Friday, December 10, 2010

Grading the Terriers: 12/9 vs. La Salle

By Craig Meyer/DFP Staff

Senior forward John Holland: C-
Cliche as it may read, it literally was a tale of two halves for Holland, a preseason all-conference selection in America East. It's no secret that he's struggled shooting the ball, as he's posted an underwhelming 34 percent clip this year and those struggles certainly continued in the game tonight, at least in the first half.

Coming off the bench in the first half, Holland played limited minutes, but then heated up in the second half to produce what looks like a passable score line of 15 points and five rebounds. However, Holland, despite hitting a 3-for-3 stretch beyond the arc in the second half, consistently struggled to make baskets (shot 5-of-15 from the field) and came short in several big situations when the best player on the team is expected to come through, especially on a squad as young and inexperienced as BU's. His five turnovers certainly didn't help his cause either.

Whether it was seeing him coming off of the bench, or watching him fail to convert the other end of an alley-oop, it just seemed to be an off, uncharacteristic sort of night for the decorated senior.
Overall, something of an incomplete for the first half and B in the second half average out to a final grade of a C-.

Junior guard Darryl Partin: B+
One of the major, if not the most prevalent, storyline entering the game was Partin having the opportunity to face off against his former team and the school that he transferred from less than two years ago. In the press conference, Partin calmly stated that this was just another game on the schedule, but it was obviously much more than that.

Partin was certainly the most active player for this BU team, putting up a team-high 20 points in 35 minutes, but it sometimes really seemed like he was trying to do too much. While he would make a great penetrating drive for a layup one second, he would come back on the next possession and try to force a pass or a shot (he shot 8-of-17 for the game) he had no business forcing, something reflected in his five turnovers.

Ultimately, this was far from just another game for Partin, but nobody can say that he disappointed or showed signs of regression against his former team.

Freshman forward Dom Morris: A
Literally cannot say enough about the performance from the highly-touted freshman tonight. Although he did not lead the team in points, it was clear that Morris was the best, smartest, most level-headed yet confident player on the court for the Terriers tonight. Entering the game, Morris had shot 3-of-10 from 3-point range, but truly showed his range against the Explorers, going a perfect 3-of-3 from deep, helping add to a very impressive 15 point performance on 5-of-7 shooting.

Perhaps even more remarkable was Morris' ability to neutralize the Explorers down low as what amounted to being BU's sole effective low post presence. Morris collected 8 boards and helped neutralize the incredible talent that is Explorers sophomore forward/center Aaric Murray.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that Morris is the gem of Pat Chambers' first full freshman class here at BU.

Junior forward Jake O'Brien: D+
Very tempted to go with a D here, but there's really not all that much to differentiate O'Brien's performance from Holland's: they were both very listless, uninspiring performances from the two players expected to lead this team to an America East title. Looking fully-recovered from a stomach flu that plagued him for weeks, O'Brien took a step back from his showing at Bucknell University, struggling with his shot and failing to establish much of an inside presence against a very tall, long team.

He did have some good moments on defense, registering two blocks and a steal, but his offensive shortcomings were just too much for this to be considered a good performance.

Freshman guard D.J. Irving: B
It's hard to give Irving a B considering how well he played tonight, but if Partin's the proverbial measuring stick for a B+ grade, I just can't put Irving there quite yet. Since his explosive arrival to college basketball against Northeastern University, Irving had struggled in much of the team's later schedule. But tonight, that trend was reversed as the dynamic point guard showcased his electrifying play against the Explorers, slicing through the defense and asserting his will on the game by pressing and sprinting up the court while keeping the ball under control throughout.

He missed a key free throw late, but he's a freshman, and those mistakes are going to happen. He distributed the ball phenomenally, tallying five assists for the game compared to only two turnovers. Ten games into the season, and Irving seems like the perfect, lightning-quick point guard that Chambers wants to lead his high-octane offense.

Freshman guard Mike Terry, Jr.: B-
Terry was a surprise start tonight in the place of Holland, but he didn't look shell-shocked or out of place. Sure, he had his lapses on the offensive end, but it's starting to become apparent that that's not the type of player that Terry will be this year: he won't be like Irving or Morris, putting up double-digit scoring efforts.

After the game, Chambers described Terry as the team's "Junkyard Dog," a title meant to signify that Terry takes care of a lot of different facets of the game for this team, the dirty work, so to speak. That's exactly what Terry did for this team tonight: of course it wasn't spectacular, but it got the job done.

Team defense: D
I'll bypass making some sort of joke here about the defense being given a D because quite frankly, my creativity and sanity's a little bit fried right now after spending 20-some-odd minutes on RateBU.

Despite some horrid offensive displays that have been a big part of the season thus far, BU was able to play strong, pressing defense, holding many opponents not named Kentucky or Villanova in the 50's and 60's.

However, much of that changed tonight, as the team played at a faster pace and surrendered 84 points to what, in all fairness, is an offensively-potent La Salle squad. Chambers acknowledged that the defense was a letdown tonight, and poor defense, especially in the paint, allowed La Salle to climb back in the game and ultimately prevail.

The Terriers managed to "limit" Murray to 12 points, but much of that was because of foul trouble. Those 12 points came in just 15 minutes of play, and Murray, despite being double-teamed for much of the game, managed to assert his will, completely transforming his team in his limited minutes on the floor.

Game environment, fan support: F
In no way is this an indictment on the fans who were there, because they were great, but come on people -- we've got a competitive team in a nice venue, playing against a very good non-conference opponent with a legitimate NBA prospect on their team, in the first game of the season, with all of this being presided over by a coach who genuinely and passionately wants nothing more than some student support.

Hate for there to be too many personal, editorial comments here, but it's a letdown and disgrace for only 1,080 people to be present at the game.

This student body and community is capable of doing better, and this team and coaching staff certainly deserve better than what they've gotten in response to their hard work and dedication for the past two years.

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