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What BC Basketball needs to do against Virginia Tech

Trying to emerge from another three-game losing streak (their fourth this season), Boston College basketball faces off against Virginia Tech tonight at 7 p.m. in Conte Forum. With the Eagles only win over an ACC team this year being against the Hokies, a win is certainly a realistic expectation.

But, can Donahue lead his team to a win? Will Ryan Anderson provide a post presence and make his free throws? Will the Eagles play with intensity for the whole duration of the game?

Right now, BC has the worst overall record out of any team in the ACC. Luckily, Virginia Tech is not fairing much better. The Hokies have a record of 8-11 (1-6 ACC), and the Eagles have a record of 5-14 (1-5 ACC). Donahue and his players have continually struggled to play consistently against not only ACC teams, but also against their nonconference opponents. With tournament hopes definitely out of the question, BC needs to focus on refining their skills for the future and salvaging what they can out of a disappointing season.

Their problems start with defense. Allowing almost 70 points a game, BC has not been able to stop the opponent’s offense for the complete duration of the game. Against Syracuse, their defense was strong for the first half, but crumbled towards the end of the game. In the last 14 minutes, Syracuse went on a 23-6 run to ultimately close out the game. Also, you can look at the Georgia Tech game, where BC gave up the game within the first 10 minutes. Despite the fact that the Eagles closed the gap at the end, it wasn’t enough to overcome the slow start.

However, this broad claim that the Eagle’s defense is the cause of many disappointing loses does not illuminate the complexity of the problems Donahue and the rest of the basketball staff faces. Because the Eagles do not have a true big man, at least one that is healthy, they do not have a player to control the paint. Being ranked 334th out of all Division I basketball teams clearly shows the issue. Second chance opportunities and defensive stops become much harder to come by, while fouls and lower percentage shots become the norm.

I applaud Ryan Anderson, Eddie Odio and Will Magarity for attempting to play down low considering their stature compared to most big men in the ACC. They are trying to make up for the lack of a healthy center on the team, but their efforts just haven’t been enough to overcome the high-profile ACC teams that BC faces weekly.

Jono Keedy / Gavel Media

Freshman forward Will Magarity has tried to fulfill a big man role with a not-so-big-man physique. His play against VaTech tonight will prove vital. Jono Keedy / Gavel Media

Despite the inherent weaknesses that BC has due to their lack of size, there are still notable advantages that BC has over Virginia Tech. BC has players that know how to score, including Olivier Hanlon and Anderson who have respectively averaged 18.9 and 14.5 points per game. Add in Joe Rahon when gets a hot from beyond the arc, and he is another offensive threat. Lastly, you can’t count out Lonnie Jackson, who has been hot since BC defeated Virgina Tech on Jan. 11  (ironically BC’s last win), where he led all scorers with 17 points. BC needs to start the game on a strong note because there’s been little success when coming from behind.

Virginia Tech’s strategy is focused on their star player, Jarrel Eddie.

He recently scored his 1,000th point in his college basketball career. But they do not have much depth on their team and size is a considerable constraint for their offense and defense. Their scoring attack is dependent on outside jumpers, which can be disastrous when the shots aren’t falling. Sounds just like BC, doesn’t it?

A win against the Hokies would break the Eagles' three game losing streak and would double their amount of conferences wins this season. With games against Duke, Notre Dame, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh in the next month, they need all the wins they can get.

Follow @BCGavelSports on Twitter for the latest updates on Boston College athletics.

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