Thursday, November 17, 2011

BU Free Press Previews BU at Cornell

Searching for that evasive first win of the Joe Jones era, the Boston University men’s basketball team continues its demanding non-conference slate with a Sunday tilt against Cornell University at Newman Arena in Ithaca, N.Y.

BU (0-2) enters the game fresh off of receiving an 82-46 thumping from the University of Texas in the opening round of the TicketCity Legends Classic. In their first-ever meeting with the Longhorns this past Sunday at the Erwin Center, the Terriers were outscored 51-25 in the second half and committed 24 turnovers in the contest that turned into 27 Texas points.

For the second-consecutive game, senior guard Darryl Partin and sophomore guard D.J. Irving led all BU players with 14 and 10 points, respectively, despite combining to shoot 10-of-27 from the field.

But for a squad that is still adjusting to the graduation of John Holland, the program’s second all-time leading scorer with 2,212 points, finding a balanced offensive attack has been rather difficult.

In a preseason interview with Jones early last week, the former Boston College associate head coach said that he’s hopeful that his team will get the scoring done by committee.

Through two contests, however, the results have been mixed with Partin first on the Terriers with a season average of 19.5 points per game, while Irving has averaged 13.5 ppg.

Surprisingly enough, the Terriers’ third-leading scorer is none other than senior forward and America East Conference All-Defensive Team honoree Patrick Hazel, who has increased his scoring from 4.6 ppg last season to 7.5 ppg thus far this year.

But Jones isn’t too worried with BU’s lack of offensive production from his other players this early in the 2011-12 campaign. It will all come together eventually, he remarked.

“As the year goes on, those things are going to come together for us,” Jones said. “We’ll find that balance. New philosophy, new coach, it’s going to take us time to get it all, but we’re moving in the right direction.”

On the other hand, Holland’s graduation has opened up more spacing on the offensive end of the floor, allowing slashers like senior guard Matt Griffin and sophomore guard Mike Terry Jr. to drive into the lane and big-bodied forwards in sophomore Dom Morris and freshman James Kennedy to post up on the low block.

“Our offense is really spread out and there’s a lot of lanes to drive in,” Partin said after the season-opening loss to Northeastern University on Nov. 11. “We have a lot of great shooters, so it opens up a lot of stuff.”

In facing the Ivy League’s Big Red (1-1) on Sunday, Partin will square off against the same foe against which he had his best performance as a collegiate basketball player. He lit up Cornell for a career-high 32 points, including 30 in the second half alone and 17-consecutive Terrier points at one juncture, en route to BU’s 66-61 victory in November 2010.

Second-year coach Bill Courtney and his Cornell club boasted an even .500 record before last night’s road game at the University at Buffalo. Cornell earned its first win Monday night versus one of the teams in BU’s very own America East Conference – Binghamton University.

The Big Red exploded for 48 second-half points on its way to a 76-61 win over the Bearcats.

Freshman forward Shonn Miller tallied a team-high 19 points and snagged eight rebounds. Senior guard Drew Ferry, who netted a career-high 22 points in Cornell’s last meeting with BU, connected on five 3-pointers and contributed 16 points.

Partin did acknowledge that BU’s early-season struggles, a characteristic that has defined the Terriers the past three seasons under former coach Patrick Chambers and now Jones, can be attributed to a four-letter word: rust.

“Every team in the country probably would [feel a sense of rust],” Partin said. “You’ve had the summer, you’re playing nothing but pickup. College basketball and pickup are two completely different things. We did this last year. We start off the season slow, but it’s how you finish. We just have to keep tapping.”

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