Sunday, January 28, 2007

BC Preview

Since the suspension of Sean Williams, Boston College has been a Three-Man Team. Dudley, Rice, and Marshall took a combined 30 of 40 attempts against Clemson, and a combined 42 of 53 shots against Florida State. These guys also play the bulk of the minutes. All average at least 33 minutes/game, and Dudley is about as close to iron man as you can be, playing all but two minutes total in conference play. So far, no team has really been able to stop even one of the three from the field - even against Clemson they all shot about 50% (the problem in that game was 13 combined turnovers from Rice and Marshall). Dudley is one of the best all around players in the ACC - he can score inside and outside, rebounds well on the offensive and defensive glass, and is a very solid defender. If anything, he's too deferential - Dudley is head and shoulders above any of his teammates, but doesn't demand the ball enough. His numbers should be more like Al Thornton's (30% of shots, 35% of scoring) instead of where they are so far (21.5% of shots, 25% of scoring). Tyrese Rice has been a huge asset for the Eagles this year. The sophomore has taken a big step forward in his second season, most notably improving his shooting - Rice is still not a great 3pt shooter, but he's lighting it up inside the arc in conference play, posting a 61.4 2FG% on 44 attempts - not bad for a 6'1" guard. He also records assists on over 1/3 of his teammates' baskets, but is vulnerable to turning the ball over. Sean Marshall, possibly best known to Duke fans for screaming directly in the face of JJ Redick during their frantic (but ultimately failed) comeback attempt last year, simply has no conscience when it comes to shooting the ball. He leads the team in shot%, even though both his PPWS and EFG% are worse than Rice's or Dudley's. If there's any one of these three Duke wants shooting the ball, it's probably Marshall.

Williams' replacements in the post aren't really offensive threats. John Oates is much more comfortable at the 3 point line than mixing it up down low, and neither Shamari Spears nor Tyrelle Blair has much in the way of a post move (Blair has taken just 3 shots in 57 minutes of conference play). Still, Spears is a very good rebounder, particularly on the offensive glass, and Blair, while not as imposing as Williams, has been blocking shots at almost the same rate (albeit in far fewer minutes).

The key for Duke will be containing the Three Man Team. They have to limit Rice's penetration, because he's much less dangerous outside of the 3 point line. They have to limit Dudley's touches (by the way, the Nelson-Dudley matchup features two of the strongest players, pound for pound, in the conference - it should be tough, physical, and fun to watch). And Scheyer has to stay in Marshall's face, and deny him open looks. The defense also has to play smart - physical without fouling. BC has thrived on getting to the line this year - they shoot almost 30 free throws a game, and a full 27.7% of all their points come from free throws. Duke has had a propensity to send guys to the line this year - if BC's shooting is a little cold, they have no reservation about driving, driving, driving, and drawing foul after foul. If this is a tightly called game, it will be very much to BC's advantage.

BC's high free throw rate, their total lack of contribution from players outside the Three Man Team, their thoroughly meh defense (104.45 DRating, even with the best low post defender in the ACC for 5 games), and their soft schedule so far (Clemson, their toughest opponent, beat them badly) suggests that the early 6-1 conference record is a bit of an anomaly, and is a little bit of a smoke-and-mirrors act. Still, they manage to keep winning, and any team with Jared Dudley is too dangerous to be overlooked. This could be a tight game throughout, and may come down, like Clemson, to Duke making key plays in end-game scenarios.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

good news, mcclure's knee injury doesn't appear to be serious. he has a hyperextended knee, and will likely miss at least the UVA and FSU games this week. but MRIs were negative, meaning the worst initial fears have not been realized.

bullet dodged.