Monday, December 14, 2009

The Day After: Boston University 88, Marist College 72

Before the current season started, BU was pegged as the favorite to win the America East conference primarily because of its several dangerous scoring threats. Yet throughout the first nine games of the Terriers' campaign, the single most glaring issue facing the team was the issue least expected prior to November 13th's season opener at Iona. BU could not score the basketball.

So after Sunday's comfortable victory over Marist, the point of emphasis isn't BU's two-game winning streak -- its first winning streak of the season -- or the Terriers' excellent defensive rebounding or its first road win (the Indiana win was technically a neutral-court victory). It's the Terriers' shooting performance that merits close attention.

Prior to Sunday, BU's best effective field goal percentage of the season was 49.1, achieved against Iona and Northeastern. That mark was erased emphatically against a Marist defense that never made an adjustment to Terrier perimeter shooters raining down 3-balls from all over the court. BU was a scorching-hot 15-of-25 from beyond the arc, producing an eFG% of 69.1. As a result, the Terriers scored more than one point per possession for the first time all season despite abnormally poor free throw shooting (9-of-20) and 19 turnovers.

BU enjoyed vintage performances from each half of the Corey Lowe/John Holland one-two punch. Lowe dropped in 27 points, a season high, and his playmaking ability outweighed his tendency to try for the spectacular when something more ordinary would do. The senior guard had seven assists; his four turnovers, while not ideal, were less damaging than usual. Holland added 21 points on efficient 7-of-11 shooting, throwing in three steals for good measure.

The lone point of weakness was the Terrier frontcourt. Other than Jake O'Brien, who gave Marist a variety of headaches (10 points, 11 rebounds, two steals, three blocks), BU can't be happy with the output from the post.

Jeff Pelage's 3-of-4 shooting and 10 rebounds were marred by a terrible day at the free throw line -- he shot just 2-of-8 at the charity stripe -- a missed dunk, and five turnovers, several on traveling calls. When Pelage gets the ball, half the time it results in a turnover, and if the 6-foot-9 center is fouled, he isn't capitalizing at the free throw line. When Pelage stays under control long enough to select a route to the basket and pursue it decisively, he can find some success on the offensive end, but other than brief flashes, that sort of play hasn't been visible.

Valdas Sirutis played just two minutes before leaving the game with an apparent injury. The senior forward did not return; its unclear whether he will be available for BU's next game, December 22nd versus Mount St. Mary's.

Despite the frontcourt issues, though, the Terriers have to be happy with the result. A clear-cut victory was the short-term goal, but if BU exhibits improved shooting going forward, Sunday's game may very well become the game where the Terriers began to resemble the conference favorites everyone expected.

Box score

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