Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Day After: (Stony Brook 66, BU 54)

From the second he stepped on the court as a freshman, Corey Lowe has started 74-of-76 games (with the two exceptions coming last season) and boasts a career average of 34.1 minutes per game. He's been the unquestioned face of the program over the past three seasons and one of the most exciting players in BU history, as he's already taken over the top spot for most 3-pointers made in a career and is 11th on the all-time list in points scored.

Wednesday night against Stony Brook University, he played a season-low 11 minutes. It appeared as though Lowe (17.5 points per game) was being held on the bench by BU coach Dennis Wolff to avoid picking up his fourth personal foul, but it soon became apparent Wolff wasn't going to send his starting point guard back out, saying "we went with the guys who I thought would give us the best chance to win."

While the Terriers did manage to cut into the Seawolves' 15-point lead and pull within one without Lowe on the floor, there's no doubt he would have helped BU's winning effort. It's the second time this season Wolff has made the decision to bench a healthy Lowe, while the other was disciplinary because he picked up two technical fouls in the same game against Holy Cross.

Granted Lowe's had his bouts of mild controversy before (missing two games freshman year, the technicals this season, etc.), but one would be hard-pressed to believe the Newton native could have done something so drastic in the first half of the loss to Stony Brook to warrant his benching for the entire second half. Even if he did something wrong, the benching comes as a surprise because when he and John Holland combined for 17 points in the loss to Binghamton Wolff said postgame that "when Lowe and Holland combine for 17 points, we're not going to win many games." Unless Wolff really needed to send another disciplinary message to Lowe, the decision is significant if that quote supports his logic, given that the mission of any team this time of year is to be playing as a cohesive unit and on top of their game come tourney time.

On the heels of being benched against Albany, Lowe turned around and soon helped propel the Terriers to an eight-game winning streak, playing the best basketball of his career. In order to gain enough confidence as a team in the three games remaining before the tournament, Lowe (presuming he will be awarded his regular amount of playing time as Wolff said he would following the SBU loss) will need to return to his high-level of play that carried BU through its best stretch of basketball since 2005.

-- Second-half comeback: As unusual as the benching of Lowe was, the fact that the Terriers were able to come back without him on the floor bodes well for the future when he may actually have to sit out for foul trouble.
-- Matt Wolff's performance: Wolff grabbed a game-high eight rebounds and dished out seven assists to make up for his poor showing (and benching the game before) as well as Lowe's absence (assist-wise).

-- Post-presence in the first half: The Terriers didn't make much of an effort to get the ball inside in the first half and it was a large reason why they were down big at the half. To the coaching staff and players' credit, the forwards did a much better job inside in the second half.
-- Slow start: It seems as though an all-too common theme this season has been a slow start to the game. Always having to come back is no way to play basketball, especially on what have to be tired legs with all four starters averaging over 30 minutes per game. Whether it's in the way the players practice, the way the coaching staff prepares the team or a combination of both, one slow start in the tournament could be all it takes to dash BU's title hopes.

Terriers lose to SBU; Lowe benched
Time to panic?

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