“Just more of the same.”
With just five words, head basketball coach Mike Brennan accurately described AU’s 61-50 loss against Boston University last night in Bender Arena. Things went from bad to worse on and off the court for the Eagles. Here are the major takeaways from the game:
The biggest storyline last night was the fact that four AU players received a game day suspension for violating team rules, according to a media advisory. Brennan said after the game that the four athletes, Delante Jones, Lonnie Rivera, Gabe Brown and walk-on Kevin Brown, would be active for Sunday’s game against Army. He offered no further comments on the issue but said that the suspension was not for anything significant. Jones came into Wednesday’s game third on the team in minutes (30.3) and points (8.6) per game. Rivera had recorded double digit minutes in each of the past three games.
Eagles beat up down low
In terms of the actual game, Boston pulled away from AU due to its domination in the post. Thirty-four of the Terriers 61 points were in the paint. They also had ten offensive rebounds and twelve second-chance points. Boston’s junior center Blaise Mbargorba had eleven points on 5-7 shooting along with two ferocious blocks. Senior forward Nathan Dieudonne added eight points and ten rebounds, four of which were offensive. AU was beat up all night and while both teams had the same amount of total rebounds (35) and offensive rebounds (10), it felt like the Terriers had so many more. Boston played a more physical game, ultimately bringing them the W.
An additional change to the starting lineup
With Delante Jones’ suspension, Brennan was forced to change his starting lineup by starting senior Marko Vasic. In addition to playing Vasic, Brennan made an additional change. Junior Jalen Rhea started his first collegiate game in place of fellow junior Charlie Jones. Rhea, who is known for this three-point shooting, has struggled significantly this season, going 0-1 and 0-2 from behind the arc in his previous two games. Coming into Wednesday, Rhea was 4-29 from three and in the midst of an 0-13 slump. Rhea was somewhat able to break out of his funk going 2-9 from beyond the arc.
“He’s gonna make shots, he can shoot. He hasn’t done it yet but he’s going to do it once he gets minutes.” Brennan said. “If he’s playing with an older group and knew where his shots are coming, I think he’d shoot a lot better. But he’s worked hard, he’s one of our hardest workers, and he’s going to be out there going forward for sure.”
Reed continues to struggle
Senior guard Jesse Reed, who has led the Eagles in scoring each of the past two seasons, has had an incredibly disappointing final campaign. Wednesday, it was even worse. Reed was knocked in the face early in the game, which seemed to throw him off entirely. BU held Reed scoreless the first 36 minutes of the game before he hit a free throw with 4:42 left in the second half. Reed’s only field goal was a meaningless three at the buzzer. After finishing with just four points last night, Reed recorded a season low and his lowest scoring number since Jan. 2, 2014 when he also scored four points in a win over Bucknell. Reed has thrived the past two seasons thanks in part to playing with other great scorers like Darius “Pee Wee" Gardner, John Schoof and Tony Wroblicky. Now, as the Eagles main option, he has had a difficult time taking the reins and leading this team in the right direction.
Matic has a career night
Freshman Andrija Matic stood out as a bright spot for the Eagle by taking advantage of a thin lineup to play the best game of his collegiate career. Matic set career highs in points (10) as well as rebounds (6). After being hesitant on the court early on this season, Matic played with a lot more confidence driving to the basket and finishing around the rim with both hands.
“I like what Andrija does, I like what he brings to the table,” Brennan said. “That was sort of his first prolonged minutes in a while so he obviously got tired out there. But I like what he does, I like his feel for the game, his instincts, his skill level, all that stuff — he’s just gonna get better. Obviously it just wasn’t enough tonight, but I’m excited about Andrija.”
Matic showed flashes of his potential tonight and how he can be a great player for years to come.