Welcome to our first college basketball week in review. Each week we will recap the games and important updates for the six Division 1 teams in Massachusetts (Boston College, Boston University, Harvard, Holy Cross, Northeastern, UMass) and the University of Connecticut. At the end of each post will be our player of the week and rookie of the week for the past seven days. Without further ado:
Boston College Eagles (1-0, 67-64 W Vs. UNH Mon.)
It wasn’t pretty but Steve Donahue’s young squad came away with a victory Monday night behind 19 points and eight rebounds from German freshmen Patrick Heckmann. Playing in his first collegiate game, the 6’6” guard hit a buzzer-beating three to end the first half and scored 11 of his game-high 19 points in the second half. Still the Eagles needed a 3-pointer from John Cahill with under a minute to go to ice the game against the lowly UNH Wildcats.
Boston U Terriers (0-2, 82-74 Overtime L Vs. Northeastern Fri., 82-46 L @ Texas Sun,)
The week went from bad to worse for the defending America East champions. Friday Boston University had several chances at a game-winning shot against Northeastern but couldn’t quite seal the deal after trailing by 11 late in the second half. 50 hours later, the Terriers tipped off against Texas and were unable to find any offense against an extremely young Longhorns defense. Two losses don’t mean much to a low-major in the long run, but Joe Jones has a lot of work to do in his first year at the helm.
Harvard Crimson (2-0, 76-49 W Vs. MIT (Division III) Fri., 73-64 W @ Holy Cross Tue.)
Tommy Amaker’s squad will play one of the most competitive non-conference schedules of any of the seven teams, but they didn’t have a particularly difficult start to the season. Harvard cruised against MIT, a top 10 team at the Division III level, and then held off a pesky Holy Cross team who kept it close through the first 30 minutes. The Crimson are the Ivy League favorites and bring back every player from last year’s squad and a talented freshmen class, except a lot of blemish free weeks from this squad.
Holy Cross (0-2, 78-69 L @ College of Charleston Fri., 73-64 L Vs. Harvard Tue.)
Holy Cross had the worst season of any team a year ago, finishing 8-21 including a quarterfinal loss in the Patriot League tournament. The good news for Milan Brown and the Crusaders is they were picked third in the Patriot League preseason poll and should be more competitive. Holy Cross showed that this week with two nine point losses to teams that played in the NIT last year. Friday Holy Cross trailed by ten or more for the entire game but in their home opener they were tied with the Crimson at half and were only down six with nine minutes to play.
Northeastern (1-1, 82-74 OT W Vs. BU Fri., 83-67 L @ UMass Mon.)
Northeastern’s record might read 1-1 but the team’s Achilles heel from a year ago has been fixed. After failing to rebound consistently throughout the 2010-11 campaign, the new look front court for Bill Coen has shown marked improvement in the first week. Against the Terriers, the battle of the boards was the difference in the game with the Huskies pulling down 52 rebounds compared to 32 for BU. Even Tuesday, the Huskies rebounded well and lost the game because of a lack of speed and ball handling rather than size.
UMass Minutmen (2-0, W 85-67 Vs. Elon Fri., 83-67 W Vs. Northeastern Tue.) Of all the teams in the region the Minutemen had the most impressive week. After a sluggish first half Friday night, the Minutemen blew out an Elon squad that would go on to beat South Carolina Tuesday. Against Northeastern, UMass led from start to finish and showed they could withstand opponent’s best punches and not give in. Derek Kellogg’s new look offense has looked great and the team has had great balance with six players averaging five or more points.
#4 UConn Huskies (2-0, W 70-57 Vs. Columbia Fri., 78-66 W Vs. Wagner Mon.)
With the Celtics out of the picture for now, Jim Calhoun’s defending national champions are the basketball team to watch in the Northeast. In their first appearances of the season they appeared just ho hum about it. Against opponents from the Ivy League and the Northeast Conference, the Huskies held leads of around 20 points for most of the game before allowing late comebacks. Both Wagner and Columbia were able to stick with the Huskies enough to question how Calhoun’s squad will react to playing top notch opponents, especially without Kemba Walker.
Player of the Week-Tie
Jeremy Lamb did his best Kemba Walker impersonation for UConn averaging 25 points per game including a career-high 30 against Columbia. The sophomore added 10 rebounds, shot fifty percent from the field, over forty percent from the 3-point line and hit eighty percent of his free throws for the week. O and did I mention he posterized a poor Columbia player.
Chaz Williams showed no rust in his first appearance in a UMass uniform. After sitting out a season, the transfer point guard averaged 19 points, nine rebounds and four assists in his first two games. Think Hofstra head coach Mo Cassara wouldn’t like to still have him on the roster.
Rookie of the Week
Patrick Heckmann very well could be the man for Boston College all season long. He led the squad in points against American International College in their preseason game and was brilliant Monday night against UNH. For at least one night he gave Eagles fans something to be smile about.