The Conversation: Basketball Q&A with BC Interruption

As a warm up for saturday's 1st place showdown between Florida State and Boston College we had the opportunity to run some questions by the folks at BC Interruption to get some insight into their basketball program under new head coach Steve Donahue. Their answers are inside. Our answers to their questions will be posted at their site, so head over later and check them out, as they do lots of excellent work there (including a pretty cool Anthony Castonzo t-shirt).

 

With Al Skinner at Boston College we knew what to expect, but most of us are unfamiliar with head coach Steve Donahue. How has the offense changed under the new regime? And what are the early fan perceptions of him?

First year coach Steve Donahue has brought a completely different offensive philosophy to the Heights, one that relies heavily on the three ball. The offense is a very big departure from the tightly controlled Flex offenses under Al Skinner. Donahue has played three or four guard sets with Southern posting up and getting the ball to someone on the perimeter for a three. BC has deep ball threats from Reggie Jackson, Biko Paris, Danny Rubin, Joe Trapani and Corey Raji. About the only player on the floor that won’t attempt a three is Southern or Cortney Dunn.

While the offensive philosophy is completely different under Donahue, some things remain the same. This year, it’s the defense. Donahue has switched it up and throws a lot of 2-3 and 1-3-1 zones at opponents, instead of the man-to-man that Skinner employed most of the time. The end result is the same, however: just poor defense.

I think fans appreciate Donahue’s different offensive system, which has really opened up the game and let players like Reggie Jackson and Biko Paris thrive even more. It’s the defense that we still have a lot of doubts about. The defense, as well as a short bench temper expectations a bit. But fans have to remember this is a rebuilding process and it’s not like Donahue didn’t inherit a lot of talent on the roster (including Jackson, Trapani and Raji).

FSU has struggled to score against zone defenses. We’re neither blessed with great shooters nor guards who can penetrate. How do you expect BC to defend the Seminoles?

I’d expect Donahue to throw a lot of 2-3 and 1-3-1 at the Seminoles, as well as some man-to-man mixed in there. BC’s weakness on defense is in their play down low. So playing zone helps compensate for their lack of big, physical guys that can guard well in the paint.

With Boston College sitting at 4-1 in the conference (following a 6-10 season last year), what are the expectations for BC, especially considering your limited depth?

BC is off to a fast start in league play, but the next seven games will be a real test for Donahue and the Eagles. The schedule gets much, much tougher over the next few games, starting tomorrow night and continuing with a brutal six-game stretch that includes road games at Duke, Clemson and North Carolina, and home contests against North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Maryland.

I personally don’t see the Eagles winning a majority of those games. In all likelihood, I could see the Eagles winning three of the next seven and then finishing the season strong winning three of four (or all four) to finish the season. Then again, things are really starting to look like its’ a down year in the ACC, so BC could sneak into one of the top four spots when it’s all said and done.

If I had to wager a guess, I’d say BC will win seven more regular season games to get to 20-10 (10-6). Depending on how the Eagles perform in the ACC Tournament, I’d say they’ll be soundly on the bubble when Selection Sunday rolls around.

Like you said, depth remains a concern, and recently Donahue has played guys like Gabe Moton and Danny Rubin even less, which only further shortens BC’s already thin bench.

Reggie Jackson has blossomed as a junior and is in the top 3 in scoring and assists in the ACC. How has his game evolved, and how do the Seminoles stop him?

Reggie is having a tremendous year, no doubt. He’s averaging 19.4 a game, which is up nearly seven points from his average last year. In our last three ACC games, Jackson has added 67 points (29 against State, 22 at Miami and 16 versus Virginia). He’s easily a first team All-ACC selection and may be on a short list of ACC POY candidates.

Reggie is more of a slasher to the bucket, as well as a threat from three. I don’t think his game has changed as much as Donahue’s offense seems more suited to Jackson’s strengths.

Probably the key to stopping Jackson is to making him really uncomfortable on offense, possibly doubling down on him (in favor of covering one of BC’s big men – Josh Southern or Cortney Dunn). When Southern gets the ball in the paint, if he is even remotely covered, he’ll look to dish it before going to the hoop. He’s not a very aggressive center, and has played the role of facilitator when he gets the ball down low. If the Seminoles defense can pinch and double Jackson when this happens, FSU should have some success.

Let’s hear it. Great offense vs. great defense. Road game for your Eagles. Who wins, and what’s the final score?

Playing to these teams strengths, I think it will be a lower scoring game (strength: Florida State’s defense) but BC gets some timely threes down the stretch (strength: BC’s perimeter shooting) to eke out a 1-point victory. Boston College 65, Florida State 64.

I’m not terribly confident in my pick, but BC has already proven it can win on the road (road victories over Maryland, South Carolina and a 1-point loss at Miami) and I think the new BC offense can catch Florida State a bit off guard.

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