UVa - Boston College Basketball Preview: Q&A with BC Interruption

We went dark the last couple days because we were still trying to figure what, if anything, the Hokies did on Sunday to come away with the upset. I'm still at a loss. Frankly, Scott wasn't covered that well, he just factored himself out of the game. Sammy Z is still in some heck of a slump. When Bub Evans is your only player to knock down a three, things are...bizarre.

But all of that is behind us, as the Cavaliers look to bounce back with what should be an easy home game against Boston College tonight at 9:00 p.m. To help us scout the Eagles, our friends at BC Interruption asked if we wanted to do a Q&A. Never one to pass up on someone else writing my posts for me, I took them up on their offer.

When you get a chance, head over to BCI to see my answers to some of their questions.

StreakingtheLawn: Boston College is ...not having a good season. What has been the gem of the season? What has BC done right so far?

BCInterruption: No, Boston College is not having a good season. But I suppose that's to be expected when you lost every significant contributor from last year's 21-win team and have a roster filled with 9 freshmen and just one upperclassman. Tomorrow, the Eagles will start four freshmen and a junior transfer from Oregon (Matt Humphrey). The first player off the bench is a true freshman, and the rest of the bench is filled with other freshmen and sophomores.

There were literally no expectations for this program heading into the season, so it's hard to point to a single gem of the season. BC went just 5-9 in non-conference play this season, so any marquee wins were few and far between in the early season. Sad as it is to say, the gem of the season to date has probably been BC's two home wins in league play over Clemson and Virginia Tech. A lot of fans and observers of this team had the Eagles pegged to become the first ACC program ever to go 0-16 in a season, so it was nice to get the proverbial monkey off the back notching wins over the Tigers and Hokies.

STL: By now, presumably you know that Mike Scott is key to, well, everything for Virginia. How will the Eagles respond?

BCI: I think the Hokies did a really good job of bottling up Mike Scott with double teams and held pretty much in check in the Cavaliers last outing. I'm not sure BC will be able to successfully double team Scott the same way the Hokies did. BC will likely use a combination of F Ryan Anderson, C Dennis Clifford and C Kyle Caudill - all three freshmen - to guard Scott. But I wouldn't expect the Eagles defense to have the same amount of success Virginia Tech did against Scott tonight.

STL: With four guys averaging over nine points a game, but no one over 10, would you say BC has a pretty balanced offense, or is there something else going on that doesn't show up in the stats?

BCI: I wouldn't say the Eagles have a balanced offense. I think a couple of things are going on here.

One is that Steve Donahue has used a bunch of different starting lineups already this season and has spread the minutes across nine different players. A total of nine players have averaged over 10 minutes a game this season, while Eddie Odio and Danny Rubin have also contributed sporadically.

Matt Humphrey's 9.6 points a game are mostly due to taking a team high 186 field goal attempts. Humphrey is the only upperclassman on the roster that has a propensity for taking bad shots early in the possession. His stat line bears this out. Humphrey is just 61-186 from the field this year for a paltry .328 field goal percentage.

Dennis Clifford and Ryan Anderson have been the Eagles top two scorers and have really turned it on of late as Humphrey continues to struggle from the floor and fellow freshman Patrick Heckmann continues to struggle with a nagging back injury. He has yet to score double figures in ACC play, and his per-game average is bolstered by big performance against UC-Riverside (32 points), New Hampshire (19 points) and Stony Brook (18 points).

At this point in the season, I think it's fair to say the BC offense goes through Clifford and Anderson. Humphrey's 9.6 points a game is the product of a ton of shots, while Heckmann's average is still hovering around 10 a game based on strong performance in non-conference play.

STL: What BC weakness should Virginia exploit in order for the Hoos to find success Thursday night?

BCI: Cliché, but protect the ball on offensive possessions. The Eagles aren't all that great in forcing turnovers and have done more than their fair share of turning the ball over themselves. The Eagles average 15.3 turnovers a game while only turning over opposing offense at a 12.7 / game clip.

The other thing is to own the glass, particularly while on offense. BC has struggled to rebound all season, pulling down just 6.6 offensive rebounds a game, last in the conference. If the Eagles continue to get out-muscled on the glass and turn the ball over at a high rate, it is going to be a long night for BC.

STL: This was expected to be a big rebuilding year for BC. Is second-year head coach Steve Donahue receiving any heat for the Eagles' 7-12 start? Who gets fired first, Donahue or Frank Spaziani?

Coming into the season, there was a reasonable expectation that Boston College would struggle, particularly with a roster of 9 freshmen (and no Reggie Jackson). I think some fans are starting to question whether Donahue is the long-term answer for the program. There's a significant learning curve to be climbed coaching in the ACC after being an Ivy League lifer, but Donahue has already managed to have some success with this program with a roster full of Al Skinner's players.

That said, it's far too soon to even think about pulling the plug on Donahue. I think this class can be successful in a few years when they are juniors and seniors, but the real test will be how Donahue performs on the recruiting trail. I think we'll see just how successful Donahue can become at BC after analyzing the quality of players he brings in over the next couple years.

As for who gets fired first, if it was up to BC's current Athletics Director, I don't think either head coach would lose their job. But the answer to the question is Spaziani ... going away. It's really not even close.

STL: Prediction and final score, please.

BC is competitive for a half before Mike Scott and the Cavaliers offense pulls away early in the second half. Virginia 65, Boston College 51.

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