Game #9-135: Boston University at Coastal Carolina ChanticleersDecember 6, 2012 7:00 pm
It is not often when two teams play back-to-back games against each other in college basketball. If it were to happen, it would usually be when conference teams play the last regular season game against each other and also happen to play each other in the first round of the conference tournament. Having a home-and-home series with a non-conference opponent is rare but not uncommon, but I had never seen the case that Coastal Carolina had where they would be playing Boston University in back-to-back games.
When the Big South Conference trimmed its schedule from 18 to 16 games, this meant they had the advantage of not having to play these early season conference games, but it meant the Chanticleers had to schedule two additional non-conference games. The back-to-back series with the Terriers was a great choice to fill up the schedule. Boston U. has always been a player in the America East race and would be a solid somewhat comparable opponent for the Chanticleers.
Boston U. was not without its problems coming into the year though. When Boston U. announced it would be joining the Patriot League
next year, the America East decided to ban them from the conference tournament
, essentially ending any chance they could get at getting to the NCAA Tourney. The team also had to replace the production from the America East player of the year Darryl Partin. It was thought that a returning Jake O'Brien would help out, but he was allowed to transfer due to the postseason ban.
The Terriers were not without returning talent and experience though and it was on display when Boston U. ended up crushing the Chanticleers 74-44 a week ago. Junior leaders D.J. Irving and Travis Robinson led the way for BU as they forced 23 turnovers. In a strange stat line, 10 of those turnovers came from CCU freshman wing Michel Enanga. Anthony Raffa was the nation's leading scorer leading into the game, but the Terriers kept constant pressure and double teams on him and he only had eight points.
I was hoping for a much more competitive game this time around and I figured having the home court advantage would help some, but a 30-point differential would probably be really hard for the Chants to overcome.
When I walked into the HTC Center, it did not take me too long to spot Ian McCormick
who was at the concession stand. I let him know a tip I figured out with CCU's new arena. You can go to the attached bookstore/apparel store and buy a 20 oz. drink in there for the regular rate of $1.50 instead of paying $3 for a 12 oz. cup of ice with a little bit of Coke in it. Sadly, he had already ordered, but we did get a chance to catch up on our travels and talk about competing in The Game.
I was hoping for a big bounceback performance from Enanga after his horrid 10 turnover showing up in Boston, but it did not start too well for him as he turned it over yet again on the first possession. "Not again" I thought to myself, but another runaway win for the Terriers was not in store. Coastal began to get to the rim at will and scored their first 10 points in the paint while BU was using a mix of inside work and three-point shooting to carry its offense.
After the first few minutes, I was surprised with the amount of CCU students that showed up for the game. They filled up the seating in both the sections behind the baskets. While they were not particularly involved in the game, it was still somewhat surprising since they had trouble some games filling the student section in tiny Kimbel Arena.
They were being treated to a very good game, CCU had to work hard for their baskets, but they were keeping pace with the Terriers. The inexperience started to show for Coastal though, especially on defense. Boston U. was getting much easier looks on offense as CCU found themselves out of position and not rotating properly allowing wide-open shots for Robinson and Irving, who made them pay from deep.
One CCU player in particular that is still learning the ropes is freshman big man Uros Ljeskovic from Montenegro. My friend Justin was commenting on how he did not look like he knew where to be on the court or what defensive set was being run. By some sheer force of luck though, the ball would seem to be slapped away and he would scoop it up or he would grab an errant rebound. This led me to give Uros the nickname of Tenacious D because he was literally all over the place on defense by design or not.
After one play where Ljeskovic accidentally dribbled the ball off his leg which led to a CCU player picking up the ball and scoring I leaned over to Justin and said "Look at the unselfish play from Tenacious D with the sweet assist." I was doing it mainly to annoy him as the kid obviously needs a lot of work, but he did get better as the game wore on.
The first half zoomed by as there were only three fouls in the first 15 minutes. Boston had a 34-30 lead at the half and it was good to see the Chanticleers were putting in a much better effort. The second half looked a lot like the first as the Terriers were playing good team ball and getting open looks. CCU would chip into the lead, but Dom Morris had an answer each time the Chanticleers would get within one possession.
Coastal would make one final push as Kierre Greenwood would hit CCU's only three with four minutes to go. His strip and steal of Morris a minute later put it at 62-59 for BU. A dagger three from Robinson where he was once again wide open, squelched any chances at a comeback as Boston U. ended up with a 69-63 win.
The old cliché is that it is really hard to beat the same team twice, but Boston was able to do just that. It is a shame they will not be able to get a chance to play in the A-East tournament as they are obviously a contender with Vermont and Stony Brook. For CCU it has been a rough stretch of games since the opening night win over Akron. The young players will get better with experience and hopefully they can get better playing as a team as the year progresses.