:: Can You Believe We've Been Doing This Shit for Six Years Now? ::
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Adding Insult to NU's Injury
It's always fun to beat our rivals from the dirty part of the city. For the second year in a row, we did just that - this time in overtime, and on our home floor. There were no BU students in attendance to start a "Where's your football" chant, but we knew it was in the minds of their fans.
The Hussies are picked to finish 2nd in the Colonial Athletic Association behind Old Dominion this year, which makes this win arguably even better than our victory over Indiana.
It was a game of runs. NU got an early 10 point lead, which BU erased by halftime. BU jumped out to big lead in the second half, which was erased by the end of the game. Fortunately, BU ended up on top at the end of 45 minutes.
With John Holland having an off night, we needed someone to step up - and Jake O'Brien did, just like last year's game at Northeastern. Corey Lowe also stepped up, despite his 7 turnovers, and made a gutsy shot near the end of regulation, with the shot clock buzzer sounding, to tie the game and send it to overtime. B.J. Bailey played his best game so far with over 20 minutes, and he looks to be getting more comfortable with every step onto the court.
I was there and captured the final moments of regulation and the overtime period - Corey's big shot and Northeastern's last gasp.
Today, coming off the rush and exhaustion of a long Puerto Rico trip, a brand new experience, the team stays home to host one of its most familiar opponents, Northeastern. The all-time series is 70-66 in favor of BU, including last year's destruction of the Huskies that served as Jake O'Brien's coming out party.
The timing of this game is questionable. I'm sure there's a good reason for scheduling it on an afternoon on the day before Thanksgiving, but I don't know what it is. Probably squeezing in an extra day of rest after the San Juan trip. But on any other day (except maybe Thanksgiving itself), this game seems like it could be a pretty decent draw for students and alumni, maybe even hold it in The Greek. Today, I think we'll struggle to bring 500 people out to the Roof.
Northeastern has only played two games, a pretty close loss to great Siena team during the 24-hour ESPN showcase, and a close win over an OK Utah State team. The Huskies may be a little more talented this year, but the Terriers are already in mid-season form having played 5 games already. NU is predicted to finish near the top of the Colonial Conference this year, led by senior sharpshooter Matt Janning, who was kept relatively in check in last year's meeting despite his 22 points.
Finally, it must be mentioned: Northeastern dropped their football team this week. And while many people across the collegiate athletics landscape might express sadness, most BU fans are wearing a smile this week. Countless "BU football" chants over the last 12 years are coming back to bite those obnoxious fans in the ass. I love it. Come up with something new at the next Beanpot, losers!
Even though the high from Friday's win over Indiana subsided during Saturday's off-day, many of us were still hoping to end the weekend with a bang against #21 ranked Georgia Tech. For twenty minutes, it seemed as though that might actually happen.
We were down two points after a first half that had all twelve of us BU fans riveted. It was the best basketball I've seen out of the Terriers in five years.
When the second half rolled around, our players were showing the fatigue that comes with the third game in four days, and Georgia Tech finally started acting like an ACC team. We ended up losing by a score of 85-57 as we succumbed to some guy named Peacock who shot 10-11. He killed us.
But that won't stop me from pointing out our bright spots. John Holland broke 20 points yet again, and Corey played with more energy and gave more effort that I've ever seen out of him. Jeff Pelage is slowly becoming a force inside, and I can already tell that BJ Bailey has got some sick moves. He's gonna be good
We played sharp, but when it came down to it, we were simply out-sized.
All in all, I'd say BU had a good weekend. They fought for a come-from-behind win on Friday, and play 30 great minutes against one of the better teams in the country on Sunday. If the Terriers can play like they did in the first half against Georgia Tech, we're going to pile up a shitload of wins this year.
How Bout Some Icing on the Cake: The Georgia Tech Preview
We all know this tournament is already "Mission Accomplished" - the win over Indiana was awesome and that's as much as any of us could ask for.
I'm guessing Coach Pat Chambers is not satisfied however. He'd like to finish off this trip to San Juan with a stunner over the #21 ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. BU last played a ranked team when they almost knocked off Notre Dame on the road last year. The Terriers led almost the entire game.
Tech has looked pretty good. They were upset by Dayton on Thursday, but disposed of George Mason on Friday. We saw the Mason game, and Derrick Favors is the real deal - one of the best frosh in the country. And Gani Lawal could have been a 1st round NBA pick last year, if he didn't return to school. We ran into some George Mason fans in Old San Juan on Friday night, and all they could talk about was how "Georgia Tech's got some biiiig boys."
So can we do it? You've got to wonder how well we will do inside. We won the Indiana game by rebounding. We've got to crash the boards at least as well to have a chance in this one, or the shooting has got to be lights out.
Their hero is WHO?? Talkin' P.R. hoops with the locals
Sean Kingston nearly ruined this nice video we did with some cool kids from Puerto Rico who were there watching the basketball tournament. So I apologize in advance for the audio quality, which is why I had to put in the subtitles.
A big thanks to Andy, Robert and Eddie for taking the time to tell us what they think of basketball and the Puerto Rico Tip-Off!
This is Denis Clemente in the white jersey, the Kansas State player who the boys came to see, a.k.a. the next Jose Juan Barea. So far in the tournament, Denis is averaging 12 points per game in a win over BU and a loss to Ole Miss. Hopefully, the guys will be rooting for BU against Georgia Tech tomorrow afternoon! [UPDATE 9:25 PM]
I just remembered seeing this by Denis Clemente a couple months ago. Sickness.
My expectations for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off were not high before coming down here. I thought we could compete, but with such a stacked field I did not think we'd win a game.
By now you've heard that the Terriers did just that, staging a thrilling come-from-behind victory over the storied Indiana Hoosiers. Maybe you listened on the radio stream, or even followed along with my fevered series of tweets down the stretch. But this was a game that made the trip to Puerto Rico well worth its while. We didn't just travel here for the fun of watching the Terriers, we came here and witnessed something great.
BU was behind the whole game, due to another pretty poor shooting performance, but always remained within striking distance. In the first half, we got in a hole and clawed our way back to within 2 points just before halftime... unfortunately, IU hit a buzzer-beating 3 to make that deficit 5 again. They had held Corey Lowe scoreless in the first half, but rebounding kept us in the game.
In the second half, we hung around and made our move in the final minutes thanks to huge 3-pointers by Lowe, Carlos Strong, Tyler Morris and John Holland. Jake O'Brien, with a double-double, and Jeff Pelage led BU to a 52-32 rebounding advantage over the Hoosiers. Strong's only bucket of the game, a 3 that tied the game for the first time at 63, made the BU fans go bonkers. Clutch free throws by JOB and Corey kept us up until a lay-in by Jake with a minute remaining (off a pretty feed from Tyler) put us up by 4. Indiana couldn't hit any desperation shots after that, and the rest is history.
The keys to the win were certainly REBOUNDING, the lack of FOUL TROUBLE and Indiana's refusal and/or inability to institute a full court PRESS. That press had been utilized by the 3 teams that already beat us to take us out of our offensive rhythm, and it worked. Maybe Indiana just didn't have the athletic horses to take such a tack.
Sherrod Smith and Valdas Sirutis played meaningful minutes, and BJ Bailey played his first collegiate minutes, even scoring on a lovely fast break. He looked good out there.
Coach Chambers has that monkey off his back, and got his first head coaching win. He's got the team excited and disciplined, and as the team made their way off the court he led them in a simultaneous salute to the BU fans in attendance. Awesome moment.
As for the High Roller and I, we found a cool little hole-in-the-wall pub to celebrate in Old San Juan (we've gotten pretty good at ordering beers in Spanish). We get to spend today regaining our voices before taking on #21 ranked Georgia Tech on Sunday.
But this win over Indiana, our first over a BCS conference team since Michigan in 2004, is one we'll remember for a long time!
If there was ever a year to beat mighty Indiana University in basketball... well, it was last year when they only won 6 games. But this year is a close second.
So far, the Hoosiers have taken out two competitors below BU's level, and then looked overmatched last night against Ole Miss. Why are they so bad? Well, their old coach cheated. Something about illegal texting and cell phone calls (see below). That's not very Indiana-like.
It's sad to see such a once-proud program reduced to a Binghamton-like level. But like I've said about Binghamton, that's what happens when you take shortcuts.
This will essentially be a home game for Coach Tom Crean's Indiana. They had the most fans by far (although we didn't see the Villanova game). Maybe I can get one of them to explain on camera why it was so unfair that they got hit will all sorts of sanctions by the NCAA.
Bottom line: we can win this game. The Terriers looked better last night, and that was without Corey Lowe for half the game.
What's the difference between an Big 12 team and an America East team? Not much except for size, strength, speed, and skill. The Terriers were just as into the game as the Wildcats, possible even more, but gumption will only get you so far.
And there's only so much one team can do when they commit 34 fouls in a game. I like the way Chambers coaches, but there's no way that he can allow Corey Lowe to reach four fouls in the first half.
Corey Lowe and Tyler Morris were both limping at the end of the game, by the way. Make of that what you will.
Today we take on the Hoosiers of Indiana, and as John Holland Sr. says, it's "winnable". Less fouls, less turnovers, more threes, and tighter defense should pave the way to victory.
BU had a small but vocal group of fans present at the Kansas State game in Puerto Rico, but none were more vocal and spirited than John Holland, Sr. Whether trying to mess up the Wildcats during free throws, shouting out orders to the Terriers on the court or giving the refs a piece of his mind, John was heard throughout the Coliseo de Puerto Rico cheering on BU. The man knows what he's talking about, too; he played his own college ball at Iona College.
John was nice enough to sit down with us and chat during halftime about the tournament in Puerto Rico and BU basketball...
Better Late Than Never? A Closer Look at Kansas State
This would have have been much timelier before tonight's game, but it arrived in my inbox during the first half, after I was already hoarse from screaming at the referees. However, this is good stuff and he went to all the trouble to put it together for us, so we're posting it anyway. Kansas State blog Bring On The Cats' "BracketCat" was nice enough to answer a few questions for us since we know next to nothing about the Big 12 school. Just pretend you read it before we played them.
1. When I think of Kansas State, I think of football. Have the fans started to pay attention to basketball yet?
Strangely enough, I think people are more pumped for basketball this year than they are for football. No one expected the football to be where it is, or even to be decent. As Ron Prince ran our program into the ground, basketball became a refuge for many fans. Everyone in Manhattan has been pretty fired up for basketball ever since Bob Huggins arrived (and left), and some don't know that K-State has a much better basketball tradition (pre-1988) than it does football.
2. This game will be in Puerto Rico, but what are home games like? Any cool traditions? What's the best way to make fun of the Rock Chalk Jayhawk chant?
Home games are pretty nuts. K-State has one of the best, and most underrated, home courts in the Big 12, mostly due to a student section that spans the entire east side of Bramlage Coliseum, from floor to ceiling. Traditions include the "Bring on the Cats" chant, swaying to the Wabash Cannonball, chanting "Left, right, left, right... sit down!" when opposing players foul out, and just generally being loud and annoying for the other team.
3. Jacob Pullen, Jamar Samuels and Denis Clemente helped lead the offense last year, and appear to be off to a good start again this year. Who's the star of this Wildcat team? What's their game like?
Well, you listed three of who I would say are our four most important players. The other is junior UConn transfer Curtis Kelly, who starts at the 4 position. He's our best post scorer in years, because he has all the moves you need in the post. Also surprising is starting freshman center Jordan Henriquez-Roberts, who's 7 feet tall with a legit 7'6" wingspan. Both Kelly and Henriquez are former New York Gauchos.
4. Compare and contrast the integrity and overall quality of the KU dance/cheer team with those of K-State, using the most graphic terms you feel comfortable with.
I'll put it simply. KU had a male dancer a few years back. That's all you need to know.
But in all seriousness, the Classy Cats are awesome. I should know -- I used to play trombone in the pep band and got to see them up close and personal for three years. Very talented and attractive ladies, indeed.
5. John Holland is our highlight reel dunk artist - who from K-State can we expect to match his ferocity on the rim? Got a YouTube link of one of his best?
Jamar Samuels, affectionately and aptly nicknamed "Jam Sam."
This isn't his best work, but it's a decent effort:
6. Finally, give us a prediction for the game and the Puerto Rico Tip-Off overall (blatant homerism expected and encouraged).
I'll say K-State wins 84-70. We have more depth and more inside presence, but Boston's outside shooting and our early defensive lapses should keep the Terriers in it until near the end.
My hope is to win the first two games and give a good effort against Villanova in the finals. For a team picked to finish 4th in the Big 12, and which I think can finish 3rd, that is a realistic expectation.
BU Takes on Kansas's Junior Varsity Team: The Kansas State Preview
Tonight we head into the first game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off against Kansas State. The Wildcats come into the game 2-0 after torching two lame opponents who aren't even worth mentioning. BU comes in at 0-2 after losing 2 forgettable games to teams we should have beaten. On paper, this game is a tremendous mismatch.
Whether this game turns into that mismatch depends on if the Terriers can correct some of the major problems plaguing them during the awful GW loss. Namely SHOOTING. Gotta put the ball in the basket. We did better in other areas, like slowing down the tempo to avoid foul trouble. Turnovers still need to be cut down.
KSU brings an experienced team that is athletic and should contend for an NCAA berth. A tough task for the Terriers.
But do you think of basketball when you think KSU? Me neither. Perpetually drunk Miami Heat player Michael Beasley spent 1 year there and probably learned how to drink there. The High Roller says Kansas State makes him think of the good Kansas basketball team, the one that is ranked #1.
We're hoping for a good competitive game tonight. Go Terriers!
We arrived in Luis Munoz Marin International Airport a couple of hours ago, and made our way to our low-budget car rental, and finally to the low-budget motel. Hey, no reason to class up the amenities when we'll be out watching basketball all day long.
San Juan is unlike any place I've ever been. There are wild colors everywhere. Loud dance music blaring from every direction. We drove our modest Kia Rio around the middle-class neighborhood of Isla Verde looking for the Coqui Inn. We were blocked twice by streets closed off by geysers of water shooting up from the pavement -- yes, twice. Undeterred by street signs we could not understand ("No Entre?? What the hell does that mean?!"), we somehow found our motel despite having no idea where it was on the map.
The Coqui Inn proudly proclaims on its website that it's "a friendly 'no-frills' budget hotel." This is true, but it's got a lot of charm. Every wall is painted like those airbrushed hats and t-shirts you can buy on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City. Big murals of aquatic life and beaches around the pool. I feel like I'm in The Little Mermaid.
Quote from the High Roller: "This place looks like the perfect setting for a Girls Gone Wild video... well, actually those places are usually nicer."
So far we've been here for an hour and we've quoted Arrested Development, Seinfeld, Wayne's World, Ace Ventura 2, Dumb and Dumber and Salute Your Shorts. It's good to see the High Roller.
Hey there. Long time no blog, eh? High Roller here, taking advantage of Airtran's internet service (best $5.00 I ever spent). I've got my laptop, my BU jersey, $80, and no idea what to expect when I get to Puerto Rico. I've never been, so this is going to be a learning process to say the least.
As I was looking over the teams invited to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, I couldn't help but think that BU doesn't quite fit in a tournament with Villanova, Indiana, Kansas State, Dayton, George Mason, Georgia Tech, and Ole Miss. BU rarely plays teams from the Big East, Big Ten, ACC, Big 12, and SEC, but it's great for our team, and whatever Chambers did to get us in this tournament, I hope he keeps doing it.
Did he sell his soul? Did he sell his body? All I can do is speculate, it's up to you to decide.
By some stroke of luck, or genius, or cunning... the BU Hoops Blog will be reporting to you direct from San Juan, Puerto Rico over the next few days.
Thanks in large part to these guys, the High Roller and I will travel to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off and take in hours upon hours of college basketball, rooting our Terriers on all the way.
Lesser men and women would cave and spend at least a few hours on the pristine white-sand Caribbean beaches. No beaches for us. We're trading sand for hardwood, and that's the way we like it.
We fly in tomorrow, arriving some time in the middle of the George Mason/Villanova game. Come back often for plenty of updates, basketball talk and random Puerto Rico tales of hilarity. We'll be unencumbered by the constraints of work obligations, girlfriends or personal hygiene. We may even have appearances by a special guest or two.
Both coaches hit their Blackberries within 5 minutes of each other for a quick tweet before the game tonight. You tell me which one feels more confident about tonight's matchup: @GWCoachHobbs Just finished shootaround / really tough game tonight. Young group has to mature quickly.
@Coach_Chambers Heading to our shoot around... Can't wait for tonight!!! Lets pack Agganis and start the season right at home!
As always, you can follow me here @chipweis, which roughly 75% of the time it's about BU basketball.
Finally, a few minutes ago from @JohnBattaglino, can't wait to see this place packed:
Today is the day we get to find out if the performance at the Terrier Tip-off worked. Coach Chambers can scream all he wants to rally the students, but if they still don't come to fill up The Greek tonight for GW, you have to wonder if they ever will.
I remember vividly the first game at Agganis Arena, a hope-filled win over Vermont seen by over 5000, a number that hasn't been matched since. Here's hoping today brings us back to that first game.
GW and I go back a long time. As they're my local team now and knowing quite a few alums, I attended quite a few Colonial games in 07-08, and flirted with sub-fandom for a while. I even have GW t-shirt. But it was a love/hate relationship, and ultimately the inferiority of the First Ladies dance team and the creepiness of the mascots pushed me to Howard instead.
However GW is a team that should be doing better. Long-time readers will know that a frequent target of mine is "Little George," who was described thusly by a blog ranking the 25 worst college mascots:
For some reason, the Colonial reminds me of the Norseman, McKinley High's mascot in "Freaks and Geeks." Both are unintentionally terrifying, with their gigantic heads and soulless eyes. While the Colonial isn't sporting a spine-tingling grin, somehow his look of placid indifference is even scarier.
The bad mascot news doesn't end there those. GW features an odd mix of several miscast mascots (see chart).
Now, there fantastic news for Colonial Nation, as Little George has been retired. I guess they got tired of re-painting his papier-mache face every year (really..) and replaced him with a much, much, muchbetter version of Little George. Now they just have to puncture the 10-foot tall inflatable Big George and we'll be in business.
Damian Hollis has been my favorite Colonial for a while, mostly because he constantly looks like he's about to fall asleep. He comes from a long line of tall, athletic GW forwards like Rob Diggs and Pops Mensah-Bonsu, but has never achieved on the level of those two - again, mostly because he's about to fall asleep.
Hollis is the best player, and I'm not sure what to expect from the rest of the team. GW sucked last year, but still beat us.
I do know that BU is going to have to cut down on fouls and turnovers this game. The shots will fall eventually. Hopefully, many will be there to hear it. Hmm, there's a tree-falling-in-the-woods analogy somewhere in there...
Who is this fast-paced basketball team, and what have you done with BU?
In my Iona preview I listed a few things people might think of when they hear "Iona." Unfortunately, BU fans who traveled to the game on Friday have emailed me to add another one: "raging alcoholic dickheads."
Read the Hot Dog's full account here, if you don't mind feeling uncomforable just sitting in your chair. Now, I'm not going to say we were all choir boys and angels back in my day, or always showed up ready to pass a breathalyzer, but we never personally targeted other fans or got in anybody's face. Especially for 40 straight minutes. These losers had zero interest in the game, just in making life miserable for the die-hard fans who made a 2-hour trip to cheer on their team. Idiots.
As for the game: sigh. In the excited build-up to every basketball season, especially this year with Coach Chambers getting everybody whipped into a frenzy, you forget how quickly you can be brought back down to earth by one uninspired opening performance.
This year it was BU losing by 9 at Iona, 82-73. One thing was crystal clear from this game: this is no longer Dennis Wolff's team. If the teams were Elton John songs, this is "Crocodile Rock" to last year's "Candle in the Wind." No more walking the ball up the floor to a half-court set offense. No more low-scoring games. And really, not much defense to be seen.
The Terriers ran up and down the floor non-stop. While this makes for an exciting, back-and-forth basketball game, I've got to criticize the strategy a bit. We had only 6 regular rotation players available... plus Vlad Sirutis and Sherrod Smith. Going up against a rotation of 11, this puts us at a disadvantage. Not only would we get tired more quickly, but the fouls mount up - which is exactly what happened. We had 6 guys finish with 4 or more fouls. Add it up and you've got a defense that resembles... the BU hockey team (sorry guys).
No strategy is going to work unless the shots fall, which they didn't. We shot under 40% for the game, and worse, made only 4 of 9 free throws in the second half. Turning the ball over 22 times doesn't help.
Bright spots were there. Tyler Morris looked like the 2006 version of himself. Carlos Strong had the first double-double of his career. The guards (Carlos, C-Lowe and Holland) rebounded the ball well, which will be important for our perimeter-oriented team.
The team's injuries hurt the depth, but even so we could have won the game. This much was glaring: the team desperately misses Scott Brittain's presence inside.
Tonight we arrive, as KW so eloquently put it, at Milepost 0. First game, beginning of the journey that is the 09-10 BU Terriers season.
The Terriers are not making it easy on themselves. Already, Scott Brittain and BJ Bailey are out with concussions. That means were going to have a VERY thin bench for the next few days. More importantly, our youngest Terrier is off to a bumpy and painful start, and any more concussions for one of our senior captains could bring his long-term health into question. I don't even know if Trent Green had 3 concussions. Be safe, Scotty.
On paper, BU should dominate Iona College tonight, right? We won in last year's Bracketbuster, we didn't graduate any of our big scorers, they lost 2 out of their top 3 scorers and they are picked 9th out of 10 in the MAAC. My expectations would normally be for a win of blowout proportions.
But then you account for the injuries on our side (Iona is a little banged up too, but not as bad). And that we're on the road. And it's our guys' first game under Coach Pat Chambers' new system. And they have a lot of tall men.
It'll be a good first test, and a nice tune-up for the GW home opener. And hopefully a win!
Expectations are a funny thing. As fans we cheer for our team and talk trash about how we're better than other teams. But then sometimes, we are hesitant to predict big things from our team. Why? Because we don't want to "raise expectations."
And why don't we want to raise expectations? I guess because of some fans have this idea about how much enjoyment you can get out of it. If you expect to come in 1st, and you come in 3rd, you're disappointed. If you expect to come in 1st, and you come in 1st, you're merely satisfied. And if you expect to come in 3rd, and you come in 1st, you're ecstatic beyond your wildest dreams. These fans think you get more enjoyment out of coming in 1st if you're not expecting it, and they want to mitigate their disappointment in case they come in 3rd ("Well, this is how we expected to do..."). The same effect comes into play to a sickening degree at political debates.
In the case of players and coaches, they try to set expectations low for the same reasons, except it's job security instead of enjoyment.
Well, the players can do what they want, and the coaches can do what they want. But I'm not tempering my expectations. I expect us to win a game in Puerto Rico. I expect us to win 20 games. I expect us to have two players on the All-AE First Team. I expect us to win the America East this year and go to the NCAA Tournament. And I'm going to enjoy it all just as much as if I only expected us to finish in 8th place (Binghamton is the default 9th place).
These high expectations should be the same every year, for every team. They're the reason Dennis Wolff was fired. And I don't think Pat Chambers should get any leeway from them just because he's new! We have a group of great veterans who have proven themselves capable. This is their last shot - why wouldn't they expect to make it to the NCAA's themselves!
Coach Chambers, Tyler Morris and Carlos Strong have all recently talked about not looking ahead of the next practice or game in front of them, and not worrying about where they are at the end of the year as long as they are the best team they can be. That's a fine attitude to have in order to keep concentration on the day-to-day efforts at improving. But they're crazy if they don't have any goals or expectations for the entire season.
There is pressure involved in setting high expectations. But when you expect great things, sometimes you get great results.
* * *
Now, predictions are different that expectations, but for fans they can fall into the same trap as the expectations... forecasting lower results to minigate disappointment and be "pleasantly surprised" by success. Well, not me. I predict (and expect) that this group of seniors and this new coach will bring us a championship.
Others who don't care about our program one way or the other are unencumbered by the expectations game. So what do they think?
In short, they all have pretty high expectations for us. I haven't seen a publication yet (published post-Tiki) that doesn't have us winning the America East. So what about beyond that, in the NCAA tourney?