Nov. 16, 2013
Looking to remain unbeaten early in the season with its first win over a ranked team since 1959, the Boston University men's soccer team visits No. 19/20 Connecticut's Gampel Pavilion on Sunday at 12 p.m. with ESPNU broadcasting the game.
The unanimous Patriot League preseason favorite Terriers (2-0) opened the new era in the conference with its best start since 2000-01. They claimed a 72-69 win over defending CAA regular season champion Northeastern at TD Garden and a dominant 91-65 victory against NCAA Division I transitioning program UMass Lowell at Case Gym this past Wednesday. Now they will arguably face their toughest test of the regular season with a UConn squad that sits at 3-0 having outscored its first three opponents by 21.7 ppg, highlighted by a 101-55 dismantling of Detroit.
Sunday's game is part of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting the Wounded Warrior Poject. No matter the outcome, BU will continue the in-season tournament with a trip to UC Irvine next week (Nov. 22-24) in which the Terriers will face the host Anteaters, Eastern Washington and LIU Brooklyn. The Huskies will play at Madison Square Garden against Boston College and either Indiana or Washington.
UConn owns a 41-12 advantage in an all-time series that dates back to 1930 but is only facing BU for the fourth time since 1987. Coincidentally, both programs were members of the Yankee Conference during the mid 1970s. In the last meeting at the XL Center (Hartford, Conn.) in 2009, the No. 13 Huskies trailed 13-9 with 13:19 remaining in the half and went on a 21-4 run en route to a 92-64 victory.
The two teams have met twice in the NCAA tournament with BU winning in 1959 and the Huskies claiming victory in 1990. That same Terrier squad in 1959 was the last one to upset a ranked team when it beat No. 18 Navy to reach the Elite Eight.
Three current Terriers have experience playing against elite programs from their time in the 2011 NCAA tournament as freshmen when BU only trailed by six with nine minutes left in regulation before Kansas pulled away. Since that season, senior Dom Morris
has continued to prosper, as evidenced by his .574 shooting percentage last year and six double-doubles. This season through two games, he leads BU in both points (19.5 ppg) and rebounds (7.0 rpg) after posting a career-high 27 points against the River Hawks last Wednesday.
Named Patriot League Preseason Player of the Year in October, D.J. Irving had 11 points, six rebounds and five assists in that loss to the Jayhawks. He currently ranks 25th all-time at BU with 1,044 points and seventh in assists with 402, just two behind current Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown ('83). The guard has started the season slow, shooting just 3-of-15 (.200) but has still helped the team averaging 5.0 apg, 3.5 rpg and 1.5 spg.
The other senior is Travis Robinson and he is one of six Terriers averaging at least 8.0 ppg so far. He had a team-high five rebounds against Northeastern. Last year's four-player freshman class will have its first look against a ranked team.
Sophomore point guard Maurice Watson Jr. is averaging 17.0 ppg, 6.0 apg, 6.0 rpg and 3.0 spg, while teammates John Papale and Nathan Dieudonne are combining for 16.5 ppg. Freshman Cedric Hankerson leads the Terriers with four made 3-pointers and is averaging 9.0 ppg.
On the defensive end, BU is averaging 10 steals a game and has held its first two opponents to 45.5 percent shooting. The Huskies enter the game shooting 55.2 percent with four men averaging double figures. The 6-foot-6 guard Omar Calhoun leads UConn at 15.0 ppg with 6-foot-1 point guard Shabazz Napier directing the offense.
Recording two of the Huskies' 10 all-time triple-doubles, Napier is averaging an impressive 14.0 ppg, 12.5 apg, and 8.7 rpg. He was named USBWA District I Player of the Year last season and is on the watch list for the John Wooden National Player of the Year Award.
UConn opened its season with a 78-77 win over future BU opponent Maryland and then defeated Yale, 80-62, before cruising past Detroit. The Huskies are 150-23 all-time at Gampbel Pavilion, including a 73-4 (.948) record against non-conference opponents with the last loss occurring in 2001.
After facing UConn, BU will fly out west to UC Irvine for the continuation of the 2K Sports Classic. The Terriers will open the subregional against Eastern Washington at 7:30 p.m. ET. on Friday, Nov. 22.