Folks in the Triangle have been talking about Duke's big win over UNC for a couple of days now, and we have yet to hear one person so much as mention B.C. That can't possibly be good.
True, B.C. (12-9/3-5) is not what they have been over the last few years. The Eagles are in a rebuilding phase and rely more on Tyrese Rice than probably Al Skinner would prefer. But he's by far their best player, and he is very, very good. And Skinner is getting everything he can out of the kid.
Skinner is averaging 37.8 minutes, hitting 19.5 ppg, almost four boards, 5.1 assists and almost two steals. That's an all-conference stat line.
Skinner may have to worry about overcooking Rice, but he's letting eight other guys get double-digit minutes.
6-5 Rookie Rakim Sanders is scoring 12.3 ppg and 4.3 rpg, which is really good for a first-year player (it's good for just about anyone, actually).
Fellow 6-5 frosh Corey Raji is putting up 8.7 ppg and 4.0 rpg.
6-6 sophomore Shamari Spears, a classic Skinner recruit in that a lot of people thought he was too small to be a power player, is putting up 10.6 ppg and grabbing 6.9 boards.
6-11 senior Tyrelle Blair is not a big offensive factor (only 6 ppg), but he is a superb shotblocker and he's swatting away 3.9 a game.
6-10 John Oates is still around and starts, although he hasn't started every game. Tyler Roche, a 6-7 soph, has earned some starts as well.
One of the defining characteristics of Al Skinner's time in the ACC is that his teams typically are much more inside-oriented than the rest of the ACC, and their internal passing is really, really, good.
This year, they're much more likely to shoot outside than they have been, largely because of their reliance on Rice, who is an excellent shooter (39-116). They're also getting a lot out of Sanders, who is even better (37-89)
It hasn't been enough. B.C. has lost five straight, falling to Virginia, Virginia Tech, UNC, Clemson, and Maryland
Skinner was irate about his team's defense against Maryland, where Grievis Vasquez, who has been erratic this year, shot 9-14 and James Gist racked up a 9-11 game.
Clemson shot 51% against the Eagles. UNC hit 51.5%, with Deon Thompson going 8-10. Virginia Tech didn't shoot as well (44.3%), but the Hokies only had seven turnovers. Even Virginia won, although they didn't shoot nearly as well (43.3%).
It's a tough job for the Eagles. They're young, they don't defend particularly well and they're facing a pretty unconventional team.
They do have some things going their way. First, of course, Rice is a major asset. And secondly, unlike most of the conference, they have a meaningful shotblocker.
While it's a risky strategy, we might consider tossing a zone at Duke, at least until they started hitting threes. If they don't, then stick with it and let them drive at your seven footer.
We're not sure what they're going to do to counter Duke's offense and mobility. But we do know what we'd tell the team if it were up to us:
"Guys, Duke is coming off a huge win, no doubt about it. And it was a huge win for them.
"But a lot of times that can work against you. All they've heard about since Saturday is how great they are. Everyone is telling them that. And when you come out and play them eyeball to eyeball, they won't think about it right away. But it'll sink in eventually that you're not going away, and when it does, you will have the advantage. Don't be afraid to press it, just 'cause you're in Cameron. And when you do, they'll blink. That's the moment you're waiting for, because if they blink, then you can take it away from them, and by the time they realize what's happening, it's already too late."
We're not saying it's going to happen that way, but we'd try to convince our team that it could.