Boston Colleges: Boston College basketball

BC notes: Senior Rehnquist gets start

March, 1, 2012
3/01/12
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NEWTON, Mass. -- The Eagles gave Peter Rehnquist a gift on Wednesday night.

It was senior night at Conte Forum, Boston College’s final home game of 2011-12. That meant it was the last chance for players like Rehnquist, a little-used walk-on from Sharon, Mass., to set foot on the court in Chestnut Hill.

Steve Donahue wanted to recognize all the work Rehnquist (averages coming into the game: 0.0 points, 0.0 rebounds, 0.0 assists in 1 minute per game) had put in during the two years Donahue had been head coach.

So he inserted the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder into the starting lineup.

Rehnquist played the first 1:28, recording a single shot attempt and no other stats during his stint. The senior was subbed out for Ryan Anderson after his driving, reverse layup attempt was blocked by Georgia Tech’s Kammeon Holsey, and spent the rest of the game on the bench.

“That’s great,” junior Matt Humphrey said of Rehnquist getting the start. “Pete’s probably the hardest working dude on our team. Pete comes to practice every day.

“Walking into practice, you wouldn’t think he’s a walk-on or anything like that because he brings it every single day. It was a happy moment. He did what he was supposed to do, and I’m proud of him.”

Donahue clearly was, too.

“He’s probably a real, official walk-on because he was here before I got here,” the coach said. “He’s got so many other things obviously that you don’t realize beyond the basketball aspect of it. He’s been incredible in the community service piece. Just representing our program in every way. He’s teaching in practice, he plays hard.

“I’m hoping that he remembers starting this game at Boston College and being a big highlight of his career because he’s meant so much to us. He’s the type of kid we want to continue to get as we go forward.”

But back to the gift he was given. Because the Eagles held off the Yellow Jackets’ late charge and won 56-52, Rehnquist can say he finishes his BC career undefeated as a starter.

Praising Cahill

After the game, Donahue was full of praise for his favorite part-time player, John Cahill.

“He’s the left-handed pitcher that needs to get the left-handed batter out in the middle innings or late in the game,” the coach joked, before turning serious. “I’m gonna miss him. Obviously it’s his last home game, as well.”

Cahill joined the Eagles in 2010-11 as a walk-on, after serving as a practice player for the women’s team. The 6-1, 170-pound son of a longtime NCAA referee, Cahill became a situational defensive player, a reliable 3-point shooter and a sometimes starter in his two years on Donahue’s team.

On Wednesday, he finished the game with four points, all coming on one four-point play on which he buried a 3 and got fouled, a foul and a blocked shot in 10 minutes off the bench.

“He just has a great IQ, a great feel,” Donahue said. “The four-point play was huge. He’s our best defensive player, as crazy as it sounds. He gets in front of people, he draws charges, he gets loose balls. The guys are probably tired of me referencing him on film. Like, ‘See where John’s at? That’s where you should be.’ I’m sure he gets busted in the locker room, but he just knows it.

“He’s an additional coach out there. He communicates, he teaches those guys so much over these six months. We’re gonna miss that aspect of it. But in the same sense we’ve gotta move forward, and he knows it. We’re gonna bring in better players than John Cahill, and they’re gonna be taught. But for the two years that he was here he’s been such a great help.”

One for the road?

The success stories for BC have been found in the details in 2011-12. With nine freshmen on the roster entering the season, the Eagles were never going to be able to use wins and losses as a gauge of their progress.

But with a 9-20 overall record and a 4-11 mark in the ACC, there is one last thing the Eagles would like to accomplish before the regular season ends on Saturday at Miami: win a true road game.

The only time this season the Eagles have come out on top in another team’s gym was in the second game of the 76 Classic in Anaheim, when they beat UC Riverside in overtime. Other than that, they’ve gone oh-for-the-road with losses at Providence, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Maryland and Wake Forest.

The closest they came was against the Hokies, a game in which the Eagles held a one-point lead into the final seconds only to lose on a tip-in off an initial Va. Tech miss.

That’s why, Donahue said, this weekend’s game (Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3) is still so important. To show that hard work and the will to compete can pay off.

“Absolutely,” he said. “These are huge games for these guys. We’re teaching ,we’re working hard. We want to get a road win so bad.

“We’re gonna do everything we can to win at Miami. That’s obviously a talented basketball team. It’s critical that we continue to try to get better here.”

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.

Notes: Big game for BC's Clifford

January, 13, 2012
1/13/12
12:42
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NEWTON, Mass. -- There was a light moment in the interview room after the Eagles won their first ACC game over Clemson on Thursday night.

Dennis Clifford was asked what his teammates told him before he took two big free throws with 24 seconds left and the Eagles up two points.

“They were just saying to be confident and that I was gonna make ‘em. Which, uh …” the big man said, trailing off as teammate Lonnie Jackson laughed next to him at the postgame podium, “didn’t really happen. But they really had confidence in me, which is important. The other step is just me being comfortable every time I go to the line, which I’m working on.”

The 7-footer from Bridgewater, Mass., went 5-for-9 from the charity stripe against the Tigers, dropping his season average from 70 percent to 67.8 percent.

BC coach Steve Donahue isn’t worried.

“He’s been really good [from the foul line] over the last month,” Donahue said. “I took him out at the very end because it just was in his head, but his stroke has been really good. I think he’s gonna be a good foul shooter as we go along.”

Clemson clearly thought enough of him to be concerned. Tigers big man Devin Booker picked up a pair of fouls fighting for position with the BC big man.

“I think they had great respect for him,” Donahue said. “I think Dennis did a really good job tonight of sealing them off. We worked all week on their bigs, and how they seal so well. … I thought Dennis really took to that. He’s like, ‘If they’re gonna do it, I’m gonna do it.’ You saw that tonight.”

Clifford wasn’t afraid to bang in the post, scoring on short hooks, dunks and layups. And he didn’t hesitate to let fly from outside, either. He made one elbow jumper and rimmed out a 3-pointer from the wing.

“I’m encouraging him to shoot the shot,” Donahue said. “The 3 was a great look, too. We had a scrimmage early in the season he had four 3s. He had two against Seton Hall in a scrimmage. All of a sudden he’s gotten away from that.

“I think that’s a part of his game,” the coach said. “To me, it shows you that he’s being more relaxed, that he’s more confident, that he’s willing to take those shots, he’s not worried about what’s gonna happen if he misses.”

Clifford finished 5-for-8 from the field and was the game’s high scorer with 15 points.

More than catch-and-shoot

Right behind Clifford in the scoring column was Jackson, with 14. Most of those points came in one second-half burst that included a right-wing 3, a catch-and-shoot 3 off a screen and a driving layup and-1.

“They were doing a great job on me in the first half, I just made the adjustment in the second half,” Jackson said. “I was open, Cliff set some great screens for me and the coaches put me in some good positions to show what I can do and I came through when I needed to.”

Jackson’s run came as part of a 16-4 BC burst that overcame a seven-point Clemson lead and built a short-lived five-point Eagles lead.

After the game, Jackson was asked about what his three-point play says about his game.

“I feel like a lot of people think I’m just a shooter, but I know I’m way more than that,” he said. “If they’re gonna come and crowd me like they were tonight, I’m gonna go around them and I’m gonna make plays for my teammates.

“I’m not just a one-faceted player, I’m gonna play the whole game,” he said. “That’s what I like to do. I’m just gonna keep doing what I’m doing.”

“I thought he was really terrific,” Donahue said. “He’s improved immensely over the last two months. I think he’s become more athletic, in terms of using his body on the basketball court. He’s not as rigid, he’s not as upright.

“For him to do that against that defense and get to the rim on that one, that was a terrific play,” he said. “He’s showing signs that he’s not just a catch-and-shoot [guy]. He’s also vocal, he’s competitive and he’s doing all the other little things, as well.”

ACC cred?

Though Donahue has repeatedly said he doesn’t want to judge his inexperienced wards quantitatively, preferring to judge qualitatively, he acknowledged after the 59-57 win that getting a W is important for a variety of reasons.

One reason is that it reinforces the value of the hard work the Eagles are putting in during practice. Another reason is outward validation.

“Hey, listen, Clemson’s a good basketball team,” he said. “They beat a very good Florida State team by 20. I watched and it was extremely very impressive.

“So for us to come out and really compete and get a win,” he said, “the rest of the league says ‘You know what, they’re playing.’ There’s some respect there, and not that it means a whole lot, but you want that. You want people to understand that you got a good basketball team, you got good players and you’re playing hard.”

And while it’s possible that Clemson wasn’t entirely focused on the task at hand, with a home game against No. 6 Duke looming, the Eagles did what they had to do and left Conte Forum with a positive result. They’ll try to make that a trend Saturday, when Virginia Tech comes to town (3 p.m., ESPN3).

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.

NBA mock draft: BC's Jackson at No. 19

May, 6, 2011
5/06/11
3:10
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In his first NBA mock draft (insider access required), ESPN.com's Chad Ford has BC's Reggie Jackson going No. 19 overall to the Charlotte Bobcats. Writes Ford:
Analysis: The Bobcats, as we noted, have needs just about everywhere. Jackson might be the biggest sleeper of the draft and should be a great fit in Charlotte. He is a terrific athlete, has a ridiculous 7-foot wingspan and shot the lights out this junior season. He has virtually every quality you look for in a modern NBA point guard.

The biggest question I have is whether he'll even be around at this point once he hits the Chicago combine and workouts. I think he could have a Paul George-type rise in this draft. I wouldn't be shocked to see the Bobcats ultimately considering him at No. 9.


Meanwhile, ESPN.com's Eamon Brennon also looks at Jackson and whether he should stay in the draft. Brennon concludes that Jackson should stay, writing:

Thing is, unless his planned workout goes worse than anyone could imagine, Jackson is likely better off remaining in the draft. Frankly, he should probably stay no matter what.

There are two reasons for this. One, as Chad wrote at the link above (editor's note: here's the link), is Jackson's likely ability to impress scouts in workouts and the NBA draft combine in the next few months. But arguably the most important reason is the situation Jackson would return to if he decided to come back to school.

That "situation" is the rebuilding Boston College Eagles in their second year under Steve Donahue. Simply put: It's going to be a tough season in BC.

Click HERE to read the full piece.

Ford: Jackson should stay in draft

May, 4, 2011
5/04/11
10:39
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In his latest story on underclassmen in the NBA draft, Chad Ford offers some advice on whether to stay in the draft or go back to school. He puts BC's Reggie Jackson in the "Stay in the Draft" category. Here's what he writers:

Jackson is the toughest call of this group. A handful of NBA scouts and GMs think he has the talent to be a lottery pick in this year's draft. However, there's not a consensus on Jackson. Other GMs and scouts think he's a late first-rounder, or possibly even a second-round pick. Those mixed signals have concerned Jackson's camp. He plans on playing in the workout in New Jersey, where he should be the best player on the floor. I'm in the camp that says he's got lottery talent, and I think it will shine through once he gets into workouts and the NBA draft combine.

Click HERE to read the rest of Ford's story (insider access required)


Bubble Watch: BC needs some help

March, 12, 2011
3/12/11
7:22
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In Bubble Watch, Eamonn Brennan writes on BC's chances to still get in the tournament after losing to Clemson:
Boston College [20-12 (9-7), RPI: 46, SOS: 35] Boston College's emotions did not wax and wane like the Hokies' did Friday; the Eagles were pretty much out of it from the moment they took the floor in a 70-47 blowout loss to Clemson. The question: Does the loss move the Eagles out of the bubble picture? That answer is no. BC is no doubt on the wrong side of the bubble cutline today, and it certainly didn't do itself any ancillary favors by looking so thoroughly weak in what was essentially a bubble play-in game. But the Eagles -- who swept Virginia Tech, by the way -- are not entirely out of the picture, even with what has eventually become an extremely marginal resume (1-5 vs. RPI top 50, 7-10 vs top 100). In fact, the bubble is probably right where this team belongs. BC will need some help from someone to get in, but it's not impossible.

Click HERE to read the rest of this story

BC getting ready for ACC tournament

March, 9, 2011
3/09/11
11:20
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NEWTON, Mass. -- It was business as usual at Boston College’s practice Tuesday afternoon. Clad in a gold Under Armour shirt, maroon mesh shorts and white sneakers with the BC logo on the heel, coach Steve Donahue led his team through the paces.

Shooting and passing drills. Offensive sets. Free throw shooting. Defensive sets. More shooting stations.

Donahue and assistant coach Joe Jones prepped the Eagles on the next opponent, pointing out areas that were troublesome in the past and giving instruction on how to ensure they wouldn’t be issues in the future.

Of course, in this instance the next opponent is the same as the last opponent. It’s just that the stakes are a good deal higher.

On Sunday, the Eagles played host to Wake Forest in the regular-season finale, an 84-68 BC win. On Thursday, the Eagles and Demon Deacons will renew acquaintances in the first round of the ACC tournament (2:30 p.m.). And since they’re planted firmly on the NCAA tournament bubble, the boys from BC need a win in the worst way.

But you wouldn’t know it from talking to Donahue. The first-year coach believes in keeping an even keel, no matter the stakes of the game.

“I always believe that your approach for every game should be the same, in terms of how you go about your business,” Donahue said. “I always want to win every game, I want to figure out ways to put my team in good situations. But I never want to be the coach that makes the team feel like, ‘This is a pressure-cooker game, you’ve got to play well.’

“I just don’t think that’s conducive to good basketball. I’d rather guys see me the same way every single game, whether it’s against a lower D-I team or whether it’s in the ACC tournament.”

Reggie Jackson & Co. know what they need to do.

“Keep winning from here on out,” Jackson said. “We definitely need to pick up this game Thursday against Wake Forest and then compete against Clemson. We want that matchup again but we can’t look past Wake, we have to get some wins in this tournament.”

[+] EnlargeReggie Jackson
Michael Tureski/Icon SMIReggie Jackson led BC in scoring with 18.3 points per game.

A newly minted first-team All-ACC player, Jackson has had his ups and downs as a junior. He’s been the team’s leading scorer and best playmaker, the straw that stirs the Eagles’ drink. And he’s been shuffled out of the starting lineup to the bench, the straw pulled out of the drink entirely. As a result of that volatility, there have been times when the Eagles have gone to Jackson for a sip of success and come up with nothing but air.

“Me and coach sometimes, during those ups and downs, we’re banging heads and not seeing eye to eye,” Jackson said. “Things weren’t going well for the team and it resulted in that. I believe I had poor play and the team kinda suffered because of it. Me and coach weren’t on the same page. But we’re getting back to being one unit, and the result of that is we’re getting wins.”

After dropping a game they felt they needed to have, at home against Miami, the Eagles rebounded with three straight W’s to end the regular season. Two of those were on the road, where BC had not found much success previously, with a 2-6 road record before wins at Virginia and Virginia Tech. Jackson was a key part of each of those wins, scoring 25 points against Virginia, 20 against Virginia Teach and 14 against Wake Forest.

And while Donahue didn’t deny there have been ups and downs this season, he said any instances Jackson saw as butting heads he just calls coaching.

“My job is to maximize everybody individually and maximize the team,” Donahue said. “I do it with everybody, Reggie just happens to be an integral part of our team and he’s so talented that I probably demand more of him than anybody else because I see so much potential. He’s proven it this year, he’s had an incredible season and he’s made us a better basketball team.”

As the Eagles head into postseason play, they’re in the unique position of hoping very recent history repeats itself while also hoping slightly less recent history doesn’t.

Last season, Jackson & Co. beat Virginia in their penultimate regular-season game and were rewarded with a rematch with the Cavaliers in the ACC tourney. The Cavs won the rematch, and the Eagles missed out on postseason play.

This season, the Eagles ended the regular season with a win over league bottom-feeder Wake Forest (which had won three straight versus BC). Sure enough, the reward was a rematch in the ACC tourney. Now the Eagles are hoping some history repeats, but they’re not counting on it.

“Whatever you think is gonna happen based on the last game usually doesn’t,” Donahue said. “Now this is a tournament, it’s a neutral site. You have to take that into account and understand how difficult this game is gonna be. If you’re hoping it’ll be the same as it was, it won’t be.”

“One win against a team doesn’t mean anything, or even two wins. You have to come out, every day is new and you have to live in the moment,” Jackson said. “[The Demon Deacons are] gonna come out and try to punch us in the mouth and we’re gonna try to do the same to them.”

By most accounts, the Eagles need to win two games in the ACC tournament to boost their resume and put themselves in solid position for an at-large bit to the NCAA tournament. Anything less than a berth in the Big Dance would be a letdown after the Eagles got off to a strong start this season.

“I think everybody’s disappointed if you don’t make the NCAA tournament,” Donahue said. “I don’t think I would be discouraged about the way things are going [in the program in general] but yeah, this is something as a college player and a coach you strive for all year.

“It’s such a great event. To not make it, yeah, I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t be disappointed.”

But while the coach would be disappointed, he remains determined to stay levelheaded on the sideline even as the pressure mounts on the players on the court.

“We feel fortunate to be in the position we are,” Jackson said. “Just knowing that basically we control our own destiny.

“If we don’t get [to the NCAA tournament] we know it’s our own fault, and if we do get there also we can accept that blame.”

Bubble Watch: Latest on BC

March, 8, 2011
3/08/11
9:28
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In the latest edition of Bubble Watch, Eamonn Brennan looks at the situation in the ACC, where Boston College is still right on the bubble.

In many ways, the ACC's three remaining bubble teams are back to square one. And yes, frequent Watch readers and ACC die-hards will note the use of the term "three." That's because Florida State receives the move into lock territory today; there is simply no way the Seminoles can miss the NCAA tournament at this point. (FSU's first ACC tourney game will come against either Virginia Tech or Georgia Tech; the Noles could lose to either and still look OK in the eyes of the committee.) But Clemson, Boston College and, yes, Virginia Tech all remain squarely on the bubble after last week's respective performances. The ACC tournament will mean everything to these teams, all of which probably need to get more than one win in the conference tourney to feel comfortable about their chances heading toward Selection Sunday.


Boston College [19-11 (9-7), RPI: 43, SOS: 24] Boston College needed a big win to get back in the thick of the bubble race last week, and while the victory at Virginia Tech wasn't exactly a signature one, it was a win against a fellow bubble team at the most crucial point in the season. Still, BC's only top-50 RPI win was against Texas A&M back in November -- and this team hasn't beaten anyone better than Virginia Tech or Maryland since then. In other words, you would think the Eagles still have a lot to prove to the committee. If (OK, when) they beat Wake Forest in the first round of the ACC tournament, Steve Donahue's team will play a hugely important quarterfinals matchup with Clemson on Friday. A loss there might officially send the Eagles to the NIT. A win would give them another victory over a fellow bubble rival, and it would give them the opportunity to take on North Carolina, a team they very nearly beat in Chapel Hill on Feb. 19.

Click HERE to read the rest of Bubble Watch

Also, in “Behind the Bracket (Insider),” Joe Lunardi calls BC’s potential ACC quarterfinal matchup with Clemson on Friday a “must-win.”

I doubt we'll see both of these teams in the final NCAA bracket, which makes Friday an "elimination game" for each. BC needs to defeat Wake Forest on Thursday to force the issue. Also on Friday, Virginia Tech (if it gets past Georgia Tech), has a near-elimination game against Florida State. Predictably, the plot has thickened for the Hokies.




Bracketology: BC in as No. 11 seed

March, 7, 2011
3/07/11
12:41
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In the latest edition of Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology, Boston College is one of the last four teams in as a No. 11 seed. They would face Colorado in one of the play-in games.

In Lunardi's latest projection, Harvard would be a No. 13 seed and BU would be a No. 16 seed.

Bracketology: BC among last four in

March, 4, 2011
3/04/11
2:22
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In the latest edition of Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology, Boston College is one of the last four teams in as a No. 12 seed.

In Bubble Watch, Eamonn Brennan writes:

In Tuesday's edition, the Watch said the following: "Steve Donahue's team needs wins." Well, the Eagles got a big one Tuesday night. The 15-point thrashing of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg isn't the sort of win that will lock in a bid, but it was a notable display of superiority over a fellow bubble team, and with only Wake Forest left on the regular-season schedule, it couldn't have come at a better time. Still, if Boston College is in the tournament, it's just barely in. That means the Eagles could use some of the brilliant offense they displayed against the Hokies in the ACC tournament. But with all the bubble teams behind them losing bad games down the stretch, BC merely needs to tread water and avoid bad losses over the next week to stay just above the bubble line.



The Eagles finish up the regular season Sunday at home against the Wake Forrest (12 ET). The ACC tournament starts March 10.

Video: BC on tournament bubble

February, 23, 2011
2/23/11
12:39
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ESPN's Joe Lunardi and Doug Gottlieb discuss the teams on the NCAA Tournament bubble, including the Boston College Eagles. Lunardi's list for the last four in? BC, Gonzaga, Colorado State and Richmond. He added, however, that BC has a must-win game coming up at Virginia Tech that will help seal their fate.



With eye on tourney, BC has work to do

February, 18, 2011
2/18/11
2:33
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If the college basketball season ended today, Boston College would have just better than 50-50 odds of making the NCAA tournament. Little better than a coin flip.

And that may not be surprising.

Coming off a season in which they won fewer games than they lost (15-16, 6-10 ACC) and transitioning from longtime head coach Al Skinner to former Cornell coach Steve Donahue, the Eagles weren’t expected to do much. During preseason, the media that covers the ACC picked BC to finish 10th in the conference.

But the senior-laden Eagles went 10-4 in their nonconference schedule and won their first three ACC games, perhaps raising expectations among the BC faithful. Then any momentum built up by the quick start petered out, the at-times-potent offense sputtered against better defenses at Florida State and Duke and home versus North Carolina, and a three-game losing streak to the aforementioned teams contributed to the Eagles going just 3-5 in their past eight games.

Now 16-9 and just 6-5 in the ACC, the Eagles have work to do in their last five games if they want to improve their odds of securing an at-large bid.

The Eagles are 0-3 against the RPI top 25 and 1-5 against the RPI top 50, with the lone win coming against Texas A&M (RPI 26) 67-65 on a neutral court in the Old Spice Classic on Nov. 25. And while for the most part the Eagles have held their own against the teams they’re supposed to beat (6-3 against RPI 51-100), there have been slip-ups both real and perceived.

First, the real: Yale came into Conte Forum and beat BC, 75-67. The 12-10 Elis sport an RPI of 142.

Second, the perceived: Harvard also came into Conte Forum and left with a 78-69 win. That made two home losses to Ivy League teams for an ACC team, which isn’t supposed to happen. But the Crimson are 18-4, neck and neck with Princeton for the Ivy League lead, and sport an RPI just a few places behind the Eagles (47, compared with 43 for BC).

BC has a good strength of schedule (18), decent nonconference strength of schedule (54), and a decent RPI (50). Add all that up, and Joe Lunardi is projecting BC as one of the “last four in” the tournament in his latest version of Bracketology.

There remains much for the Eagles to do to stay perched on the bubble.

Three of the Eagles’ five remaining games are away from the cozy confines of Conte Forum. They are just 2-6 on the road to date.

“You want to say 'take it one game at a time,' but it’s definitely in the back of our heads that we haven’t played well on the road,” BC senior Joe Trapani said by phone before practice Thursday. “We haven’t been able to get wins. We’re gonna have to turn that around.”

Their next chance to do so comes Saturday at North Carolina’s Dean Smith Center. The No. 19 Tar Heels (19-6, 9-2 ACC) gave the Eagles their worst beating of the season, winning by 32 (106-74) in Chestnut Hill on the first of February.

Trapani and Co. haven’t played since last Saturday, when they beat Maryland by four at home, and the break in the schedule has given them a chance to practice and to rest weary legs. The latter will be important against the Tar Heels, who used their transition offense to run away from the Eagles.

“Obviously defensively we let them get very comfortable, and they made a great percentage of their shots,” Trapani said. “That was tough. Defensively in general we need to get back. I think we turned the ball over a few times and that led to run-outs, which turned into easy points for them.”

The Eagles will need to limit those mistakes and run their offense effectively to stay within arm’s reach of Carolina on Saturday, or face a repeat of the teams’ first meeting.

“In some ways you’ve got nothing to lose,” Donahue said of a road rematch after a home blowout. “You didn’t do a great job at your place and now you’re down there. You really just have to approach it that, ‘You know what, we’re gonna go all out in this game and we’re gonna try to execute what we do. We were embarrassed on our home court and we’re gonna try to do a lot better.’”

Trapani stressed that the dwindling number of games remaining doesn’t add importance to each contest. “We have a goal to make it into postseason play,” he said. “We want to get as many wins as we can. Every game is just as important as the last.”

“When you first come out, I think it’s important that you’re motivating a group toward a common goal,” Donahue said. “[Making the NCAAs] definitely is what it was at the beginning of the year. The important part is the follow-up.”

To follow up on its goal, BC needs to improve its play on the road and take care of business at home.

After the game with Carolina (RPI: 13) this weekend (4 p.m. on ESPN, ESPN3.com), BC hosts Miami (64), then plays at Virginia (149) and Virginia Tech (57) before hosting Wake Forest (243) in the regular-season finale.

Win at either Carolina or Virginia Tech, and BC’s stock would likely receive a boost and secure its place on the tourney bubble. Lose at home to Miami or Wake Forest, and BC might find itself on the wrong side of the coin-flip odds.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and contributes to ESPNBoston.com.

Looking at BC and the tourney bubble

February, 11, 2011
2/11/11
2:29
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At 15-9 overall and 5-5 in the ACC, Boston College faces a key game against Maryland on Saturday at Conte Forum (1 ET, ESPN3). After racing out to a 3-0 start in ACC play, BC has lost five of its last seven league contests. The Terps, at 16-8 overall and 5-4 in the ACC, are also on the tourney bubble.

ESPN.com has plenty of tournament analysis, with “Bubble Watch” and “Bracketology” both showing how precarious the Eagles’ tournament hopes are:


-- Bracketology: Eagles one of last teams in: Joe Lunardi most recent edition of Bracketology has BC in as a No. 11 seed. He has BC as one of the last four at-large teams in, meaning they would be matched up against another 11 seed (Wichita in Lunardi’s projection) in a play-in game.


-- Eamonn Brennan’s Bubble Watch:
Is it time for Eagles fans to panic? Not quite yet. Yes, Boston College lost at Clemson on Tuesday. Yes, Steve Donahue's team is 1-4 against the RPI top 50. Yes, the Eagles have a host of bad losses, including a home defeat to a sub-150 RPI team (Yale) that might haunt BC all the way until March. But the Eagles would have to put together a few more stinkers -- or at least look ugly in Saturday's home game with Maryland -- before we pull the glass casing off the panic button.


-- Bubble Insider: Breaking down the ACC (Insider access required):
The Eagles, losers of five of their past seven games, could continue their free fall with tough matchups against Maryland, UNC and Virginia Tech. Someone was going to get chewed up as the ACC headed down the stretch, and maybe BC's 32-point loss to North Carolina 10 days ago was proof that Eagles, solid RPI aside, just aren't up to snuff.

Eagles can't keep up with Tar Heels

February, 2, 2011
2/02/11
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NEWTON, Mass. -- You’ve heard that defense wins championships. As it turns out, defense can also win games on snowy weeknights in February.

Boston College found that out firsthand Tuesday, when its faulty defense won the game for the visiting North Carolina Tar Heels.

The talented and opportunistic visitors shot 58.8 percent in the first half, 58.3 percent from 3-point range, and took a two-touchdown lead into the locker room at halftime. They didn’t look back.

In the second half, the 23rd-ranked Tar Heels (16-5, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) led by as many as 32 and won by that same margin 106-74.

Things had looked promising early. The Eagles (14-8, 4-4 ACC) hit their first two shots from behind the arc, had a jump in their step and looked primed to give Roy Williams’ bunch all it could handle.

Joe Trapani was everywhere for BC in the first 20 minutes. He caught a Dallas Elmore miss under the rim and laid it in for two. He kept alive the rebound off a deep Reggie Jackson 3, tipping it to Elmore for an open 3. The senior from Madison, Conn., his face flushed crimson with effort, shot 5-for-11, had 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds before the break. Trapani kept it up in the second, adding 11 points and eight rebounds, to finish with his third straight double-double at 25 and 15 (a career high).

But one good performance does not a win over a ranked opponent make.

For UNC, the spark came from the bench. Freshman guard Reggie Bullock popped off the pine hot, hitting his first four shots, all 3-pointers. That was a bad sign for BC, since the Tar Heels came into the game shooting just 33.0 percent on 3s (10th in ACC). But thanks to Bullock (32.4 percent on 3s coming in) and fellow frosh Harrison Barnes (32.5 percent coming in, 4-for-7 on 3s Tuesday with a career-high 26 points), the Heels shot 52.4 percent from downtown in the game.

“We tried to mix up the zones early today, they’ve had some trouble against zones,” BC coach Steve Donahue said. “They didn’t have trouble against our zone. They did a very good job of executing made shots. Once a team starts making shots, they get that confidence that they haven’t had up to this point.”

And while the Tar Heels were tickling the twine, the Eagles were finding the home rims unusually inhospitable.

“They played the kind of defense we thought they were gonna play: aggressive, overplaying the passing lanes,” Trapani said. “Offensively at times we did cut well, and were getting to the basket and we were making some layups, but we missed a lot of easy ones. We weren’t cutting hard and that’s from them scoring, taking the wind out of us, taking our confidence away.

“Bad defense compounds sluggish offense and it’s just a bad cycle,” he said.

The Tar Heels repeatedly found holes in the Eagles’ D, insinuating themselves into open spaces and making more than they missed. They shared the ball extremely well, collecting 27 assists on 39 made baskets. They used their length and athleticism to disrupt passing lanes (six steals) and grab offensive rebounds (10, 39 total).

And even when the Eagles made plays on defense, the Heels found a way to produce points. Jackson chased down Dexter Strickland on a fast break and swatted away his layup attempt, bringing the crowd to its feet. But the blocked ball found Barnes on the perimeter, and the reigning ACC Rookie of the Week calmly stroked a 3-pointer to put UNC up 64-40.

It seemed the Eagles could do no right Tuesday night, while the Tar Heels could do no wrong. Carolina’s 106 points were the most BC has allowed in eight years (since Notre Dame scored 101 on Jan. 25, 2003). The Eagles shot 35.3 percent from the field, a season low, and scored nine points off of turnovers. The Tar Heels shot 57.4 percent from the field and scored 33 points off of turnovers.

The Eagles came into the game averaging a league-low 10.6 turnovers; they had eight in each half Tuesday.

“I thought the offense contributed to some of our lapses,” Donahue said. “We did an extremely poor job, even on makes, getting back and I can’t tell you how much we worked on that over the last couple days.”

Apparently, there’s more work to do.

“Unfortunately we did not play well, in particular on the defensive end,” Donahue said. “And then things started to snowball both ways: They really played one of the best games they’ve had in a while, and then obviously we started pressing and missed a lot of easy shots that could’ve helped us stay in it during those stretches. To Carolina’s credit they really sensed it and put us away.”

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and contributes to ESPNBoston.com.

Bracketology: BC seeded 7th

January, 3, 2011
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In Joe Lunardi's NCAA Basketball Bracketology -- his breakdown of how the NCAA brackets look at this point in the season -- the red-hot Boston College Eagles (11-3) currently have the 7th seed in the tournament.

The Eagles, who have won eight of their last nine games, next face Harvard at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Chestnut Hill.

Check out the brackets by clicking HERE.


Boston College basketball coach Steve Donahue breaks down the half-court offense with ESPN's Hubert Davis.

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