It has not been the great start to the season that the Boston University men’s basketball team set out to have when they walked into Matthews Arena Nov. 9 to take on the Northeastern University Huskies.
But the team will have another chance to snap its winless streak Tuesday when it travels to New Brunswick, N.J., to take on the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers University.
That first Friday night against Northeastern, the Terriers (0–3) fell to the Huskies on a buzzer-beater 3-pointer after leading for almost the entire game.
The opening loss was followed by another road loss against Canisius College. For the first time, the Terriers had to play from behind, and after closing the gap to three with a few minutes remaining, their shooters went cold and could not get the job done as the team fell 83–75.
The cold streak continued for the Terriers Saturday afternoon when they faced George Washington University for the 2011–12 season’s home opener at Case Gym.
In front of 1,007 fans, BU seemed as if it was going to start off hot when they took a 2–0 lead following tip-off. Things then went from bad to worse as the Terriers tried to get it started from deep and could not hit shots, while the Colonials (2–1) continued to score.
About two minutes into the second half the Terriers were at their lowest point of the season as they trailed the Colonials by 20.
Despite a valiant effort in the second half, the early deficit was too much to overcome and BU lost 72–59 to fall to 0–3.
“The big thing we have to do is make better choices at the rim,” said BU head coach Joe Jones. “We need to kick it out more, make better decisions. The great thing for us is that we weren’t as big as GW, but we were faster. I feel we had poor shot selection sometimes. We need to play better together consistently, the times we did that, we played well.”
BU will have a chance to build on that Tuesday against the Scarlet Knights (2–1), and needless to say, the matchup against Rutgers is going to be a tough one for the Terriers.
Right out of the gate there are noticeable differences between the two teams.
The first is the difference in conferences. The Scarlet Knights belong to the Big East Conference, which is known for its competition with other teams including Syracuse University, the University of Connecticut and Villanova University.
Then comes the difference in players. One of the problems BU will face all season — and especially against Rutgers — is a difference in height. To put it simply, the Scarlet Knights are just a much bigger team. Six of them are at least 6-foot-8.
BU dealt with a similar issue against the Colonials. Fortunately for BU in that game, it only came in the form of one player, Joseph Armwood. Armwood, a transfer from Villanova, had a field day against the Terriers offense, recording a career-high eight blocks while grabbing 12 rebounds and scoring six points.
This only leads spectators to believe that Terriers will have their hands full when outsized across the board against Rutgers, a team with multiple Joseph Armwoods.
There is a way to combat this problem. Something the Terriers did against George Washington that helped close the large deficit they faced was switch to a full-court press. The BU backcourt includes freshman Maurice Watson Jr. and junior D.J. Irving, arguably two of the fastest players in the country.
Their tenacity on defense on while running the full-court press Saturday helped force turnovers, which created opportunities for BU on the other end. While it brings on a lot more fatigue, the Terriers could switch to a full-court press to put pressure on the Scarlet Knights, utilizing the fact that they are undersized in comparison.
“We’re not going to be a pressing team, but we will use the press,” Jones said.
This game is also not a guaranteed victory for the Scarlet Knights. Although Rutgers is a bigger team in a better conference, the Terriers are hungry for a victory. Also, Rutgers has a young team, with seven sophomores and just two seniors.
Some speculators are comparing this game to BU’s game against Boston College in 2011 when it went to Chestnut Hill and beat the Eagles, who are in the competitive ACC conference.
“We need to get smarter with fouls, play better defense and share the ball more,” Jones said of what his team needs to do on Tuesday. “That’s what hurt us.”
Tuesday night’s game will be shown on ESPN3 and begins at 7:30 p.m.