Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

Boston University gets better but still has challenges

January 7, 2015 Columns No Comments

BOSTON – About a month ago, it was hard to imagine Boston University being 2-0 in Patriot League play and with the wins they have – at Holy Cross and a convincing win over Lehigh – to get there. But that’s where the Terriers stand now, and more importantly, they appear to be in a better place.

Even so, there isn’t going to be any rest. This team still has plenty of flaws and plenty of room to improve.

“It’s so early, you really have to keep trying to get better,” said head coach Joe Jones.

It’s easy to explain BU’s 2-0 start in Patriot League play as a product of being prepared through the non-league schedule, one where they took their lumps. It’s not that simple, though, especially because BU at times didn’t appear to be getting better during non-league play. There were times where this team looked like they would struggle once the new year came. They had a lot to figure out at one time, and their 2-0 record doesn’t mean they have done all of that yet.

Offensively, the Terriers seem to be adapting more to life without a true point guard. It’s not that Cedric Hankerson has suddenly become one, as he hasn’t, but it’s not just him. He’s certainly more like a point guard than he was before this season, but he’s also scoring plenty of points for this team. On Saturday, he and Eric Fanning – another wing – combined for 11 assists with just one turnover. That stat won’t jump out at you as much as the shooting numbers for a few of the guards (Hankerson, John Papale and Cheddi Mosely combined to shoot 12-18 from long range), but it’s certainly every bit as important.

What that, as well as the fact that Hankerson’s 17 points and five assists weren’t the biggest numbers, demonstrate is that the team is much better with the ball as a whole now.

“I’m trying to get other guys to have a better feel for what we’re trying to do also, so he’s not the one guy, that we’re looking for him to make all the plays,” said Jones.

Fanning, who came off the bench to score a game-high 21 points on 5-6 shooting to go with six assists, is starting to find himself. He isn’t one of those who has played the game almost since he born, so he’s had a little different learning curve even before he transferred from Wagner and had to sit a year. Talent isn’t something he’s lacking, though, and now it’s showing. It helps that he’s surrounded by other talented players who want to use their teammates’ skills, but had to figure out how best to do it.

“We were all unselfish at first, so I knew eventually our skill was going to take over,” said the sophomore wing. “Everyone is so unselfish, so everyone is willing to give up a good shot for a great shot.”

Although the Terriers have shot well from long range of late, this team still has challenges. Although Nathan Dieudonne is talented enough to be an offensive factor, he has been inconsistent at best there, as well as on the glass. No one else in the frontcourt is going to strike fear into opponents when devising defensive game plans, so this team will still be guard-heavy offensively. In fact, only six Terriers scored on Saturday, two of them being post players Justin Alston and Blaise Mbargorba, the latter of whom is a bit player.

The lack of a true primary ball handler means they have to continue to move the ball to get good shots. For more reasons than one, they also have to be able to get offense off the bounce. Teams are going to guard them differently at the three-point line in light of what they’ve recently done, and their personnel and lack of inside scoring power is all the more reason for teams to do that. There’s also another basic fact of shooting, which is that teams almost never keep up a torrid jump shooting pace for long stretches.

“We’ve got to get better at that in practice,” said Jones. “We need to practice making more two-point field goals. We need to practice and talk with them with more of an emphasis on driving the ball and posting up and cutting through the defense.”

The Terriers are a better defensive team than they were a month ago, and can still improve. Jones hopes they become a better man-to-man team as a big part of that, but the zone is showing some effectiveness right now.

It’s very early, as Jones noted, but the Terriers are playing better. Mainly, they appear to be playing more to their strengths and have a better feel for one another. The next challenge is to make this more than just a good early run that in hindsight winds up being a case of peaking too soon as teams adjust to them.

Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Hoopville Podcasts

College Basketball Tonight – March 19, 2017

March 20, 2017 by

The first weekend of the NCAA Tournament is in the books, and after two rounds that could not be more different. Ted Sarandis leads the way as we break down the first two rounds, as well as coaching news that emerged over the weekend.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 18, 2017

March 18, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we look back on the first round games in the NCAA Tournament, starting with a couple of terrific performances on Friday night.

College Basketball Tonight – March 12, 2017

March 13, 2017 by

We bring you College Basketball Tonight, a comprehensive look at the 2017 NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran broadcaster Ted Sarandis. The NCAA Tournament field is set, and we break down each region as well as some big picture subjects.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 10, 2017, Part 2

March 10, 2017 by

In Part 2 of our podcast, we talk about the ACC Tournament and others that have found new homes in light of comments made by a prominent coach that got quite a reaction, then we talk about the NCAA Tournament bubble as that subject begins to dominate conversation for a couple of more days.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 10, 2017, Part 1

March 10, 2017 by

In Part 1 of the podcast as Championship Week rolls on, we look at some important games in New York, as well as surprises in the Big 12. Also, more coaching changes are happening, and we talk about some of the news there.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale preview

June 24, 2016 by

We look ahead to the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, held at a familiar location in Boston.

At the 2016 Boston Shootout, host BABC has a big day

June 8, 2016 by

Sunday was a big day for the host program at the 44th Boston Shootout

2015 Boston Back to School Showcase recap

September 18, 2015 by

The Boston Back to School Showcase gave high school teams from three states and north of the border a chance for a couple of early games. We take a look back at the day and a few who stood out.