Back-to-back 20-plus point outings from guard Jordan Chatman have added new life to Boston College men’s basketball. Sunday’s game against the Central Connecticut Blue Devils gave Chatman the chance to continue his stellar play, and while he finished with a team-high 15 points, it was a group effort that got the Eagles the win. With their undefeated record at home on the line, the Eagles picked apart the Blue Devils, en route to a 84-65 win in front of a crowd of almost 5,000 who came to enjoy “Star Wars Day.”
1) The Force Awakens
After a lackluster first half, Ky Bowman helped the Eagles (9-3, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) put the game out of reach, just minutes into the second period of play. By way of four tipped passes out of bounds and two steals, the sophomore made a couple of highlight reel plays that got the crowd up and excited—a hard thing to do in a 19-point blowout. In one instance, Bowman tipped away a pass from Mustafa Jones that appeared to be headed out of bounds. After a lucky bounce off the foot of one of the referees to keep the ball in play, Bowman was able to scoop up the loose ball for a clean breakaway slam dunk. Again, in the second half, Jones didn’t see Bowman sneaking up on the perimeter, who took another turnover to the hoop.
2) Popovic off the Bench
Out of the starting lineup due to flu-like symptoms, Nik Popovic was replaced by redshirt sophomore Johncarlos Reyes at the start of the game. Although Reyes was hot to begin the game after scoring the team’s first four points, he struggled down the stretch, and it was Popovic who took over. With 11 total points, Popovic put on the best performance of any Eagles’ bench player over the course of the entire season. The sophomore forward also hit his third 3-pointer in as many games, and proved to be somewhat of a weapon outside the paint. After looking a little shaky in the past couple contest, the sophomore put together his most confident game of the year. He even showed off a little bit with a beautiful no-look baseline pass.
3) A New Hope
Finally, Jim Christian got some of his younger guys off the bench. Discounting the fact the Popovic scored 11 of the team’s 23 bench points, the non-starters for BC outscored their opponent’s counterpart for the first time since their 91-52 drubbing of South Carolina State back in early November. Juniors Gordon Gehan and Ervins Meznieks got to see a couple minutes of gametime after the starters were taken out for good, and freshmen Luka Kraljevic and Vin Baker Jr. each saw double-digit minutes for the first time all season, finishing with a combined 12 points. It even seemed as if plays were being drawn up for some of the younger guys. Here, the star guards passed the ball around the perimeter and eventually got the ball to Kraljevic who made a nice move in the post, and finished with a strong take.
Christian should be given credit for keeping Baker in the game after he turned the ball over three times in four minutes, as the freshman got it together when given more minutes. Along with Steffon Mitchell, who provided a double-double with eight offensive rebounds, Baker could be something to watch in BC’s last non-conference game against Richmond. The freshman-to-freshman connection was seen for the first time all year, as Kraljevic picked up a nice assist to Baker Jr. who nailed a three.
1) Foul Trouble
Even in a big win, BC committed way too many fouls for Christian’s liking. In the first half, Bowman, Jerome Robinson, Baker Jr., and Popovic were each called for two personal fouls. If the Eagles are to continue their winning ways, Bowman and Robinson—the two biggest pieces of BC’s offense—cannot afford to give up valuable playing time by getting too aggressive. While Bowman and Co. may have slowed down the Blue Devils’ offense with their intensity, it was not done without a cost. Central Connecticut was able to get 10 free points from the line over the course of the game.
2) Ball Control
BC was able to put up 80-plus points for the third-straight game, but the team’s fast pace has gotten the best of them at times. After losing the ball 14 times Sunday, the Eagles have 46 turnovers over the past three games. Fortunately for the Eagles, the trio of Bowman, Robinson, and Chatman only turned the ball over once, but it is almost more concerning that BC’s complementary players are the ones failing to keep possession.
3) Isolation Struggles
A big reason why the Eagles only managed to build a seven-point halftime lead against their Northeast Conference opponent was the failure to get much of the offense going in the half court. On numerous occasions, Bowman and Robinson were forced to pass out of isolation, due to the agility and quickness of Central Connecticut’s frontcourt. In one of many such instances, Bowman struggled to get past Shakaris Laney, and even after a Popovic screen, the sophomore was picked up by center Deion Bute and forced to pass the ball away.
Featured Image by Kaitlin Meeks / Heights Staff