Skinner: 'Maintaining the intensity' key for Eagles

February 15, 2010 - 8:31 am

Just when it looked like Boston College might be taking a step forward, albeit a tiny one, last night was a move in the wrong direction for coach Al Skinner'€™s team. Though the Eagles did not have any wins to show for it, they had been playing well over the course of the last couple of weeks, including a pair of losses by a combined 10 points to the top two teams in the ACC, Duke and Wake Forest. But Sunday night in Tallahassee, BC seemed to revert back to its form from early January, scoring a season-low 17 points in the second half in a 62-47 loss to Florida State (18-7, 6-5 ACC), a setback that dropped BC's record below .500 (12-13, 3-8 ACC). The Eagles had things knotted up at halftime but could not get anything going in the second half thanks to 20 total turnovers and 33 percent field goal shooting. But despite the sharp turnaround in offensive efficiency just one game after BC posted a conference season-high 85 points in its loss to Wake, Skinner was more concerned about his team'€™s lack of defensive prowess. '€œI think it'€™s rather clear for us that we have not consistently played the kind of defense that we need to play,'€ he said in the ACC coaches teleconference on Monday. '€œWe have at times, but again, it is not consistent and that'€™s a challenge right now, doing that. '€œI'€™m not exactly sure what the solution is when I say that, because at times we have played well defensively and all of a sudden for a few possessions we don'€™t,'€ he continued. '€œSo it'€™s just a matter of maintaining the intensity throughout the 40 minutes.'€ The Eagles seemed to lose their focus in the final 20 minutes Sunday night. They had no answer for Seminoles'€™ guard Michael Snaer, who tied a career-high with 18 points, and let big man Solomon Alabi dominate in the paint with seven blocks. BC did get 17 points from Joe Trapani, who missed Tuesday'€™s game, but he received little help from anyone else. That includes senior Tyler Roche, who followed up what Skinner called '€œa tremendous effort'€ in his career-high 31-point performance starting in place of Trapani Tuesday with no points in just 16 minutes Sunday. '€œIt is a matter of concentration and executing the defensive game plan,'€ Skinner said. '€œParticularly for us, we need all five guys playing well, so if one guy is out of position it hurts your rotation. '€œWhen we'€™ve got things coordinated we do a pretty good job of rebounding the basketball and defending,'€ he added. '€œBut again, if there are guys who take a play or two off and that happens consistently, all of a sudden your defense is not as solid as it needs to be.'€ It was the fourth straight loss for BC and the eighth in its last 10 contests. The Eagles will have the rest of the week off to prepare for a visit from Roy Williams'€™ North Carolina Tar Heels on Saturday. The layoff gives Skinner'€™s team the chance to regroup and rest some injuries '€” Josh Southern played hurt Sunday night and Courtney Dunn could not pick up the slack, fouling out in just 12 minutes, while Trapani was returning from a bout of the stomach flu. '€œI think for us it helps because if there are some fundamental mistakes that you are making it gives you a chance to try to fix them and regroup that way,'€ Skinner said. '€œIt hurts you if you are playing well and you are kind of in a rhythm, but for us because we are not playing well and we do have some injuries it works favorably for us.'€ While North Carolina normally would represent a tough challenge for BC, this is not the same team that won the national championship last season. Gone are 2009 ACC Player of the Year Ty Lawson along with stalwarts Tyler Hansbrough and Wayne Ellington. The Tar Heels, with a record of 14-11 (3-7 in the ACC), have been a huge disappointment after opening the season ranked sixth in the preseason Top 25 and now are without their second-best player in sophomore forward Ed Davis, who will miss six weeks with a broken wrist. But North Carolina is still North Carolina, and BC will need to improve if it hopes to end its four-game losing streak. For Skinner, that improvement starts with the elements that the Eagles lacked in the second half Sunday. '€œJust basic fundamentals, there is nothing more than that,'€ Skinner said. '€œThere is no little secret out there. You'€™ve got to go out and work hard for 40 minutes, and if we can do that it gives you a chance.'€