Thursday, November 19, 2009

GAMEDAY: Boston University vs. Kansas State University

On the Terriers' schedule, Puerto Rico sticks out like a sore thumb, even when compared to BU's several other challenging non-conference opportunities. There are highly-anticipated contests, and then there are these three games. Between the guarantee of national television exposure and the chance to play power-conference competition at a theoretically neutral site, regular-season games don't get much bigger than these for a small-conference program.

Relatively little has gone BU's way in recent weeks. Concussions have thinned the Terrier bench and turnovers have plagued those players healthy enough to see the court. Open shots have been missed. Fouls at critical times during the game have forced key contributors to sit. While the defense has started to round into form, head coach Patrick Chambers' offense is clearly a work in progress, providing production in fits and starts. Bench scoring has been nonexistent.

And so, with a myriad of issues to rectify, the Terriers arrive at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot in search of their first win.

BU has struggled in its attempts to break pressure defenses through two games; tonight's opponent, the Wildcats of Kansas State, promise to offer more of the same. Kansas State ranked among the top 20 teams in opponent's turnover percentage last year, ending nearly 24 percent of its defensive possessions in such a manner. That figure is up to 25.4 percent so far this season.

The Wildcats typically apply heavy on-ball pressure and put defenders in the passing lanes to disrupt the offense. BU found occasional success in the second half of Tuesday's game using dribble-drive penetration to combat this strategy, but when Lowe or Holland had to kick the ball back out, perimeter shots were not falling.

Kansas State should also provide a stern test for the Terriers' defensive rebounding. The Wildcats were the best offensive rebounding team in college basketball last season and are doing well on that front once again. BU's undersized lineup has held its own on the boards through two games, but the athleticism and skill of a quality BCS conference opponent is something the Terriers have not yet seen.

After two consecutive subpar performances on offense, the challenge for BU is two-fold: take care of the ball well enough to generate scoring opportunities, and capitalize when a chance presents itself. The Terriers' offensive difficulties have not been solely the product of poor decisions. When BU holds on to the ball, open shots have presented themselves. Missing open layups and uncontested 3-pointers has contributed greatly to BU's offensive woes. Making a few extra shots might not be enough to secure a win, but it would be a big step in the right direction, win or lose.

Expected starting lineups:

Boston University
G Tyler Morris, 12.5 PPG, 2.5 SPG, 2.0 APG
G Corey Lowe, 18.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 4.0 APG
G Carlos Strong, 8.5 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 2.5 APG
F/G John Holland, 20.5 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.5 SPG
F Jake O'Brien, 6.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.5 BPG

Kansas State
G Jacob Pullen, 12.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.5 APG
G Denis Clemente, 11.5 PPG, 4.0 APG, 1.5 RPG
F Jamar Samuels, 15.0 PPG, 5.5 PPG, 2.0 APG
F Curtis Kelly, 15.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.5 APG
C Jordan Henriquez-Roberts, 5.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 4.5 APG

Link: Men's basketball heads to Puerto Rico to prove itself against nation's elite

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