By: Chris Lynch
With exams all wrapped up, the Boston University men’s basketball team will take to the road for their first game of break. For the eighth time in their last nine games, they take to the road to play a game. This time, they travel to Buffalo, NY, to take on the 3-6 Canisius Golden Griffens at the Koessler Athletic Center at 2pm on Saturday.
BU comes in on a two game winning streak, after beating UMass Lowell 80-60 and downing Quinnipiac 64-57. BU also looks to put a tumultuous first semester behind them. The team has seen Eric Fanning suspended, Nathan Dieudonne sit out for a game, and has lost two members of their starting line up, Cedric Hankerson and Justin Alston, for the season to injury. Despite all that, the team came out 5-5 after playing stiff competition, including the #1 Kentucky Wildcats and three consecutive conference winners paying a visit to Commonwealth Avenue, with all of them needing their best efforts to try and win against the Terriers.
Now with the break schedule beginning, BU has a rotation that they will look to ride to some wins as the difficult non-conference schedule continues. Canisius comes in 3-6, and on a three game losing streak. However, the Golden Griffens can put points up on the scoreboard. They are averaging 83.9 points a game, and have reached 90 or more points in three games this season. Five Griffens are averaging double digit points, led by guard Malcom McMillian, at 18.4 points a game, and forward Phil Valenti, at 15.4 points a game.
Guard Jamal Reynolds is chipping in 10.1 points and a team high 7.7 rebounds a game. Canisius can score, and this is with one of last year’s high scorers, Zach Lewis, transferring to UMass. They’ve beaten some difficult teams on the season, including another Patriot League opponent in Lehigh, and the underdog story of college basketball this year, Monmouth University.
So what has been the downfall of the team this season? Their defense. Opponents are averaging 47.5% from the field on the year. BU has hit that mark twice on the season, in victories against South Florida and UMass Lowell. Canisius has also allowed opponents to average 37.7 points a game in the paint, and after a victory against Cornell, 50.2% of the points scored against them have come from the paint.
BU’s front court has played well the last few games, with Eric Fanning playing hard and averaging 11.3 points a game, Nathan Dieudonne leading the team with 5.6 rebounds a game, while contributing 10.1 points of their own, and Nick Havener emerging as a dependable offensive force, averaging 9.3 points a game and 6.6 rebounds a game since going into the starting line up against Harvard.
But the game will likely be decided from the three point line. Canisius is a sharpshooting team, averaging 10.2 made three pointers on the season. BU has averaged 8.8 threes on the season, and has not won a game when being outshot from the three point line by an opponent. Cheddi Mosely is leading the team in scoring with 13.8 points a game, and is only shooting 31% from three point range after a recent stretch of cold shooting.
John Papale is second on the team with 13.5 points a game, and is also just getting out of a cold stretch from three point range. The Terriers will have to get production from their two sharpshooters in order to counter the high octane Golden Griffen offense, and will have to attack in the paint to win a game that is certainly winnable for the Terriers.
The game can be seen on ESPN3 at 2pm.