By: Greg Levinsky
BOSTON – One day after the Terriers were picked to finish fourth in the conference, Boston University men’s basketball head coach Joe Jones joined the Patriot League for its annual men’s basketball conference call on Thursday.
Here are some of the highlights of what Jones said in the 10 minute time slot.
BU’s youth: “Obviously we have a different team in the past because we’re awfully young with six freshman. I’ve never had that before. But, we have four guys that played a ton of minutes for us last year that I think have all taken a step in the right direction both mentally and physically in Max Mahoney, Tyler Scanlon, Javante McCoy and Walter Whyte.”
The returning starters’ development: “Max Mahoney, we really worked hard on his ability to sustain level of intensity and being able to run and play for longer period of time. Scanlon, we wanted him to get stronger, quicker, a little more athletic, diversify his game and become more of a perimeter guy with his skill set… Javante just kind of needed to mature like young people need to and kind of understand what it takes to have success at this level. Obviously get stronger, get in the weight room which he has and put on some weight. He’s gotten more athletic and a little bigger. Walter Whyte, just continue to develop his overall ball skills, become a guard. He played forward in high school, but we look at him playing more of the perimeter position here.”
His approach knowing the freshman need to contribute: “I just have really tried to get them to understand that they’re really not going to be looked at as freshman. There’s no time for them to feel sorry for themselves. Like some freshman do, they have to step up to the challenge of what this is, the reality of what this is. I have to really be careful that I’m encouraging as much as I am demanding because there is so much for them to learn and understand. Right now they’re typical freshman and don’t understand how hard you have to play at this level and how intense every drill is, how impactful everything that they do is. They were able to get away with so much because they’re so talented. They’re struggling with that, but that’s not uncommon. Like I said, I really do like the type of kid that we have the level of maturity that they’ve shown in terms of getting in the gym and working on their own, being on time for everything, we don’t have those types of issues… I’m just trying to get them to step up because they need to. We have a game in three weeks and they’re going to play, so they have to be ready to go.”
What his team must do to be successful: “There’s probably a lot of things. One, we’re going to have to stay healthy. I think that’s the thing that’s crushed us in the past. I don’t think people fully understand how injuries in the last three years have impacted us so much within our program. Our level of consistency and the ability to get better as the years goes on, we’re always kind of doing patch work and trying to keep guys playing and not practicing. It’s been just nuts how we’ve had to rotate around and do the things we’ve had to do to still try and be successful. Hopefully we can stay healthy. Next, we’re going to really figure out how we’re gonna stop people. We’re not unlike other teams that are young, having a hard time defending and keeping guys out of the lane. Defend that 3-point line, not fouling. Not doing things that will hurt yourself. We’re really going to have to get on them and try to keep it really simple on them so there are two or three things defensively that we can focus on and not try to overwhelm them with things… Offensively, it’s to get them to try to use their talents and kind of stay away from things that they’re not so god at. The way we play, all five guys get to touch it. That’s good and bad at times. We’re tying to get guys to understand when they’re in the right moment to do what they do best, that’s what we need them to do.”
Additional notes: Jones mentioned 6-foot-10 sophomore Sukhmail Mathon as a standout performer in recent practices. Jones also said freshman Jordan Guest has been their best rebounder in practice and demonstrated a deft outside touch with his 6-foot-8 frame.
Greg Levinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GregLevinsky