By René Reyes/DFP Staff
Junior forward Jake O’Brien: B
The Newton native’s performance on Wednesday night earns him a solid B. The junior forward looked sharp right out of the gate and ready to show all who were at Case Gymnasium why he was a worthy preseason America East all-conference selection. O’Brien started the contest red hot, hitting his first three shots. With 16:31 to play in the first half, O’Brien converted a sweet baby hook near the right sideline. Those two points were his 999th and 1000th point as a Terrier, making O’Brien the 31st Terrier in program history to reach the 1000-point plateau.
O'Brien added only four more points in the other 12 minutes of playing time he saw in the first half. He finished d the first frame with 10 points on 2-of-5 shooting but missed both of his 3-point attempts. In the second half, O’Brien cooled off and disappeared for long stretches of time and couldn’t buy a basket – even generating a loud groan from my fellow beat writer Luke Coughlan when O'Brien stood motionless for a few seconds before knocking down a jumper. O’Brien drained two 3s in the second half, including one at the 1:28 mark that gave the Terriers a 79-78 lead in the game’s final minutes.
The tri-captain tallied 18 total points, shot 50 percent from the floor (8-of-16 shooting) and gathered six rebounds, but on a night when the Terriers needed someone else not named John Holland to step up their game down the stretch, O’Brien didn’t do enough.
Senior forward John Holland: A
If Holland had nailed the half court shot he took before the buzzer sounded to beat the Bobcats of Quinnipiac University, the senior forward would have garnered Full Court Press’s first A+ grade of the season. In his best performance since the one he had against Northeastern University in the season opener dating all the way back to Nov. 11, the 6-foot-5 Holland led all scorers with 31 points and connected on 9-of-19 shots from the field.
Holland drained his first shot of the game – a 3 from the top of the key to put the Terriers on the scoreboard – to get things started. You know it’s your night when you go up for an alley-oop, mistime your jump and the ball somehow hits your fingertips and goes into the basket, which happened to Holland early in the opening session. Against the Bobcats, he showed off his offensive arsenal by hitting 3-pointers and midrange jumpers and coming out more aggressive by taking the ball to the hoop – something he hadn’t done in prior games. “I mean, there’s been a little bit of an emphasis to try to get to the basket more,” Holland said. “It was good today. I was able to get to the basket.”
Perhaps the best stat to take away from this game was Holland's 11 free throw attempts – a sign that he is now starting to use his strength and athleticism to take the ball to the cup more consistently. He also snagged a team-high nine boards. Four words echo from his press conference: “It just wasn’t enough.” A candidate for America East Player of the Year, Holland can’t shoulder the load night in and night out all by himself. He needs help. Period.
Junior center Jeff Pelage: B-
In his second game back after missing the first 11 contests of the season with a high ankle sprain, the big man posted up modest numbers for a player who is still trying to work himself into the flow of the game after being sidelined for an extended period. Pelage recorded his first two points of the 2010-11 campaign with a little over three minutes remaining in the game on a putback layup. That was the only shot Pelage took on the night.
Pelage registered four rebounds (two offensive and two defensive boards) and a steal against Quinnipiac. He managed to stay on the court for 22 minutes – compared to 10 minutes in his season debut against St. Joseph’s last Tuesday – but still found himself in foul trouble, drawing his fourth foul with only two minutes to play in regulation.
There were a couple of instances where Pelage hit the floor hard, and earlier in the first half, he seemed to have hurt his right hand when he was fouled going up for a shot and was writhing in pain. The Terriers immediately called a timeout, possibly to give the training staff more time to attend to Pelage's hand. Pelage is a very valuable piece to the Terriers’ puzzle – in a sit-down meeting last week with BU coach Patrick Chambers, he deemed Pelage the most vital player for BU during AE play – and losing him again for any amount of time would not spell good news for the Terriers.
Freshman guard Mike Terry Jr.: C-
To be honest, I still don’t understand all the hoopla surrounding this freshman guard. Chambers has given him a spot in the starting lineup alongside O’Brien, Holland, Pelage and classmate D.J. Irving. I understand that Terry Jr. puts in all the work in practice and his energy on the court is contagious and spreads to the rest of his teammates. But if you played 20 minutes against the Bobcats and scored zero points, I’m going to give you a passing grade … by a slim margin. Terry Jr. did pull down three rebounds and played lockdown defense on his man, but I still need more on the offensive end from the player Chambers nicknames "The Junkyard Dog."
Freshman guard D.J. Irving: A-
Irving was by far the second best player for the Terriers on Wednesday night, behind Holland of course. The speedy guard notched 14 points on 4-of-11 shooting and although he missed all four of his attempts from 3-point land, Irving ran the Terrier offense like a veteran point guard. He led BU with seven assists and turned the ball over just one time. Just one time! Chambers has officially given Irving the keys to the offense, as junior guard Matt Griffin is seeing less and less minutes at the PG spot.
If you may remember, Irving had a critical FT miss in a loss to La Salle University a few weeks ago in the waning seconds of the game, sealing the Terriers’ fate. But on Wednesday, Irving swished all six of his freebies and did not shy away from the ball during crunch time. He knocked down two free throws with two minutes and 16 seconds to go, knotting the game at 76 apiece.
“I thought D.J. was terrific today,” Chambers said. “He’s got guts. He’s got courage. He took it to the basket when we were in the double-bonus for a long time. He did a lot of good things.”
High praise for a player who is just a freshman. One thing’s for sure: Chambers has found his true point guard in the 6-foot Irving.
Junior guard Darryl Partin: D+
Partin gets my lowest grade out of all the Terriers and with good reason. Coming off a 29-point explosion last week against the Hawks of St. Joseph and collecting America East Player of the Week honors, Partin was a no-show Wednesday night as he came off the bench for the second game in a row. Sure, he contributed 10 points but half of those points came from the free throw line. He missed eight of the 10 shots he attempted from the field. This just isn’t good enough for a player who saw 26 minutes on the court – the fifth highest total among all Terriers who suited up.
What was even more disappointing about Partin's performance, as Chambers pointed out in his press conference, was that the La Salle transfer only snagged two boards. Two boards for a guy who’s 6-foot-5 and played 26 minutes? Chambers needs Partin to be more productive and a little more versatile on the court, especially on the defensive end.
“Tonight, he just wasn’t making his shots,” Chambers said. “That happens and that’s OK.”
Unfortunately, it’s been happening too often. Before coming to BU, Partin was labeled as a “streak shooter” and now we’re seeing why. The Terriers need a consistent No. 3 scorer behind Holland and O'Brien. Right now, Partin’s like a thermometer: he’s either hot or cold on any given day.
Freshman forward Dom Morris and junior forward Patrick Hazel: C
I bunched Morris and Hazel into one grade because they might as well have been one person Wednesday night. The two of them combined for six points – Morris had five points and Hazel one point – and 10 rebounds. But they were invisible for most of the night and didn’t have quite the impact on the ballgame as they normally do. Morris and Hazel both played sparingly too, seeing just 12 and 14 minutes on the floor, respectively.
Morris had the go-ahead putback that gave BU a one-point lead, 81-80, with only 25 seconds left in the contest. But the result wouldn’t stand as Quinnipiac’s Dominique Langston tipped in the game-winning basket with just three ticks on the clock.