BC Wins in The Bahamas
By Ben Neuwirth
First posted on BostonCollege.247sports.com
The Boston College Eagles beat the New Providence Basketball Association All-Stars 93-86 in the Bahamas. This FIBA exhibition was somewhere between a preseason game and a practice scrimmage with sloppy play and questionable officiating throughout.
The NPBA All-Stars were clearly outmatched talentwise but fought admirably. Although I’m sure they have bright futures ahead, we’ll focus on how the Eagles looked.
Ky Bowman was clearly the best player on the floor, slicing the defense for 19 points, 5 assists and 8 boards. He was in total control, crossing over screens, powering himself into the paint and launching numerous pull up and step back jumpers into the bottom of the net. He is truly a complete player and is growing his repertoire, showcasing a gorgeous spinning layup in the 2nd half. Even when he shared the floor with Jerome Robinson, the offense was at his fingertips.
Speaking of Robinson, the Junior looked his usual dynamic self, adding 17 points and 4 dimes of his own. One of ‘Rome’s go-to’s is to get the ball on the left wing, triple threat his defender and then, depending on the reaction, side step into a 3 pointer, pull up from mid range or slither his way past to the bucket. It’s almost impossible to guard him when he has space and the element of surprise. Ignoring a failed alley-oop, his chemistry with Ky seemed stronger than ever.
Jordan Chapman was electric off the bench, finishing with 28 points on 11-16 shooting, including a scorching 6-8 from deep. This guy is a shooter through and through, coming off several Ray Allen style pin-downs and knocking down shots over the top of contests. Anytime he gets it off, you expect the ball to hit bottom. He also displayed some interesting moves inside, including a nice euro-step. He should be the presumptive starter on the wing for next season and will be a strong option.
Sophomore Mike Sagay started and played 24 minutes, perhaps a sign of a larger role for him this season. He was active on the boards and played his butt off defensively, but is still extremely raw. He needs to work on both his dribbling and passing as well as defensive awareness, he was caught sleeping a few times. Sagay has the skills to be a solid rotation cog and a motor that should keep him on the court, he just needs to sharpen his skills.
Surprisingly, JohnCarlos Reyes started the game at center and played 22 minutes, but was ineffective. He looks stronger and faster than last season but still struggles to catch the ball and finish. A work in progress.
Nik Popovic came off the bench and played just 17 minutes. This didn’t seem to be a result of Pop’s conditioning woes, as we saw last season, but rather a certain frustration level from coach Jim Christian. He had 8 rebounds and showed the potential he teased last season but made several mental mistakes that led to early exits. It’s good to see Coach Christian continue to teach Niko the finer points of the game and point out his mistakes, games like this are for learning and no one believes more in him than Christian. Hopefully this was just an off-day.
Now onto the freshman.
Steffon Mitchell, the forward out of Wichita, Kansas, also started the game for BC and played just over 31 minutes, contributing 10 points, on 4 of 9 shooting, 9 rebounds and 2 assists. The first thing that stands out about Mitchell is his strength. He’s a big 6’7 and barrel chested, several of the older guys from NBPA tried to back him down but Steffon stuck out his chest and was able to push them back.
He got involved in the rebounding game and had a couple hustle put-backs. He shoots lefty and takes a little while to wind-up, but his motion seems smooth enough once he gets into it. He had a ugly air-ball followed by a swish from downtown so it’s unclear how well he can stroke it.
Luca Kraljevic, the freshman big from Slovenia, looked very impressive in his 9-and-a-half minutes. His stat sheet doesn’t jump out, 3 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist, but he looks very fluid on the floor and was part of BC’s best lineups. Listed at 6’10, Luca has the size to hang down low just not the strength, he mostly played alongside JC Reyes or Popovic as a PF. However, for a 4 minute stretch in the 3rd quarter he was the long big alongside 3 wings and Ky Bowman. This opened a new dimension for the Eagles’ offense.
Kraljevic shoots a nice, easy ball from 3 and gets his shot up extremely quick and over his head, making it impossible to block and difficult to even contest given his size. He knows how to screen and move about the arc and even displayed some rudimentary dribbling ability.
If the Eagles can play 4 shooters consistently and at times 5 when Kraljevic slides down to center, Ky and ‘Rome’s offensive numbers should explode and we could be talking about the high scoring, high tempo offense Coach Christian has talked about since he arrived.
Defensively, he has a couple of blocks and played hard and smart. He was pushed around due to his slight frame but is very mobile.
I’m already a huge fan of Luca and if the Eagles are able to have him and Pop as their options downlow and space the floor for their star backcourt, the ceiling on this team gets higher and higher.
Ervins Meznieks played spot minutes at the end of the halves and may see some time this year. Frosh Vin Baker and Avery Wilson did not play, same with vets Gordon Gehan and Matt Diluccio.
We all knew how good Jerome and Ky were heading into this game and we’ve seen Chapman catch fire before, but the biggest takeaways from today was the encouraging play of Steffon Mitchell and Luca Kraljevic, two freshman that BC desperately needs to be contributors next season. I’m more optimistic about the 2017-18 season than I was a few hours ago. Keep your eyes peeled.