Regardless of the fact that the victory came against the University of Maine (one of the two clear-cut sub-par teams in the conference), the Terriers pieced together one of their most complete team efforts of the season. The win was significant in marking the 1,000th win in program history in the 100th season of basketball at Boston University.
In addition, John Holland became the second player under BU coach Dennis Wolff to score 500+ points in a season and he's clearly developing into one of the best offensive players to ever set foot in Case Gymnasium/Agganis Arena. His Dr. J-esque dunk last night against two Maine defenders was just as good as not better than his rim-rocker that earned the number one spot on SportsCenter's Top 10 a few weeks ago.
Jake O'Brien and Jeff Pelage also threw it down last night in the 76-65 victory, as Pelage's flush capped a 10-point, 12-rebound performance that emphasized a stretch of his best play of the season. For the Terriers, Pelage's improved play and consistency couldn't come at a better time as they've got one game remaining (against the University of Hartford) before the start of the conference tournament (BU is locked into the third seed and will play the 2:30 game against the No. 6 seed on Saturday).
While the win ensured the Terriers' first winning season since 2004-05, it also marked the return of a team fans became familiar with during BU's eight-game winning streak. Holland and Pelage both recorded double-doubles (though Holland's could have easily gone to O'Brien as the two came down with a rebound, and Holland ripped the ball from O'Brien to get credit for his 10th board) and Lowe had one of his best facilitator games of the season (seven assists, one turnover) and found his shooting stroke in the second half.
The most important thing is that the Terriers are feeling more confident in their abilities than they were a week ago and even though O'Brien and Lowe are playing on tender ankles, the training staff feels they are healthy enough to play and the week off before the start of the tournament should be very beneficial.
In the press conference, Gatorade was set out for the players (an uncommon occurrence), to which Holland exclaimed when he walked in, "We have Gatorade tonight!" Wolff promptly responded, with a straight faced, dry-humor tone, "Let me have John's Gatorade since he didn't pass the ball to Matt." There's no better scenario for a team than to be loose and playing well entering the tournament and if the Terriers win on Sunday (senior day) against Hartford, they'll be just that.
A note: Be sure to log onto the blog at 12:00 p.m. on Sunday for a special live blog of the women's basketball team's game against the University of Maine, run by Scott McLaughlin, Jake Seiner and Dan Ventresca. They will blog the final two games in BU's quest for a 16-0 conference season as well as the America East Tournament in Hartford.
-- Jeff Pelage's aggressiveness/double-double: The imposing rookie has strung together a week of increasingly impressive performances between games and practice and it shows. If he can continue playing at such a high level entering the tournament, the Terriers have as good a "secret weapon" as any team in the bracket.
-- Corey Lowe's second-half shooting: Lowe found his stroke after a rough first half from beyond the arc. Coming out of the locker room, he his his first shot in warmups and gave a look like, "why couldn't I do that the whole first half?" He certainly did in the second, and if he can continue to stay locked in (both passing- and shooting-wise) it will greatly benefit the Terriers.
-- Jake O'Brien's tolerance: O'Brien suffered a sprained ankle Tuesday and it was significantly swollen, yet toughed it out and delivered an 18-point, 9-rebound performance on Thursday.
-- Maine's first-half offense: Maine was finding too many open cuts to the basket and scoring with ease. Other teams will learn to exploit BU's zone in a similar manner if things don't tighten up.
Terriers simply grand
M. BBall tops Maine in postseason tuneup