By: Chris Lynch
The BU Men’s Basketball team will take the floor for opening night against Northeastern on Friday the 13th, at 7 p.m.
For that game, senior guard John Papale will take the floor for the 96th time in his successful BU career. Now a captain of the team, Papale will look to help the team to a conference championship in his final year at BU.
WTBU Sports got the chance to meet up with Papale and ask him a few questions just after the team’s practice on Wednesday night.
Q: First question I’ve got for you, how was practice today?
A: It was good! It’s a game practice, so there’s a lot more teaching from Coach and less up and downs for today’s practice. And all in all, I thought it was a good practice.
Q: I was going to say, how do you feel about playing Northeastern?
A: Yeah, it’s exciting. Obviously, them being so close to us makes it exciting for us and for the fans. And every game has come down to the wire in my career, so it should be a good game this time around too.
Q: A couple of bigger picture questions to ask. Have you seen your role change here at BU now that you’re a senior?
A: Yeah, I think as you get older, you have a much bigger influence on the younger guys whether you know it or not. Obviously me being a captain this year and last year, I’ll have a big impact on the guys. I’ve grown as a leader. I still have a lot of work to do, but it’s something that I’ve grown into in my time here.
Q: What is the biggest difference between this season and last year for both you personally and for the team?
A: I think last year, we didn’t have as much success as we wanted to have. I think the big thing for us was to grow up more. I thought last year we were a little immature and we had so many young guys. I think everyone got a bit older this year and more mature, which allows us to focus in on the basketball stuff and try to get better.
Q: Is there anything you worked on over the summer?
A: Yeah, I stayed up here over the summer. I worked on trying to be an all around player. I’ve obviously been a good shooter for my career here, but I’m trying to get better off the dribble. I’m still gonna play to my strengths, but I’ve been working more on that during the summer.
Q: How are you guys adjusting without your two leading scorers from last season?
A: Yeah, well the good thing about our team is that our guys are pretty confident. Obviously, not having Cedric out with injury hurts. He’s a good player, and was our best player last year. But I think myself and other guys are pretty confident that we’ll be able to score early on. It’s more about the defense for us this season.
Q: Explain the reliance on defense to this point?
A: Yeah, well last season, Cedric was a great scorer, but we have different guys who can score 20 points any given night. I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head, but I think we had at least 6 different guys lead us in scoring last year at some point. So I think we just had a hard time stopping guys last year. And if I know that if I have an off night, I’m gonna have someone else backing me up. But we gotta stop them.
Q: Another personnel question, how have the freshmen been doing in practice to this point?
A: They’re great players and talented kids. The big thing for them is that they’re quiet and hard workers. They’re what freshmen are supposed to be. They fall in line and they’ve accepted their roles and I think they’ve been doing a great job so far.
Q: One last question for you. Last year, you played with shooting guards on the floor and didn’t have a true point guard last year. Now with Eric Johnson back after a shoulder injury kept him out last year, how will that change your play this year?
A: It’s definitely gonna help me personally. I’m naturally more of a shooting guard. So having a point guard will allow me to play off the ball more and get some of those easier shots I got in the first two years of my career. And as a team, I think it will help us having a guy who’s mentality is one of setting up everyone else first. Having a natural point guard is always good for the team, regardless of who it is. I think it will benefit us this year.
The Terriers tipoff the 2015-16 basketball season on Friday at 7:00 p.m. against the Northeastern Huskies at Case Gymnasium.