By René Reyes/DFP Staff
Entering their quarterfinal matchup against the Wildcats, the Terriers were averaging 65.8 points per game, good for third in the conference behind Vermont and Maine. This evening, the Terriers poured in 69 points, connecting on an impressive 23-of-50 shots from the field (46 percent). Down 12-3 in only the contest’s first few minutes, BU went on a 30-18 spurt to close the half, aided by a combined 17 first-half points from senior forward John Holland and junior guard Matt Griffin. A B+ may seem too generous of a grade for the Terriers considering their struggles out of the gate, but when the game mattered the most, the Terriers were able to get their shots to fall.
Over and over again, we’ve heard BU coach Patrick Chambers preach about defense and rebounding all season long. When you hold your opponent to 60 points and 39.3 percent shooting for the whole game, you know you did something right, and that’s exactly what the Terriers did. Putting aside the offensive outburst from the Wildcats’ Tyrone Conley down the stretch and a few defensive breakdowns, the Terriers did just enough. Sure, Chandler Rhoads goes off for 15 points on 6-of-18 shooting, but when did anyone expect that to happen? The player most responsible for the B+ grade is junior forward Patrick Hazel, who played excellent defense on Dane DiLiegro down low and led BU with 10 boards. Griffin shouldn’t be forgotten either, as the diminutive point guard snagged eight rebounds of his own. As the 2010-11 campaign has progressed, the Terriers have vastly improved in the rebounding department, and today was no different. BU outrebounded UNH by a 38-32 margin, which is a stat Chambers must be very pleased with.
If I were to tell you that the Terriers outscored the Wildcats’ bench by 10 points, you’d probably think I was crazy for giving the Terriers a passing grade in this category. But BU’s bench scored 13 points compared to UNH’s three points. Take away Griffin’s nine points and junior center Jeff Pelage’s four points, and the Terriers have zero bench points. In a game where Chambers decided to utilize his starters a lot more – junior guard Darryl Partin played 25 minutes, freshman guard D.J. Irving 36, freshman forward Dom Morris 28, Holland 36 and Hazel 29 – the reserves were not really called upon to contribute. Plus, with every game from now on being win-or-go home, it’s not surprising to see Chambers resort to a shorter rotation.
With his team down 12-3 in its first game of the conference tournament, Chambers called a timeout and told his group of players to calm down and relax. BU responded with confidence that starts at the top with its head coach. In only his second season at the helm of the men’s basketball program at BU, Chambers has now led the Terriers to two straight semifinal appearances. Not too shabby for a coach who began this year with a team full of seven freshmen and three transfer, and now has the Terriers playing their best basketball of the season at just the right time. The Terriers are riding a nine-game winning streak, all thanks to Chambers’ one day at a time, one game at a time mentality. Chambers’ approach to every game has definitely resonated with his team.
X-factors: Points in the paint and free-throw shooting
Leading up to the game, one of the Terriers’ main concerns must have been how Hazel was going to match up against the physically stronger DiLiegro. Hazel answered with a nine-point, 10-rebound performance and held DiLiegro to only six points and eight rebounds. BU’s forwards, including Morris, Hazel and Pelage combined for 21 points. The Terriers had an overwhelming advantage in the paint, as they outscored the Wildcats by an astonishing 38-18 margin. That’s definitely surprising to say the least. BU was also the more aggressive team as it took the ball to the hoop more, especially Holland and Partin, and shot 30 free throws. UNH had only 14 attempts from the charity stripe and knocked down seven of them. With the game on the line, the Terriers were the ones who converted on their free throws, and that alone, played a big role in determining the outcome: a BU win.