By Seth Orensky, Contributor.
Steve Donahue and his Boston College Eagles host the UMass Minutemen in the annual Commonwealth Classic at 7 p.m. EDT on Monday night at Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, MA. Seth Orensky presents his three things to watch for.
Where Will The Scoring Come From For Boston College? If Pat Heckmann is indeed out for a second consecutive game with an ankle injury, the Eagles will need someone to step up against the high-powered offense of UMass. Boston College has averaged just 65.5 points per game against two low major schools and they've hit just 37 percent of their shots. Only six Eagles have made three or more field goals in the team's first two games and of that group only one player, freshmen center Dennis Clifford, has finished in double-digits in each game.
Matt Humphrey is a prime candidate to step up for Boston College after two poor shooting games. The highly-touted Oregon transfer was pegged as a natural scorer who would instantly step in and handle the load. If we discount his first two performances to dealing with some rust after sitting out a year, Humphrey could be getting closer to breaking out.
Other players that will be expected to help pick up some of the slack include Clifford, Jordan Daniels who led the Eagles on Friday night and grad student John Cahill. Cahill is the most experienced player on the roster and is a threat behind the arc (17-31 for his career), even two or three 3-pointers at pivotal times could be crucial in keeping the Eagles afloat.
Can Anyone Stop Chaz Williams? Williams has been nothing short of dynamic for the Minutemen in their first three games. The 5-foot-9 point guard has put together averages of 17.7 points, nine assists and 3.3 rebounds in his first three games after sitting out for an entire year. While a hot start is nothing new for UMass (they started 7-0 last year), the Hofstra transfer has energized the program and become the leader despite being just a sophomore.
What makes him so difficult to guard? Not only will he be the fastest player on the court, his first priority is to run the fast break and look for teammates rather than his own shot. If defenders try to force him to take it himself, he's just as dangerous shooting the ball. On the year he's hit 50 percent of his attempts and has gone 6-14 from behind the arc.
So if you can't sag off him and make him shoot jumpers, and you can't try to bring a double team because he'll find the open man, what do you do if you're Steve Donahue? I expect the Eagles to try to use their best on-ball defender to try to slow himdown and use a variety of zone defenses to try to confuse him. In reality the only person on the court who can slow Williams down will likely be himself.
Bragging Rights: Who Wants It More? This is a game for Massachusetts supremacy. No matter how good Harvard is, the public is much more familiar with these two programs as the elite teams in the area. After a Friday night thrashing at Holy Cross, Steve Donahue will have his roster amped up and ready to go against another in-state rival. On the other side, Derek Kellogg's veteran roster remembers last year's tight loss against the Eagles at the TD Garden and would love to get some revenge against Boston College and some respect in the state of Massachusetts.
This is a lot more than just a non-conference game. If UMass is going to build themselves back to the glory days of the early 90's, they're going to need to win games like this to attract recruits from throughout New England. Boston College has won the past three matchups between the teams and this is a prime chance for the Minutemen to take advantage of the Eagles being extremely inexperienced. Expect the game to be played with a lot more energy and intensity than either of the team's first couple of games.