While facing ACC basement-dwellers Virginia Tech, head coach Steve Donahue continued to utilize the familiar players in his arsenal in a number of different combinations. Along with cornerstone players Ryan Anderson, Joe Rahon, and Olivier Hanlan, Donahue gave big minutes to players such as Patrick Heckmann and Alex Dragicevich, using Garland Owens, Will Magarity, and KC Caudill to spell players as needed. Eight players received minutes in the double digits against VT, with just KC Caudill, Will Magarity, and the reserves getting six minutes or less.
Donahue has received criticism this season for the rotations he uses, seemingly inserting or removing players without rhyme or reason.
On Wednesday, however, it seemed like Donahue had the magic touch-every lineup combination had it going on from one end of the floor or the other. If not, Donahue immediately remedied it.
Perhaps the only puzzling decisions by Donahue came during the first half when he removed his key players several times while the game was still relatively close. These lineups contained heavy doses of Rahon, Eddie Odio, Dragicevich, and Heckmann. Donahue was effusive in his praise of Dragicevich after the game.
“I thought Alex Dragicevich gave us great minutes tonight, I thought he was relaxed out there,” Donahue said. “He’s a good basketball player and he just hasn’t shown how good he can play. I think he’s close to figuring that out.”
Dragicevich wasn’t particularly good offensively, going just 2-3, all from beyond the arc, but he was active all over the court, with four rebounds, two assists, and two steals.
Heckmann finished behind only Rahon for the most 3-pointers in the game, going 4-9 and finishing with 14 points overall. He was particularly key during the second half. Just over two minutes into the half, Hanlan picked up his third personal foul. Unhappy, he expressed his frustration and in return was given a technical foul, his fourth foul of the game.
Virginia Tech smelled blood, as it was clear Hanlan would have to sit for a significant amount of time. Up 18, Heckmann drilled a 3-pointer. On VT’s next possession, Lonnie Jackson came up with the steal and Heckmann drained another to put Boston College up 24 and kill any hope VT may have had.
On a night when Hanlan only went 2-5 from the floor (all from three) and scored 11 points total in 22 minutes, the rotational players were more important than ever, and they came through in spades. Dragicevich and Heckmann showed that Steve Donahue and his rotations do have the potential to make BC a potent team.
While Heckmann and Rahon were bringing down the house draining three after three, Anderson was having a much quieter night by comparison, but one no less deserving of praise. Anderson was the driving force inside on the offensive end and the rock in the middle of the defense.
Donahue constantly praised BC’s ball movement on the offensive end, particularly the way it was able to force VT’s defense to collapse and kick it out, giving BC easy looks at threes. Anderson, who also managed to go a quiet 6-8 from the floor and total 18 points, facilitated most of that offense. Eight rebounds, including three on the offensive glass gave BC a presence inside that it had been lacking in recent games without Dennis Clifford in the middle.
Combined with five blocks-a career high for him-Anderson had perhaps his most complete game this season.
On his performance, Anderson said, “I was just trying to play a lot harder than I have been, and like I said when you play hard, plays just seem to go your way.”
Overall, BC’s defensive performance was much improved over some of the recent samples. Guys hustled to loose balls-BC had eight steals and forced 12 turnovers. While there were still some series in which Virginia Tech was able to generate several second-chance opportunities, in general nothing easy was given, particularly down low. Twice in the game, BC was able to force VT into shot clock violations.
After the game, Anderson commended his team’s performance on defense and offense, citing its ability to capitalize on both ends of the court.
“Anytime you can get a stop, that’s great, but when they can’t even get a shot off, that really can be a game changer, and anytime we’re knocking down shots like we are, that’s a game changer as well, but when they happen at the same time, that’s a big momentum swing for us.”
As one of the leaders of the team, Ryan Anderson will help to set the tone in every game of the season, and if he continues to play like he did against Virginia Tech, he could prove to be a huge boost for a team in desperate need of one.