Basketball Scouting Report: Boston University
The Army Black Knights can't really regret much of anything from Saturday's loss to American. The Eagles were and are simply better. Coach Zach Spiker's team pushed the best team in the Patriot League and simply came up short. That's not the kind of moment that haunts a team – this wasn't a win that somehow slipped through the Black Knights' fingers. American had answers for all of Army's questions. Tipping the cap and moving on must represent Army's response to that loss. If the Black Knights want to prove that they've moved on, they'll deliver a focused performance tonight against Boston University, in a battle for second place in the Patriot League.
BOSTON UNIVERSITY AT-A-GLANCE
Head coach Joe Jones, in his third season at Boston University, has a team that didn't achieve a whole lot in the course of a rocky non-conference season. The Terriers – who existed in the America East Conference for the past 33 years and are now making their Patriot League debut – didn't walk away with any major scalps, but they have forged a 7-1 conference record and are trying to set up a two-team dogfight with American as the month of February approaches. If Boston can beat Army tonight, it would push the Black Knights down the ladder and create separation from the rest of the league, keeping American just one game in front unless the Eagles get ambushed by Navy. (Yes, Army will be rooting for Navy tonight.)
Forward – Dom Morris – Senior, 6-7, 240 2013-14: 11.5 points per game, 6.4 rebounds per game
Morris, as a senior, should be able to use his body effectively in the low post and near the rim… and that's exactly what he's been doing for the Terriers. Morris is the team's leading rebounder despite his lack of size. He uses his width and court sense to box out on a consistent basis. Army will have a hard time keeping him off the glass.
Forward – Nathan Dieudonne – Sophomore, 6-7, 210; 2013-14: 5.5 ppg, 5 rpg
Dieudonne is a worker bee who, in time, could be as good a rebounder as Morris, but he's still growing into a currently lanky frame. As long as he's making steady contributions on the boards and as a defender, he's adding value to Boston University's team.
Guard – John Papale – Sophomore, 6-3, 190; 2013-14: 8.5 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.3 assists per game
Papale and fellow starting guard D.J. Irving both shoot under 38 percent from the floor. Army must pay close attention to this statistic and game plan accordingly on defense.
Guard – D.J. Irving – Senior, 6-0, 165; 2013-14: 11.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.3 apg
Irving hits 41.1 percent of his threes, but he converts only 38 percent of all shots, so when Army tries to attack Irving and teammate John Papale on defense, it must play Irving for the drive and Papale for the shot, focusing all the while on limiting the team's leading scorer, who will be mentioned next:
Guard – Maurice Watson, Jr. – Sophomore, 5-10, 165; 2013-14: 14.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 6.6 apg, 2 steals per game
The best and most dynamic player on the BU roster is also the team's best passer, which raises a natural – and very thorny – problem for Army: Do you want to force Watson to give up the ball? The answer is not "yes" or "no" – it's more complicated than that. If Watson is feeding teammates for easy layups or other high-quality looks near the basket, Boston University is getting what it wants, even if other players ultimately take shots. Army has to clog the paint so that Watson's passes are kickouts, mostly to Papale and not Irving. (If Irving receives the kickout, Army has to be able to rotate to close down the three-point shot.)
In what is an eight-player rotation for Jones, three reserves average double-figure minutes: Forward Travis Robinson and guards Malik Thomas and Cedric Hankerson. All three players average between 5.3 and 6.1 points per game; 2.2 and 3.1 rebounds per game; 0.5 and 1 assists per game; and between 0.6 and 0.7 steals per game.
Keys to the Game
1) Make Watson pass to non-Irving players at safe spots on the floor. Containing Watson isn't something Army can do in isolation. It must make Watson give up the ball so that the Terriers aren't setting up Irving for open threes or getting layups from other role players. Army's game plan on defense boils down to making Papale beat them at every turn.
2) Mentally regroup. Scoring 74 points against American's excellent defense represented a solid offensive performance. Army can beat Boston with a similar level of output; will the Black Knights be ready to play a challenging Patriot League game a few days after losing to the big dog in the league? The mental turnaround is more important in this game than the physical one for Army.
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