Tough slate, porous defense not doing Boston College any favors

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During the preseason there were more than a few people who believed that Steve Donahue’s Boston College Eagles had the pieces needed to be one of the more improved teams in college basketball. With al five starters back from last season’s 16-17 squad, led by guard Olivier Hanlan and forward Ryan Anderson, there was both talent and experience on the roster. And with a challenging non-conference schedule to navigate before starting ACC play, there would be ample opportunities to pick up quality wins.

But in order to take advantage of those opportunities the Eagles needed to improve defensively. Last season Boston College ranked 11th in the ACC in adjusted defensive efficiency, and in conference play they ranked 11th in defensive efficiency and 12th in effective field goal percentage (rankings per Clean those areas up, even without the services of injured center Dennis Clifford, and Boston College could very well make a run at an NCAA tournament berth. Fail to do so, however, and the Eagles could enter conference play without much (if any) room for error.

Sure enough it’s the latter scenario that has unfolded, and on Wednesday Boston College dropped to 3-5 after losing at Purdue by the final score of 88-67. Purdue certainly deserves credit for their performance, as Matt Painter’s team executed very well on the offensive end of the floor. The Boilermakers shot 52.2% from the field and 7-for-14 from beyond the arc, with Terone Johnson and younger brother Ronnie leading the way with 18 and 15 points respectively.

As for the Boston College view on this, Wednesday’s defensive effort was the sixth out of eight games in which the opposition averaged more than 1.1 points per possession. BC entered Wednesday ranked last in the ACC in points allowed per possession (1.16), and Purdue finished the game scoring 1.26 points per possession. That didn’t get the job done in West Lafayette, and it certainly won’t help the Eagles in their quest to climb up the ACC pecking order with the conference being stronger than last season’s edition.

Next up for Boston College is a trip west to take on USC Sunday night, which will serve as a homecoming of sorts for the Californians on the roster, and they also have non-conference games against VCU (December 28) and Harvard (January 1) remaining. Offensively Boston College has the talent needed to put points on the board, but it won’t matter if they don’t make significant strides on the other end.

Rutgers hoping new duo can bring a spark

of the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during their Big Ten conference game at Rutgers Athletic Center on February 8, 2015 in Piscataway, New Jersey.
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Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.

With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.

“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”

Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.

While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.

LSU looking into starting lineup options

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - MARCH 7:  Head Coach Johnny Jones of the LSU Tigers watches his team play during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bud Walton Arena on March 7, 2015 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Tigers defeated the Razorbacks 81-78.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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LSU football and Leonard Fournette are off to a strong start this fall, but the beginning of October also means that college hoops is right around the corner. If you’re a Tigers basketball fan, you also have plenty to be excited about on the hardwood this season with the arrival of a loaded freshman class headlined by forward Ben Simmons.

While the versatile Simmons has solidified a spot in the starting lineup for next season, it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Johnny Jones uses the rest of his talented freshmen. In a story from Sheldon Mickles of the New Orleans Advocate, he looks into some potential LSU starting lineups.

Freshman guard Antonio Blakeney, a McDonald’s All-American with Simmons, is also expected to start, but does another talented freshman guard, Brandon Sampson get a shot to start? And what of Arizona transfer Craig Victor when he’s eligible to play in December?

Mickles believes the early favorite for starting lineup is guards Tim Quarterman, Keith Hornsby, Blakeney, Simmons and center Darcy Malone. When Victor returns, Mickles said Victor could push Simmons into the “center” position, which would be a matchup nightmare on the opposition because Simmons would be very tough for many college centers to defend.

Sampson also gets a mention from Mickles of having the potential to start down the line. Overall, a good problem to have for Jones and he’ll have to experiment to see which lineups are giving him the most. Having a productive starting five is nice, but I’m sure Jones would love to find the five players he wants to close with.