Tobacco Road Comes to Boston

Tobacco Road Comes to Boston

Tobacco Road Comes to Boston

Ryan Thomas

On Feb. 12, the Boston College Eagles were ranked in the Top 25 for first time all season, coming in at 21st overall. The upcoming week would either catapult the Eagles closer to the top of the nation or it would send them back into the all familiar unranked territory.

Unfortunately, the past week at The Heights was not a good one for Boston College and its fans, as they watched the men lose to the two powerhouse teams of the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Duke Blue Devils and the University of North Carolina Tarheels.

Not only did the Eagles fall out of the nation’s Top 25 rankings after only one week, they lost hold of the top spot in the ACC and are now sitting one-half game behind 5th ranked UNC.

The “Most Memorable Week in Team History,” as dubbed by many started with a Valentine’s Day date with the Blue Devils, a team that was on the verge of losing five in a row for the first time under the tutelage of Coach K. Coming into the game, Duke was unranked for the first time in almost 200 weeks, dating back almost four years.

The Eagles started the game off with good intensity, scoring early off Duke turnovers and miscues, which is what kept the team in the game early. Midway through the first half, it became evident that BC was being outplayed by the Blue Devils, mainly in the paint, where BC was giving up easy lay ups at an alarming rate. Duke hit only six jump shots in the first half, but because of their dominant inside play led by forward Josh McRoberts, they didn’t need to hit outside shots.

McRoberts burned the Eagles in the paint by grabbing offensive rebounds and getting numerous second-chance points. In the first half alone the super-sophomore was close to a double-double, recording 12 points and eight rebounds while leading his team to an 11-point half time lead.

The second half got out of control early for the Eagles as they continued to fall farther away from Duke by not hustling or executing on either end of the court. With 12:55 remaining in the second half, Duke had built its lead to 24 points, and the game was all but over.

With such a large lead, Duke’s offense went into “let’s-play-not-to-lose” mode and milked the shot clock, which lead to the Eagles getting back into the game, along with their fans, who were in desperate need of something to cheer for. In the span of 5:24, BC went on a 12-0 run helped along by senior guard Sean Marshall’s inspired play.

BC would only get as close as six points the rest of the way and would end up losing the first of two games against the elite of the ACC. The biggest disappointment of the game was surely the lack-luster play of senior forward Jared Dudley, who in 39 minutes scored only 11 points (4-5 FG) and grabbed four rebounds. He was double-teamed for most of the night, but he did not play up to his own expectations. At many times, the potential ACC Player of the Year looked lost on the court and did not contribute very much at all.

BC made it a close game in the end, but one had the sense that the Eagles had no shot of winning that game. BC’s play was utterly inconsistent and the defense was as bad as they had been all season long, giving up 28 points off of turnovers and 46 of Duke’s 78 points in the paint.

Round One in the books: Duke 78, Boston College 70.

As was evident against Duke, the Eagles’ fans were riding high at the start of the UNC game, packing Conte Forum and being as loud and obnoxious as ever.

After BC and UNC traded baskets for the first 15 minutes, it was evident that there were two trends emerging:

1. Jared Dudley once again was not living up to the expectations of leading his team, and his free throw shooting was not good from the start. (Remember that for later.)

2. The opposing team’s big man, in this case Tyler Hansbrough was having his way on the offensive end, scoring at will like Shaq, circa 1999.

With BC up 29-28, Dudley collected his third foul of the first half with 6:04 left and had to retreat to the bench. After that, the ‘Heels took advantage and outscored the Eagles 20-11 for the rest of the period, going into the half with a six-point lead.

The second half was as exciting as college basketball gets, with both the Eagles and the Tarheels vying for the top spot in the ACC. The game was close throughout the second half and it was looking like the game would come down to the wire. Jared Dudley, Sean Marshall and Tyrese Rice lead the Eagles in the second half, creating offense almost at will, but UNC’s big three of Ty Lawson, Brandon Wright and Reyshawn Terry were creating just as much, if not more at times, keeping the ‘Heels’ lead consistent over BC.

The determining factor of the game happened with 1:28 remaining when Jared Dudley had a chance to tie the game at 73-73 with three free throw attempts. He hit iron on all three, making him 7-13 from the line in the game and essentially icing it for UNC. If Dudley sinks the free throws, the outcome of the game could have been different and maybe this article wouldn’t be so negative.

Round Two in the books: UNC 77, Boston College 72

Boston College is now one-half game behind UNC in the ACC.

The rationale could be that BC just played superior teams and really had no chance to win either game, but Jared Dudley did not come through when BC needed him the most. With Sean Williams gone for the season, the Eagles had been leaning on Dudley to shoulder the load, and he had been for the last month or so. But these two games may have kept Dudley from Player of the Year honors in the ACC, along with a creating the persona that he can’t show up for the big games.

Combined, Dudley went 11-16 from the field, 10-18 from the line, grabbed only five rebounds and dished only six assists in the two biggest games of his career. Those are not the numbers that one would expect from a potential Conference Player of the Year. Sorry Jared Dudley, but you just blew your chance of being remembered as “The Player Who Put Boston College on the National Map for Good.”