Wake Forest

Undersized Boston College tops Georgia Tech 66-65 in ACC tournament opener

Boston College guard Patrick Heckmann (33) looks for hall as Georgia Tech forward Robert Sampson (13) and guard Tadric Jackson (1) defend the post. Boston College beat Georgia Tech 66-65 during opening game of the ACC Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, NC Tuesday, March 10, 2015.
Boston College guard Patrick Heckmann (33) looks for hall as Georgia Tech forward Robert Sampson (13) and guard Tadric Jackson (1) defend the post. Boston College beat Georgia Tech 66-65 during opening game of the ACC Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, NC Tuesday, March 10, 2015. cliddy@newsobserver.com

Boston College successfully countered Georgia Tech’s height and bulk with its four-guard alignment and timely 3-point shooting to claim a 66-65 victory in the first round of the ACC men’s basketball tournament Tuesday.

Now the Eagles will have to duplicate the effort against No. 19 North Carolina onWednesday.

Boston Colelge used 40 percent shooting (8-of-20) from 3-point range to offset the Yellow Jackets’ big advantages inside, which translated to 43-26 edge in rebounding and 28-10 in second-chance points. Despite the presence of 7-foot-1 junior center Dennis Clifford, the glaring mismatch was at power forward, where the Eagles’ started 6-6 senior Patrick Heckmann, a perimeter player. Two taller reserves, 6-8 Eddie Odio and 6-9 John Cain Carney, played nine combined minutes.

Boston College coach Jim Christian said he hopes his Eagles have improved since a 79-68 home loss to UNC on Feb. 7.Fifth-seeded UNC (21-10) will be without center Kennedy Meeks, who has a virus.

“I think we weren’t the same team we are now, either,” Christian said. “So I think obviously they really hurt us in the paint. Just like Georgia Tech did today.

“We have to fix that. … They score in the interior from a lot of different ways. So obviously it’s a lot similar to the way Georgia Tech played. We have to keep them off the boards and try to neutralize them.”

Christian said the Eagles let Georgia Tech throw the ball too deep and too early into the post.

“We had been much better as of late in our post defense, but I felt we gave up too much deep position today,” he said. “(But) as much as it was post-ups, it was offensive rebounding that hurt us tonight. … I thought their second effort to the ball was greater than ours, and we can’t let that happen.”

The Tar Heels lead the ACC in offensive rebounding and rank 10th nationally.

Transfer rate rising: Georgia Tech and Boston College dipped deeply into college basketball’s free-agent pool for this season with transfer students.

It’s part of a growing trend in major college sports, especially men’s basketball. According to the NCAA, 40 percent of the Division I players who entered school in 2011 have transferred – 90 percent of them for athletic reasons.

ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported there were 291 transfers in 2011. By 2013 the number had reached 455. Last year it topped 600, and this year more than 700 players have left Division I programs. About 39 percent departed for another Division I school, but most of them transfer to less competitive programs seeking more playing time, according to NCAA statistics.

“In college basketball now, if you’re not on top of transfers,” Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory mused, leaving the point unspoken. “Where would Boston College be without (Aaron) Brown and (Dimitri) Batten?”

Brown and Batten earned their undergraduate degrees at one school and then transferred to another for graduate school, with immediate athletic eligibility. Brown came from Southern Mississippi and Batten from Old Dominion. Both have become starters for the Eagles, and Brown is the second-leading scorer at 15 points per game.

Gregory has started three transfers this season – center Demarco Cox, who had graduated from Mississippi, forward Charles Mitchell (Maryland) and forward Robert Sampson (East Carolina). Mitchell obtained a hardship waiver from the NCAA to become eligible immediately as a junior. Sampson went the conventional route and sat out a season before playing as a senior.

However, the NCAA might take another look at graduate transfers in light of some telling statistics. Of the Division I basketball transfers as graduate students, only one-third ever earn a graduate degree.

Deacon’s anniversary: This week’s tournament marks the 20th anniversary of one of the most dominant performances in the event’s history. Wake Forest senior guard Randolph Childress scored a tournament-record 107 points in three games – a 35.7 average – to lead the Deacons to the 1995 tournament championship.

Childress, a Wake Forest assistant coach for the past four years, hit the winning jumper with four seconds left in overtime to beat North Carolina 82-80 at the Greensboro Coliseum.

Asked what he remembered most about Childress’ performance, then-Wake Forest coach Dave Odom exclaimed, “Everything!”

Odom, who has retired from coaching and is now a commentator, attended Tuesday’s first round.

“The spontaneity of everything he did could not have been more timely and could not have been done with more passion,” Odom said of Childress.

“It helped translate into what we now know was two (ACC championship) victories. It kind of carried over the next year. We had a different team with (then-junior) Tim Duncan, I thought the best team in the country. Randolph was certainly the catalyst for that.”

Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer

  Comments