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Q&A With Eagle in Atlanta

Regular readers of Conquest Chronicles know that we hear at CC have always been on the cutting edge of (trademark pending), and with that reputation it was no surprise that the interweb's top Boston College bloggers wanted a Q&A with yours truly. OK, they actually contacted Paragon but just like Tim Floyd he was forced to look to the bench and hope for the best. Don't worry though, I'm the Marcus Simmons of USC blog writers because I come through in the clutch. Well that's enough nonsense for one day; this set of questions (after the jump) come from Eagle in Atlanta, and I'll have one more Q&A up in the near future.

These are their answers to our questions...

1- BC started out the season next to last in the ACC so it would appear that expectations were not high. Outside of the signature wins against UNC and Duke what were two high points in BC's season?

ATL Eagle - - - 1. No other wins were as big or as critical as Duke or North Carolina, but this season did have a few other signature moments. BC beat Georgia Tech at home on a last second shot and beat Virginia Tech on a last second tip in. Both moments came from Rakim Sanders. Sanders' maturity and the ability to answer when Rice was shutdown in big moments was an important sign of progression for this young team.

2- BC uses the Flex-Motion Offense, something the Pac-10 doesn't see very much. I see it as balanced attack meant to take advantage of each players strength's on the floor... what are some of the weaknesses in this style of offense?

ATL Eagle - - - 2. Saying BC runs the flex can be misleading to those who know the scheme but haven't seen BC play it. First this year, they've moved away from it a bit to a more spread out scheme that involved a lot of isolation for Rice and lately posting up Sanders or Southern. Secondly when BC runs Skinner's preferred version of the Flex it is extremely compact. All five guys can be within a step of the lane, constantly cutting and bounce passing. If a team hasn't played BC and is not focused and patient they can end up allowing plenty of easy baskets.

The weakness of the flex is that if BC is slowed bringing up the ball and gets into the sets late, there isn't always enough time to find a good shot. The general offensive weakness from this BC squad is the are young and still waste too many possessions on bad shots.

3- Neither team can be characterized as dominating on offense though there is no question that Tyrese Rice is the main guy in BC's offense and Josh Southern is no slouch either but you can't win it with just 2 guys...Who has to step up, who needs a big game against pretty good USC defense?

ATL Eagle - - - 3. The two main scorers who need to step up are F Joe Trapani and G/F Rakim Sanders. Both are versatile guys and have had huge performances for BC at times this year. Both also are a bit streaky and can have nights where their shots just aren't falling.

4- BC has had its share of ups and downs this season...a 10-game winning streak that culminated with a victory at North Carolina when the Tar Heels were ranked No. 1, but then BC promptly lost four in a row starting with a home game against Harvard. Describe for us your general opinions of the team good or bad.

ATL Eagle - - - 4. Even with the Harvard loss this team is ahead of the schedule I had for them. Instead of being a bubble team they were a 7 seed. They beat Duke, UNC, Florida State and many other good NCAA and NIT teams. The Harvard loss was a fluke but not a total surprise to people who watch Skinner's teams. He is not a win one for the Gipper type so his young teams can come out flat. He's also not one to try to fire up the guys mid game. He saves his timeouts and lets the guys learn as they go. I love his style and think BC benefits from Al's deliberate style. The downside is the occasional game like Harvard.

5- How do you think your players match up with USC and what aspects of BC's game do you think gives you an advantage over the Trojans?

ATL Eagle - - - 5. I actually think BC matches up well against USC. The Trojans are more athletic but there is no major size disadvantage. I also think BC's offense will keep a good USC defense offbalance while BC's improving D will be able to handle to Trojans.

More after the jump...

You can also find our answers here.

1. Why did the Trojans struggle so much on the road? How much do you think the trip to Minneapolis will impact the team?

For a little background, the Trojans didn't so much struggle on the road as they struggled to close on the road (which I guess might be te same thing, but just bear with me). Very winnable late game situations were blown against Oklahoma, Oregon State, Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, and Stanford. USC also gave up double digit leads in losses to Seton Hall and Missouri on Neutral courts. SC was very competitive in pretty much every game, except for the game at Pauley Pavillion, but for some reason they just could not maintain their composure in late game situations away from home. The only explanation I can come up with is that Tim Floyd simply lacked players who were willing to step up and carry the team through difficult situations. Daniel Hackett began to shoulder that load as the season went on, but it is only recently that Demar Derozan and Taj Gibson have shown a willingness to bite back in those pressure situation. Hopefully this means that the players have overcome those road woes, but we'll only really know how the trip affects them once they hit the courts.

2. The outside opinion seems to be that this year's team is very different from last year's Mayo-led version. Aside from not having Mayo, how is this team playing differently? Who has filled the void? Has the style of play changed?

The team is really only different in so far as what left when Mayo declared for the draft early. Last year OJ was the go to scorer and primary outside shooter while also sharing ballhandling duties with Hackett. The outside shooting has diminished somewhat as Dwight Lewis can be somewhat mercurial to the say the least, but Derozan has a silky smooth jumper that seems to extend out to just inside the three point line. There were a lot of struggles early on with turnovers due to the lack of a secondary ball handler and the transfer of backup PG Angelo Johnson, but Hackett has improved as the season has gone on and the TOs have been reduced dramatically since the beginning of the season. Finally, while it is sometimes painful to have no true go to scorer, the Trojans are a very balanced team offensively and feature four players who score in double digits which make them a difficult team to defend.

3. What is the key to stopping the USC?

The key to stopping USC is not so much in stopping them, but not allowing their D to stop your team. The Trojans rely heavily on their defense and are 17-5 when their opponents score less than 70 points. If BC is taken out of their offensive game plan and has to force shots then they won't win pure and simple. SC's bread and butter has been defense all season long, and the main goal out of the gates will be to stop the Eagle's top two or three scorers. To stop USC, Boston College will need another player outside of the regulars to step up and provide offense As Tyrese Rice will have a tough time carrying his team to victory on his own..

4. What is your prediction for the game?

I predict a close SC win. I have always been a fan of guys like Ken Pomeroy, Jeff Sagarin, and John Gasaway, and all of them have USC as favorites over Boston College based on their various metrics for ranking college hoops teams. More importantly though, I think SC matches up very well size wise and has a ton of momentum heading into this game. USC could certainly come out flat and prove me wrong (trust me, they've done it before), but even Vegas picked the Trojans as the favorite to win.