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Before the Eagles get deep into the meat of their schedule, here is what you need to know about this season’s backcourt.
Boston College replaces PG Tyrese Rice, the number one scoring threat on the team, with Junior Biko Paris, a six foot guard who has averaged 4.5 points and 2.3 assists per game. Sophomore Reggie Jackson will also play plenty of minutes as the other ball handler on the roster.
How Biko goes, so goes this team and all signs point for Paris to come through big this year. He is a hardnosed guy (displaced by Hurricane Katrina) who has been elected captain and won the Frank Power Award which is given out annually to the player that best exemplifies dedication, loyalty, spirit, and love. Although most his teammates treat him like a little brother, they all respect him and believe he has the ability to be a key contributor. His ball handling is by far the best on the team and he has improved his three point percentage by 10 points from last year to this year. Losing Rice, who minimized turnovers and maximized steals, takes a few possessions off the board, but Paris also will not shoot himself out of slumps. It seemed at points that Rice would not allow the Flex Offense to generate the open shots and he would look to shoot first before the pass. These slow starts would cause Josh Southern to lose confidence and Rakim Sanders to lose patience (both of which will be discussed later). Paris’ calming presence cannot be fully quantified.
Although Jackson is a backup on paper, think of him as a sixth starter. His energy and scoring bursts always add a jolt to a flex offense that at times can get monotonous. Since he is the only other reliable point guard on the roster, expect a lot of action from him. He shines brightest on the big stage (17 points at UNC, 15 in 22 minutes at Duke) and his passion is tangible from the stands. Consistency remains the only obstacle between him and All-ACC.
Junior Rakim Sanders starts for the third consecutive year at the two. He has averaged 12.9 points per game as well as 4.5 rebounds. Expect Jackson to play a few minutes at shooting guard as well as sophomore Dallas Elmore, who played sparingly last year.
Sanders plays to his competition, whether that is a good thing (22 at UNC vs. Wayne Ellington) or a bad thing (his Harvard 7-step) depends on who he plays. At 6’5 220, he might be the most physically imposing player BC has had in the past few seasons and when his three pointer is working he is unstoppable. At other times, Sanders becomes disenchanted with the game of basketball and loafs it on both sides of the ball. He is one of those players whose point total directly relates to his potentially phenomenal defense. Many call him an enigma, but he and Joe Trapani will be the first two options on offense. The Al Skinner set offense is catered to his strengths (he outmuscles small twos and outruns threes), but his tendency to rely on his three point shooting has led to many a benching. In all the big wins, Sanders played a critical role and this season could boost him in many NBA scouts’ eyes if he plays hard on both ends of the floor.
When Jackson gets in the game at the two, you will see a much more up tempo offense and plenty of pressing while Elmore brings a much more standard feel. Elmore got virtually no playing time last year, but if he shows some good things at the beginning of this year with Sanders, Corey Raji, and Courtney Dunn suspended, I expect to see five to 10 minutes a game come conference game time.