Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Trouble in Raleigh

If you get a chance to see a copy of the current ACC Conference Basketball Standings, you may think you grabbed the wrong sport.

At the top, along with Boston College, is a fellow Big East defector who has brought down not one, but two, of the ACC Old Blood Powers.

The Virginia Tech Hokies went into Cameron last week and handed Duke a season opening defeat, this time, former quarterback and Syracuse native Greg Paulus had no half-court miracle to save the Devils.

And, Saturday evening, before I hopped on a plane, I had to double check the television next to the Ravens-Colts game. VaTech had a 22-point lead over the #1 Tar Heels with 7 minutes to go.

UNC was merely suffering a minor setback on what will likely still be a top seeded tournament run come March. But, the Devils have not even hit the hardest part of their schedule yet. This weekend, they face one of the “lesser” teams in the ACC in the Miami Hurricanes on Sunday evening. And, it gets worse from there.

The Devils will get their traditional home-and-home with cross-triangle rival UNC. They also have to face this year’s ACC Dance Darling – and formerly undefeated until Maryland handed them their first loss Saturday afternoon - once in Clemson and once back north.

Oh, and a bunch of white-collar Yankees hell bent on revenge, starting when the Eagles head to Cameron on January 28th. There will be nothing more to put a chip on Sean Williams’s shoulder (probably still be there when his arm is extended to its full height) as it also happens to be the night that Shelden Williams will have his number retired by the folks at Duke.

It will be BC’s first trip to Cameron as an ACC member, but, many will recall both heartaches that the Eagles fared last year against the Devils. The first in the most glamorous collegiate basketball game to ever come to the Boston area, when a late no-call stopped a 17-point come back. The second was Lou Hinnant’s debutante game, in which he showed that yes, he, in fact, could score. About a foot to the left as time expired and BC would be raising ACC hardware and likely a #2 in last year’s tourney.

What’s different about next weekend’s game? BC, for the most part, finds itself in a mildly similar situation: completely unnoticed and disrespected. Last year, it was for dropping their first three ACC contests, before rattling off win after win until that cold January day at the Conte Coffin.

This year, it’s for not showing up against lesser opponents. Of the 4 losses of the 12-4 (4-0 ACC) squad, 3 have been against unranked teams, one of which is considered to be in the bottom half of schools. (Since those games, both Providence and Vermont have garnered more respect. Losing to Duquesne, overtime or not, is still unacceptable). The Eagles will face a few warm ups this week before heading down South, but, the answer has to be in their defense.

In the loss to Duquesne, Tyrese Rice had a career high point total and Sean Williams hung a triple-double on the Dukes. The story this year comes down to three keys, really.

-Rice not turning the ball over (1.55 assist to TO rating is good, but, at NC State, he had 10 assists to 1 turnover, which is amazing. BC wins that by 16.)
-Marshall showing up (2/11 from the field in the loss to Vermont)
-Preventing the offensive rebound (2nd chance points sparked Kansas’s 24-4 run)

Simple enough? Take notes. If this team wants to gain respect, be noticed, or perhaps even cut down some nets, it may be as easy as one-two-three


Follow Up: UNC ended up losing, but only by 6.

1 comment:

  1. Sean Dockery had the buzzer-beater against V-Tech last year, not Paulus.