Right about now you’re probably wondering why I’m making you look at a picture of Chris O’Donnell, costumed as Robin in the abysmal film, “Batman and Robin.” Well, there are a couple reasons and I swear that by the end of this article, they might even make sense. The first reason is that O’Donnell is a graduate of Syracuse’s Tuesday night opponent, Boston College. The second? Syracuse has its Batman, but desperately needs to find a Robin.
Sometimes it’s fun to make Boston College fans feel bad, so it should come as no surprise that I enjoyed learning that O’Donnell is a BC graduate. I don’t necessarily have anything against the guy, I’m sure he’s very nice. School Ties was a solid film, right? But frankly, I just can’t ever forgive him for Vertical Limit, a movie that inexplicably caught my attention, made me voracious about seeing it, and pretty much immediately disappointed the hell out of me, all while leaving me without the prospect of recovering the money I spent on a movie ticket.
Despite his participation in Batman and Robin, and his role in introducing us to a world in which both Batman and Robin had nipples on their suits for what can only be explained as, we guess, “reasons,” O’Donnell has bounced back and latched onto the CBS television procedural gravy train, pairing with LL Cool J on the show NCIS: Los Angeles. He can sleep easy, I guess, knowing that he destroyed an iconic comic book character for millions of fans, but at least he’s entertaining a whole lot of AARP members on a weekly basis.
But that’s enough about Robin, because as we enter Syracuse’s game against Boston College, we’re looking at an Orange team that doesn’t seem to have someone to fill that role for our own Batman. Man, now that’s a heck of a segue, isn’t it?
At this point, it’s pretty obvious that Rakeem Christmas is Syracuse’s version of Batman, kicking unholy amounts of ass every time he takes the floor and, I can only assume, bringing criminals to justice in his downtime. But as the Chris O’Donnell masterpiece Batman and Robin taught us, Batman can’t do it alone forever. He needs a Robin in there to help with at least a little bit of the heavy lifting. Syracuse looked like they might actually have two capable sidekicks for Christmas during its seven game win streak, as both Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije looked like completely new players, perhaps worthy of their own spinoff comics in which they were going to be the stars.
And then the Clemson Clunker (trademark pending) happened, and Orange fans are fearful that we’re back to square one. It’s unfair to jump to such conclusions based on a single game, but the way that Cooney and Gbinije struggled against what is, quite frankly, a mediocre-at-best Clemson team is almost as troubling as O’Donnell’s codpiece. Fortunately, the Orange are back in the friendly confines of the Carrier Dome for this matchup with the Eagles, and Boston College is, quite frankly, perhaps the worst team in the ACC.
In terms of wins and losses, they quite literally are the worst, or at least tied for that spot along with Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. The Eagles enter Tuesday’s game with a record of 8-8 overall and 0-4 in conference play, with a couple recent losses coming by one point at home against Pittsburgh and a four point road loss at Miami. The Eagles were also blown out by Duke and Virginia, but obviously that was expected.
Still, Syracuse can’t afford to take Boston College lightly. After all, this is the program that improbably knocked off the Orange last season when Syracuse was leaps and bounds better – or at least more consistent – than they are this year. You could say that the Eagles have a Batman of their own in the 6-foot-4 Olivier Hanlan, a dynamic combo guard from Quebec who leads the team in scoring with an average of 16.5 points per game.
Hanlan will remind some of a poor man’s Russell Westbrook, but this year in particular he’s really struggled with his shooting percentages, hitting just 42.9% from the field and 26% from three. Still, to put into perspective just how much of a focal point he is for the team, he’s attempted 50 more shots than the team’s second leading scorer, 6-foot-5 guard Aaron Brown. Brown averages 13.8 points and leads BC with 27 made three pointers, though only at a clip of 30.3%.
Of course, three point percentages can often be thrown out the window. Any longtime Syracuse fan knows that any random player can, and often does, erupt for a career shooting night against the Orange. One player who’s got the potential to do that for the Eagles is Dimitri Batten, a 6-foot-3 guard who averages 7.5 points but has hit 13 threes – the third highest total on the team – at a rate of 37.1%.
Other players to keep an eye on for BC include Patrick Heckmann, a 6-foot-6 swingman from Germany who averages 8.2 points and 4.3 boards per game, and has the capability to step out and knock down a three pointer or two of his own. Dennis Clifford is a massive body in the post, standing 7-foot-1 and weighting in at 250 pounds, though he only averages 5.9 rebounds to go along with his 8.2 points per game. He’s also had a little bit of foul trouble this year, fouling out three times in 16 games.
Overall, this is a Boston College team that doesn’t do any one thing particularly well. They out-rebound their opponents by less than a rebound per game, and turn it over a lot – 214 giveaways overall this season, to be exact. They have forced their opponents into 228 turnovers, but you also have to remember that among those opponents are UMass-Lowell and the 1-16 Maine Black Bears.
The common refrain this season in games like this has been that this is absolutely a matchup that Syracuse should dominate and win by about 15 or 20 points, but as the Clemson Clunker (trademark still pending) proved, it’s impossible to predict what this team will do from one night to the next.
Well, that’s not true. The one thing that we can predict and be quite confident will come to pass is that Rakeem Christmas will thoroughly dominate in the post and throw up a double-double, because again, he’s our Batman. Now we just need someone step into the little green tights of Robin.
Figuratively, of course.