Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Day After: (BU 67, New Hampshire 49)

With their eighth win in a row, the Terriers matched their win total from all of last season in both overall and conference victories (14 and nine). In fact, with six games remaining on the schedule (five against conference opponents) the Terriers could assure themselves a their first winning season since 2004-05 with one more victory. It's highly unlikely BU will fail to notch that win before the start of the conference tournament, but more so than a winning season, the Terriers have their aspirations set on a higher goal -- winning the conference for the first time since 2004 (the most recent year they won, which capped a string of three consecutive conference victories).

While UNH is by no means a top team in the conference (They're coming up for BU this week with Vermont on Wednesday and Binghamton on Saturday), they do have capable shooters who can get hot if given some space. Even though Gibbs lit BU up with six 3-pointers, the Terriers' aggressive zone defense held the rest of UNH's top scorers in check as Tyrone Conley, Eric Gilchrise and Alvin Abreu went a combined 5-of-35 from the field. It's the second game this year BU has held UNH to a shooting percentage below 30 and its a testament to how much the players have embraced being forced to switch to a zone.

In addition, the 67-49 win marks the fourth time this year BU has held its opponent to under 50 points after accomplishing the feat just once in 2007-08. The Terriers are scoring at a ramped pace in conference play, especially over the course of the winning streak, in which they're outscoring opponents by an average of 12.9 points per game. Keep in mind the Terriers have won these eight games within two subsets of "hell weeks" in which the team played four games in nine days (two of which were multiple overtime games, including a four OT marathon against Stony Brook) and four games in eight the next (with three of them coming on the road).

That, in itself, regardless of how short the bench is, is a testament to the players, coaching staff and organization's ability to focus on winning. Then throw in the fact that Corey Lowe and John Holland are averaging over 40 minutes per game in conference play and BU coach Dennis Wolff has been using mainly five guys (with a steady sub rotation of three players) since the conference schedule began, and the run becomes even more impressive.

As Wolff has frequently said, the players have all accepted and embraced their roles and it's certainly paying off as nobody (save Matt Wolff) has won this many games on a collegiate level before. And with a win on Wednesday, even Wolff would reach a new high.

-- Answers to shots: Each time UNH would hit a 3-pointer or convert on a series of offensive rebounds to get the crowd back in the game, BU would answer with a trey of its own to kill the momentum. It's something the Terriers have done consistently over the course of the winning streak.
-- Scott Brittain's play: One rebound shy of a double-double and 4-of-5 from the field is a great day for the 6-foot-9 junior, who's shown continual improvement since conference play began. His ability to change a game with a good performance is perhaps one of the most important on the entire roster.

-- Tyrece Gibbs' day: There's not much you can do when someone's on, but it seemed as though Gibbs was just getting good looks from the outside too often as opposed to hitting high-level of difficulty shots. BU won't be able to let that happen against UVM or Binghamton (Mike Trimboli/D.J. Rivera)
-- John Holland's slow start: Of course this is nit-picking, but Holland started the game 1-of-7 and was yanked for a quick blow to regain his composure. It's not really a con, just unfamiliar and unlike Holland, especially since conference play began, where he's shooting nearly 50 percent from the field.

Men extend winning streak to eight with 67-49 victory at UNH

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