By: Chris Lynch
Friday marks the start of a new calendar year for everyone. That means a new beginning, a chance to learn from past mistakes, and the chance to make the new year outstanding. Wednesday is that opportunity for the Boston University Terriers on the basketball court. They open their conference schedule against the Holy Cross Crusaders in Worcester at 7pm.
Both teams come in with mixed success in the non-conference portion of their schedules, with the Terriers holding a better record, but the Crusaders carrying more momentum.
BU went 7-6 and largely alternated wins and losses, and its only consecutive wins have been the last two, against New Hampshire and Kean.
Holy Cross only went 5-6 in non-conference play, with a three-game losing streak in there for good measure. The Crusaders have won their last two games, blowing out Hartford by 22 points, and scraping out a win over Maine by one point.
Last season these teams split the match ups, with the road team winning both games. BU beat Holy Cross in Worcester on December 31st last year, 75-72 in overtime. The Crusaders won in Agganis Arena, 77-70, on February 28.
The Crusaders are led by junior Robert Champion, who is averaging 12.6 points a game as the sixth man. The only starter in double figures is Alexander Malachi, who’s averaging 10.6 points a game and a team high 6.3 rebounds. Cullen Hamilton and Karl Charles are starting as well and averaging 9.9 and 9.5 points respectively.
The game will likely be decided in the front court. Both teams are close in free throw percentage and in three point percentage. Their back courts are comparable in design and role for their team, so the front court will be the difference for the game. And there, BU has an advantage.
BU is second in the Patriot League in blocks, with 3.8 blocks a game. Holy Cross is further down that list and will have to be productive on the low block.
Both teams have been out rebounded in their respective schedules, and their prowess on the boards will be important for the game. BU has averaged 34 rebounds as a team to Holy Cross’s 29 rebounds a game. Holy Cross has the best single rebounder in the game, as Alexander Malachi is 7th in the conference at 6.3 rebounds a game. BU has the 10th and 11th rebounders in the conference in Nathan Dieudonne and Nick Havener, at 5.5 and 5.3 rebounds a game. BU has more versatility in their front court, and stands a chance to win the game, despite one of the worst turnover ratios in the conference.
If BU out-rebounds the Crusaders and does not turn the ball over, they can get their first victory in the conference, and start the new year on the right foot.