Five First Impressions From Saturday’s Exhibition

November 5, 2011

A new chapter of Boston College basketball began on Saturday, as the Eagles hosted American International College in an exhibition game at Conte Forum. Out of the 11 BC players that saw action, seven of the Eagles got their first taste of collegiate action. Their inexperience showed at times, but despite sloppy play and 21 total turnovers, BC was victorious over AIC, 70-66.

  • Freshmen Standouts: Dennis Clifford and Patrick Heckmann had the best games for BC, contributing 17 and 16 points, respectively. Clifford was a force in the paint, often finding himself wide open to slam home a dunk or get off an easy layup. Meanwhile, Heckmann swished his first two 3-point attempts, and later on in the game he displayed his ability to drive to the net for points.

“The way the offense works, Coach has a lot of guys moving around, which creates a lot of space for me and my other teammates,” Clifford said. “I think the guys did a great job cutting to the basket, which pulled my guys’ attention and really made it possible for me to get open.”

  •  Veteran Leadership: John Cahill is back to play another year for the Eagles, and he will help the young team immensely. Statistics aside (Cahill was 3-for-3 from beyond the arc), the experienced guard proved his worth on the court today. Whenever he was on the hardwood, Cahill was the player to huddle his teammates together after a whistle, to get them refocused and steady their mindset. This leadership will be key for the team with nine freshmen.

“Well with the young team that we have, there haven’t been as many people who have gone through this,” Cahill said. “I’m someone who went through it last year, and I saw how the seniors did it last year and it really helps the new guys calm down when [the seniors] are helping you and just telling you, ‘Forget about the last play,’ and just calm everyone down. Out there it gets kind of crazy at times. Just telling them to calm down and relax is something that’s important.”

  •  Finally Seeing Live Action: For the seven freshmen that played, it was their first game action of their college careers. After weeks of practicing, how did it feel to finally play a game?

“It was great to actually play with the team,” Clifford said. “We’re battling each other every day in practice, so it was definitely great to work as one unit.”

  •  The Turnovers: Despite all the encouraging signs, there was one ugly part of the game: BC’s 21 turnovers.

“Yeah, that was tough,” Cahill said. “They’re a scrappy team. They were getting into us early on. We kind of let them speed us up a little bit and get us out of our game. We can’t let them do that. We had the same thing in the Seton Hall game and that’s definitely something we’re working on. But a lot of our guards are younger guys, so they just got to get used to that. I think at times we did pretty good with it, but at times when we got up, we kind of got away from ball protection and taking care of the ball.”

  •  A Work In Progress: If anything, Saturday’s game was a great barometer for head coach Steve Donahue to see where his team stands. Going forward, Donahue will be able to use what he saw Saturday to focus in on specific things in the practices before the regular season begins.

“Not only are they young, this is the first time any of them have played together,” Donahue said. “So it’s hard to figure out who to look to at certain times. It’s why these games are good. It gives you a chance to figure that out, and come back on Monday and work at it.”


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