Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Day After: Holy Cross 68, BU 49

Another game, another plethora of questions regarding BU coach Dennis Wolff's postgame comments. According to reporters who attended the press conference (nobody from FCP was there), Wolff said that there are internal issues affecting the team and that the junior and senior leaders' off-court actions are affecting what's happening with the team on the court.

It didn't seem possible for things to get worse after the Terriers' 89-59 loss to Cornell Monday, but their most recent effort against Holy Cross may have been. The Crusaders had never won a game on the road prior to their victory at Agganis Arena and had an RPI in the 300's. BU, however, seemed helpless against Holy Cross' matchup zone and it in the last three games of BU's four-game losing streak -- when opposing coaches really keyed in on stopping BU's 3-point attempts -- the Terriers have done nothing to adjust.

It's unclear as to whether the onus should fall on the coaching staff or players for not being able to react when their long-range shooting game is neutralized. The fact of the matter is that if it's not fixed, the Terriers won't win many conference games.

As for Wolff's comments, it's a shame that it appears the junior and senior classes aren't leading as well as they should be. There's no doubt all of the junior and seniors are of good character and appeared hungry to win/ready to prove doubters wrong and the beginning of the season. But now, at the slightest hint a collapse, the wheels have started to fall off. That would have been allowable when the Terriers were largely comprised of freshman and sophomores (as they were the last two seasons), but as an older team in the league, there's really no excuse for the lack of leadership, which seemed to culminate (in-game, at least) with Corey Lowe picking up his second technical of the game late in the second half and fouling out.

Still, if it weren't for Wolff's post-game comments, there wouldn't be much of a reason to press the panic button. As important as non-conference play is for boosting the team and America East RPI, it doesn't have a vast impact on the season as a whole, or BU's tournament hopes. Sure, it can toy with momentum, but the Terriers proved last season they're able to enter conference play on a dreadful losing streak where all appeared lost and then have an extremely successful conference campaign. The problem comes when the coach says there are "internal issues" hampering the team. In any organization, sports or otherwise, that's never a good thing.

If the Terriers can't overcome whatever issues are corroding practice and game preparation, as well as in-game execution, things won't get any better. Even with BU's two most recent losses (by a total of 49 points), all is not lost on the season. The schedule is 27 games long for a reason and despite the horrendous efforts by the Terriers in their last three games, as Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said at his press conference following a near loss against this very BU team, it's "college basketball, man."

-- Jake O'Brien's discipline: O'Brien, for being a freshman, is a very savvy player and was one of the only Terriers on the court who appeared confident in what he was doing on offense and didn't get too far out of rhythm. He was BU's only player to score double digits in points.
-- Jeff Pelage's overall game: Pelage was impressive for the second-straight game as he scored a career-high nine points and grabbed five rebounds. He also looked steady more often than not on the defensive end. If he gets going, he could be a gigantic help to BU and its interior during conference play.

-- Defense: As poor as the offense was against Holy Cross, the defense was just as bad. BU allowed 68 points (many of them easy) to one of the worst offensive teams in the nation. For a program that prides itself on defensive intensity, it's been nowhere to be found in BU's last three games.
-- Corey Lowe's performance: Not only the undisciplined technicals, but his entire game was off. He didn't make a 3-pointer for just the fifth time in his career at BU and didn't appear comfortable at any point in the game. Lowe is the undisputed key to BU's offense performing well and the Terriers can't afford many more poor outings from him the rest of the way.
-- John Holland's gameflow: Usually, there's only two pros and cons in this post, but there are bonus cons after the loss to Holy Cross. It was that bad. Holland hasn't appeared himself on offense since his hot start against Notre Dame. He's getting open looks a majority of the time, just not knocking them down. He, too, will need to step up if BU hopes to turn it around.
-- Scott Brittain's situation: Brittain didn't get into the game against Holy Cross and could be in Wolff's doghouse again. He was one of BU's best inside scorers over the last two seasons and has shown talent in the past. Even if O'Brien and Pelage are better options, Brittain should still be getting into games.

A holy mess
Road victory is first for HC
Crusaders roll over Terriers

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