Saturday, February 19, 2011

Grading the Terriers: 2/19 vs. Canisius

By Craig Meyer/DFP Staff

Offense: B+
At least part of what has highlighted the Terriers' recent six-game win streak has been an offensive explosion, one in which the team regularly lights up the scoreboard with well over 70 points. Freshman forward Dom Morris recorded the team's first basket with a 3-pointer just eight seconds into the game, but for much of the rest of the first half, the Terriers were fairly anemic on the offensive end, scoring 29 points on 38.5 percent shooting.

But the second half was a different tale, as BU displayed the fast-paced, dynamic game that has made it so successful for the greater part of the past month. Senior forward John Holland, who only had five points in the first half, exploded for 23 in the second half en route to a game-high 28. BU scored 41 in the second period, boosted by an even 50 percent shooting performance as a team from the field.

The combination of Holland and junior guard Darryl Partin make many believe that the Terriers can make the NCAA tournament this year, but when those two account for an overwhelming percentage of the team's points (today, they combined for 48 of the team's 70 points), it's a major cause for concern if even one of them has an off day. The Terriers' other players have to continue to step up and improve, and many of them have shown they're more than capable throughout the season, so that, compounded with a 70point effort on 44 percent shooting, is good enough for a B+.

Defense: B-
Fitting of the grade it receives here, the defense put up a solid, if unspectacular effort. In one respect, it wasn't a poor performance at all -- the Terriers were able to hold Canisius to 60 points on 40.8 percent shooting. They forced the Golden Griffins into trying to create offense in the last ten seconds of the shot clock and, for all intents and purposes, they played on the defensive end with the sort of tenacity and aggressiveness that coach Patrick Chambers desires.

However, for a team that hopes to win by utilizing its speed and fast break ability, BU did not do enough in the way of creating turnovers and collecting steals (only three steals on the day). Additionally, despite what some of the final rebounding numbers may indicate, it too often seemed like the Terriers were being outmatched and overpowered in the low post.

Coaching: B
Judging coaching is always a tricky subject in a single game, unless there's some obvious errors or calculated moments of brilliance. As far as this game is concerned, Chambers did what he needed to do -- in a game that didn't mean much, he didn't endanger his players, but he did more than enough to allow his team to win.

As opposed to experimenting with the lineup that had given him five straight wins, Chambers went with the same starters and the team's winning ways surely enough continued. He also made some savvy tactical decisions, particularly the play he drew up in the final seconds of the first half that had Morris set a backcourt screen that allowed freshman guard D.J. Irving to build enough speed to weave rather effortlessly through the Canisius defense for a layup right before the halftime buzzer sounded.

However, the team made some critical mistakes in key late moments when it was holding onto a few possession lead. Such mistakes are not made by Chambers personally, but they are ultimately a reflection of his ability to keep his team disciplined in the face of late pressure.

X-factor: Composure
Despite some of these late mistakes, BU passed a tough late-season test with flying colors -- being able to consistently stay composed and break a pressing team. For a team with seven freshmen and three transfers, one that is rather inexperienced playing with one another even at this point in the season, BU was able to fend off the Golden Griffins' full court pressure for much of the game, rarely turning the ball over and only committing one ten second violation.

Had this game been played even a little over a month ago, it's not very likely that BU would have been able to play nearly as well, and in all honesty, such unrelenting pressure may have been the sole difference between a win and a loss. But one month and several wins later, it is clear that this is a different team altogether, one that has and will only continue to get better the more that they play.

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