BOSTON – Boston University will enter the America East Tournament as something of a dark horse. For a couple of weeks, it’s been a given that the Terriers will be locked into the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament as Vermont and Stony Brook battled for the top seed. One thing that will be good for the Terriers is that they will enter the tournament with their defense in a good place, as evidenced by their 64-55 win over Hartford on Saturday afternoon.
The Terriers have made their mark on defense for years, and this team has been no different. On Saturday, they needed it at times, as they turned the ball over 20 times in part from committing a number of charging fouls. Hartford cashed in the turnovers for 24 points, and that helped keep them in the game. Offense comes and goes for most teams, but with this team it appears to do so a little more than with others, which just adds to the importance of their play at the defensive end.
Although Hartford shot 52 percent in the second half, the Terriers forced eight turnovers, and often got stops or turnovers when they needed them most. Hartford got close several times, including within two at one point, but they were never able to tie it in the second half.
“I thought we had some timely baskets, got some timely stops,” said head coach Joe Jones.
While Hartford’s shooting percentage in the second half is concerning, Jones said he felt it was a product of the players not adjusting to how the game was being called. That’s still concerning, but it can be corrected.
“I thought we had some calls not go our way, and I think when that starts to happen our guys start to play more on their heels and not as aggressive,” said Jones. “We played defense not to foul, and when you play defense not to foul, you’re not going to stay in front of anybody. We do that sometimes when things start to go the other way on us, and we’ve got to make sure we continue to play our way.”
Another area where the Terriers appear to be improving is on the glass. They were out-rebounded for a lot of the season, including four straight games recently. But on Sunday, they out-rebounded Hartford 37-18, the fourth time in five games they have done that, and the third time in that stretch that it was a double-digit margin. It was also a rebounding effort by committee, as no Terrier had more than five boards on the afternoon and only one Terrier didn’t have a rebound (in just one minute of action).
Boston University has certainly had some ups and downs this season. They had a seven-game losing streak in December, followed by a seven-game winning streak that took place for much of January. They ended the season losing back-to-back games before winning back-to-back games. They aren’t an easy team to project as far as whether or not they are built to pull off an upset or two in the conference tournament. They will come in with the defense playing well, which is never a bad thing at this time of the year.