game, it was clear that the entire game plan for Boston College would revolve around moving the ball around the perimeter and heaving up shots from deep, which is always a dangerous strategy. After all, people use the saying, “live by the three, die by the three” for a very good reason. Of their first 25 shots in the first half, 15 were three point attempts and only five of those were makes. Meanwhile, the Eagles had virtually no points in the paint, and, in fact, barely looked for shots around the basket.
What is troubling watching Boston College play is that, while he’s clearly more of a face up guy on offense by nature, Ryan Anderson proved adept at backing down the big, athletic UConn defenders and scoring or drawing fouls. Considering how well he shoots free throws, even when he managed to draw a foul, it was automatic points for the Eagles.
More of that should be inserted into the offensive game plan by Steve Donahue in the future if the Eagles hope to have more success as the season goes on. Anderson is a versatile all-around scorer, and should not be relegated to simply hanging around the perimeter to launch jumpers. He clearly has the ability, not to mention the patience, to create for himself with his back to the basket. A healthier mix of inside game to go along with the idea of making him a stretch four would go a long way for BC.
Of course, it also didn’t help for the Eagles that Olivier Hanlan had perhaps his poorest offensive game of the season. At 6-foot-4, he should have been able to take the much smaller UConn guards to the rack with greater frequency, but apparently he was scared off by the interior length of the Huskies, and settled for far too many jumpers rather than exploiting his size and athleticism for better looks closer to the hoop.
Overall, the bizarre reluctance to even look for shots on the interior was never more evident than a play that occurred with just over 14 minutes left in the game, when the 6-foot-8 Eddie Odio caught a pass about six feet from the hoop in the middle of the paint. Even with the defender backpedaling, his eyes never once went to the hoop, choosing instead to immediately kick it out to Joe Rahon, who then launched and missed a three. If anything summed up the way the Eagles apparently wanted to attack UConn tonight, that was it.
The pieces are clearly there for Boston College to make a move up the ACC standings, as they feature what is potentially one of the top inside/outside duos in the conference in Anderson and Hanlan. They simply need to incorporate more of the inside, and a little less of the outside, if they’re going to make it work.