The Three-Pointer: Eagles’ effort lacking in loss to Miami
|02.23.11 at 11:01 pm ET|
It was George Bernard Shaw who said, “Youth is wasted on the young.” On Wednesday night at Conte Forum, Boston College coach Steve Donahue could commiserate.
His Eagles, coming off what he said were two days of good practices, came out flat, delivered a first-half dud (17 points) and could not recover despite a strong second half. The eventual outcome, a 73-64 loss to Miami, was a blow to the Eagles’ NCAA hopes.
Donahue was left to philosophize about his team’s missed opportunity.
“I don’t know if there’s an explanation for sports in general, and kids,” he said after his team fell to 16-11 overall and 6-7 in ACC play.
“It’s extremely disappointing,” he added. “You don’t play many college basketball games. And you’ve got a chance to play obviously a huge game at home. Collectively, we didn’t do a good job, including myself, obviously.”
No Eagle had more than three points at halftime, but in the end, Joe Trapani ended up with a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds, Reggie Jackson finished with 15 points and Corey Raji netted 13.
Malcolm Grant and Reggie Johnson each scored 15 points for Miami (17-11, 5-8). Johnson had a pair of three-point plays to stem a BC tide that cut an 18-point deficit to seven with an 11-0 run.
Try as it might, BC could not make up for its 21-point halftime deficit.
“Obviously, a disappointing loss,” Donahue said. “I thought Miami came out and just really delivered a punch. They were ready to go. And we did not do a good job answering the bell, for sure. We played extremely hard from that point on but obviously dug ourselves way too big a hole.”
Asked if there was a lack of passion by the Eagles, Jackson said: “Definitely. I felt the same way on the court. Like I said, I believe we were all disgusted. It was probably one of our poorest efforts. … [We] did absolutely everything wrong. Knowing the talent that we had, and seeing our faces, seeing our demeanor, it was a piss-poor effort.”
Added Jackson: “Obviously, they were more physical. I believe Johnson got three and-one’s. When we foul it seems like we’re playing pitty-pat with our girlfriends. When they foul us, obviously we end up on our backs. That’s the difference. You just have to man-up.”
Shaw, the Irish writer, also said, “You see things; and you say, Why? But I dream things that never were; and I say, Why not?”
The Eagles were predicted to finish 10th in the ACC in a preseason media poll. Is the dream of an NCAA berth over? We’ll find out soon enough.
Here is the Three-Pointer of things we learned Wednesday.
BC NEEDS TO WORK HARDER ON OFFENSE
Defense was supposed to be the Eagles’ weakness. Now, offense has become an Achilles’ heel. One game after putting up just 20 points in the first half of a 48-46 loss to North Carolina, BC recorded just 17 points in the opening 20 minutes vs. Miami, shooting a woeful 30 percent.
Miami’s aggressive matchup zone gave BC fits, and the Eagles did not respond to the Hurricanes’ energy. “We had to try to get in gaps and people flashing,” Jackson said. “We didn’t do a great job of that. I believe that’s why we were so stagnant and why we shot so poorly.”
BC launched nine 3-pointers in the first half, connecting on just one.
“We just really settled early on for some poor shots, didn’t get the ball inside,” Donahue said. “And obviously, I just thought [Miami] had great energy. I thought Frank [Haith] had his crew really ready to go. These kids were really fired up.”
Added Donahue: “The thing I tell these guys is if we’re going to play the way we play, you have to have to work hard on offense. This isn’t an easy game. I’m not giving you a set and we’re doing little things. We’re moving the basketball and we’re cutting hard, and it takes a lot of energy. But you’ve got to do it if you want good shots.”
BC shot 44.8 percent in the second half (50 percent on 3-pointers) to finish at 38.8 percent for the game.
“I thought we were doing good things on offense,” Donahue said of the second-half effort. “We were finally attacking the rim and making the extra pass, and finally getting all nine offensive rebounds in the second half. But as a coach now I sit back and I’m just very disappointed that we got ourselves into that spot.”
THIS LOSS CANNOT LINGER
Losing to Miami is bad enough. Allowing it to affect the Eagles as they prepare for a game at Virginia on Saturday would be even worse.
Jackson indicated he wants to get the bad taste out of his mouth as soon as possible.
“I just feel disgusted,” he said. “Personally, me, I feel — hopefully my teammates feel the same way — I have to get back in the gym tomorrow.”
Added Jackson: “This game’s behind us tonight, so we have to move on. If we want to make the tournament, we have to start tomorrow in practice.”
Asked if it would be difficult motivating his troops, Donahue said no.
“For me it’s not a hard job,” he said. “It’s playing college basketball. You’re going to have your ups and downs. We’ll see. I mean, for me, it’s easy. Get in the gym — I wish we could go up there right now and start working on our game and get ready for Virginia.
“I would sense that these guys want to get better right away. We have a whole lot of basketball left. We’ve worked really hard to this point. I would hope that we would want to do it as well as we can right now and get back in there and get better for Virginia.”
BC is now two losses behind fourth-place Virginia Tech, but the Hokies still have Duke and BC on their schedule. If the Eagles can close out the regular season with three straight wins, it’s within the realm of possibility that they could still grab that fourth bye in the ACC tournament and position themselves as the likely last ACC team to get invited to the NCAAs.
THE LEGEND OF JOHN CAHILL GROWS
The senior guard, invited to be a walk-on this season after spending three years playing intramural basketball and serving a season as a member of the women’s scout team, had perhaps his best game. Playing a season-high 22 minutes, Cahill drilled 2-of-3 3-pointers and managed to not get greedy despite pleas from the crowd to shoot it almost every time he was open.
Both of his baskets came at key times. The first trey was BC’s first field goal after the Eagles went 4:45 without converting (only a Trapani free throw kept them from going scoreless in that time).
His second trey, to make the score 43-36 with 10:59 remaining, capped an 11-0 run and got BC within single digits for the first time since just past the midpoint of the first half.
Cahill also contributed three rebounds, two steals and an assist.
“John, I think he just he knows exactly what the coaches want,” Donahue said. “A terrific basketball player. I think he drew another charge tonight. he had two steals. He has a knack; he knows where to be. He’s just a good basketball player. And he’s ready to go every day in practice, as you could imagine.
“That’s kind of my frustration, is that these guys, I hope they appreciate where they are in life, playing at a high level, Division 1 basketball, and all the things that come with it. You can tell John really appreciates it, very grateful for his opportunity, making the most of it.”