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Next Up - Boston College

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Next up for Duke is Boston College, and the Eagles are a very different team than the one Duke saw last year.

At the end of the Al Skinner era, Boston College was a dispirited group, unable to really jack up much passion at all. There were reports about Skinner as a coach that were highly unflattering, with some in the Boston press corps calling him lazy or worse.

It's been a 180 under new coach Steve Donahue.

One of three new ACC coaches, Donahue has done the best job of getting his players to buy in -- something that Clemson's Brad Brownell has done pretty well and something that Wake Forest's Jeff Bzdelik certainly wishes he could've done better.

Picked in the preseason to finish 10th in the ACC, Boston College has been in the hunt and are currently in fourth place.

One thing that has made Donahue's life easier is that he has a team of veterans. Biko Paris, Corey Raji, Joe Tapani, Josh Southern and Courtney Dunn are all seniors.  Reggie Jackson and Dallas Elmore are now juniors. There are no sophomores and Donahue brought in two freshmen, Gabriel Moton and Danny Rubin.

Moton has played 12 minutes a game but hasn't been particularly splashy in a statistical sense.

Rubin, a 6-6 native of Chevy Chase, has played a surprising 22 minutes a game and has fit in well.

Unlike Skinner's flex offense, which featured some amazing interior passing but which was slow and not particularly entertaining, Donahue has installed a fast-paced offense featuring a lot of three-point shots.

For a useful comparison, Duke usually takes more three-point shots than most ACC teams. So far this year, the Devils have jacked up 429 making 171. Boston College has attempted 469, making 182.

Last year, for the entire season they attempted 488.

It may be that Donahue is simply playing to his team's strengths.  Reggie Jackson for one is having a superb year. A tremendous athlete, Jackson may have been stifled in the flex. No more: he is having an All-ACC caliber year, averaging 19.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 4.9 PPG.  He's also shooting 52.6% overall and45.8% from behind the line.

Trapani has come along way since his days as a Vermont transfer.  The versatile 6-8 senior is averaging 14.2 PPG and 6.9 RPG.  He's turned to be a much better player than anyone could have expected when he arrived.

Paris is averaging 3.4 APG and 10.8 PPG and has really turned his career around this season.

Raji, who started for most of his career, is coming off the bench and seems fairly happy doing so. He's averaging 12.2 PPG and 6.7 RPG as a reserve has become a surprising three-point shooter as well.

Josh Southern is still around and is an adequate big man but not a great one.

And unlike Skinner, Donahue has gone deep into his bench, with eight players averaging at least 18 minutes and two more not very far away.

So what to expect? Well, you can look at the 2008 game between Duke and Cornell for some insights.  Although Duke was coming off an unusually long break of 16 days, and that was a major factor, Cornell gave them a tremendous game, losing by only 14.

Duke did limit Cornell to 6-13 from three point range, and they only got to the line 11 times, hitting seven.  They were smart and aggressive and played with a lot of passion.

Basically you can expect a similar performance from B.C., although with more athleticism and consequently more aggressiveness.  It should be a fun and interesting evening.

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