Friday, November 20, 2009

The Day After: Kansas State University 80, Boston University 70

Another day, another loss. BU's margin of defeat in last night's game suggests a lack of improvement -- not backsliding, to be sure, but inching no closer to victory. Given context, specifically by the Terriers' opponent and the venue, and a 10-point defeat suggests something different altogether.

Rewind to Tuesday. Apart from a brief Terrier run coming out of the eight-minute media timeout, the Colonials of George Washington University never appeared to be in serious danger of surrendering control of the game. This, against a team projected to finish 13th in a 14-team conference according to the Atlantic-10 preseason poll. Projections are characterized best by their tendency to miss -- and miss badly -- but the Colonials are a far cry from a quality power-conference team.

The Terriers were then thrust into an unfamiliar environment. BU was pitted against a Kansas State team receiving votes for the AP Top 25. The Wildcats had defeated their first two opponents by a total of 70 points. While a 10-point loss is, by definition, not a victory in any tangible sense, a close loss to a quality opponent after two disappointing outings represents progress.

Last night was far from perfect. Corey Lowe fouled out less than five minutes into the second half, missed all seven of his attempts from the field and had five turnovers to match his five assists. Kansas state attempted 44 free throws. The Terriers shot 35.8 percent from the field, still well shy of a quality shooting performance. But make no mistake, this team is making strides, and those strides are starting to add up. Tonight's game versus Indiana offers another chance to improve.

-- Tyler Morris. For the second time in less than a week, the senior guard provided some serious scoring punch. Morris led all scorers with 21 points on 6-of-11 shooting, finding the net on three of his four 3-point attempts and making all six of his free throws. Finding offense for others has been difficult at times -- BU's No. 24 didn't have an assist -- but one turnover in 28 minutes helped the Terriers in another important category.
-- Turnovers. BU had 16 turnovers out of 73 offensive possessions. The 21.9 percent rate was the best of the season and inched closer to where the Terriers were in 2008-09. Considering the increased athleticism of the Terriers' opponent, continued improvement in this category is a definite plus.

-- Corey Lowe. Talk about a forgettable performance. Even Lowe's off days rarely go this wrong. The Terriers' star guard has a strong track record, so no made field goals and catastrophic foul trouble can be mostly chalked up to waking up on the wrong side of the bed. Still, it would be comforting to see Lowe return to form tonight.
-- Shooting. Is 35.8 percent better than Tuesday's 30.6 percent? Yes. Is BU doing well from the field? Not by a longshot. Shooting is supposed to be the Terriers' strength; right now it's a definite weakness.

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