Monday, November 8, 2010

Notebook: Terriers give fans a sneak peak in Scarlet & White Scrimmage

By Luke Coughlan/DFP Staff

The Boston University basketball team entertained fans with a scrimmage on Monday evening at Agganis Arena in which the Scarlet half of the team overcame the White half by a score of 22-16. The match featured two ten minute halves and saw the debut of eleven players that had not yet donned a BU jersey in front of fans.

While both teams took 23 shots, only 13 were converted. Junior guard Darryl Partin led all scorers with 11 points, going 3-3 at the free throw line and 2-4 from beyond the arc. Junior forward Jake O'Brien assisted in the winning effort by adding seven points of his own.

While those two players stole the show on the Scarlet side of the ball, the White team was led by freshman forward Travis Robinson, who scored eight points including two baskets from three point land.

The Scarlet team included O'Brien, Partin, junior forward Patrick Hazel, freshman guard Malik Thomas, freshman center Mat Piotrowski, and freshman guard D.J. Irving. Robinson, freshman guard Mike Terry Jr., junior forward Chris Kurz, freshman forward Dom Morris, freshman guard H.J. Gaskins, and junior guard Matt Griffin rounded out the White team.

New faces

Of the three returning Terrier players from last year's team, only O'Brian took part in the scrimmage. Junior forward Jeff Pelage was introduced for the scarlet team, but walked out on the court on crutches, and senior John Holland was introduced for the white team, but also did not play.

"It's day to day right now. It's a high ankle sprain," BU coach Patrick Chambers said of Pelage's injury. "We hope to get him back as quickly as possible. Unfortunately this happens. You've got to deal with it. The next guy has to step up. It presents and opportunity for someone else. So, hopefully he's back sooner than later."

If Holland had played, the White team may have been able to compete more successfully.

"John was supposed to be on [the White team], but with John hurt, it just worked out that the teams are a little uneven," Chambers said at halftime.

With two thirds of BU's returning players on the bench, fans had the advantage of getting a peek the team's eleven new players. Joining O'Brien in the game were transfer students Hazel, Partin, Kurz, and Griffin, and seven freshmen.

Of the transfers, Partin certainly had the best game, as the other three went a combined 1-11. Griffin scored the lone basket, a three pointer that gave the White team a slim 8-7 lead early on. Hazel managed only one shot while pulling down four rebounds in 14 minutes on the court, and Kurz went 0-3 with two rebounds while committing five personal fouls in 20 minutes.

Robinson led the freshmen in points with eight, but it was Morris and Thomas who pulled down the most rebounds in the game with six a piece. Thomas also led both sides with two steals.

First game jitters

Chambers alluded to the fact that nerves may have been playing a role in his players' performances, as the scrimmage marked the first time many of them would play in front of a live college crowd.

"Our freshmen are still finding their way. It's obvious," he said at halftime. "They know our sets, but I think you put some people in front of them now and they get a little nervous and forget some things. So, we'll get them there. It's going to be important to get them there as soon as possible, but I also have to show some patience."

Chambers's observation was well-founded, as the first half was riddled with possessions that involved perimeter passing followed by a quick three point shot which often missed the mark. Of the teams' 23 first half shots, thirteen were from beyond the arc and only three were converted into points.

While Thomas's performance on the defensive side of the ball was promising, he had difficulty on offense. After a first half in which he took the most shots of any player but went 1-6 and 0-3 from beyond the arc, Thomas did not take a shot in the second half. The lanky freshman's shot selection seemed strained, as he opted to take deep threes in some situations where he could have held the ball for a better opportunity. Thomas also missed an open dunk in the first half when he stole the ball at mid-court and dribbled towards the basket. The fact that the ball just wouldn't go in for Thomas may be due to the nerves that Chambers referenced.

Irving and Terry also could have been suffering from first game nerves, as both players went 1-5 in field goals and Irving gave up a team high four turnovers.

"Our freshmen are freshmen," Chambers said. "They're not playing as hard as I would like them to play, but I probably wouldn't play them ten straight minutes, so there are some minor mistakes, some guys a little bit winded, a little bit tired, but that's ok."

Who will start?

The Terriers' starting lineup on Friday night when they take on Northeastern University to start the season is still unclear. However, players could easily have helped or hurt their chances at playing time on Friday based on their performances in the scrimmage in front of a live crowd.

Spots on the roster are certainly reserved for Holland and O'Brien, with Pelage also as a possible lock when he returns from injury. For the time being, however, that leaves three or, if Holland is out indefinitely, four open spots for the remainder of the team to fill.

Based solely on performances in the scrimmage, Partin and Robinson look to be the ones with the best chances at a starting position. However, recently-named captains Hazel and Griffin could also be in the running despite having a less positive performance in the scrimmage.

Chambers explained that the fact that Pelage is injured will cause two freshmen to receive plenty of playing time to open the season. While Robinson has played well, his high-school teammate Morris could also vie for playing time after proving to be a strong physical presence in the scrimmage. His abilities to draw fouls while maneuvering in the paint and to pull in rebounds may prove invaluable to the team.

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