Tuesday, November 17, 2009

GAMEDAY: George Washington University vs. Boston University

After months of preparation, head coach Patrick Chambers unveiled a new brand of Terrier basketball on Friday: high-octane, pedal-to-the-metal, and willing to risk making mistakes in order to make plays. With Scott Brittain and B.J. Bailey unavailable due to concussions, the V-8 engine under the Terriers' hood was suddenly short a couple of cylinders. BU displayed intent, but the horsepower and intelligent decision-making necessary for translating intent into results was noticeably absent. 22 turnovers gets a team nowhere.

Tonight, the Terriers return to a more favorable setting, a familiar second home, albeit one with some less than pleasant memories. BU has enjoyed very limited success at Agganis Arena, partially due to the generally high quality of the opponents scheduled to play there, but also due to some uncharacteristically poor performances at The Greek. Tonight's game, Chambers' first at the more palatial of BU's two venues, constitutes an opportunity for the Terriers to establish an increased comfort level at Agganis, not to mention level their season record.

Tonight's opponent brings a reminder of another unfulfilling history, longer in duration yet still lacking in positives. George Washington has met the Terriers 17 times; those meetings have produced a single BU victory, which was achieved on Feb. 19, 1979. Those Terriers were also led by a head coach in his first season at the helm. His name was Rick Pitino.

Most of the current Terriers remember last year's season-opening overtime loss to the Colonials. The nemeses from that defeat, Rob Diggs and Wynton Witherspoon, are noticeably absent. So, too, is Noel Wilmore, a deadly 3-point shooter who converted more than 40 percent of his attempts last season. George Washington is looking to replace significant portions of its 2008-09 scoring and improve on a season that left the Colonials outside the 12-team Atlantic 10 Conference tournament bracket. The Atlantic 10 coaches and media are skeptical about the program's ability to rebuild -- the Colonials were picked to finish 13th again this season.

Chambers, of course, has no personal memories of last year's home opener. Nor does he have any personal connection to the Terriers' well-documented struggles at Agganis. More relevant are memories of Friday's unpleasant result, positive signs mixed in with a slew of more negative outcomes. Few expected BU to exhibit solid rebounding ability, and in that respect the Terriers have surprised through one game; fewer still would have predicted poor ball-control and generally subpar shooting from the Terrier guards.

Playing at home against an opponent that typically prefers to employ a slower pace, further exposure of the Terriers' still-thin bench is somewhat less likely. Sloppy play, however, is a good way to get into trouble. The Terriers committed 22 turnovers against Iona; that number has to decrease. BU also has to contend with talented scorer Damian Hollis, a 6-foot-8 forward with athleticism and range. Hollis and the Colonials may be far removed from the A-10 elite, but at this early stage of the season, undisciplined play is not one of the risks the Terriers can afford to play. Better decision-making and more typical shooting performances from Corey Lowe and John Holland, on the other hand, would go a long way toward putting Chambers and his depleted team over the first-win hump.

Expected starting lineups:

Boston University
G Tyler Morris, 21 PPG, 2 RPG, 2 SPG
G Corey Lowe, 16 PPG, 7 APG, 6 RPG
G Carlos Strong, 12 PPG, 11 RPG, 2 APG
F/G John Holland, 17 PPG, 6 RPG, 12 FTPG (free throws per game)
F Jake O'Brien, 7 PPG, 4 RPG, 2 BPG

George Washington
G Tony Taylor, 10 PPG, 5 APG, 4 RPG
G Tim Johnson, 11 PPG, 2 RPG, 1 APG
G Lasan Kromah, 8 PPG, 2 RPG, 2 SPG
F Damian Hollis, 8 PPG, 1 RPG, 5 FPG
C Joseph Katuka, 2 PPG, 5 RPG, 1 SPG

Don't forget to check back at 6:30 PM for the live blog of tonight's game.

Link: Men's basketball to play home opener against GW

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