Basketball, NCAA, Sports

Men’s basketball looks back on rollercoaster season, postseason experience for young roster

The Boston University men’s basketball team huddles under the net during their last game of the season against Lehigh on March 10. The Terriers concluded their inconsistent season with a 16-17 record, looking to gain momentum next year. MOLLY POTTER/DFP PHOTOGRAPHER

In what can only be described as an up and down year, the 2023-2024 Boston University men’s basketball season saw it all — heartbreaking losses and moments of adversity, incredible wins and infectious confidence. Despite not reaching their end goal, a young Terrier squad battled all the way to the end.

“I think we should be really proud of ourselves, the way we played, the way we grew,” team captain and senior Miles Brewster said. 

Heading into this season without their top-five leading scorers from last year, including marquee names like Walter Whyte and Jonas Harper, head coach Joe Jones had a task to replace the lost talent. 

As a result, Brewster, one of the most experienced guys on the team but someone who was known for his defensive excellence, had to take on a bigger offensive load. With the help of his coaching crew, Jones brought four freshmen, two transfers and two walk-ons on board. 

“We try to find guys that we feel like really fit our core values,” Jones said. “Accountability, toughness, selflessness, and we want to make sure that we’re recruiting for that.” 

Things didn’t initially click for the Terriers, as they opened the season losing three consecutive road games. In their fourth game, BU finally got on track when they thumped Bryant 95-79, their highest point total in the season. 

Even though this was a mesmerizing glimpse of this group’s potential, it marked the beginning of an inconsistent trend for them. A win followed by a loss, or vice versa, quickly became the theme of BU’s season.

Without being able to string a few wins together, the Terriers didn’t do themselves many favors in keeping up with the Colgate Raiders, who had won the previous three Patriot League championships. This didn’t faze Jones, who stuck to his program’s identity. 

“We play a style that’s conducive for guys having success [in the NBA or overseas] because we do a lot of teaching,” Jones said. “We rely a lot on guys making reads and being able to see things.”

At their peak, that’s exactly how BU played this year. An inside-out game that relied on the vision and awareness of all five players on the court. Sophomore forward tandem Nico Nobili and Otto Landrum had to be both scorers and playmakers from their spot. When the defense collapsed, the ball was either kicked out for an open shot or found its way to the hands of a cutter.

As simple as it might sound, this motion-dominated system of coach Jones took time to cultivate. 

With a young group of guys who had not played much with each other, the team looked for leaders to step up and players to embody a scoring responsibility. Besides Brewster, another guy who did exactly that was freshman guard Kyrone Alexander. As a 20-year-old Barbados national team member, he was exposed to a completely different style of basketball at the national level before coming to BU. 

“It took me a little bit of time to really get used to [the NCAA], but I pride myself on being versatile, so I didn’t really see a problem adjusting,” Alexander said.

Like everyone else, Alexander had nights where the ball just wouldn’t go through the basket. He entered a shooting slump midseason, but eventually snapped out of it and saw production that did not compare to anything prior. Stemming off each other’s elevated play, the group began to build confidence entering the last stretch of the regular season.

“We just started playing a different brand of basketball because of how we’re focusing on our offense,” Jones said. “I thought it really started to click for us.”

Once their offense started to hum, the Terriers began to produce to the tune of five straight wins and finished the regular season with momentum. 

Going into the PL Tournament as the second seed, BU began their quest to a NCAA tournament berth at home against Navy. In a game where sophomore guard Austin Benigni, the second PL’s leading scorer, shined yet again, it was the Terriers who got the last laugh and moved onto the semifinals. 

There, BU looked to beat Lehigh for the third time, with their previous two matchups ending by a combined difference of three points. After watching an 18-point first-half lead evaporate, the Terriers pushed the game to OT, where they eventually lost in heartbreaking fashion. 

Even with a career night from senior wing Anthony Morales, who scored 27 points, Jones and his team left thinking what could have been. 

“The way it ended was emblematic of our inexperience,” Brewster said. “It was tough, but I feel like facing that challenge again, I feel like we’d be ready.”

In spite of how the season ended, these guys are not going anywhere. With a year of experience playing together, this team has the potential to win the PL Tournament next year, giving them their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2020.

“My job is to make sure they’re upholding the standards of what our program is all about,” Jones said. “If we do that, we’ll be in great shape.”

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