By: Greg Levinsky
From leader to clutch scorer, Tyler Scanlon will wear many hats for the Boston University men’s basketball team. In Tuesday’s 77-74 season-opening win over Northeastern University, Scanlon put on a display of all the intangibles pivotal to both his individual success and that of his team.
The 6-foot-7 junior forward led the team in scoring, rebounding and assists with 16 points, eight rebounds and three helpers across a team-best 36 minutes. Equally as important was his role in rallying the 10 freshman and sophomores that he shared the court with. On numerous occasions he gathered his teammates together, barking out orders and guidance.
“I pretty much said, ‘guys, they’re playing like veterans, and we’re playing like underclassmen and if we’re going to do that all season it’s not going to work very well,'” Scanlon said. “They answered the bell, and that’s all you can ask out of guys.”
BU head coach Joe Jones said he talked to Scanlon before the game outlining the necessity for his leadership. He lived up to his billing.
“He just showed great leadership tonight with his play and also using his voice,” Jones said. “These guys have a lot of respect for him because he’s such a hard worker, and they know he’s got their back.”
It was a whacky Scanlon jumper that served as the winner, but the youngsters around him displayed their skills under his tutelage. The Terriers (1-0) trailed by as many as 12 in the second half, and were down by nine, 68-59 with 4:49 to play.
Scanlon said there came a point when “suddenly guys just got tough.”
Sophomore Javante McCoy scored seven points down the stretch, including a layup assisted by Scanlon to take a 71-70 lead with 48 seconds to go. Northeastern senior guard Vasa Pusica followed with a layup as part of his game-high 30 points, but Scanlon scored on the ensuing possession to retake the lead for good with 24.9 seconds remaining in regulation.
Pusica’s 30 points paced the Huskies (0-1). Sophomore Tomas Murphy had 12 points and senior Anthony Green had 10, eight of which came on thunderous dunks off lobs from Pusica.
Junior Max Mahoney joined Scanlon and McCoy in double-digits with 12 points.
Eight different Terriers connected on multiple field goals, and 10 played at least 12 minutes. Of the six freshman, Alex Vilarino led the way with eight points. Jordan Guest hit a huge triple late, and Fletcher Tynen sunk a pair of free-throws to seal the victory.
“Every single person stepped up and made a play in that game,” Scanlon said.
Scanlon’s play both inspired and aided his numerous underclassmen.
“He just plays to win,” Jones said. “They’re going to listen and follow his lead.”
Greg Levinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GregLevinsky