Steve Donahue couldn’t ask for a better way to finish a game. The Boston College men’s basketball head coach watched as his team perfectly executed a final play that sealed a 53-52 win over Virginia, and more importantly it was freshman guard Joe Rahon who sank the shot. Rahon has been on the wrong end of most of the Eagles’ late game mistakes, but he made up for it against the Cavaliers. Here is a breakdown of how he got open for the game-winning 3-pointer.
BC has the ball down 52-50 with 20 seconds left on the clock. Olivier Hanlan is taking the ball out of bounds, Patrick Heckmann and Ryan Anderson set up in front of him, and Rahon and Eddie Odio start out in the corners.
Heckmann comes off the Anderson screen and fills out to the opposite corner while Anderson gets the ball from Hanlan. Hanlan moves to the corner to set a pick for Rahon as Odio slides up the arc.
Rahon takes the pass from Anderson on the right side of the court and begins a pick-and-roll that UVA defends well, but the Eagles have another wrinkle to the play.
The Cavalier defenders run hard help on Rahon and help well enough to make it too difficult to hit Anderson on the slip. In the past, the Eagles have pulled the ball out to set up another pick-and-roll, but this play continues.
Rahon hits Odio who will then pass it off as Heckmann works up the arc. Hanlan starts to cheat up from the corner to draw the attention of his defender and Anderson works for position on the block. Rahon moves from the middle of the lane to the left corner.
As Heckmann gets the ball, both Cavalier defenders jump out to him, leaving Odio. This is the most important part of the play because it causes confusion when UVA eventually tries and fails to find Rahon later on.
Heckmann takes one wide dribble, but then eventually attacks the lane after he’s left in a one-on-one situation. Odio starts to work inside so that he can set up a sneaky pin-down screen leaving Rahon, who is still hiding in the corner, open on the outside.
Given the angle that Heckmann drives here, it doesn’t seem like his attack was ever a real option on the play. He heads straight for the “S” in “Eagles” on the baseline, turns around, and sees a wide open Rahon calling for the ball. The other Cavalier defenders are occupied with Anderson and Odio inside, and Hanlan’s man can’t leave because he is ball-side. Odio is in perfect position to stall any UVA player from closing out to Rahon before the shot is fired.
Another benefit of this play is that it gives three Cavalier players the idea that they could all be closest to Rahon for the closeout, which causes all of them to hesitate for a second, watching if any of the other ones will go. It buys an extra split-second for Rahon to get off his shot, and it also helps lead to the foul.
Rahon sinks the bucket and, with it, washes away the late-game demons that have haunted him this year. Pretty much all of Donahue’s final plays have been drawn up for an open three, and this was the first one where his Eagles actually got the look he wanted.
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