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Boston College's Danny Rubin Hitting A Freshman Wall

Danny Rubin started his college career with a bang, averaging eight points and 50% shooting in his first six games at Boston College. But as the season has progressed, Rubin's offensive numbers have slipped considerably. BC head coach Steve Donahue and Rubin himself talk about his struggles. Read more at BC Interruption.

Freshman Danny Rubin was never seen as an elite college basketball player heading into the 2010-11 season at Boston College. As a senior at the Landon School in Bethesda, Maryland, Rubin averaged 18 points, earning him All-Gazette and All-Montgomery County Sentinel honors.

Despite his solid numbers in high school, no one gave Rubin a second thought when he joined new head coach Steve Donahue and his Eagles. Looking back, that was a big mistake.

In his first six games in maroon and gold, Rubin averaged eight points on 16-for-32 shooting from the floor. It was looking as if somehow, someway, Boston College had found another diamond in the rough. But as this season progressed, Rubin's offensive play began to slip. 

"In terms of Danny, I think he's done a great job for us the whole year," said Boston College head coach Steve Donahue. "I think teams have probably turned it up a notch on him and he's not getting as many open looks. I think he's going to keep getting better as a basketball player. "

Ever since the midway point, the bottom has dropped out on Rubin's offensive game. In the last 10 games, Rubin's numbers on the offensive end are anything but pretty: 1.8 points per game while shooting just 27.2 percent (6-for-22).

"I'm not alarmed by it," Donahue said. "It's not something we should be relying on. He's someone who's worked himself in to the rotation and probably is just getting a little overwhelmed sometimes when defenses are really coming out and playing him."

Was Rubin's impressive start simply a mirage, and is this the real Rubin that we're seeing in the latter half of the season? Donahue doesn't think so, preferring to say that his recent struggles can be attributed to Rubin hitting a "freshman wall" in terms of scoring.

"The season's a little longer and he's probably hit a little bit of a freshman wall in points," said Donahue. "But he's practiced well lately, and I expect him to continue to work hard. If he get's open looks, I think he takes them. If he doesn't, I think he knows that at this point of his career that giving it to someone else is probably the better decision."

Rubin attributes his dip in scoring to an increased effort from opposing teams to defend him.

"I don't think it's a change in my game," Rubin said. "A lot of other teams in the league have just been watching tape and just knowing my tendencies. I just have to make an adjustment."

"I think it's a combination," Donahue added about Rubin's recent struggles. "He just hasn't gotten shots and that's a credit to him that, when he's guarded, he knows his role and he's not shooting the basketball. I think his percentages are very similar, he's just not getting open looks, and to his credit, he's not taking them."

As the numbers slip for any starting player, such as Rubin, it's natural to assume that said player would be worried about being replaced in the starting rotation. But that thought hasn't even crossed Rubin's mind.

"I really don't think about that too much," he said. "I know that coach {Donahue's} style of play is that I'm going to get my opportunities if I keep working hard in practice and hope for the same success."

Rubin replaced senior forward Corey Raji in the starting lineup just two games into his college basketball career. Donahue said the decision to insert Rubin into the starting lineup following his hard work in practice after the Eagles' loss to Yale.

"That's one of the things that I was upset with myself about the other night, I didn't play him," Donahue said after Boston College's first loss. "He's been playing well in practice."

Now, it appears as if the roles have reversed for Rubin and Raji, at least in games -- Raji is third on the team in scoring (12.1 PPG) and second in rebounding (6.6 RPG).

Despite Raji's recent success and Rubin's struggles, Donahue said that he hasn't even considered putting his senior swingman back into the starting rotation.

"I think it's a couple things," Donahue said. "I think we've gotten to the point whereCorey's very comfortable coming off the bench. I put him in the starting lineup, and him and I both thought that it was [better] for the team for him to come off the bench. That's how I feel now, [and] that's something I may or may not do in the future."

While Rubin starts the games, Raji averages more playing time. Through 23 games, Raji is averaging 27.8 minutes per game while Rubin averages just 19.5 minutes.

"I don't necessarily worry about who starts or who doesn't start," said Donahue. "I think it's more a concern of how many minutes you play and obviously at the critical times in the game who we're going to put in there. I think those are the things that kids worry about as well."

During Rubin's recent slump, he has been receiving help and advice from every conceivable angle. Players and coaches alike are giving him tips and showing him the tools of the trade, all with the hope of helping him return his offensive game.

"I think coach [Nat] Jones has worked on him individually, as we do with all of our guys we want to continue to develop, especially younger players," Donahue said. "We're just trying to help him out and figure out a way for him to get shots. He's not someone that we want to try to create his own shot necessarily or force it, but just be more confident, if someone's flying at you, just put the ball on the floor."

"[Coach Donahue's told me] to keep working hard, keep getting in the gym and kind of diversify my game" said Rubin."I talk to Corey a lot about what's going on, and Joe Trapani as well. We work out together sometimes and he shows me some moves that are going to help."

Rubin has been putting in some extra work himself, trying to do everything that he can to find his touch once again.

"I'm getting in extra workouts now, putting more shots up, working on more moves off the dribble," Rubin said. "Right now teams are just playing me as a catch and shoot kind of player."

Even in the midst of the worst slump of his career, in which he has gone scoreless in seven of the last nine games, Rubin is still happy with his overall body of work this season, particularly because of the success of the team.

"I'm happy," Rubin said about his body of work this season. "I'm just happy that our team has been as successful as we have been, and we continue to keep working hard."

Not only does Rubin think that BC can be successful in the final stages of this season, but also the remainder of his college career in Chestnut Hill.

"I think we can," said Rubin, when asked about the possibility of Boston College making runs in the NCAA tournament during his time in Chestnut Hill. "With our coaches' mentality and our players' mentalities, if we just keep working hard, that's going to get us to wherever we want to go."

Donahue has a similar mindset, and thinks that the experience that Rubin is receiving this year will benefit him in the long run. Provided that Rubin puts in the work and continues to progress, Donahue believes he will be beneficial to the Eagles' success.

"I think that's to be determined by how hard he works," Donahue said. "I think this experience is really going to benefit him greatly. He's been put into the fire right away and I think someone like that that gets that experience and has that success, I think that when he gets more seasoning and gets stronger and starts feeling more confident based on the success he's had, I think it does help you."

It won't always be easy for Rubin, though, as he will have to duke it out with a bunch of new faces entering the next few seasons.

"He's going to have to [work hard]," Donahue noted. "Obviously we're going to recruit and there's going to be a lot of players in here that he's going to have to battle, but I feel that Danny's shown the wherewithal to play the game and be poised. As he gets bigger and stronger and older, I think that experience will benefit him."