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Tough slate, porous defense not doing Boston College any favors

Dec 5, 2013, 12:19 AM EDT

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During the preseason there were more than a few people who believed that Steve Donahue’s Boston College Eagles had the pieces needed to be one of the more improved teams in college basketball. With al five starters back from last season’s 16-17 squad, led by guard Olivier Hanlan and forward Ryan Anderson, there was both talent and experience on the roster. And with a challenging non-conference schedule to navigate before starting ACC play, there would be ample opportunities to pick up quality wins.

But in order to take advantage of those opportunities the Eagles needed to improve defensively. Last season Boston College ranked 11th in the ACC in adjusted defensive efficiency, and in conference play they ranked 11th in defensive efficiency and 12th in effective field goal percentage (rankings per kenpom.com). Clean those areas up, even without the services of injured center Dennis Clifford, and Boston College could very well make a run at an NCAA tournament berth. Fail to do so, however, and the Eagles could enter conference play without much (if any) room for error.

Sure enough it’s the latter scenario that has unfolded, and on Wednesday Boston College dropped to 3-5 after losing at Purdue by the final score of 88-67. Purdue certainly deserves credit for their performance, as Matt Painter’s team executed very well on the offensive end of the floor. The Boilermakers shot 52.2% from the field and 7-for-14 from beyond the arc, with Terone Johnson and younger brother Ronnie leading the way with 18 and 15 points respectively.

As for the Boston College view on this, Wednesday’s defensive effort was the sixth out of eight games in which the opposition averaged more than 1.1 points per possession. BC entered Wednesday ranked last in the ACC in points allowed per possession (1.16), and Purdue finished the game scoring 1.26 points per possession. That didn’t get the job done in West Lafayette, and it certainly won’t help the Eagles in their quest to climb up the ACC pecking order with the conference being stronger than last season’s edition.

Next up for Boston College is a trip west to take on USC Sunday night, which will serve as a homecoming of sorts for the Californians on the roster, and they also have non-conference games against VCU (December 28) and Harvard (January 1) remaining. Offensively Boston College has the talent needed to put points on the board, but it won’t matter if they don’t make significant strides on the other end.

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