FIVE THOUGHTS ON THE BOSTON COLLEGE REMATCH
The regular season mercifully concluded with a 78-66 to fifth-ranked Boston College (24-3, 13-3 Big East) at the RAC. The Eagles overpowered Rutgers (9-18, 2-14 Big East) on their way to a 36-29 halftime lead, which was the tenth consecutive Big East game that the Scarlet Knights failed to score 30 points in the 1st Half. Boston College opened the 2nd Half with a 17-7 run to extend the lead to 17 points at 53-36 with 14 minutes remaining. Rutgers answered with an 18-7 charge that narrowed the deficit to six points with nine minutes remaining. However, the Scarlet Knights could get no closer and the Eagles ended the threat with a 7-1 spurt for a 71-59 lead with four minutes remaining. Rutgers got no closer than eight points thereafter. Here are five thoughts on the Boston College rematch.
1. The Script. I predicted an Eagle sweep last spring after the Big East schedule was first announced. Before PF Adrian Hill injured his knee. Before seeing PF Ollie Bailey play. Or hearing about C Byron Joynes' weight loss. Last spring, I thought that Boston College posed a bad matchup for Rutgers inside. The loss of PF Herve Lamizana and C Sean Axani and the absence of experienced replacements – other than Hill – did not bode well against Boston College's big, physical front line. I expected Boston College to pound Rutgers in the paint. That didn't happen in the first game at Chestnut Hill, as an aggressive trapping Rutgers zone defense limited inside opportunities and forced the Eagles to beat Rutgers from the perimeter. Which they did. The rematch went according to script. Boston College gutted the suspect Scarlet Knight interior defense. The Eagles outscored Rutgers 42-22 in the paint on the way to shooting 52% from the field. And to think that many Rutgers fans predicted a win as recently as late December.
2. Unconscious. Before the game, I speculated that Rutgers' only hope to beat Boston College was unconscious shooting by SF Ricky Shields and SG Quincy Douby. Nailing 25-footers to send the crowd into a frenzy. The Scarlet Knight offense doesn't get good shots. The Eagle offense gets open shots. Those are bad percentages to play. Especially when one considers that Rutgers was likely to get outrebounded. Shields and Douby scored 39 points on 14 of 29 FGAs, 8 of 18 3PAs, and 3 of 4 FTAs. Trailing by 17 points with 14 minutes remaining, Shields and Douby unleashed a barrage of 3-balls while scoring 16 points in an 18-7 run. It wasn't quite enough.
3. Defensive Rebounding. In the first contest, the Eagles to outrebounded Rutgers 16-11 on the Scarlet Knight defensive glass. Boston College used the resulting extra possessions, in conjunction with its superior FG shooting, to keep a game Scarlet Knight squad at bay. In the rematch, Boston College again won the rebounding battle on Rutgers defensive glass, collecting 15 of 32 available rebounds. Joynes had only four defensive rebounds. Bailey had only one defensive rebound. Shields, Douby, and backup PG Juel Wiggan did not collect any defensive rebounds. The Eagles had a plus five advantage in offensive rebounds. The extra possessions and a 12% margin in FG shooting accuracy again proved decisive.
4. Supporting Cast. All Big East PF Craig Smith scored only 13 points. However, five Eagle players scored double figures, lead by SF Jared Dudley with 21 points. In contrast, Shields and Douby received negligible support from their supporting cast. No other Scarlet Knight scored more than seven points. The other Rutgers players combined for only 27 points on 7 of 29 FGAs, 0 of 5 3PAs, and 9 of 11 FTAs. Bailey scored only four points in only 12 minutes. Backup C Jimmie Inglis scored six points on 2 of 6 FGAs. PG Marquis Webb made one of four FGAs. Rutgers Head Coach Gary Waters went to a gunfight with only two bullets in his clip. He didn't stand a chance.
5. Senior Knights. For four years, Rutgers fans have listened to Waters run down the Kevin Bannon regime. Yet, unable to replace the loss of two Bannon recruits, an NIT finalist is, a year later, the worst Big East team Rutgers has fielded. The last of Bannon's recruits, Shields and Wiggan played their final games at the RAC. In a season as terrible as the one that cost the coach who recruited them his job.
After a solid but not spectacular career, Shields has endured a knightmare senior season. Much like former Scarlet Knight Jeff Greer before him, Shields was a role player who was asked to do too much. Lacking a supporting cast. Playing in an undisciplined offense. One of two primary focuses for opposing defenses. Berated by an Athletic Director who managed to offer words of support and encourage to players from the visiting team the night before. By all accounts, one of the nicest kids to play for Rutgers.
Juel has had more lives than a cat. Targeted to be run from the program before he played a game. Targeted again as a scapegoat after a disastrous sophomore season. Wiggan survived. Expected to be relegated to the depths of the bench as Waters recruited over him. Wiggan endured. Juel emerged as a steadying influence in current train wreck. And stepped forward on a team lacking players willing to contribute.
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