Sunday, March 6, 2011

Grading the Terriers: 3/6 vs. University of Hartford -- AE Tournament Semifinal

By Craig Meyer/DFP Staff

Senior forward John Holland: B
For Holland, who was coming off of an ankle injury and the inherent pressure that comes with being named AE POY just days before, the performance against the Hawks was solid, if unspectacular. There were great moments, but also some very forgettable ones. On the day, Holland shot 3-of-10 from the field and seemed, at times, that he was unwilling to assert himself and carry his team on his back. He would pass on open shots and pull back when he should have kept driving, and made a few head-scratching turnovers.

However, even statistically, Holland's play was nothing at which to scoff. He pulled down a team-high seven rebounds, dished a game-high three assists and forced two steals. And with his team up two points with eight seconds left, he swished home two free throws to all but earn his team a spot in the championship game. It may have not been his best outing of the season, but Holland --scoring his team's final five points -- came up biggest when his team needed him the absolute most.

Junior forward Pat Hazel: A
It's probably surprising for some to see this kind of a grade on here next to Hazel's considering he only put up two shots the entire game. But, if anything, this grade is a mark of Hazel's improvement throughout the season. He came into BU with high hopes when people saw where he had spent his first two collegiate season, Marquette University. He started the year as an erratic big man who seemed slow on both offensive and defensive ends, and as someone who had no touch around the basket, seemingly no feel for the game going on around him. Oh, and while he wasn't exactly Ben Wallace-status, it was safe to say he was a horrid free throw shooter.

But the player who walked off the court in Hartford was an entirely different one, with his stat line indicating as much. Hazel lived up to his reputation as a first team All-AE defender by swatting three blocks -- one of which on Milton Burton helped give BU possession in the final minutes and seemingly shifted the game's momentum, and perhaps more surprising, the Jamaica, Queens native was a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line. Indeed, Hazel is a remade player on a remade team that is now one win away from the Big Dance.

Junior guard Matt Griffin: B+
If any one player on this team embodies what Chambers wants the image of BU basketball to be, it is his junior tri-captain. And against the Hawks he showed exactly why. Showered the entire night with chants and insults from the Hartford student section, Griffin stayed above all of the pressure and the external nonsense, playing within himself to put forth a game that was somewhat modest statistically, but far greater for anyone who saw him in person.

While his three turnovers were regrettable, Griffin scored nine points by going a perfect 3-of-3 from 3-point range and was able to be something of a floor general in the wake of a less-than-stellar performance from freshman guard D.J. Irving. Simply put, Griffin was a consummate veteran leader for a team that needed just that to get over the proverbial hump.

Junior guard Darryl Partin: C
With his play over the past month and his designation as a second-team all-AE honoree, it's maybe telling of how far Partin, like Hazel, has come that a nine point performance is deemed
to be a C. However, the fact was that Partin was something of a non-factor for much of the game. There were moments where he made big shots and made big plays for the Terriers, but overall, he only went 2-of-8 from the field and he coughed the ball up three times.

While it wasn't a horrible performance from the La Salle University transfer, BU will need better from him if it hopes to beat Stony Brook University in the AE Championship.

Free Throw Shooting: A+
When a team goes 20-of-22 from the line, many of which were made in some of the games biggest moments, I'm not sure this is a grade that needs much, if any, of an explanation.

Team Defense: B+; Perimeter Defense: D
As a whole, BU's defense effort against Hartford was extremely impressive. They limited a team with legitimate star power in guard Joe Zeglinksi and forward Morgan Sabia to a near season-low 49 points on 35.2 percent shooting. The Terriers -- for the most part -- played aggressive, in-your-face defense that were evident in moments like Hazel's emphatic block on Burton late in the second half.

However, BU also allowed Hartford to shoot 24 3-pointers, nine of which the Hawks made. Routinely, players like Sabia or Burton would be left wide open to make easy shots. The perimeter defense wouldn't be as big of a concern if it hadn't looked so poor against the University of New Hampshire on Saturday, a game in which the Terriers allowed the usually offensively-inept Wildcats make nine treys.

Coach Patrick Chambers: A
While the Terriers were certainly not perfect in all facets of the game, Chambers did everything he had to in his power to allow his team to leave Hartford with a conference championship at Agganis Arena awaiting them.

He kept his players calm and composed, and regrouped them at several key stages in the game in which it appeared as though Hartford was primed to go on a run in front of its animated home crowd. It was a general reflection of how Chambers has been able to manage what could have very well been a chaotic situation to take seven freshmen and three transfers and have them gel into a team that is now a win away from its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2002.

On a larger scale, this is also Chambers' second year with BU and its the second time he's taken them to the conference championship game. Even for all those who doubted the firing of former coach Dennis Wolff and the hiring of Chambers, it appears -- for all intents and purposes -- that the right choice was made and that he has the program heading in the right direction into the future.

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