Sunday, March 13, 2011

Grading the Terriers: 3/12 vs. Stony Brook -- AE Championship

By Craig Meyer/DFP Staff

Senior forward John Holland: A+
I think this is only the second A+ any one of us FCP writers has given a BU player this year, but this is certainly well-deserved. To call what all transpired at Agganis Arena yesterday a storybook ending for the Bronx, N.Y., native would be to drastically understate things.

After only notching four points in the first half, Holland all but put the entire team on his shoulders, the weight and pressure of the moment on his back, to score 23 of the team's 33 second-half points and send his team to the Promised Land. Sure, his 8-of-19 performance from the field wasn't particularly great, and there was also some debate as to whether he was actually fouled there in the last few seconds (it wasn't anything worse than what the refs were giving Kemba Walker against Louisville). But certain performances transcend the box score, even a box score that features a double-double with 27 points and 11 rebounds.

With BU down by as much as 15 in the second half, the team turned to its leader and he responded to that challenge -- and more -- in the biggest game of his life, culminating in a successful career and cementing a storied legacy in the history of BU basketball.

Junior guard Darryl Partin: C
As great of a season as Partin has had for BU, the La Salle University transfer simply didn't perform well in his team's final two games of the season. If one thought comes to my mind about his performance against the Seawolves, it will be that far too often, Partin tried to drive the lane and force shots that simply weren't there rather than looking for an open teammate with a better look. His 3-of-11 shooting line is indicative of as much.

However, he kept the team on the board early in the game and played the role of second scorer well enough for his team to win.

Junior forward/center Patrick Hazel: D+
If BU's final few regular season games and first two games of the conference tournament represented significant steps forward for Hazel, the game yesterday was certainly a step backwards.

While he did help pull down five rebounds while posting up someone of the sheer physical stature of Stony Brook forward Dallis Joyner, the Marquette University transfer struggled down low for much of the game, tallying up senseless fouls in the process. Hazel's been a reliable presence for BU to lean on in the low post during this 11-game win streak, but he'll have to be better in the NCAA Tournament for BU to have a good showing.

Freshman guard D.J. Irving: C-
It isn't our position on FCP to make sweeping assumptions for the sake of effect and say things like "The moment overwhelmed the freshman," even if that may not necessarily be the case, but the fact is that Irving put forth an underwhelming performance.

His speed and dynamic play-making ability that will eventually make him a star in this league were certainly evident against the Seawolves, but so too was a litany of mistakes. While Irving only finished the game with two turnovers, there were far too many moments where he pressed forward when he should have held back and let his team re-adjust, driving furiously toward the basket even though the numbers -- and size -- were against him.

You've got to value and respect that kind of drive and determination, especially since he played all 40 minutes of the game (the only player to do so), but far too often, Irving did look like a prototypical freshman out there.

Freshman forward/center Dom Morris: B-
While his scoring and shooting, especially his 0-of-4 clip from 3-point range, weren't particularly awe-inspiring, Morris helped BU in an area where it desperately needed the help in a game in which it struggled -- in the proverbial trenches.

Morris pulled down eight rebounds for the Terriers, four of which came on the offensive end, and was a strong presence down low in a big game where he easily could have been distracted or overwhelmed.

Coach Patrick Chambers: A
His team certainly didn't play its best game, but something has to be said for a coach that can keep his team motivated and focused when things seemed so uncertain at so many crucial junctures. And Chambers did just that -- he stuck to his guns, believed in his team and even though Holland's performance will understandably be what we remember from yesterday's game, Chambers was equally crucial in helping BU get to its first NCAA Tournament since 2002.
Saturday's win was also a vision fully realized for Chambers. When he came in a little less than two years ago, he promised success and a program that people would be proud of. At this moment, it certainly seems like that's the very direction Chambers has the Terriers headed in.

Fan and crowd atmosphere: B+
While there was excitement that Chambers and others had for BU being able to host the AE Championship, there was the fear among many that BU fans, when its team needed them the most, would do what they do best -- that is, fail to show up.

There is some reason to be a little disheartened by how the fan factor played out on Saturday. The official attendance was listed at 3,845, at least 1,000 of which were part of the Stony Brook faithful that made the trip up from Long Island. Maybe it's just the college basketball purist in me but, spring break or not, most of BU's student body lives within a reasonable distance of Boston. With a NCAA Tournament berth on the line, there's no reason Agganis Arena should not have been sold out.

But as it is with BU's fan contingent, quality trumps quantity and the fans showed out enough to get BU the win. The image of a sea of scarlet and white-clad fans flooding and storming the Agganis hardwood will be an unforgettable one for years to come, there is certainly no doubt about that. Many of those faces rushing the court and hugging the players were unfamiliar ones, but that's exactly what this program needs -- new fans, even if some may call them bandwagoners. It's taken an AE Championship game and now a NCAA Tournament berth to do so, but maybe BU's finally picking up some passengers it so desperately needs on the road to becoming a successful and nationally-revered mid-major program.

Saturday presented the opportunity and had the potential to be a seminal moment for this BU program -- and it was just that and more.

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