By: Greg Levinsky
There are no secrets in the Patriot League anymore. Everyone has played everyone. The Boston University men’s basketball team has now faced all nine of the other members of the league, and turn to a tilt at league-leading Bucknell Saturday.
In a conference where seven teams are jockeying for the third and fourth spots and consequent rights to host a quarterfinal game, familiarity with each other makes games more competitive.
“When you play people week one or week two, they barely know who the other team is, there’s not even a scouting report,” junior forward Tyler Scanlon said. “You’re getting into the heart of league play, and everyone’s good.
“Everyone wants to win as bad as you do, and if you don’t make the plays necessary to win, you’re not going to win.”
Sitting in first place is Bucknell (15-8, 9-2 Patriot League). The Bison especially want to beat the Terriers (11-13, 4-7), after falling to now-eighth-place Boston University, 87-80 Jan. 5 on the road.
Scanlon noted the league’s parity, displaying air quotes talking about the commonly occurring “upsets” within the league. Bucknell has just two league losses, one in the aforementioned game at BU and the other a 76-68 loss at American Jan. 26.
As of today, the Bison are seeded first in the league, yet their losses were to the teams currently occupying the fifth and eighth spots in the 10 team Patriot League. Bucknell, though, is 5-0 in conference play at home and return to Sojka Pavilion after two double-digit road wins.
Throughout the non-conference schedule and early in Patriot League play, Boston University head coach Joe Jones pointed at poor practices as a source of his team’s struggles. Scanlon said those dreary practices are a thing of the past, but other teams are improving just as much as BU.
“Honestly I think we’re practicing better than we were earlier,” Scanlon said. “I think teams are just better at this point. It’s been a long, long road.”
The Terriers have yet to win more than two consecutive games in league play. In order to vault up the standings, their inconsistency must change. With a determined leader like Scanlon hitting his stride, BU has the potential to string some wins together.
“At this point we’re not looking past anybody, we’re not putting anybody on a pedestal,” Scanlon said. “Every game is hugely important… We’ll be ready.”
Greg Levinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GregLevinsky.