College Basketball Roundup, Week 2: Battle For Bragging Rights Becoming Clearer

Three teams have yet to lose, the Commonwealth Ave. rivals are still struggling and you may not have heard of one of our players of the week.

Welcome to our second 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:

Week 1: Week in Review

Boston College (1-2 Overall, 0-2: 86-64 L @ Holy Cross Fri., 82-46 L to UMass Mon.)

This week the Eagles showed the "true colors" that were expected out of a very young squad. Friday’s loss was ugly but at least came with the caveat that leading scorer Patrick Heckmann had to sit out. Monday’s loss was an even more one-sided blowout, with the Minutemen finishing the game on a 74-30 run after the Eagles jumped out to an early lead. Even with Heckmann back in the lineup, Boston College hit just 31 percent of its shots and was dominated in every aspect of the game. Head coach Steve Donahue knew this was going to be a process but things will only get worse before they get better in Chestnut Hill. 

Boston University (0-3, 0-1: 71-66 L @ Cornell Sun.)

The Terriers lost their third consecutive game in a row, but at least showed numerous signs of progress in doing so. While the Terriers are still searching for a go-to-scorer in crunch time, they can take solace in the play of their Philadelphia sophomores. Dom Morris who had been virtually silent in the team’s first two games had nine points and 14 rebounds Sunday, D.J. Irving had a season-high eight assists after recording just two in the team’s first two games and Travis Robinson came out of hiding, to play one of the best games of his career.

Harvard Crimson (3-0, 1-0: 77-67 @ Loyola-Marymount Sat.)

New England’s most experienced team showed why they’ll be one of the top mid-majors in the country this week. Trailing by 13 against a team that had beaten a ranked UCLA squad the week before, Harvard went on a 25-5 run bridging the two halves to take control and stay undefeated. Four Crimson players finished in double-digits with sophomore sharp-shooter Laurent Rivard leading the way with 20 points off the bench. Harvard will be in the Bahamas this week for the Battle 4 Atlantis with UMass and UConn and could make some noise with potential matchups against Florida State and the Huskies.

Holy Cross (1-3, 1-1: 82-46 W over BC Friday, 73-52 L @ Fairfield Mon.)

One big step forward and then a step backward for the Crusaders this week, as they continue to try to turn the corner for head coach Milan Brown. Friday night’s win at the DCU Center over Boston College was at the very least a huge ego boost for Holy Cross, no matter how bad the Eagles may be this year. The Crusaders shot a season-high 53 percent, received 32 points from Devin Brown and man-handled the Eagles. Monday though, Holy Cross was blown out for the first time this season by a Fairfield team that has the potential to be quite good; but lines of 35 percent (field-goal), 21 percent (3-point) and 61 percent (free-throw) shooting, aren’t going to be good enough to win at any level.

Northeastern Huskies (2-1, 64-57 W over Southern Illinois Sat.)

The Huskies played their first game against a non-Massachusetts opponent and took care of the Salukis for the second year in a row. Jonathan Lee was the best player on the court for the Huskies for the second game in a row, with a game-high 24 points and five rebounds. Bill Coen’s focus on adding pieces to his front court continued to pay off, as newcomer Reggie Spencer and Kauri Black, coming back from an injury, led the squad in rebounding and helped the Huskies outrebound their second opponent in three games. Spencer has been fantastic this year leading the team in rebounding (7.0 per game) and tied for third in scoring at 10.7 points per game.

UMass Minutemen (4-0, 2-0: 79-58 W over NJIT Thu., 82-46 W @ BC Mon.)

Well the honeymoon’s over for UMass, as they’ll face their first real tests this week, but what a run to begin the season it’s been for the Minutemen. In this week’s games, Chaz Williams continued his excellence and a few more players seemed to become acclimated to Derek Kellogg’s new system. Junior guard Freddie Riley broke out his early-season funk with 14 points against Boston College and big men Raphiael Putney and Cady Lalanne both showed signs of progress as well. UMass is 10 deep at this point and has great flexibility with every player capable of breaking out offensively in any given game.

#4 UConn Huskies (4-0, 2-0: 80-60 W over Maine Thu., 87-70 W over Coppin State Sun.)

Connecticut’s win streak reached 15 this week but that doesn’t overshadow the fact they haven’t played any real competition or away from home. The Huskies started slow in both games this week, including a 13-point first half deficit against Coppin State, before making big runs behind sophomore guards Jeremy Lamb and Shabazz Napier. Sophomore forward Tyler Olander had the two best games of his career with double-doubles in each game, as he averaged 11 points and 10 rebounds in the two wins. The Huskies will finally leave Connecticut and play some top-ranked competition when they play in the Battle 4 Atlantis Thursday-Saturday.

Player of the Week-Tie

Jim Calhoun pulled Shabazz Napier aside before UConn’s game against Coppin State and told him to be a leader with Jeremy Lamb nursing a sprained ankle and Napier listened. He provided the best performance of the year in New England, by turning in just the ninth ever triple-double in UConn history: with 22 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds. For the season, Napier is averaging 18 points, six assists and six rebounds, as the Huskies work to replace Kemba Walker.

Devin Brown is not a household name in Massachusetts but Boston College fans sure know who the senior guard is. Brown scored a season-high 32 points against the Eagles and added five assists and five rebounds as the Crusaders earned their first win over Boston College since 2002. In the second half against Boston College, Brown played a big part in two Holy Cross runs to put the game away and was virtually unstoppable.

Rookie of the Week

Cady Lalanne is still extremely raw for UMass, but that could be what scares the rest of the region so much. After per game averages of 6.5 points per game and 4.5 rebounds in the team's first two games, Lalanne finished with 8.5 points and rebounds per game this week in just 30 minutes of action. Head coach Derek Kellogg says he wants to see more out of the freshmen forward but has to be happy with what he can provide off the bench.

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