Though they were a unanimous pick to win the Patriot League in their first season as members, the Boston University Terriers said they wouldn’t know exactly how they fit in their new environs until they were actually in them.
Six games into the Patriot schedule, so far so good.
Led by sophomore point guard Maurice Watson Jr., the team’s leading scorer (14.8 PPG) and leading assist man (6.8 APG) -- good for first in the Patriot League and fifth nationally -- the Terriers won their first six conference matchups by an average of 11.2 points a game.
Before the season, BU coach Joe Jones said his players would have to adapt to a new, more calculated style of play and execute at a higher level to succeed in the Patriot League after years in America East.
“I think it’s still a work in progress,” Jones said in a phone interview Tuesday. “We’re going to get tested [Wednesday] by American, they run the Princeton offense and they execute at a very high level. We’ll play at Bucknell, which executes at a very high level itself.
“We will be tested in the next few games. I do think it’s on-going. We’ve just started and it’s still early in the year.”
The Terriers still have two-thirds of their conference schedule to play, starting with Wednesday’s matchup at American (7:30 p.m. ET). The Eagles come into that matchup on a seven-game win streak of their own, including their first six Patriot League games.
American is first in the Patriot and 10th in the country in field goal percentage, at 49.3 percent. And no one-trick pony, first-year coach Mike Brennan has American first in the Patriot League in field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to just 40.8 percent from the field.
“I think [we] are two teams that are playing good basketball,” Jones said. “I have a lot of respect for how they play and the way they do things. It’s so early in the year. We have 12 more league games left. We have to be ready to play.
“We’re trying to get better every day, trying to take this thing one game at a time. That’s what we’ve tried to do since the start of the year.”
Jones said the Terriers have gotten better defensively, with improved positioning and sharper rotations, but that there’s still plenty of room to grow.
“I think one, we have great leadership from our seniors,” Jones said of the hot start to the Patriot League slate. “Two, we’re an experienced team now. With basically our whole roster coming back from last year and adding a couple freshmen, we’re an experienced team and we’ve gotten better as the year has gone on.
“I do think we have a long way to go. I do think this team can get a lot better in the course of the next couple months.”
And while he’s happy with the 6-0 run that improved his team’s overall record to 13-6, Jones hasn’t given it much thought. He’s too focused on the nitty gritty.
The fourth-year coach also isn’t concerned that the early success coupled with the preseason predictions will lead to a false sense of security for his players.
“I haven’t really thought about that,” he said. “I’ve been more focused on daily process of getting better and that’s what I’m trying to hold them to. I think they’re driven to get better. I think they’re driven to win.
“And I think they understand that they’re not going to be crowned a champion until March.”
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.