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NIT 2014: Who Are the Boston Terriers?

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We question Terriers' writers to get our answers.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

I don't know the Boston Terriers. You don't know the Boston Terriers. Only the Boston Terriers know the Boston Terriers, so that's who we decided to ask.

We at the Champaign Room go right to the source. The source: Shep Hayes from the Boston University site, Bloggin' on Babcock. He tells what the Illini have to look forward to in the Terriers.

*****

The Champaign Room: Who should I look out for on Boston? What player makes the biggest difference?

Bloggin' on Babcock:

Maurice Watson, Jr. You probably know his type, one of the "best point guards you're not watching." The sophomore was recruited by a group of Ivies, Rice and Texas Tech, and is a little small (which many think is one of the reasons he wasn't recruited by a major conference team), but is a tremendously good basketball player. He's quick, an excellent ball handler and can pass with skill and ease.

He's second in the country in assist rate and 27th in steal percentage. He's an average-but-not-great 3-point shooter and he's struggled a bit at the line, but watching him drive to the hoop is absolutely beautiful. It actually feels like Joe Jones pulled above BU's level to get him.


TCR: What type of offense does Boston run?

BoB:

It's fairly heavy on guard play because that's where BU has a lot of talent right now. Beyond Watson, there's senior D.J. Irving, who fills in mostly at the two but still packs a punch a point guard. Senior Travis Robinson, sophomore John Papale and freshman Cedric Hankerson are all shooters, with the latter two able to cut inside if necessary (the former recently let the world know he can dunk).

Inside, senior Dom Morris and sophomore Nathan Dieudonne handle most of the work with assistance from junior Malik Thomas and sophomore Justin Alston. The four is probably the place where things get most interesting for the Terriers--Thomas is a popular choice, but no one quite fits the bill, especially when compared to guys playing the center role.


TCR: On defense, are they typically man to man? Zone? How effective have they been?

BoB:

Ken Pomeroy says it's inconclusive and I'm not going to disagree. BU fiddles with both, but zone seems to be the choice of late. It works fairly well for the Terriers; they were consistently the third best defense in the conference behind American and Bucknell. Teams shoot about average against them, but don't get to the line and turn the ball over a decent amount. They can go man, however, especially if they want to lock down a hot shooter. Hankerson has some size.


TCR: If I've never watched Boston before, what should I expect on Wednesday?

BoB:

Are you saying you don't have the CBS Sports Network?

Expect a team that, on it's best days, is fairly fun to watch. They play decent offense and a little exceptional defense. Given the way things were shaking out this year, they probably would have been a 14 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They know how to pull off an upset (won at Maryland this year and Boston College two years ago and almost beat Rutgers last year).

They're probably going to shoot the three, but don't be shocked when someone tries to dunk or lob up an alley-oop. Oh, and the bench is just so much fun to watch after a big play. They know how to celebrate.


TCR: Are they hot, cold, streaky? Where is Boston at at this point in the season?

BoB:

BU was hot. I think 91 points in both of your first tournament games in a new conference is pretty good. Of course, the Terriers went on to score a whopping 36 points in last week's championship game, so it's a little hard to say hot now. But I don't think I'll commit to cold, either.

In conference play, they threw down a couple of stinkers (Navy, Bucknell and both at American and in the championship game), but tended to respond well. I don't think last Wednesday was a good representation of BU's talent and I think they'll show something better this week.

This year's team is certainly less streaky than BU teams of the recent past (2011-12 basically went on matching winning and losing streaks) and they've gotten better at closing games out, with a few notable exceptions. "How did this team lose at home to Norfolk State?" is something BU fans have been asking since it happened.