Basketball Scouting Report: Boston University

Brandon Venturini will long remember the day when he hit 8-of-9 three-point shots and scored 28 points for the Navy Midshipmen against Lafayette. Yet, as great as that performance was, it's not sustainable. As Navy faces Boston University tonight, balanced production must be the point of emphasis for head coach Ed DeChellis.


The good news for Navy is that it grabbed a Patriot League victory this past weekend due to the fact that one player stepped up. Winning games without Tilman Dunbar can only happen if other players fill the void, and Brandon Venturini answered the bell against Lafayette. That should make the Midshipmen very happy and hopeful as they move forward with their season.

The point of concern, though, is obvious: Venturini's performance simply isn't going to be replicated over the course of the season. Other players on the Navy roster will have to emerge as scoring threats, so that no one man feels he has to be "the guy" in the absence of Dunbar, who in fact was "the guy" for the Midshipmen in non-conference play.

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 did start the Patriot season with two wins this past week. With Bucknell's early loss, Boston could reasonably be seen as the favorite in the Patriot League right now. We'll see, though, if the Terriers can continue to establish themselves as the top dogs in this part of the vast landscape of college basketball.

Starting Lineup

Forward – Dom Morris –
Senior, 6-7, 240 2013-14: 12.5 points per game, 7 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. Navy will have a hard time keeping him off the glass.

Forward – Nathan Dieudonne – Sophomore, 6-7, 210; 2013-14: 6 ppg, 4.9 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: 8.1 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.3 assists per game

Papale and fellow starting guard D.J. Irving both shoot under 36 percent from the floor. Navy must pay close attention to this statistic and game plan accordingly on defense.

Guard – D.J. Irving – Senior, 6-0, 165; 2013-14: 12 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.5 apg

Irving hits 38.9 percent of his threes, but he converts only 35.8 percent of all shots, so when Navy 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: 14.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 6.9 apg, 1.9 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 Navy: 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. Navy has to clog the paint so that Watson's passes are kickouts, mostly to Papale and not Irving. (If Irving receives the kickout, Navy has to be able to rotate to close down the three-point shot.)

Bench

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 4.9 and 5.7 points per game; 2.3 and 2.9 rebounds per game; 0.5 and 0.9 assists per game; and between 0.5 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 Navy 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. Navy's game plan on defense boils down to making Papale beat them at every turn.

2) Balanced scoring. Brandon Venturini will need a lot of help in this game. Worth Smith certainly did his part against Lafayette, as did Thurgood Wynn off the bench. Let's see if the rest of the primary supporting cast can score two more baskets (four more points) per person.

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