Previewing Georgia Tech's Saturday noon matchup with Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass. The game will be broadcast on regional sports networks, including Fox Sports South in Atlanta. The broadcast team for the game should be well familiar to Tech fans - longtime Tech voice Wes Durham will be paired with Brian Oliver, he of "Lethal Weapon 3" fame. My story explaining Tech's recent winning spree can be read here.
Players to watch
Guard Eli Carter is a graduate transfer who, like Tech guard Adam Smith, is on his third school. Carter started out at Rutgers, transferred to Florida for two seasons and is now finishing up at Boston College. He averages 15.9 points per game, though he is something of a volume shooter. He averages 15.1 field-goal attempts per game.
Coach Brian Gregory said he plans to defend him with different players throughout the game to mix up looks and keep him from establishing a rhythm.
Gregory gave rather lofty praise to forward Garland Owens, saying that “he’s as good an athlete as there is in the league.” Owens, averages 4.9 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, plays both the wing and power forward spots.
Boston College has had it pretty rough. The Eagles lost eight players off last year’s roster, including All-ACC guard Olivier Hanlan, and 84 percent of their scoring. Further, they brought back only three players who played last season and have seven scholarship freshmen on the roster. Perhaps not surprisingly, Boston College is 7-21 overall and 0-15 in the ACC.
One thing Boston College does not do well is offensive rebound. The Eagles are 342nd in the country in offensive rebounding percentage at 19.3 percent, according to teamrankings.com. Tech is No. 34 nationally in defensive rebounding percentage (76.1 percent). If the Jackets can challenge shots and keep Boston College off the offensive glass to shut off that scoring option, it will go a long way towards achieving victory.
Boston College is three games away from a rather painful double – both the football and men’s basketball teams could go winless in conference play.
As for Hanlan, the noted Tech killer, he left Boston College a year early, was selected in the second round of the NBA draft and is now playing in Lithuania.
Despite Boston College’s woes in recent seasons – coach Steve Donahue was fired after the 2013-14 season and replaced by Jim Christian, now in his second season – the Eagles have had their share of success against Tech. The Eagles are 5-3 against the Jackets in Gregory’s tenure. The two teams have met in each of the past three ACC tournaments, all in the opening round, and Boston College has won twice, including last year’s 66-65 decision. Hanlan left his final stamp on Tech with 25 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Tech is on the edge of having to face Boston College a fourth consecutive year in the opening round, which will pit the bottom four teams in the league (in two separate games, mind you). The Jackets are in 10th place at 6-9, a half-game ahead of Florida State (6-10). Tech can afford to finish in a tie with FSU to avoid playing on Tuesday in the 11-14 and 12-13 first-round games, as the Jackets hold a tiebreaker over the Seminoles by virtue of having won head to head. To be fair to the Eagles, Boston College does not have the No. 14 spot locked up yet. At 0-15, Boston College could conceivably still pass 2-14 Wake Forest.
On a roll
Forward Quinton Stephens continues to intrigue with his improvement at the end of the season. He has 34 points in the past four games, which is 24 percent of his season total. Likewise, his 27 rebounds are 27 percent of his season total. And, while we’re at it, his 122 minutes in the past four games (the past three games as a starter) are 25 percent of his total for the season.
He appears to be more comfortable and confident on the floor, comes up with more rebounds than you’d expect and isn’t bad defensively.
“The one thing is, he’s really starting to learn to use his length defensively,” Gregory said.
“It’s amazing – one or two less mistakes a game makes a big difference, it really does. Or same mistakes made, but now someone’s there to cover it up. And that’s kind of what we’ve done in the last few weeks. That’s what we’ve done. You don’t watch us and say, 'Man, that team is doing something significantly different than they were before.' I think we’re a good team that has played pretty well throughout the whole league and we’ve made some plays. Now sometimes that’s eliminating some and sometimes that’s adding to it.” – Gregory explaining Tech's four wins in the past five games. More detail about Tech's late-season turnaround in a story for myajc here.