Thanks to Jeff and Brian @ BCI for taking the time. I answered a few of their questions as well.
1.) First off, I thought we'd agreed that this game would decide who gets the final ACC/Big Ten Challenge entry. But you guys had to go and win three of four, making a last place finish mathematically impossible. How dare you?
Jeff: On pessimistic days it certainly seemed like that was a possibility. Realistically with home games and Virginia, North Carolina and Virginia Tech in the later part of our schedule there were opportunities to get some wins and that’s exactly what BC did. Playing at home has been a huge advantage in the ACC this season and BC has only lost to the conference’s best teams at Conte Forum (Duke, Maryland and Florida State).
2.) BC's offense isn't bad by ACC standards, but nonetheless has declined quite a bit from where it was last year. I thought BC had enough pieces returning to hold things steady without Tyrese Rice. What's been the problem for the Eagles offensively? Are the recent wins a sign that they've turned a corner?
Brian: The Flex is a difficult offense for a young team to run. I think the biggest difference this year compared to last is not having an experienced guy to set up and run the Flex offense (Tyrese Rice). When the Eagles would get behind in games, they would be quick to give up on the Flex and put up bad shots early in the shot clock. When the Flex is being run well, it’s tough to stop. When it’s being set up by an inexperienced point guard, it becomes much less effective.
With the change at point guard, I think we are seeing Jackson be able to set up the Flex offense much more effectively now. PG isn’t Jackson’s true position but he has done a better job distributing the ball to Trapani, Sanders and Raji. He’s also much more of a scoring threat than Paris is … so he has that going for him too.
I’d say the Eagles recent success is part change in the starting lineup and part front loaded schedule that eased up down the stretch.
3.) Al Skinner's teams are usually near the bottom of the league in terms of points allowed per possession. Why can't he get his teams to play better defense?
Jeff: Why can't Al get the guys to do _____ has been an overused question this season. It's been a frustrating season that has left fans asking many questions without getting explainable answers. There have been games and halves where the team has played tough competition very tight and played solid defense but then there's been many other games where the opponents have been able to have their way on the offensive end. Unfortunately there's no good answer to this question but the team has been playing better in the second half of the conference season.
4.) Opponents either go zone against Tracy Smith or double him in man-to-man every time he touches the ball. What do you expect from the Eagles on Sunday?
Brian: Smith presents all sorts of matchup problems for the Eagles. Post defense has been the one area where opposing teams can have been able to exploit BC. My guess is Skinner will throw a combination of Josh Southern, Cortney Dunn, and Corey Raji on Smith. It won’t be pretty, and my guess is one or two of those guys will end up fouling out of the game.
5.) Reggie Jackson took a nice step forward this season. What's made him so much better?
Jeff: Tyrese Rice moving on. Jackson and Rice are similar players. Both are athletic guards that can hit big shots and also create off the dribble. Both were not true point guards but forced to play that position at BC. Since Rice is gone this season, Jackson has been the guy with the ball in his hands a lot more often when it matters. Jackson recently moved to the starting point guard position and his points are down but he is still playing great and perhaps better than he was when Paris starting at the point.