By Danny Picard
BOSTON Boston University coach Pat Chambers hasnt had nightmares of Bryan Doughers half-court heave in the final seconds of Saturdays America East championship game. Thats because the Stony Brook juniors shot hit the rim, helping the Terriers defeat the Seawolves, 56-54, and earn an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
I didnt realize how close it was, said Chambers on CSNNE.coms streaming radio show, Im Just Sayin, on Tuesday. The angle that I had, I really didnt have a good look at it, but once I saw it on replay, I was like, wow.
Boston University stands as the only team from Boston in the Big Dance.
And Chambers made it clear on CSNNE.coms streaming radio show on Tuesday: they wouldnt be dancing if it wasnt for senior John Holland.
If we didnt have John Holland, I dont know if Id be talking to you right now, said Chambers.
Holland finished the America East title game with 27 points, 23 of which came in the second half. His two free throws, with 2.4 seconds left in the game, gave the Terriers their first lead of the game, and the win.
I think hes left his legacy, said Chambers of the America East player of the year. And thats not one of just scoring points and being an individual player, or just his own statistics. Hes left a legacy, that, you know, he can get it done. He carried us. His passion, his leadership, I call it the Kevin Garnett approach, to practice, to film, to walkthroughs, just to anything that were trying to accomplish with this young team. He really rose to the occasion the past month-and-a-half.
Im so proud of him, because he struggled a little bit in last years championship and I think that helped him. That experience helped him, and he really stepped it up in the second half against Stony Brook and led us to victory. Im really proud of him.
The Terriers (21-13, 12-4 America East) enter the NCAA Tournament as a No. 16 seed. They travel to Tulsa to take on the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks (32-2, 14-2 Big 12) in their first game on Friday night at 6:50 p.m. ET. The game can be seen on TBS.
And history isnt on their side.
No 16 seed has ever knocked off a 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. But even knowing that, the Terriers were happy to see their name on the bracket and celebrated their selection at Ts Pub on Commonwealth Avenue during Sundays selection special on TV.
But Chambers feels his team is better than the seed it was given.
I didnt really think we were going to be a 16 seed, because I felt we have a pretty good RPI, said the BU coach on Tuesday. Our RPI was like 129. But you cant read into this stuff. I thought the committee, looking into the whole bracket as a whole, they were kind of all over the board.
Again, were happy to be in. Were happy to be playing Kansas. Were just treating it like the next game on our schedule. We have such a young team, I still think we can get better. Weve got to make some shots, and you know, well see what happens.
In only his second season with Boston University, Chambers understands the mindset you need to have in the NCAA Tournament if you want to defeat some of the nations top teams.
As an important member of the Villanova coaching staff in the five years prior to taking the BU job in the spring of 2009, Chambers went to four Sweet 16s and made a Final Four berth in 2009.
In that 2009 run, his No. 3-seeded Villanova team defeated American (14 seed), UCLA (6), Duke (2), and Pittsburgh (1), only to lose to the eventual National Champion North Carolina Tar Heels in the semifinals.
As an up-tempo team that is dangerous at the free-throw line, Chambers said its too late to change their style, with only five days in between games.
We want to push the ball, said Chambers. We want to defend and rebound. We do want to shoot 3s, dont get me wrong. We want to shoot 3es, when theyre available. I tell our guys to mix it up. If you can drive it, drive it. If you can put it in the post, put it in the post. Really, just try to do some different things. And when we get to the foul line, were a really tough team to beat.
Weve got to keep it simple. Weve got to play hard. Most importantly, weve got to make shots. If we dont make shots, the games going to be over in the first couple of minutes. So weve got to defend, rebound, weve got to play BU basketball. We cant play with fear. Weve got to go have some fun. And you never know.
While hes currently in a much different position than he was in with his Villanova teams entering the NCAA Tournament, he still pointed out several schools in the past that have knocked off the favorites. Even though none of those favorites were a No. 1 seed, he still used it to build hope.
You know, why not us? Why cant it be us? asked Chambers. I keep telling our guys, stop thinking about the 16-seed-vs.-1-seed. Were not a 16 team. Were Boston University playing Kansas. We played Kentucky at Rupp. We played Villanova at Villanova. So lets see what we can do.
One thing Chambers has learned over the years is, you cant settle for seeing your schools name on TV. You have to play 40 minutes. And if you can do that, you just never know what can happen, history against you, or not.
On Saturday and Sunday, Chambers admitted his team was embracing their conference championship to the fullest. Because, after all, the school hadnt won the conference title since 2002.
But as of Monday, Chambers and his coaching staff made sure that mindset no longer existed.
We changed it to, Lets go. Why not us? Why cant we compete for 40 minutes? Why cant we play hard for 40 minutes? said Chambers.
Why not us? Why cant it be? But theyve got to believe it. Theyve got to have faith in it. Theyve got to have faith in what we do. Because if you just go in there, and youre just hoping and praying, then its going to be a long night.
So our job, right now, is to keep working hard, and make sure they believe that we have a chance.
Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.