BU Hoops Blog

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A well-deserved break

The Terriers have been sleeping in their dorms for the past two days, and today they'll finally get back to practice after the most exhausting week I can imagine anyone ever having, except for maybe Michael Phelps circa August 2008.

The Terriers have won 4 in a row to stand atop the AE standings, the most impressive on paper being the blowout road win against Binghamton, who is also tied for 1st. But each of the wins stood out: the big comeback win at Maine, after being down by 18 in the first half; the deja vu game against UMBC only 2 days after the longest game in Boston history; and, of course, the longest game in Boston history.

When I planned my Boston trip this year, I wanted to combine it with several things:
  • ** A 3-day weekend (thanks Marty!), which actually turned into a 4-day weekend in the DC area (thanks Barack!)
  • ** A BU hockey game, which turned out to be a win over BC (thanks Kim for the front-row seats!)
  • ** The AFC and NFC Championship weekend, which has turned into an annual ritual at T's Pub (I refuse to call it by the new name, despite the increased prices for the same mediocre food)
  • ** A BU basketball game

Everything was working out in the planning, except that the hoops game was against Stony Brook. Don't get me wrong, I was excited about the prospect of seeing any BU basketball game, expecially at The Roof -- but having it be the Seawolves was a very "ehhhh"-inducing thought.

Obviously, I couldn't have been more delighted about how the game actually turned out.

Though I respect the current student section, we snagged front-row seats where we used to have the students -- Section 4, directly across from the BU bench. Truth be told, the majority of the game was sort of forgettable. I remember thinking at half-time, "Wow, this game is going so fast. I can't believe I came all this way for a BU-Stony Brook game and now it's almost over." Later, in the second half, Stony Brook kept chipping away at our league, and I started thinking, "Oh my God, we could lose to Stony Brook today."

Stony Brook actually took the lead briefly at the end of the second half, and after that everything was a blur. Scott Brittain made a spinning post move and got fouled on a critical possession in the final minute, and people started getting raucous. Then came the ridiculous buzzer-beater 3-pointer on the other side, which shut most people up but I was ecstatic because it meant that I didn't have to go home yet.

The next hour was filled with jumping out of my chair into the aisle every time John Holland or Corey Lowe made a huge 3-pointer, and slumping back into my seat every time Stony Brook answered. Holding my breath when Corey went coast-to-coast to tie it with 4 seconds left. Matt Wolff's rimmed-out half court heave at the second OT buzzer was a heart-in-the-throat moment. It's also when the ladies that accompanied our group started wondering when the damn game was going to be overwith.

When we were down by 5 in the second OT, I thought it was over but Corey put the entire team on his back and forced a fourth. When we were up by 7 in the fourth OT, I thought it was over but Stony Brook clawed back once again, and the girls got that Oh-God-Here-Comes-Number-Five look in their eyes. But a SBU put-back (which really should have gone in) rimmed out, and there was joy. BU wins, 99-97.

Corey decided during the overtimes that he was not letting BU lose the game. It was amazing to watch. John made some ridiculous rainbow 3-pointers. There was some fun jawing back and forth between Corey and the talented Stony Brook freshmen.

The game made national news, especially since Johnny played all 60-minutes. Bob Ryan was in the house, and you could tell he wanted the damn game to end, but he came out the next day with a good story in the Globe.

But what totally distinguished this extraordinary athletic event is that this wasn't merely your, pardon the expression, "ordinary" four-overtime game. This was one of the most competitive strings of overtimes any two teams have played.

Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports called up to interview John:

"I'm definitely a little tired," said Holland, who finished with 29 points and seven boards in the win. "It was a battle. I was just looking for ways to stay energetic and motivated."

Kyle Whelliston at Mid-Majority weighed in with the numerical implications of BU's recent extra sessions:

A lot of people sent this one in, and we'll get to another mailbag soon I promise once things get settled down again, but Boston University certainly has played its share of overtime games lately. Last night at the venerable and historic Roof, the Terriers outlasted America East champions UMBC in an 80-77 double-OT thriller-chiller. This game just three days after a four-overtime win over Stony Brook. John Holland played all 60 minutes!

Add in earlier OT wins over George Washington and Bucknell, and BU has played eight overtime periods this year. It probably doesn't surprise you to know that that leads the nation, but there are three previously tied teams with six: William & Mary, Idaho State and Bucknell. And there are the 129 squads that haven't played any extra periods at all.

Boston University has already tied last year's national high in overtime periods with about two months to go in the season -- Quinnipiac played eight of them in 2007-08. BU's next OT period would match the endurance kings of recent memory, the Indiana State Sycamores of 2005-06. They played nine extra frames.

ESPN Radio called after the game to talk to Coach Wolff, and I still haven't heard it since I don't have ESPN.com Insider. The game was mentioned at the end of SportsCenter and was a headline on ESPN.com's men's hoop page for a few days.

All said, this was the most intense basketball game I've ever been at. I'm really glad I didn't change the trip to Boston just because of Stony Brook. Everyone who was there will remember this one for a looooooong time.

But the Terriers forgot about it quickly and closed out the win with two wins after that, including 2 more OT's (ho-hum) against UMBC and the comeback in Maine. The team showed it could show some grit when the going got tough and win some close games. The most important thing now is keeping up that momentum and turning it into more wins. Right after the team wakes up from it's well-deserved rest.

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