The week before Saturday's game at the Event Center, the Binghamton University student newspaper made it official. PipeDream designated the Bearcats the worst Division I basketball team in the nation. Towson's victory on January 28th has left Binghamton as the only D-I team without a win this year, and the matchup against the Terriers of Boston University was one of only seven remaining regular season games. The Bearcats are young. Kenpom's "experience" rating places them 331st out of the 345 Division I programs. And although they started two juniors and two sophomores against BU, three freshmen and a soph are among their top five in minutes played this year. Three years out from their first NCAA appearance and the subsequent player scandal that decimated the program, any re-birth at Binghamton would seem to depend on whether coach Mark Macon can bring his youngsters along.
Despite the losses, Binghamton continues to draw fans. The Event Center is modern and the nicest facility in the America East. Attendance for Saturday's game was listed at over 3,200 with most of the fans coming from the local community. Student support for the team has been surprisingly soft. Two and a half minutes in, Terriers senior guard Darryl Parlin opened the scoring with a trey. Binghamton scored on the next possession, but would go almost six minutes before scoring again. The Bearcats would struggle offensively all night. A promotion offered a free Big Mac to all fans in attendance if Binghamton scored 65 or more points in the game. The bottom line for the local McDonald's franchises was never in jeopardy. Boston U led 16-9 at the under-eight minute timeout. The Bearcats' interior defense had been solid and sophomore Robert Mansell was doing a good job guarding Parlin, who came in leading the Terriers at almost 20 ppg. The Bearcats' point guard Jimmy Gray is a Binghamton High School graduate and a local favorite. Gray's assist on a basket and then a traditional 3-point play by Javon Ralling pulled the Bearcats within seven at the one-minute mark. Boston U. led 28-20 at the half.
Mark Macon must be one of the least-animated coaches in college basketball. He is rarely on his feet during a game. He sits at the end of the bench, not rising until a timeout is called. He yells at neither his players nor the officials and sometimes appears (I know this is not the case) disinterested in the action on the court. This is not a criticism. It's just that, in the college basketball world, where the coaches are often THE show, it is so.... well, it's odd. The Bearcats do have some talent. Mansell looks like a player. On this night he scored 13 points and played hard-nosed defense aginst the best athlete on the court (Parlin). He looks to be the only Bearcat who can penetrate and draw fouls. The most promising freshman is 6-9 forward Ben Dickinson. Although not starting this night, he has been playing 30 minutes a game and showing rebounding and passing potential.
Binghamton's offensive struggles continued in the second half as the lead balloned quickly to 12 points. The Terriers were more effective getting the ball into the paint. A three pointer by Gray pulled the Bearcats within nine with 11:13 left. Terriers point guard D.J. Irving answered with a smooth 18-footer and when Parlin drove past Mansell for a basket at 9:30, the score was 48-35 and the game, for practical purposes, was over. Senior Matt Griffin came off the Boston U bench to hit four of six three-pointers, and his trey at the five-minute mark pushed the lead to twenty points.
Some small excitement was still to come, however. Ben Dickinson hit a three-pointer in the first half, and dispite coming into the game shooting 18% beyond the arc, he seemed to become enamored with the shot. He did not make another and, while being the tallest Bearcat, spent too much time away from the rim on the offensive end. He appeared to lose intensity on the defensive end when the game slipped away. Dickinson finished with 13 points, five rebounds, four assists and, undoubtedly, some bruises. With 3:45 to go Dickinson went up for a defensive rebound and was flipped up onto the back of Terrier center Jeff Pelage. They both crashed to the floor and, while laying there Pelage intentionally kicked Dickinson in the head. A technical foul was called as the players on the court came together. Macon slowly walked the court to the far basket and calmed and separated his players while his assistants yelled and screamed to keep the Bearcat subs from leaving the bench. Order was restored and Dickinson soon seemed to gain a small dose of revenge. With one minute remaining he broke away for an uncontested dunk. He mistimed his jump, however, and while making the shot, hung momentarily on the rim before crashing hard to the ground on his shoulders and head. He bounced up right away. Macon buried his head in his hands and stared down at the floor, thinking about the play and, maybe, his season.
BOSTON UNIVERSITY 68, at BINGHAMTON 53 02/04/2012
BOSTON UNIVERSITY 12-13 (8-3) -- M. Black 6-15 1-3 15; D. Partin 4-11 4-5 13; D. Irving 4-6 0-0 8; D. Morris 3-4 2-2 8; P. Hazel 1-3 5-6 7; M. Griffin 4-6 1-2 13; T. Robinson 3-5 0-0 7; M. Thomas 2-5 3-4 8; M. Terry 1-2 0-0 2; J. Pelage 0-0 0-0 0; Z. Chionuma 1-2 0-0 2; C. Kurz 0-2 0-0 0; M. Piotrowski 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-46 15-19 68. BINGHAMTON 0-23 (0-11) -- J. Gray 1-7 0-0 3; R. Mansell 5-11 3-6 13; J. Ralling 3-6 1-1 7; O. Richards 3-7 2-2 8; B. Dickinson 6-13 0-0 13; A. Ogundadegbe 3-5 0-1 6; T. Johnston 1-1 0-0 3; J. Williams 0-0 0-0 0; C. Longoria 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-50 6-10 53.
Three-point goals: BU 7-16 (M. Griffin 4-6; D. Partin 1-1; M. Thomas 1-3; D. Morris 0-1; T. Robinson 1-3; M. Terry Jr. 0-1; Z. Chionuma 0-1), BING 3-11 (T. Johnston 1-1; J. Gray 1-5; R. Mansell 0-2; B. Dickinson 1-3); Rebounds: BU 23 (M. Thomas 6), BING 24 (J. Ralling 6); Assists: BU 8 (D. Partin 2), BING 11 (J. Gray 5); Total Fouls -- BU 13, BING 16; Fouled Out: BU-J. Pelage; BING-None.