March 1, 2016
BOSTON - After using 14 different lineups to increase his win total and finish third in the conference standings while the Boston University men's basketball team dealt with injuries, fifth-year head coach Joe Jones has been recognized as the Patriot League Coach of the Year by NBCSports.com.
BU entered the season with high expectations following the return of every letterman and the arrival of a recruiting class that included one of the top recruits from the state of Washington in point guard Kyle Foreman.
After claiming an impressive win over three-time defending America East champion Albany and South Florida from the American Athletic Conference, the Terriers soon lost preseason All-Conference honoree Cedric Hankerson and starting forward Justin Alston for the year due to season-ending injuries. They were also without the services of guards Will Goff and Cameron Curry, who had made a combined 48 appearances a year prior, but still managed to finish with a winning non-conference record for the second time in three years, an impressive feat considering BU previously finished above .500 in 2004-05.
The injury-plagued Terriers started the Patriot League, 0-3, and may have seemed on track to end their streak of finishing .500 or better in conference play at 15 seasons. However, Jones and his staff kept the team focused and went on to post an 11-4 record to place third in the conference standings. During their seven-game win streak, they even lost the services of starting forward Nathan Dieudonne (PL's top rebounder in conference games) and key contributing guard Eric Johnson.
To demonstrate how injuries impacted the team, Jones only had three of 15 total players appear in every game - senior John Papale, junior Blaise Mbargorba and sophomore Nick Havener. Despite the constant need for reshuffling, Jones watched as an NCAA-high 13 men reached double-figure scoring with a 14th just two points away from joining the group. Five different Terriers also recorded at least one double-double.
Other statistical accomplishments include BU lowering its defensive field goal shooting percentage from last season's mark of 45.1 percent to 43.0 percent. The Terriers also improved their blocking from dead last (1.9 bpg) to first (3.9 bpg) this season.
BU's efforts were recognized by the league itself, as junior Eric Fanning received an All-PL First Team award. Foreman became the fifth Terrier in four years under Jones to earn All-Rookie honors, and Dieudonne was named to the All-Defensive Team despite missing the last five games of the regular season due to injury.
Jones and the Terriers will next host American on Thursday (March 3) in the PL Quarterfinals at 7 p.m.