Originally written on College Chalktalk  |  Last updated 11/9/13
Send to KindleDJ Irving can play with any guard in the country…and better than most. There is an old saying in coaching that goes “size hurts, but speed kills.” Perhaps, no other coach in the country is as pleased with the truth of that adage as Boston University Terriers head coach, Joe Jones. Entering his third season at the helm and the Terriers’ first as a member of the Patriot League, Coach Jones directs a veteran squad that returns its top seven players including, arguably, two of the quickest and most explosive perimeter players at the mid-major level, 6-foot senior, D.J. Irving, and 5-foot-10 sophomore, Maurice “Mo” Watson. “Their explosiveness and ability to create in the lane is impressive,” said Coach Jones.  “Both have an understanding of the game and can consistently get into the gaps of a defense and find 2-on-1′s.” Finding the “2-on-1” refers to a ballhandler’s ability to beat his defender off the dribble and recognize an open teammate in a scoring position when the teammate’s defender rotates in an effort to stop the dribble penetration. In 2012-13, Irving (3.6) and Watson (5.4) both finished among America East Conference leaders in assists-per-game. This duo’s ability to direct great spacing, create dribble drive opportunities and 2-on-1 situations will fuel the Terriers’ offensive success this season. Keys to the Terriers’ attack. Create tempo.  Look for Irving and Watson to push the basketball on both misses and makes.  A higher pace of play will allow these playmakers to exploit a constantly shifting defense, which leads to more space to make different plays including dribble drives, dump offs to post players around the basket and other 2-on-1 scenarios. BU’s ability to play up tempo will be key. Keep the floor properly spaced.  Whether it’s the shooters staying wide in transition or the post player’s sense of urgency to sprint the floor and post hard, which helps to occupy opposing post defenders, great spacing will give the BU perimeter players the necessary gaps to make plays for themselves and teammates. Have shooters who can effectively spot-up.   A player’s shiftiness and ability to create havoc off the dribble is useless without having players on the receiving end of the play that can knock down shots.  Well, consider this…among a number of capable shooters including Irving who knocked down 58-of-159 shots (37 percent) from three last season, BU starts one of the best mid-major shooters in the nation in six-foot-three junior guard, John Papale.  Papale converted 65-of-155 shots (41 percent) from beyond the arc in 2012-13. Finally, you need players who play unselfishly.   Often, you find that a team’s inability to penetrate and pitch, find the 2-on-1, etc. is a result of selfish plays and missed scoring opportunities because certain offensive players are too eager to complete the play alone. Coach Jones addressed this concern with the following sentiment. “Beyond their ability to play the game, the thing that has impressed me the most about D.J. and Maurice is the fact that these two kids really like each other and have good chemistry.  They worked on their game together throughout the summer and it shows.  Both are unselfish and winners.” Not suprisingly, Boston University is picked to finish first in their inaugural season in the Patriot League.  Based on their personnel and style of play Coach Jones has built around them, a first place finish isn’t a bold prediction. However, it will be interesting to see how the Terriers adjust when their guard play is reasonably contained and shooters less open.  At that point, defensive tenacity and sound post play to alleviate pressure will be key. BU opens the season on Sunday, November 10th against cross-town foe, Northeastern, at TD Garden in downtown Boston. Tip-off is slated from 12:30pm.   Related Posts:Boston University, Loyola (Md.) give Patriot League a new…Patriot League – Cheat SheetSix Massachusetts Div. 1 schools to participate in Coaches…Detroit Mercy’s Howard and other mid-major cagers…Returning for sophomore year isn’t a bad thing: 4…
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