Brian: OK, Jeff. We have time to properly mourn the events of this past weekend. So what happened?
Jeff: Brian, I wish I knew but I just don't. The first half seemed like typical BC with maybe Raji scoring and bearing a little more of the weight than usual. But no one could've predicted the second half to go as it did.
Brian: Well, anytime you get doubled up in the points column in the second half (42 to 21), you aren't going to win many games. You have to look at how absolutely stone cold the Eagles were shooting from the field in the second half (23.1 percent = ouch!). The team's offense seemed to press in the second half by taking really poor shots without first setting up the flex offense. A sign of a young team? They seemed to panic a little with about 10 minutes to play going down 52-44. USC didn't look back from there.
The other thing that stood out for me was how the Eagles got absolutely dominated in the paint. USC's DeMar DeRozan and Taj Gibson scored a combined 42 points on 18 of 25 shooting, and had 15 rebounds and 3 blocks. Southern was again non-existent with 3 points, 1 bucket, 4 rebounds and 4 personal fouls.
So who is to blame? In this article in the New York Times, it makes it sound like Coach Skinner threw Tyrese Rice under the bus and places the blame for the loss solely on his senior point guard. Do you agree with this?
Jeff: If you are going to blame one individual, then yes, Rice deserves the blame. But should Skinner be blaming one individual? Absolutely not. Guys like us who don't matter and never step foot in the locker room should be blaming Rice for his weak performance, not Skinner. Rice had a great career at BC and after his final game Skinner should have nothing but good things to say about him regardless of his play Friday night.
Brian: Completely agree with this. This was a team loss and Skinner should have had nothing but positive things to say about Rice's four years on the Heights. I must admit I've never fully understood the Rice-Skinner dynamic. Rice seems like a decent enough guy. To a fault, he certainly wasn't the leader that this team needed but you have to praise the guy for four years of service to BC and the basketball program.
Jeff: Looking back at this season it does seem like the team performed above expectations aside from Rice. Agreed?
Brian: Agreed. You have to consider this season a success. Did the team perform above expectations? Absolutely. After being picked to finish 11th in the ACC this season, 22 wins, wins over North Carolina and Duke, and an NCAA tournament berth were more than we could have asked for. The only fault I can see with this team is that perhaps they overinflated expectations for those that follow the program with wins over North Carolina and Duke, and a close ACC Tournament loss to Duke in the ACC quarterfinals.
Jeff: Huge success! Even an NIT appearance would've maybe been considered to be a successful season. The real killer this year was losing to Duke in the ACC Tournament. If we had pulled out that W, everyone would've been happy and Boston College probably would have gotten a 6 seed and played a lesser team in first round. And maybe even advanced?
Brian: Possible, but the 11 seeds were no joke this year. Dayton won their first round game, and Utah St., Temple and Virginia Commonwealth all pushed their first round matchups to the brink of elimination.
I agree though. You have to look at this season as a strong building block for the next two seasons. Next season we return a strong nucleus of juniors in Trapani, Sanders, Southern, Raji and Paris. This season has certainly been a success and this team can only build on the experience of playing in this year's NCAAs.
We turn now to this team's lone senior who played his last game on Friday - Tyrese Rice. What does the future hold for Ty Rice? In this Boston Herald article, the writer claims that Tyrese Rice's decision to return for his senior year was a good one. Did Rice improve or hurt his NBA draft stock this year, and what will be the legacy of Rice at BC?
Jeff: I didn't think Rice would've been drafted last year and still don't think he will be.
Brian: Rice will get drafted, most likely in the second round. My guess is he'll kick around an NBA team's bench for a few years and maybe go on to play in Europe when his NBA career comes to an end. The problem with Rice is that he isn't really a natural point guard and is a bit undersized as a 2 guard. Still, he can shoot from range with the best of them, and I'm sure an NBA team will give him a shot.
As far as legacy is concerned, I think Rice is in the conversation for one of the best guards to ever come through BC. The announcers made this point during the game. While probably not better than John Bagley, John Austin, Dana Barros, Scoonie Penn, Howard Eisley, or Troy Bell, Rice was one of the best guards and most potent scorers in BC history. Rice finishes his BC career with 2,099 career points which is good for 5th all-time behind only Bell, Smith, Barros and Curley.
On to our conference's weekend woes. The ACC went 0-3 on Friday night in the NCAA tournament and all three of the teams that lost were the higher seed. What do you think is the #1 contributor to the ACC's terrible Friday night?
Jeff: I don't know, Brian. I am disappointed in the ACCs performance because I thought the league had good depth this year and now we are already left with only Duke and North Carolina left in the tournament. I expected much more out of the ACC than most people so I have to admit that I was completely wrong on this one. I blew it. The ACC was not nearly as strong this year as I thought they were. We all know what happened in the NCAAs and Virginia Tech and Miami were also bounced from the NIT in blowout fashion.
Brian: I think you can point to tournament experience and coaching experience as a big part of the conference's poor postseason performance. You have to go with veteran coaches in the NCAAs. Both Wake and Florida State have inexperienced coaches and fairly young teams, so their first round exit could have been somewhat predicted. Florida State hadn't been to the Dance in 11 years, and faced a tough, tournament tested team in (12) Wisconsin. All about experience.
In addition, Wake Forest looked horrible down the stretch. So did Clemson for that matter (I personally thought Michigan looked worse down the stretch).
We have no excuse other than possibly being seeded higher than we should have been. I think if we had won the ACC Tournament game against Duke, that would have made a loss like the loss to USC or a loss to the Daytons of the world that much more painful. The wins over North Carolina and Duke in the regular season were a blessing and a curse. They gave Eagles fans way too unrealistic expectations for this team.
The NC State blog Section Six is pissed at the ACC's performance on Friday night. Teams that NC State beat during the regular season went 0-3 last night. Perhaps a better barometer for the NCAA selection committee is whether the team beat pathetic NC State huh? Jeff, your response to this?
Jeff: NC State went 6-10 in conference. The ACC had 7 teams in the dance so naturally they beat a few of the tournament bound teams. Hopefully NC State can win a few more games next year and get into some postseason action of some kind.
Brian: The tournament isn't over for Boston College as BC hosts the East regional semifinal and East regional final. Is hosting the third and fourth rounds of the tournament for the first time a good thing for the school and the basketball program?
Jeff: I don't see how it has any bearing on anything. I'm sure the NCAA appreciates it and maybe some money exchanges hands. It in no way helps the program though.
Brian: Perhaps there is some marginal brand recognition from having the Boston College Eagles logo in the floor for the East regional semifinals and finals, but aside from financials for the program, I agree there's probably marginal benefit to hosting a Regional final.