Second Basketball Scouting Report: Boston

Sure enough, the Lafayette Leopards were a team that was getting better – and healthier – at just the wrong time for Navy. The Midshipmen's luckless season is limping along, but this team might be catching its next opponent under more favorable circumstances.


The Navy men's basketball team was indeed outmanned by Lafayette this past weekend, as the Leopards' injured players returned to the lineup and were sharp enough to transform the way Lafayette wanted to play. The loss was hardly embarrassing, because Navy's opponent wasn't the one it was earlier in the season. The Midshipmen continue to pour forth effort; they just don't have the firepower needed to threaten most opponents.

However, as you'll soon see, Navy's next foe just might be weak enough that the Midshipmen can make a strong run at an upset on their home floor in Annapolis.

BOSTON UNIVERSITY AT-A-GLANCE

Head coach Joe Jones has to be concerned with what he's seeing out of his Terriers. It is generally thought that terriers are supposed to be aggressive animals, but these capital-T Terriers from Beantown have lost their bite at the defensive end of the floor in recent weeks. Boston University has conceded at least 81 points in three of its last four games, losing twice. Yes, this is the same team that allowed only 32 points to Navy when these teams last met on Jan. 7.

In other words, while this is technically the same team as the one the Midshipmen faced a month ago, it is essentially not the same team. Sports can be strange that way.

Navy held Boston to only 55 points in that initial go-round between these teams on Jan. 7. If the Midshipmen can replicate that defensive effort, they might be able to score in the high 50s and walk away with an upset victory.

Starting Lineup

Forward – Dom Morris –
Senior, 6-7, 240 2013-14: 11.6 points per game, 6.7 rebounds per game

Morris's averages haven't really budged all that much since the last time these teams faced each other. His rebounding has become slightly stronger (an 0.3 boards-per-game improvement) over the past month.

Forward – Nathan Dieudonne – Sophomore, 6-7, 210; 2013-14: 5.2 ppg, 5/1 rpg

Dieudonne still doesn't score much, but the Boston coaching staff is primarily concerned with his rebounding output, and that has remained the same over the past four weeks.

Guard – John Papale – Sophomore, 6-3, 190; 2013-14: 8.6 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.3 assists per game

Papale has not improved as a shooter compared to the last time these teams played. He must therefore be (again) the player Navy dares to take perimeter shots.

Guard – D.J. Irving – Senior, 6-0, 165; 2013-14: 12.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.4 apg

Here's a player who has improved his shooting percentage by becoming a more efficient player inside the three-point arc. Irving, unlike Papale, has developed his offensive game in recent weeks. He's now a 40-percent shooter, no longer lingering at or below 38 percent the way Papale is. Accordingly, Irving's scoring average has jumped 1.1 points since Jan. 7. Navy has to keep its eye on Irving, who is now more likely to play off BU's leading scorer, whom you've met before:

Guard – Maurice Watson, Jr. – Sophomore, 5-10, 165; 2013-14: 14.0 ppg, 4 rpg, 6.6 apg, 2 steals per game

Watson is still a fearless rebounder, a terrific passer, and a tough perimeter defender. Now that Irving has developed a slightly more effective offensive game, Navy has to be ready and able to contain Watson – not just as a three-point threat (which was part of the last BU scouting report), but inside the arc as well.

Bench

The main reserves for Jones are still unchanged. Forward Travis Robinson and guards Malik Thomas and Cedric Hankerson represent the core members of an eight-player rotation. Thomas's average of 3.3 rebounds per game is something to keep an eye on.

Keys to the Game

1) Maintain a focus on Watson and Irving.
Navy did well in defending Boston the last time these teams met. The new point of emphasis is that Irving is a better two-point shooter, even though his three-point shooting remains his strength. Navy will have to do better against Watson and Irving just to keep Boston at the 55-point total it reached versus the Midshipmen on Jan. 7.

2) See what 60 can do. The Midshipmen need to enter this game with a target in mind for their offense. They can't possibly expect to win if they allow a ton of points, but if they can indeed keep Boston in the 50s once again, a 60-point performance on offense will win. Coach Ed DeChellis needs to tell his players, "I need 60 points from you tonight – can you give that to me?" Defense is Navy's portal to victory, but Boston's recent defensive decline is what gives the Midshipmen the hope that they can cobble together just enough points to prevail.

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