Friday, January 7, 2011

UNH Notebook: Hazel rises to the occasion for Terriers

By René Reyes/DFP Staff

University of New Hampshire coach Bill Herrion referred to Boston University men’s basketball tri-captain Patrick Hazel as “a blue-collar kind of lunch pail guy” following the Terriers’ 61-54 win over the Wildcats Wednesday at Case Gymnasium.

But he didn’t mean it in a disrespectful manner.

“[Hazel] just does all the dirty work around the bucket,” Herrion said, “and when you have one of those kind of guys at this level, in this league, it’s a real commodity.”

The 6-foot-6 transfer from Marquette University notched eight points on 4-of-6 shooting and game-highs of 10 rebounds and six blocks in 29 minutes against UNH in his best performance yet as a collegiate player.

Hazel made a name for himself on both sides of the ball in BU’s first conference victory of the season.

“It felt good,” Hazel said of his career day. “I always talk to Coach about it. I know I have it in me. It’s just about bringing it out every game and just being confident, trying to help my teammates out however I can. Defensive end, offensive end, it doesn’t matter.”

With 13:46 remaining in the second half and the Wildcats nursing a slim 33-32 edge, Hazel blocked four shots during a four-minute stretch, in which the Terriers eliminated the one-point deficit and turned it into a six-point advantage.

“I like it when they send the guys into me,” Hazel said. “I’m just trying to time it right, get the blocks. I’m just trying to help my teammates out.”

In a conference lacking quality low post players, BU has a true big man in the 220-pound Hazel.

“He’s a good addition,” Herrion said. “He’s perfect power forward, five-man in the America East.”

Robinson makes most of extended minutes

Wednesday evening, the Terriers got huge contributions from an unlikely source: freshman forward Travis Robinson.

Robinson – one of three players (H.J. Gaskins, Dom Morris) from Friends Central High School in Pennsylvania – had found himself plunged deep into Chambers’ bench, but when he did see action on the floor this season, he would commit unnecessary fouls or be hesitant to shoot the ball.

In a season-high 21 minutes, Robinson knocked down two of the five shots he attempted from the field, and he finished with four points and snagged four rebounds (two offensive, two defensive).

Chambers lauded the freshman’s efforts.

“Travis Robinson played great tonight,” Chambers said. “He got major minutes. … He’s kept a clear head and he’s bought in since day one. He gave us great minutes. I’m really happy for him. He hasn’t played much all year. The last two games, he’s starting to get his turn. He’s waited and he’s earned it. I’m all about earning everything.”

Defending DiLiegro

The 6-foot-9, 250-pound Dane DiLiegro – UNH’s starting center – entered Wednesday’s contest versus BU averaging 9.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. DiLiegro finished with numbers close to his season averages: nine points (4-of-5 shooting) and eight rebounds, but he also drew four personal fouls.

The Wildcats had a difficult time feeding the ball to DiLiegro in the low block, which Herrion credited to the Terriers’ defense.

“They played a lot of zone,” Herrion said. “The zone takes big guys out of the game. ... They’ve got great size. They’re a big, strong physical team. We had a hard time getting him the ball.”

The combination of Hazel and junior center Jeff Pelage kept DiLiegro at bay and limited his impact on the game. When DiLiegro was subbed out, the Terriers achieved great success when they went after his replacement: inexperienced freshman center Kazadi Nyanguila.

“He’s tough,” Hazel said of DiLiegro. “He plays hard. He’s a vet, like you said. … We tried to take advantage of him being out, just throwing it into the post. We just, like you said, took advantage of it.”

No timetable for Morris’, O’Brien’s returns

Freshman forward Dom Morris and junior forward Jake O’Brien are still “day-to-day” with their respective injuries. O’Brien suffered an ankle injury last Friday at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, while Morris is out with a non-basketball related injury.

“I’d love to give you guys a date,” Chambers said. “I’d love to know a date too. I’d love to say, ‘Do we have Jake for month or don’t we?’ I don’t know. But if we don’t, it’s alright. We’ll keep a great attitude, play the way we played tonight, give ourselves a chance. All we need to do is win it by one.”

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