By: Chris Lynch
The Boston University Terriers begin their second round of Patriot League games with a road trip to Annapolis to play the Navy Midshipmen on Wednesday night at 7pm.
These two teams played back on January 6th and after a wild first half, which ended with BU leading, Navy won, 83-67. Nick Havener got his third double-double in four games, and BU did have a decent offensive showing. They did not play a strong enough second half to win, especially on the defensive end. That is especially problematic against Navy, who does not rely on their offense to win games.
The Midshipmen have one of the weakest offenses in the Patriot League. They have the third worst scoring offense in the league, at 66.4 points a game, the second worst free throw percentage, at 67.9%, and the second worst percentage from three point range, at 30.4%. They also only have one player averaging double digit points on the season, with Shawn Anderson averaging 13.0 points a game. Navy has struggled on offense, and when they get into shoot out games, it is difficult for them to win.
They do have some positives on offense, however. While Navy has not averaged many points on the season, they play a ball control offense and have the third highest field goal percentage in the league, at 45.1% from the field. They also have the second best rebounding offense in the Patriot League, averaging 35.9 rebounds a game.
The Midshipmen can explode offensively if not contained. Will Kelly, Tillman Dunbar, and Shawn Anderson all scored 16 points against BU back on January 6th at Case. Jace Hogan added 13 and Tim Abruzzo added 11, making five players scoring double digit points against the Terriers.
While they can break free on the offense, Navy shines brightest on the defensive side of the ball. Navy owns the best scoring defense in the conference, allowing only 62.3 points a game. They also have the second lowest defensive three point percentage, at 32.0%, and the best total field goal and rebounding defense. Navy only allows opponents to shoot 40.6% from the field, and allows opponents to only get 30.7 rebounds a game. They also average the most blocks per game in the conference, at 4.0 blocks a game. Will Kelly is the focal point of the defensive force. He averages 2.7 blocks and leads the Patriot League in total blocks by 34. He has been the defensive player of the year so far in the Patriot League.
Navy’s defense will give BU some trouble. They did so the last time these two teams met, and will be a challenge again in Annapolis. BU does have a talented offense and could give Navy a run for their money. Four Terriers are averaging double digit points on the season. Eric Fanning is leading the team in scoring, at 14.2 points a game. He provides the ball handling skills of a guard with the size and physicality of a true small forward and could provide a mismatch for Navy. He got a team high 15 points last time out against the Midshipmen. The guards are also coming off recent strong performances. Cheddi Mosely scored a team high 18 points on Sunday against Lehigh, and John Papale made the top play on ESPN Sportscenter’s Top 10 with his game winning buzzer beater.
However, the game will be won on the forward line. Navy’s defense is powered by smothering big men, and will eat up the BU forwards if they are not careful. Nick Havener had an excellent game against Navy last time out, scoring 15 points and getting 11 rebounds. He played very little in the second half, and BU struggled without him on the floor. He and Blaise Mbargorba has shown some defensive prowess this season, averaging about a block per game each. They’ve helped make BU the second best team at blocking shots this season. Nathan Dieudonne did not have a good game last time against the Midshipmen. He scored four points, turned the ball over four times, got five rebounds, and fouled out.
Navy is second in the Patriot League, primarily because of its defense. BU can counter it with a talented defense of their own. The team will need to control the paint and keep Navy’s potentially sluggish offense from getting any momentum