Looking at BC Basketball’s Turnover Problem
By Daniel Emery
With only six games left in the season, Boston College basketball has impressed many with a 15-10 record and 5-7 in the ACC. It is a team that has been exhilarating to watch thanks to the strong offense led by Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson. But too many times, fans are infuriated by the excess of turnovers that plague this offense.
The Eagles are currently 81st in the KenPom rankings, which is a computer program that ranks all college basketball teams in the country. After finishing last year ranked 173, this is an impressive improvement, but fans want more and would like to see this team go beyond the ranking of 81 while the Eagles have two potential NBA players in Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson. Fans are hopeful that this year’s team set a strong precedent for next year’s team to surpass. With these two players, there is hope for a tournament berth and maybe even a deep run, but to do so, this team has to learn how to protect the ball.
According to NCAA.com, the Eagles are tied with Texas A&M for the 119th best offense in the country with 75.9 points per game. By comparison, Texas A&M is a perennial powerhouse and currently sits at 21 in the KenPom rankings. Since the NCAA includes 351 schools, this is not bad for a team trying to get back into the tournament, but you could always strive for more. Even though this offense is really good, it could be even better if they had a better turnover margin. Not only is committing turnovers detrimental to an offense, but creating turnovers on the defensive end can lead to many easy layups or dunks allowing the offense to get into a rhythm. With this in mind, the Eagles rank 254th in turnover margin barely edging out Florida A&M in this statistic. By comparison, Florida A&M ranks 338 in the KenPom rankings, which equates to the 14th worst team in Division 1 basketball.
To become a tournament team, you cannot have a similar turnover margin to the 14th worst team in the country. That would force this team to compensate in other areas on the court at a rate that is completely unreasonable. Since this team is built on guard play, these turnovers are even more worrisome. Having two great guards that can handle the ball theoretically should move the turnover battle towards that team, but in this case it does not.
The guard that has caused the most problems in the turnover game is Ky Bowman as his aggressive game inherently leads to high turnover rate. Even with this style, wild passes and a lack of control at times is something that needs to be controlled. In addition, starting center Nik Popovic has a lot of trouble catching passes down in the paint. In the game on Saturday vs the University of Miami, Popovic ended with 6 turnovers and 5 rebounds. The center should not have that many turnovers and especially should not have more turnovers than rebounds. With an improvement from these two players, overall performance should improve.
In order to compensate for the turnover battle, Boston College lives and dies by the three-point shot hitting 8.9 3 point field goals per game ranking 69th in the country in that category. They are good three-point shooting team ranking 75th in the country with a 37.4% according to NCAA.com, but it leads to many disappointing performances especially in games away from home. The discrepancy is obvious as Boston College carries a 13-2 record at Conte Forum and a 2-8 record away from home including a 1-1 record at neutral sites. This means that when Boston College is a true road team, they have a 1-7 record with the only win coming against lowly Hartford who rank 214 in the KenPom rankings.
Turnovers are a massive part of the game of basketball. Winning the turnover battle gives teams more possessions allowing for more opportunities to score. Due to the Eagles lack of depth, a more concentrated defensive pressure is unreasonable as it would simply tire out our star players with a large decrease in quality when switching to the backups. The one area in which they can improve is on the offensive end. They need to hold on to the rock. Decreasing their turnovers would go a long way in turning this team into a tournament team.