The Three-Pointer: Some Bench Lessons for the Eagles

November 13, 2009 - 6:22 pm
Boston College doesn'€™t match up that often against Dartmouth. In fact, the last time these two teams did battle, it was back in 2005. That'€™s good news for the Big Green, who once again couldn'€™t handle anything the Eagles threw at them. In front of an announced crowd of 4,277, BC rolled to a decisive 89-58 victory over visiting Dartmouth, an even larger margin than the 80-61 win back in '€™05. Playing without two of their starters, Rakim Sanders and Corey Raji, who along with Cortney Dunn were suspended for two games due to team rule violations, the Eagles didn'€™t miss a beat, shooting the lights out from whistle to whistle. BC fired an impressive 60 percent from the field, led by senior Tyler Roche, who started in place of Raji and went off for a career-high 30 points. Roche hit 10-of-12 shots, including 4-of-5 3-pointers, and added a career-high five blocks. '€œHe'€™s a senior on the club, and he'€™s got a great understanding of our offense and what we need to do,'€ BC coach Al Skinner of the New Hampshire native. '€œHe has continued to make improvements throughout his college career. '€¦ Tonight he had some good opportunities and was able to put the ball in the basket.'€ In a game in which BC was expected to roll, it was a pleasant showing from Roche, who suggested that he will give the Eagles a legitimate scoring threat off the bench. Between Roche and Reggie Jackson (16 points), the first game without the graduated Tyrese Rice went pretty smoothly. Granted, playing against Dartmouth also helped. Nonetheless, the first game can provide a good indicator of how a team will compete as the season rolls on. Yes, it'€™s a very early sign, and it was against a Dartmouth team that is 1-11 overall against BC, the lone victory coming all the way back in 1963. Nonetheless, the Eagles showed quite a few positives in their first game of the 2009-10 season. Here are three things we learned from BC's season-opening victory: ROCHE IS MORE THAN A VIABLE OPTION OFF THE BENCH If there'€™s any silver lining that comes from seeing three players suspended for the season-opener, it'€™s that players who normally come off the bench get a chance to see some serious minutes. Roche was one of those beneficiaries in Friday's skirmish against Dartmouth, and he certainly took advantage of it. Roche not only took control of the scoring department for BC but also electrified what otherwise may have been an unenthused crowd that watched the rout of the Big Green. '€œI knew some extra minutes were coming my way, so I just mentally prepared myself to play in the game,'€ Roche said. '€œI'€™ve gotten a lot more confident over the years, and tonight I just felt really comfortable and I just gained confidence as the game went on.'€ The best part about Roche'€™s explosion of points? When BC gets that kind of contribution from beyond the arc, it makes everything inside it that much easier. Guys such as Josh Southern, Joe Trapani and Jackson get significantly more space when Roche takes off from downtown. Case in point Friday night: Southern and Trapani combined for one point in the first half. Roche started heating up midway through the game, and by the time the final horn blew, Southern and Trapani finished with 20 points between them. Again, it'€™s important to remember who the Eagles were playing. Even so, when someone drops an 80 percent night from long range, it really doesn'€™t matter who the opponent is '€” they'€™re going to pay. REGGIE JACKSON CAN PLAY That much is for certain. After posting 16 points and dominating the offensive court for the Eagles, Jackson made it clear that he has the skills to bring the rain. Though he scored 16, one of the most impressive things on display from Jackson was his ball-handling. The sophomore was able to use his explosive speed and quick handle to help create separation that not only allowed him to get open looks but also gave some very nice lanes to Roche, who took advantage. '€œWe all know what we can do,'€ Jackson said. '€œSometimes I feel like I take it upon myself that if we'€™re in a slump then I feel like I can get a bucket. Obviously, tonight Roche was the guy. '€¦ But I have a lot on my shoulders and the team depends on me each and every night.'€ The one question Skinner and most of the BC staff had about Jackson before the season began was his mental toughness, suggesting in an ESPN preview that Jackson '€œstill needs to continue to grow.'€ A season-opener against an overmatched Dartmouth team isn'€™t exactly a good measure as to a player's mental toughness. Those tests will come down the road against opponents such as Michigan (Dec. 2), Clemson (Jan. 9) and Duke (Jan. 13). But for now, at least the Eagles can rest assured that when Jackson sets foot on the floor, he brings the explosiveness that BC will need against elite opponents '€” and it should only get better. FROM THE OUTSIDE, IN Most teams use a definitive inside presence to set up their outside shot. And the rest of the teams would prefer to, for a multitude of reasons '€” the big one being, a dominant inside game is much more consistent. Sometimes the long balls will clink and clunk, but it'€™s tough to go in slumps shooting from 4-8 feet. But sometimes there are nights where it just doesn'€™t work like that. Last night was one of them. Dartmouth made it clear that its objective was to shut down the Eagles' inside game, specifically Southern and Trapani. After the first 10 minutes, during which Southern racked up just one point and Trapani had a goose egg, it appeared the Green were succeeding. But then again, that'€™s why there are five guys on the court at once. Enter Roche. The second Roche started lighting up the building with a barrage of deep balls, Dartmouth was forced to move more men outside to defend the perimeter. Naturally, that allowed both Southern and Trapani to get some good looks down low, and they converted on nearly every one of them. On most nights, the Eagles are going to want to start inside and work it out. But it has to be refreshing for them to know that when things don'€™t work out the way they want, they can adjust.