By: Chris Lynch
Coach Joe Jones and the BU Men’s Basketball team will host a midnight event at the Case Gym, Terrier Madness. They then have their first game of the season on November 13 at home against the Northeastern University Huskies. But before that, there is the important work of preseason and practice. Coach Jones has spent the summer preparing his team for a new season. Last year’s team finished at 13-17 overall and 9-9 in conference, and returns the entire starting lineup from last season. I got to sit down with Coach and ask him about the program and the upcoming season.
Q: So, first off, I came into last season knowing that the team was in a transition mode. This season is a bit different. Can you contrast the preparations you had to make last off-season with the preparations for this season?
A: Well we were so inexperienced last year. We just lacked game experience. We had only four guys with any in game experience last season. So we needed to improve there. Although I felt that we had talent, our general understanding of things was low. This year is better. It’s still not where I want it to be, but it is better. Our team spirit and ability to sustain performance is much better, though everything does need to keep improving.
Q: Given how inexperienced the team was last season, are you happy with the outcome of last season?
A: Looking back, I felt that our lack of understanding hurt most. Anytime you come in fourth place, I don’t think it makes you feel great, but given our experience coming back, I don’t think it was a terrible thing.
Q: What were the guys’ reaction after the game against Lafayette?
A: Well I think we were worn out after a long season. We took the Italy trip, and it was a long season for a very young team. Our starters averaged more minutes than most teams in NCAA hoops. We played like a tired team down the stretch of the season and that cost us.
Q: For this season, can we expect the same starting lineup?
A: We’re waiting to figure that out. Everything is up in the air right now.
Q: How have the practices been?
A: We’re improving. We want a higher level of consistency across the board but they’ve been productive so far.
Q: You return most of the same roster this year and added 3 freshman in Komali Chambers, Kyle Foreman, and Brandon Johnson. What have you thought of their work so far?
A: Very pleased with their performance in practice so far. I think they bring a level of energy and eagerness to the practice right away. They’ve been a very big plus for our team so far.
Q: BU is predicted to finish 3rd in the Patriot League this year behind Lafayette and Bucknell. You think that’s a reasonable expectation?
A: Well Bucknell had the best record last season and returns most of the same team with a new coach and Lafayette won the conference and returns most of their whole team this season. But being honest, I don’t pay too much attention to those polls. Last year, Army was picked to finish first and they came in last. You have to throw the ball up and the best team will win the game.
Q: What can you expect from Cedric (Hankerson) this season?
A: Well he’s injured right now. He suffered an ACL injury in April and is working his way back now. He’s been practicing and we expect him to return at some point in December.
Q: It’d be expected that Eric (Fanning) will get more time with Cedric being out, two guys who play a similar style of cutting and attacking the basket.
A: Well Cedric had a ton of responsibilities last year to score and set up other guys. He carried us early and played well the rest of the way. Eric will get more playing time, but the strategy will be a bit different. We get Eric Johnson back and Kyle Foreman can play the point too to free up the point, which means we’ll play with a point guard and not two shooting guards on the floor all the time.
Q: Talk with me about your front court, especially with Nathan Dieudonne leading the league in rebounding last year and Justin Alston growing up in a big way last year.
A: We’ll start with Dieudonne. He’s a very physical kid. We went to him last year and told him we can lead the league in rebounding, and he was right there. He’s grown into being a scorer inside too, and can use his athleticism to score the ball around the rim. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to win, and that’s what I like most about him. Alston, I love that kid. He was our most improved player and he does all the extra work. We had a day off yesterday and he came into workout and get extra work in. He’s a great senior to have leading us this year. We are a perimeter team, but we get good scoring from the inside too. It also helps that our bench will step up and be ready to help our starters rest more frequently. I think we could have a solid year as long as we healthy.
Q: What is the injury status of the team right now?
A: Right now we’ve got four guys out. Cedric has his ACL but he is practicing. Dieudonne has a concussion, Cheddi (Mosely) has a foot injury and Blaise (Mbargorba) is just back from nose surgery. We should have everyone back before the season opens except Cedric.