March 10, 2009

The America East Men's Basketball Tournament

It's taken me a while to gather my thoughts after this past weekend. I've needed some time to recover from the end of the basketball season, and to adequately prepare myself for six months without Boston University basketball.

First off, here's why Hartford Coach Dan Leibovitz is number one in my heart: I shot him an email after his play-in game win against Maine saying:

From: Hot Dog
To: Lebo
Subject: Congrats

Sent: Mar 6, 2009 10:36 PM

Coach -
Congrats on the win! (I picked you over Maine by the way) I'm happy to say I'll be cheering loudly for you tomorrow vs. Bing. Good luck.

- Hot Dog

His reponse:

From: Lebo
Subject: Re: Congrats

Date: March 6, 2009 11:06:21 PM EST

To: Hot Dog

Thanks dog - never pick maine over me. Haha

How much to come coach at BU next year Lebo? I'll do some charity events to raise money to your asking price.

Anyways, after giving myself a good three days to recuperate I can talk about the tournament and my weekend in Albany.

It started at 9 am on Saturday. I, along with 18 other students, got to join some of the band and the dance team on a bus to Albany. I passed out within minutes of leaving, only after watching the first scene of the movie that the bus democratically chose: Pineapple Express.

That's cinematic gold!

Anyways, before I know it I'm looking out the window and seeing the bleakness that is middle New York. I just feel like that whole area is gray, and God intended it to be that way. It was overcast like the whole time I was in Albany, and everything in that "city" seemed the same color.

So within minutes we were driving around the UAlbany campus (which also felt really gray), and shortly after we were staring at this cube-like building that was SEFCU arena. We all gathered our things and made it off the bus with plenty of time to watch the entirety of the second half of the Vermont-Albany game.

I think everyone was shocked to see that Albany had a commanding lead over Vermont with about 19 minutes to go. I loved the atmosphere in SEFCU - it seemed completely full on both sides and the crowd was loud and very into the game. It's a shame it was such ugly basketball. I mean it really didn't seem like either team wanted to win - Albany especially, as their lead kept getting cut and cut. Before I knew it Vermont had the lead and had me saying to my counterparts - the Catamounts are going to win this game.

Somehow, someway, Marques Blakely kicked a ball out of thing led to another and Will Harris kicked another ball out of bounds...and then Mike Trimboli couldn't get a shot off to try to win it, and there's overtime.

Obviously the BU fans with me were all pulling for Albany. We all know we can't beat UVM, but we would much rather have the Danes even on their home court.

I don't know how it happened, but Albany pulled the game out. Mike Trimboli fouling out I'm sure helped, but it was amazing that the #2 team and my pick to win the tournament couldn't beat the Danes.

One thing I really enjoyed from that game was the UAlbany dance team. I have seen them before at Dance Team Nationals, but they really elevated their game this year - in looks and in moves. It was impressive to say the least.

So that game ends and it's time for BU. Too bad half the arena emptied after game one. At first BU was put on the Albany side, but then we were told to go to the other end of the floor. We did and the scene in the gym looked like this:

It looks like a game in Case gym!

The BU students outnumbered the UMBC students by a lot, which isn't saying that much - I didn't see any normal UMBC students other than band members, and half-clothed UMBC dance-teamers, and their cheerleaders. Their band was legit though, I'll give them that. Their dance team wasn't half bad either, they were just the most scantily clad group in attendance. I thought the BU fans were great, on top of their game, and giving it all they had. Plenty of cheers, plenty of enthusiasm, plenty of signs. My favorite chant that was able to get started - after making like two or three consecutive threes I started a "we have three balls *clap**clap**clap**clap**clap*" chant. Awesome.

The game started and it was back and forth action. It was clear that Corey was putting the team on his back early, and he continued to the rest of the game. It was also clear that the Terriers really didn't have an answer for Darryl Proctor who also seemed to be getting all his fellow Retrievers on his back too.

Yes, Matt Wolff was on Proctor the entire game, but that really wasn't enough. Proctor should've been double teamed everytime he got the ball, because UMBC's whole offense ran through him. I think at times this happened, but the emmergence of Justin Fry in this game destroyed BU. Fry looked as tall as Gheorghe Mure┼čan out there but had the shooting stroke of Reggie Miller all game. I think he was the main factor in destorying BU in addition to not really having an answer for whatever Proctor did.

At halftime I got chosen to participate in a contest that consisted of a lay-up, a free throw, and a three pointer. The lay up was cake, and that won me a free America East t-shirt (SWEET!). The shots are a little more difficult because the costume really limits my mobility. I went on to miss the free throw (pretty badly) and the three pointer (not by much). Despite my failures, the guy who was running the whole thing still gave me the grand prize - a free VIP pass to the Basketball Hall of Fame. That guy was the man and I commend him on his charity.

The scoreboard in SEFCU is pretty bad only because it only keeps track of the score, time, fouls, posession and timeouts. No individual stats. The whole game the whole BU fan section was wondering how much Corey and Proctor had. Turns out they had the same - 33 points. Each player was their team's offense. John had a quiet 20 points and was contained by Proctor on defense. Jake never really got into the game and fouled out. Scott was a nonfactor and fouled out. Jeff Pelage's stonehands really showed up which led to 5 costly turnovers on his part.

At the end of the game UMBC was the better team, despite having a shorter bench then BU. They were 4 points better even with Jay Greene only having 2 points on 2 free throws. And boy, was BU lucky he wasn't on, because had Jay found his stroke earlier in the game, it probably wouldn't have been an overtime game. He found it during the game against Albany and he absolutely destroyed them.

But the thing is, the problem I saw in this game is something I saw a lot during the season - BU will have a decent lead, but never put a team away. It happened in the last two games - against Hartford and against UMBC. They have a lead, and gather some momentum, but then they never take the final step to put the game completely out of reach. Furthermore, the other team will go on some sort of run and BU won't call a timeout or do anything to halt that momentum, and all of a sudden it will be a tie game. That's kind of what I saw against UMBC - they kept cutting into the lead and cutting into it and all of a sudden that lead is gone, it's a tie game, and BU's playing for their season, rather than comfortably finishing a game out with free throws and heading into the semifinal.

That's another thing - free throws. I saw it in the UVM-UA game - Marques Blakely went 10-19 from the line and it ended up being the difference. BU had many oppurtunities to hit free throws and potentially put the game out of reach, but it didn't happen.

While I think BU lived using the three pointer this season, they died on the free throw line. Especially in big game, high pressure situations. 68% on the season - I'd like to see a stat on how they were from the free throw line in the final minute of games.

It's really easy to criticize once the game and season are over. This team battled through a lot this year - injuries, doubters, internal trouble. They were picked to finish first overall and ended up third - but the real failure was not winning a game in the conference tournament, the first time that's ever happened since I've been at BU.

This loss was o-so-painful because it was overtime and because Corey scored 33 points and that still wasn't enough. After the game Corey couldn't keep his true emotions from showing as he cried while shaking hands. This really, really depresseed me and almost made me suffer through tears. I held it back and just burried my hands in my face instead. It's so painful to watch this type of thing happen in three straight years.

The reality that I only have one year left to see something special from this team really kicked in at the end of the game. I think it kicked in for Corey too. He wants nothing more than to win a conference championship - he has all the records and stats that any player could dream of at a school, but he doesn't have that banner.

As Full Court Press put it - if you thought 33 points was something in this tournament, wait until next year in Hartford. Corey will sacrifice every single limb and exert more effort than he should be capable of and I don't doubt he won't leave that court bloody, sweaty, exhausted, but a victor.

Next year BU will be picked as the preseason favorites for the third straight year. There will be more pressure on everyone on the team than any other year. There will be pressure on Dennis Wolff to coach a team without his son on it to victory, there will pressure on Corey to elevate his game and put this team on his back through the whole season, there will be pressure on Tyler Morris to play like he did freshman year, there will even be pressure on BU's star-freshman recruit, BJ Bailey, to make it four straight BU Rookie of the Years in the conference - bottomline, there's going to be a whole lot of pressure on this Boston University Terrier basketball team.

We can only speculate until next season as to whether or not they rise to the occasion. There will be a wrap up post from the season later, but right know I'd rather not think about men's basketball, when the women's team still has games left in their season. However, I will be watching the conference final on Saturday and I will be cheering for UMBC.

It can be tough to be a BU basketball Terrier at times.


Corey Johns said...

great post hot dog...Dennis Wolff said in the post game press conference that he was really upset for Corey Lowe because he's never seen anybody have a performance like him and not win and that in itself was disappointing. I really like Boston U next year. Corey Lowe is so good and John Holland is even better. I'm not a huge fan of Jake O'Brien and don't think he deserved the rookie of the year but iIm sure he'll bulk up and be a good inside presence. Morris should be a nice addition back next year. I said in my preview I thought UMBC was going to win because everybody was healthy for them and eventually BU's ineffective and lack of a banch was going to bite them eventually which it did. Next year you'll be deeper and I do expect another preseason favorites pick.

Anonymous said...

great post. Hopefully this season will be something that the returning players learn from. I've never really been too excited about men's bball but I can honestly say that I am anxiously waiting for next season to come.

GL to the women!

Anonymous said...

Why would you want Lebo to coach BU? Hartford is horrible.
DWolff needs to go. BU should fire him and hire Bentley's Jay Lawson.
BU hoops will never attain what it is capable of with DWolff at the helm. The Terriers should dominate America LEast, like they do in most other sports. DWolff is holding BU back and needs to go.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Nah nah nah nah, Nah nah nah nah, Hey hey, GOODBYE!