The chapters of the Boston University men’s basketball team’s season thus far have been many and varied. Upon concluding one of the most intriguing segments of the season and perhaps (given the quality of games – the six overtime periods and the 18-point comeback victory), the last three seasons, the exhausted Terriers were afforded two days of rest early in the week.
Relax, regroup, prepare.
Despite any amount of rest they get, the Terriers will be fighting fatigue for the duration of their schedule. Playing with an eight-man rotation doesn’t allow for many alternatives. After resiliently fighting its way through four games in nine days (all victories), BU faces an even uglier stretch: four in eight. And unlike the last tumultuous span, three of these four are on the road.
‘I think [the players] are going to be fatigued because we have another four-game week starting Saturday,’ BU coach Dennis Wolff said. ‘But at least we’re going to be ready from a preparation standpoint.’
The first of that quartet of contests (which comes in the midst of the Terriers playing five of seven on the road) is against the worst team in America East, the University of Hartford, at Chase Family Arena on Saturday at 2 p.m., to be broadcast on ESPNU.
Hartford, last year’s runner-up, lost its leading scorer – junior guard Joe Zeglinski – to injury in mid-December and hasn’t recovered. With Zeglinski out, the scoring burden has been spread out amongst Hartford’s roster, but senior guard Jaret von Rosenberg has been the foremost point producer, averaging 13.7 points per game.
Sophomore forward Morgan Sabia (11.0 points per game) and senior guard Michael Turner (10.7 ppg) help von Rosenberg provide the majority of Hartford’s offense.
The Hawks (6-16, 2-6 AE), who downed BU in an unspectacular semifinal matchup in last season’s conference tournament, have lost five straight contests (their longest losing streak of the season).
‘I don’t think there’s bitterness because I think that they outplayed us, and they deserved to win the game,’ Wolff said of BU’s attitude toward Hartford. ‘At the same time, I think we’re all conscious of the fact that they’re better than what their record is and that this is a nationally televised game from their school.’
BU, on the other hand, is riding its longest winning streak of the year. In fact, with one more win, the Terriers (10-9, 5-2) would tie their longest winning streak in the last three seasons.
‘I told them after the [73-62 win against the University of Maine] that I thought it was one of the best weeks the program has had in two or three years – what we were up against, the overtimes, the lack of depth,’ Wolff said.
Given the unpredictability of America East, as well as the relatively balanced talent levels on all nine teams, the Terriers will need to perform with the intensity they displayed over the past week in order to remain near the top of the conference (the University of Vermont is alone in first, a half game ahead of BU with a 6-2 AE record).
‘All we can do is what we’ve done for the last month, and that’s worry about ourselves,’ Wolff said.
Both facets of BU’s game have been excellent since the beginning of conference play, as BU is second in conference scoring (74.0 points per game) and first in field goal percentage (.387). The one area that hampered BU early against Maine was its post defense, which has been consistently problematic. Hartford, which lacks a true post presence, could be a good game for the Terriers’ interior to gain confidence.
In their most recent win against Maine, the Terriers implemented a balance of matchup zone and man-to-man defense, when in their previous six conference games, BU relied almost exclusively on a zone. While Wolff would rather play man-to-man, the short bench and fatigue concern won’t allow that to happen.
‘We have to be able to do it and avoid foul trouble,’ Wolff said of utilizing man-to-man. ‘That’s the catch-22. Particularly, [sophomore forward] John [Holland] and [junior guard] Corey [Lowe], we can’t afford foul trouble, so we have to be smart about it.’
Injury Notes: In Thursday’s practice, junior forward Scott Brittain fell hard to the floor after a scramble for a rebound. The fall drew blood above his right eye and on his chin, and he left practice to receive stitches. ‘hellip; Senior forward Matt Wolff popped a bursa sack in his left elbow against Maine and is now wearing a red protective sleeve to prevent further damage.