While the regular season for the Boston University men’s basketball team begins nearly three months from now on Nov. 16 at TD Garden against Northeastern, there is still plenty to look at when it comes to this team as they try to remain dominant during their second year in the Patriot League.
It’s been said on many occasions, and will be repeated for some time, at the end of the school year was a tough one for the BU men’s basketball program. They were forced to say goodbye to their three fearless leaders, Dom Morris, D.J. Irving, and Travis Robinson after losing to Illinois in the NIT. Then in April, several players, including star point guard Maurice Watson Jr. announced they would be leaving BU and taking their talents elsewhere.
The departure of Watson Jr., and what would have been senior forwards Malik Thomas, and James Kennedy, left what should have been a formidable BU squad with a slew of question marks surrounding its future success.
Fast-forward four months, the apocalypse has not happened, pigs aren’t flying, coach Jones and the team are back at The Roof working hard in Case Gymnasium as they get ready for the 2014 season. With the departure of the eldest players, and the most vocal player on the court, it begs the question, which player is going to step up and lead the Terriers?
“Coach Jones kinda made Nate [Dieudonne], Justin [Alston], and I the leaders,” said junior guard John Papale. “Right now, obviously we’re the guys with the most experience.”
Papale went on to discuss the evolution the three players have made since joining the program. During their freshman year in 2012, all three had certain roles they were expected to fulfill, and now it’s time for them to make that jump to becoming the leaders, similar to what the graduating class did their junior year.
“I think it’s a little bit of an adjustment, but I think we have enough experience and we try to do things the right way so we’re setting an example for the young guys,” said Papale. “Just learning from D.J., Dom, and Travis they went through a similar thing their junior year so I think we’ve been doing a good job so far and I hope it continues.”
This season’s schedule includes an interesting mixture of games for BU. The Terriers start off the year a bit early, traveling to Italy next week for practice and exhibition games against four Italian teams.
For the young men making the trip from last year’s team, it will be a very similar trip to the one the team took to Irvine, California, last season. In Irvine, the team went 2-1, winning their final two games after having to fix some crucial mistakes when they dropped their first game.
“You spend so much time together as a team, and the way we bounced back as a team out in California, beating a really good the next day and finishing off 2-1, I think the same thing can apply in Italy,” said Papale. “We’re going to be young, it’s going to be interesting, it’s our first time playing together, but it’ll just be us out there so it’ll be easier to focus and fix what goes wrong.” (more…)