It was not a pretty start for a Boston University men’s basketball team that entered its first game against Northeastern University with only two seniors — both walk-ons — on the roster and two freshman, a sophomore and two juniors in the starting lineup. Needless to say, it is a very young team overall.
The Terriers (2–5) faced the Huskies (4–3) and suffered a heartbreaking defeat as guard Demetrius Pollard pulled up from the 3-point line with the clock winding down and nailed a last-second shot, leaving BU with 0.7 seconds to heave a full-court shot that would ultimately prove futile.
Following the loss at Northeastern, the losing trend continued for BU as it dropped its next four games. Aside from arguably its worst loss, which came against George Washington University, the team suffered other close losses, like its 81–79 loss at Rutgers University.
“I thought before that [first win] we were playing very well,” said BU coach Joe Jones. “We were just a few possessions away from winning games.”
The team got its first win in a major way, as they hosted Coastal Carolina University and sent it back to South Carolina with a 74–44 loss. The Terriers followed this victory with their first road win by defeating St. Peter’s University, 74–66, thus sending the team in the right direction as the season enters its second month.
Valuable Young Talent
Due to their overall young age, the Terriers came into this season as a team building for the future. They recruited well by getting one of the nation’s fastest point guards, freshman Maurice Watson Jr., a top-25 shooter, freshman guard John Papale and former Mr. Kentucky, freshman forward Nathan Dieudonne.
These players have all had big impacts on the team thus far. Earlier in the season, the most impactful player of these three was Papale. His 3-point shooting was on point, and for a BU offense that was struggling a bit, it was just the spark they needed.
Starting during the Terriers’ loss at Rutgers University (4–2) on Nov. 21, Watson Jr. has begun to limit turnovers, which hurt him earlier in the season. He has been scoring more and is doing a much better job of playing point guard.
His play, along with the play of his fellow teammates, has been a great improvement and is an integral part in the team earning its first two wins.
“It’s what I thought when we recruited them,” Jones said. “They’ve all contributed the way we expected them to. We’re hoping that [they] keep getting better.”
Crashing the Glass
Going into this season, one of the struggles facing the Terriers was how their team was going to do in terms of rebounding. Compared to other teams, BU is not the largest physically. Its tallest players are freshman forward Justin Alston and senior Chris Kurz, who both stand at 6-foot-8.
Its center, junior Dom Morris, is not a traditional center, as he is only 6-foot-7.
Despite being outsized by most of the teams they have played thus far, the Terriers have done a pretty good job of playing “big.” During the team’s first victory against Coastal Carolina (2–4), BU was only out-rebounded by one.
This statistic came as a bit of a surprise, considering how much larger Coastal Carolina’s forwards and centers are in comparison to BU’s. Coastal Carolina was also out-rebounding its opponents by nearly 10 rebounds per game.
Despite the Chanticleers’ rebounding prowess, players like sophomore forward Malik Thomas, who are not necessarily the largest, but have long arms, have been coming up big for the Terriers on the boards, helping the team to be successful.
“We were concerned about our rebounding at the beginning of the season,” Jones said. “We’re a much better rebounding team than I thought, for sure. Everybody is contributing now, which has been a big help for us.”