Evan Fjeld is more than just a mustache

HARTFORD, CT – Some players wear their hearts on their sleeves. Evan Fjeld wears his – a heart the size of a basketball – on his upper lip.

When Fjeld takes the floor away from the cozy confines of Patrick Gymnasium, most opposing fans won’t recognize him as a key component for the first Vermont squad to make it to the big dance since 2005, or as the heart, soul, and most talented player for the Catamounts this year. Most won’t take the time to learn about Fjeld’s story off of the court, or realize that Fjeld is one of the most remarkable young men they will ever cross paths with.

Most fans will only notice the mustache.

But if fans take the time learn the story behind the mustache and never pay attention to – or respect – Fjeld the player, that’s enough for him. Continue reading “Evan Fjeld is more than just a mustache”

BU/NU highlights: Our top 5 6 games of recent memory

I’ve been in attendance for every single Boston University-Northeastern matchup since the start of the 2001-2002 season. Those 15 games have featured some terrific basketball. Close, tense and action-packed, memorable games from other series that would qualify as highly memorable wouldn’t show up on the BU/NU radar. It was hard to narrow it down, and some recent classics didn’t make the list, but here’s my five six most memorable games featuring
these two schools:

T-5: Terriers 76, Huskies 65 (3/2/2003, Solomon Court)

Billy Collins could throw it down (courtesy gonzalesphoto.com)

This game was played at Solomon Court, a tiny bandbox of a gym. The Northeastern student section was right on top of the floor – and Terrier forward Billy Collins, the favorite target of Husky fans – all night. Both teams came out swinging and punched each other in the mouth (figuratively, not literally… that comes later) early and often. The Terriers trailed by three with six minutes to play, but closed out the game on a 18-3 run.

BU got a then career-high 26 points from forward Rashad Bell and 21 from swingman Paul Seymour, but it was Collins who put the exclamation point on the win and made a statement intended for the Husky fans. In front of perhaps the most raucous Northeastern fan section I’ve ever seen, Collins delivered a memorable moment, throwing down a monster 2-handed slam to cap the win, then staring down the student section that had been riding him all game, for several seconds. Emotions ran high and led directly into the semifinal meeting between the two teams eight days later. Continue reading “BU/NU highlights: Our top 5 6 games of recent memory”

Far from the spotlight, a decades-long rivalry still burns bright

“This was a great city rivalry,” remarked an exhausted but still excited Boston University head coach Pat Chambers following the Terriers 66-64 loss to cross-town rival Northeastern. “It’s a big-city battle. With these guys it usually comes down to the last possession.”

The Terriers and Huskies are far removed from the national spotlight. Their games are often played for rows of empty seats. But what the national audience has been missing is one of the most intense and historic college basketball rivalries around. Continue reading “Far from the spotlight, a decades-long rivalry still burns bright”

Looking back at the Connecticut 6 Classic

Hartford played – and lost – its season opener on Saturday, but the Connecticut 6 Classic wasn’t just about the Hawks. For the six Division-I men’s basketball programs in Connecticut not named UConn, the early-season tripleheader was a showcase event, a chance at bragging rights, and perhaps most importantly, an opportunity for fans of mid-major programs to come together and celebrate the game of basketball with like-minded individuals.

With that in mind, the purpose of the Classic was certainly achieved. While Mohegan Sun Arena was far from full — the upper bowl was completely closed off and there were still empty seats to be found — getting almost four thousand spectators to show up for what is, from a fan’s perspective, a road game is not insignificant. The arena lighting does a good job of focusing attention down toward the court, to the point that the empty upper bowl goes almost completely unnoticed.

And despite the nearly 4,000 fans falling far short of the venue’s capacity, the crowd proved to be quite loud at times. Mohegan Sun Arena, in my mind, would make for an excellent alternative for hosting the America East Tournament, which says something about the quality of the viewing experience. If anything, the quality of basketball being played didn’t stand up to the venue, as opposed to the other way around. Hartford’s game was engaging and exciting throughout, but Fairfield jumped on Sacred Heart early and never let up, and Quinnipiac asserted itself whenever Yale tried to trim its deficit.

But some uneven matchups are to be expected at this point in the season. What a fan of any team looks for in November is hustle and effort, and even among the less fortunate sides, both items were present in abundance on Saturday. Players hit the deck going after loose balls. There was at least one head-on collision. Sweat was produced. Despite the talent gaps in the opening and closing games of the triple-header, all three games were entertaining, to say the least.

The Connecticut 6 Classic was a chance to stretch your vocal cords, watch some entertaining roundball, and then channel your inner Rasheed Wallace long enough to observe and say, “Both teams played hard.” Except instead of one game, you get three. Sounds like a winner to me.

And speaking of winners, below is our Connecticut 6 Classic All-Tournament Team, as selected by us. Players selected to the team will be awarded two thumbs up. Hey, it’s better than nothing (isn’t it?).

The One-Bid Wonders Connecticut 6 Classic All-Tournament Team

G Shemik Thompson, Central Connecticut State
G James Johnson, Quinnipiac
F Morgan Sabia, Hartford
F Justin Rutty, Quinnipiac
F Greg Mangano, Yale

In the blink of an eye, BU Freshman D.J. Irving bursts onto the scene and gives his team a new dimension

There’s only so much you can tell about a team from any one game,  especially opening night for a team made up largely of newcomers. Teams are still searching to find their identities. Returning veterans and newcomers are still trying to “gel” and learn how to play together. Freshmen are dealing with first game nerves.

It’s going to take a while to figure out just what the Boston University Terriers are. With only three players returning from last years squad, and seven freshmen and four transfers suiting up in Terriers scarlet and white for the first time, BU will be a work in progress for some time.

But one conclusion was clear after the Terriers 66-64 loss in a thriller to Northeastern in the latest chapter of the cross-town grudge match: Boston University has something with freshman point guard D.J. Irving. Continue reading “In the blink of an eye, BU Freshman D.J. Irving bursts onto the scene and gives his team a new dimension”