Basketball, NCAA, Sports

Notebook: Men’s basketball prepares to battle for conference title

The Boston University men’s basketball team (19-9, 10-5 PL) has lived up to lofty expectations in its 2021-22 campaign. After an underwhelming season last year, the Terriers now sit in third place in the Patriot League, and have won eight out of their last nine games. 

With a Patriot League championship, the team would repeat its success in 2019-20 season, when the squad qualified for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament before the COVID-19 pandemic took root and canceled March Madness.  

BU men's basketball notebook
Senior Jonas Harper does a pre-game handshake as he runs onto the court. The Boston University men’s basketball team rank third in the Patriot League, living up to lofty expectations for its 2021-22 campaign following an underwhelming season last year. MOHAN GE/DFP STAFF

 BU head coach Joe Jones said his squad is playing at its highest level of the season so far, and he has been impressed with their collective effort. 

 “I think we’re getting really good contributions from different guys from the bench. They’re coming in with a lot of energy,” Jones said.

 Sukhmail Mathon impresses in big-man role 

 Since the departure of forward Max Mahoney after the 2019-20 season, graduate forward Sukhmail Mathon has taken on a bigger role on the floor. 

 During this season, the 6-foot-10 center has been a top scorer on the team, averaging 15.3 points per game, both good for second on the squad. 

 Mathon also came up big for the Terriers in the clutch recently when he hit a game-winning free-throw to give BU a one-point victory over the United States Military Academy on Feb. 9, and posted a career-high 26 points in a win over the College of the Holy Cross on Wednesday night.

 Despite having a breakout year last season, Jones said Mathon felt like he could still improve.

 “Even last year when he had kind of a breakout year, he felt like he could be better,” Jones said. “And he has been. There’s no doubt about it.”

 Javante McCoy and Walter Whyte continue to thrive offensively 

 With the return of graduate guard Javante McCoy, the duo of him and senior guard and forward Walter Whyte have continued to help drive BU on offense.

 McCoy leads the team in points-per-game with 16.6, while Whyte comes in at third on the squad in points-per-game with 13.1. 

 Whyte has scored double-digit points in every game this year except for one, and the same holds true for McCoy. 

 Jones emphasized the experience of both Whyte and McCoy — the pairing have been key contributors for the team since the 2017-18 season.

 “Those guys are as good as any duo in our league for sure. It’s been an absolute pleasure to coach those guys,” Jones said. “They’ve been terrific.”

 Defense lacks in some spots 

 While the Terriers have done well on the offensive side of the ball, ranking second place in the conference in average points-per-game, Jones said his team still has room for improvement on defense. 

 BU sits tied for second in the Patriot League for least points given up per game, but they have struggled to contain opposing offenses in a handful of losses, including giving up 84 points against Marist College and 83 points against Army. 

 Jones said the defense, at times, has lacked the focus to win at a high-level and it is an area they will look to improve upon. 

 “We’ve got to put more energy and effort into stopping people,” Jones said. “We’ve won seven out of eight games right now, but I do think that’s an area where we’ve got to just keep trying to get better.”

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