BU's NCAA mantra: Why not us?

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BU's NCAA mantra: Why not us?

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

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.

Bruins view newly signed Krug as an emerging leader

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Bruins view newly signed Krug as an emerging leader

With Bruins defenseman Torey Krug in the fold for four more years, a Thursday afternoon conference call with the 25-year-old defenseman and GM Don Sweeney was about what the young puck-mover can accomplish over the next few years. With Krug coming off a four goal, 44-point season and offseason shoulder surgery, it will be a slow and steady progression to begin next season once he’s cleared to play.

What isn’t in question is Krug’s leadership, toughness and gritty attitude to go along with his considerable offensive skill set, and those all made the $21 million contract a no-brainer from the Black and Gold end of things.

“Torey’s got a very, very unique skill set that’s important to our hockey club. He’s had a very, very productive three years. His role this year and his time on ice, in all situations, increased significantly. He was able to shoulder much, much more responsibility in all parts of the game. As a young player who is invested in the Boston Bruins organization, he wants to win, he does things the right way every time he comes to the rink,” said Sweeney. “He wants to get better; he’s not satisfied. All the things you want out of a young player to identify with, which is something we also acknowledge, that Torey has really been identified as an emerging part of our core leadership group.

“I think he’ll help tremendously to help all of our young players that hope to fall in similar fashion with the success that he’s had up to this point. We have a lot of work to do in front of us and Torey’s going to help us get back to where we want to be in trying to win a Stanley Cup.”

Krug has averaged 10 goals and 41 points over his first three seasons in the NHL, and averaged a career-high 21:37 of ice time last season as a de facto No. 2 defenseman behind Zdeno Chara. It was a big season because Krug survived, and continued to put up points, as a legit top-4 defenseman in the NHL, but the 5-foot-9, 181-pounder also needed his shoulder repaired after his first season of heavy duty usage.

So it bears the question of whether Krug will stay in one piece with the heavy top-4 duty over the next four years. Whatever the answer is to that question, the puck-moving defenseman will be a leader, a feisty character on the ice and somebody that’s going to serve as a good professional role model for the flock of young players expected to come through in the next couple of seasons.

The Michigan boy couldn’t be happier to be a part of all of it in Boston for the next four years.

“I think [the leadership thing] has been something that was instilled in me in a young age, you know, coming from my father. It’s always been authentic. If anyone tries to force it then people see right through that, and it just doesn’t happen. But for me and this team and this locker room I think I’m able to bridge that gap from the young guys to the older guys,” said Krug. “I relate to every single person in that locker room, which I think will help our team as we grow and we mature bringing in younger guys from Providence. Or guys that are just signed and helping them develop and helping them feel comfortable within the locker room because it can be intimidating.

“It’s tough to walk in the locker room, you know, when you have Stanley Cup Champions and Norris and Selke Trophy winners. So it can definitely be very intimidating and hopefully I can serve as that bridge to kind of ease that gap for those guys. As far as young defensemen goes, the one thing that Claude [Julien] helped me with when I first came up was making sure I was myself. I was here for a reason. I was able to do the thing I do well, and I wasn’t straying away from that to try to be someone that I’m not. So I think young defensemen, once they realize that and they realize that everyone in this organization is there to help them then they’ll begin to improve. They’ll become themselves as they will at the NHL level.”

With Krug having experienced a couple of years of late season collapses as one of the young leaders on this Bruins team, even more will be asked of him next season as the Black and Gold push hard to right the ship. 

OFFSEASON

Report: Lakers have interest in Celtics RFA Tyler Zeller

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Report: Lakers have interest in Celtics RFA Tyler Zeller

The Los Angeles Lakers have interest in Boston Celtics restricted free agent Tyler Zeller, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. 

The Celtics made a $3.7 million qualifying offer to Zeller this offseason, meaning the Celtics can match any offer sheet the 26-year-old center signs.

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics amend Johnson, Jerebko guarantee date to July 7

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Report: Celtics amend Johnson, Jerebko guarantee date to July 7

The Boston Celtics have reportedly agreed to amend the guarantee date for Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko's contracts to July 7th instead of July 3rd, Jeff Goodman of ESPN reported.

The Celtics now have until July 7 to decide whether or not to waive the duo to make more cap space to potentially sign Kevin Durant and another near max-salary player.

The Boston Globe reported on Thursday that the Celtics will likely guarantee the second year of Amir Johnson’s contract.