Saturday, November 30, 2013

Closing Time

The Happy Recap (part 1 of 2) will be up on the site tomorrow, but I was going to start it with one of these and then just kept having fun with it, so here you go to hold you over until tomorrow:

-The Dragons close games like a 130 pound, balding, freshman male closes the ladies
-Drexel closes games like the Eagles win titles
-An anonymous Make-A-Wish patients only wish was to change the channel whenever Drexel went up by 4
-Drexel is as effective closing games as a blind man is in a strip club
-Tom Yeager just offered to permanently move the CAA Tourney north of the Mason Dixon if Bru promises that DU will never have a 5 point lead with 2 minutes to go again.
-While watching the game court side, Bobby Knight threw a chair at himself
-Barack Obama is making House Republicans watch Drexel trying to hold a lead to make Obamacare look good
-Drexel closes out games so poorly that Penn is no longer afraid to play them at the DAC
-Watching Drexel try to close the game out Friday was so bad that it made Devon Saddler want to go to class
-Hofstra students have offered to stop wearing grease in their hair if ESPN never airs a Drexel lead again
-The NCAA says their regulations are based off of Drexel's end of game offense
-Watching that game made the the creators of Alcoholics Anonymous think that drinking was a good idea
-BREAKING:  Bruiser Flint hires new assistant Andy Reid to help players with clock management
-The Denver Broncos watched tape of their game against the Patriots and then the DU games this week and felt pretty good afterwards

And my personal favorite:

The blown leads by DU this week were so concerning, Dr. Eric Zilmer is considering diverting funds from the squash program to assist.


Drexel closes games better than Alabama does!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Dragons Comings and Goings

Tweeted last night, but to follow-up:

I spoke with multiple doctors in the sports medicine space yesterday, and working off of nothing but a description of the play, the trainers response, and the post game quotes from Damion, both of them separately told me almost word for word the exact same thing.  While nothing is known until the MRI comes back, these symptoms are that of a "classic non-contact ACL injury".  While neither has seen Damion, both said the odds of the "no structural damage" report being correct were unlikely.

In short, those asking if he'll be back in the next couple of weeks - don't ask.  The MRI will be conducted today, and while I'm sure Bru will be asked about the results in the postgame today, I don't expect him to answer the question until early next week.

Also of note:  Freddie Wilson is eligible to play at the end of the fall term, after serving one year of residency at beautiful Drexel University.  As the fall term is over as of December 14, Freddie should be eligible to return for the December 15 game against Davidson.  I will be there and will have a full report after hopefully getting to see him in action.

If Freddie does play in the Davidson game, then Drexel will only be dropping to a short rotation for the Bama game at Madison Square Garden and the following two DAC games, against Cleveland State and Tennessee State.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Alabama Pregame - Low Tide

Well, they finally did it.  On Friday, November 29 the year 2013, the Drexel Dragons will play an Anthony Grant team on a neutral court outside of Richmond.  Take that Berto!

See if this sounds familiar:  A fast paced defense first team that is full of guys who can score from anywhere from the floor.

There are differences though, the ghost of Jesse Pellot-Rosa isn't walking (on) through that door, Nick Jacobs, while skilled on the offensive end isn't a poor man's Larry Sanders, he's a broke college student's Larry Sanders. Jacobs will never be the defender that Sanders was, and the outside shooting won't match those old VCU teams, but the athleticism of this Bama team is much better than those VCU teams and the half court D far superior than then Grant's teams past that relied on turnovers for defensive stops.

The big question in the Drexel huddle is how they can replace a stud, and their most talented player in Damion Lee?

Lets rephrase:  

The big question in the Drexel huddle is how they can replace a defensive liability who has shot 27% from deep and hasn't recorded an offensive rebound this season?  

Both versions of that question are correct.  Lee's talent is undeniable, but lets not confuse him with the reason why Drexel has competed so well thus far this year, as he's struggled early and seems to have let those struggles get to his head at times. The faster he heals the faster that he can get through that and become the star that all Drexel fans are well aware that he is.  

What the loss of Lee does mean to the Dragons is the loss of their best player at getting to the rim at a time where they desperately need someone to carry that torch.  It also takes away a strength of Drexel, guard depth, at a time when foul issues are at an all time high.  Tavon Allen can come into the lineup and quickly take care of the first problem if he shows a willingness to take some contact.  As for depth?  Expect to see a little more Major Cannady and a lot more Allen, Fouch and Massenat.  The rotation will get tight and all three guards will be asked for 34+ minutes a game.  I expect some 40 minute marathons for guys who stay out of foul trouble.  This is a rotation that can absolutely be successful, even against top tier schools like Bama.

For this game, Dartaye Ruffin should be able to neutralize Nick Jacobs better than the Duke forwards who were stuck in foul trouble (Hairston was limited to 20 minutes).  Frantz will be dedicated to star Tide senior Trevor Releford and if he can make that a wash Drexel will be in good shape.  Abif would really help with the matchups down low, but the freshman proved their worth on the boards against a much better Arizona frontcourt.  There should be concern about a letdown after the Arizona game, but not if these players see the opportunity that in front of them.

The Dragons finally have Anthony Grant on a true neutral court.  They can prove they belong in the discussion with the teams of the power conferences come March.  Not having Lee isn't a time for excuses, it's a time to send a message.  If Drexel can beat a power conference contender without Lee, imagine what they can do with him.

This years Drexel team needs to prove to their fans and more importantly themselves that they aren't about moral victories, they're in it for the outright victory.  This game is a Black Friday gift-wrapped chance to send that message.

Prediction:  Drexel 68 - 61
Vegas Line:  Alabama -3

Arizona - Learning From Our Mistakes

Final:  Arizona 66, Drexel 62 @ Madison Square Garden
Player of the Game:  Chris Fouch
Key to the game:  The Foul Line
Next Game:  Wed, Nov 29 vs Alabama @ Madison Square Garden

It's genuinely hard to sit down and write about a Bruiser Flint team not being physical enough and think that the post will be taken seriously by anyone.  Hence, the writer leaves for you the following and asks you to make your own conclusions:

- In a fairly well officiated game, Drexel got to the line 7 times to Arizona's 30.  Conceding to the blame the refs crowd that the refs called a few bumps on Drexel that Arizona wasn't called for, and yes, a tragic 4th foul on Dartaye Ruffin, that is a huge disparity.  

- On 20% of Arizona's made baskets, they also got to the line.  Drexel gave up four "and one" opportunities, the symptoms of weak fouls close to the rim.

- Excluding three pointers, Drexel made 6 jump shots.  Arizona:  None.  Arizona had 17 made two point field goals, and 34 points in the paint, and that's not counting getting to the foul line like its Best Buy on Black Friday.

- As foreshadowed in the "Adjustments: Part II" post, Tavon Allen ended with 3/12 shooting for 6 points.  No foul shots attempted, and no reasons for the refs to give him any.  We're not singling out Tavon so much as using him for an example of whats wrong with all DU guards right now.  Fouch, Massenat and Allen, even when driving, shy away from contact.  Allen loves his jumper and when Fouch and Massenat drive they get to the paint and float it, not get to the rim and lay it in.  With the Dragon's up big early, I tweeted to the @DragonsSpeak account the concern that Frantz was making buckets, but they were on poor quality shots.  From that point forward, Frantz was 3 of 14 from the floor and only got to the line once.

- The ball was passed into the post zero times.  Zero.  

There's an argument that the Dragon's saw a bigger team across the floor from them and backed down, but the truth is this is how this team has played in all five games to date.  The coaching staff clearly went in at halftime and told the guys to get to the basket as was apparent when they drove time after time in the second half, but from the non-Lee guards, it was more of the same, floaters et al.  I believe the coaches are trying to adjust to the new rules, but they simply can't make players go out there and take contact.  That's on the players.

Speaking of Damion Lee, I'm both happy and proud to report that the @DragonsSpeak account was the first place where you saw double confirmation of the trainers diagnosis that Damion Lee is expected not to have structural damage on his knee.  I hope to have a couple of followup posts coming over the upcoming days both on the injury, and what to look for from the Dragon's while Lee sits.  Of note:  Lee began both halves with hard drives in the lane.  All night Damion, not a lot of people in this level of basketball can stop you when you do that.  My thoughts go out to Lee, a good kid and a great athlete on his speedy recovery.

On Player of the Game Chris Fouch:  Yes, the 29 points were on 27 shots.  There's absolutely no problem with that.  Per Kenpom his offensive efficiency was still in a happy zone, and here's what we really love:  He led the team in offensive boards.  Chris was scrapping and clawing for this game all night long, singlehandedly keeping DU in it at times.  It was the best effort I remember seeing from him since the CAA Championship Game in his last full season of basketball.  He left it all out there, and effort like that is always appreciated on the blog.

If you just read the top part of this post, you'd probably think that the Dragon's were crushed in this game.  And this isn't good news, it's great news.  Drexel got their nose bloodied a bit, they were outshot both from the field and the line against a (supposedly) top five team in the country and...  Were right in it til the end.  If you had been told that Drexel would be outshot in this game, you would probably guess that they got killed.  They didn't and it's because they are playing smart.  No turnovers.  They didn't get killed on the boards even with Abif out (and there needs to be an upcoming post about how over the moon I am about the freshman big men).  They played with these guys.  They didn't need to shoot like a hot Ivy League team to compete with this Arizona team, because they played on the same level as this Arizona team.  If you're not excited about that, I just don't know what to tell you.

The Dragons are currently 257th in the country in field goal efficiency.  That's right in line with where they were last year actually, but given the sub of Fouch for Thomas, I think it's safe to bet that the true talent is much better than that.  And even with their poor shooting, no matter what ranking system you look at, they're playing in the top 64 of teams in the country.  When the shooting comes, and the adjustments to the new rules hopefully do, look out.  This team is scary good.  Oh, and not to jump too far in front of the upcoming preview, but they're about to Roll some Tide right back to Alabama.

There's stuff to work on.  There's clear and evident ways to improve that don't involve things that Bru will refuse to do.  But this year it's not about adjustments to make the team good, it's about making a good team great.  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Arizona Pregame - Bear Down

Pop quiz hotshot:  How many seniors have played over 10 minutes a game for Arizona this year?

Hint:  All of them are listed above.

The bad news:  Aaron Gordon is really good.  He hasn't even shown it yet, and he's been awful from the foul line, but there's a reason he's getting top 4 freshman looks in a loaded freshman class.  6'9", can move, shoots out to the perimeter (which I'd be more than happy to invite him to do) and cleans the glass.  Nick Johnson not only leads the team in experience, but when it comes to shooting from deep, Chris Fouch is a poor mans Nick Johnson, not the other way around.  Tarczewski stands at 7' and has legit skills around the basket.

The good news:  If I have to win a game, I'm taking Massenat over McConnell at the point guard spot despite Frantz's slow start.  I don't mind having the freshman that will be filling in for Abif guarding Ashley.  He's not an outstanding free throw shooter and Arizona treats their post players like Drexel does, so he won't see the ball that much unless Arizona really looks towards exploiting that matchup.  Kaleb Tarczewski should be neutralized fairly well by Ruffin and foul trouble pending, that matchup could be a wash.  If Damion puts the ball on the floor and drives like he should, maybe he can draw some fouls on the young Mr. Gordon.

Things to look for:

-- Rebounding:  Arizona has been elite on the boards this year, and with Abif out the freshman will have to hit the boards hard with help from whoever is at the three, Lee or Allen.  Having an even rebounding margin is a win here, and anything short of that is a game killer.

--Damion Lee:  I expect him to get the call against Gordon, he'll be giving up some height, but can hang with Gordon athletically.  Who will be the first to draw fouls on who, does he box him out all night long, and can Lee keep his emotions in check.  If Lee can check off those boxes he'll be well on his way to really helping out the Dragons

--Foul shooting:  After the new rules posts, the importance of this has been addressed repeatedly.  Want to give yourself an advantage in a game when you're a dog?  Outshoot em from the line in a game with a ton of free throws.

--Help defense:  Can the freshman slide over and pickup the driving guards, or will they be a step slow and pickup the foul.  When they commit the fouls this game, they need to be good hard fouls, they can't foul and allow the basket.  Go hard or go home with the help.  If they're slow to get there and allow the hoop and the harm, you could see the worst case scenerio.

I like Drexel's depth and foul shooting in this game.  They need to keep the game physical while keeping Ruffin on the floor.  If they can do that, and both teams shoot reasonably, we could have a ballgame.  If the refs play let em' play, this might not be so good for DU fans.

Prediction:  Arizona 76-67
Vegas Line:  Arizona -12

Postgame will be up tomorrow.

Thanks for reading, and have safe travels and a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The New Rules Part III: Kaz Abif

"Will someone else hold the bandage on this kids head?"

That was the call from Bruiser Flint in his huddle as blood oozed from a cut on the back of Kazembe Abif's head against Rutgers a week ago.  On the same play, a Rutgers player was knocked down and treated by trainers before being helped off the court.

The reason play stopped?  A hand check by a guard out on the perimeter.

The new rule adjustments everyone.  Take a bow, NCAA.

The New Rules Part II: The Adjustments

"I'm gonna coach it this week. It's going to be drive in ... I'm gonna put on football pads again. Not to rebound. Offensively. Just klunk. Go in there, fullback dive. Three yards and a cloud of dust."

- Bill Parcells on the poor officiating of Gene Steratore and his NFL referee buddies 
- Tom Izzo on Gene Steratore and his NCAA officiating buddies.

Tom Izzo is a pretty good coach. Izzo also told Keith Appling if he took a jump shot "he'd kill him." The best coaches are making adjustments for the new rules, and they aren't small ones. Below we look at the adjustments to guard play to look for from the Dragons coaching staff:
Damion Lee

Damion is the player that could be most helped by the new rules. He has the strength to get to the cup already, as over his first two years in a DU jersey he has shot 51% on two point shots. To put that in perspective, in the last eight seasons, the only DU guard to break 50% from two in a single season is Bashir Mason, and no one has done it for their career. While Damion can play out of control at times, the shot selection usually consist of three's or getting to the rim, which is exactly what the team should be targeting. With a career FT% in the 80% area, he's exactly the type of guy who should be putting on that helmet and pads and running at the rim.

Dragons Speak's Adjustment: Don't pass up the open 3, but get the helmet and pads ready for game day

Chris Fouch

In his last full season, Fouch shot 37% from downtown.  In the four road games to date this year, Chris has shot 36% from distance.  This from a guy who has shown significant home/road splits in his career.  As mentioned in the previous blog, he'll be hurt comparatively if he doesn't drive and others do, but he still hits well enough from the perimeter to perform on the level of the guys who will take it to the cup.  The staff could ask him to drive more, and the early returns this year say he is driving a bit more, but at what point does risk of injury exceed the need to draw the contact?  Especially for a guy who hasn't been a great slasher in his career.

Dragons Speak's Adjustment:  None

Tavon Allen

Know going in that the two point jump shot is the worst shot in college basketball.  It's not that much more consistently hit than a three, is only worth 2/3's as much and generally just drives me crazy.  Tavon Allen has not only taken this shot in the flow of the offense regularly, he's pulled up and taken it on fast breaks.  The result?  A Gerald Colds-ian 38% from two point range last season.  Pomeroy ranked him behind Daryl McCoy at the offensive end of the floor last year.  He shot 36% from three which is phenomenal, the fact that his offense still managed to hurt the team is staggering.

Lil KG (tell me we can pickup this nickname...  or maybe the Lil Ticket) loves his jumper and has been hitting it this year, but this feels much more like a hot streak then a ticket to sustained success.  Tavon has to start being willing to take contact if he wants to help this team succeed all year long.  He's certainly long and athletic enough to be playing near the basket.  When he has that off night, would you rather see:  2/9 fg, 0/0 ft, 4pts or 2/7 fg, 3-4 ft's, 7 pts?  That's the difference between an off night handicapping the team, and an off night significantly hurting the team, and it's the difference between driving and jump shots.  For this season, amongst the four major guards on this team he's a distant fourth in free throw attempts.

Dragons Speak's Adjustment:  More importantly than anyone else, he needs to go at contact and stop settling for jumpers

Frantz Massenat

The dirty little secret with Frantz is that his inside game isn't any better than Fouch's.  And he's shot, wait for it, about the same as Fouch from downtown for his career.  It may be a bit of a clusterf--- in your mind if you think of Frantz more as a Fouch than as a Lee, but that's what he is.  He's a Fouch who can move a little better and pass a little better.  Frantz should still drive, it may get that foul called.  His passing is creating a lot for his teammates thus far this year (assist rate up into the top 100 nationally) and breaking down the defense can create more of that.  The answer for Massenat may be an increased penetrate and kick game.  It will help himself, and his teammates.

Dragons Speak's Adjustment:  Keep shooting from deep, trade some floaters in the lane for some penetrate and kick

There's a layer of comfort that each player has in his game, and it's easy to keep doing what they do especially with the offense beening effective this year.  There's has never been more talent on a Flint era Drexel team, but that doesn't mean they can't work to be even better.  The coaches jobs are to take the players from their comfort zone and make them better, and if they can help any of these guys in adjusting to the new rules, much like Tom Izzo with Keith Appling, they will make a good team a great team.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The New NCAA Rules: Why Dribble Drive is Your Friend

The NCAA instituted two significant rule changes going into the 13-14 season:

Defending the Player with the Ball 
What Changed:
Several officiating guidelines were voted in as rules, which raised the expectation and importance in this area. Four types of illegal tactics were cited:
1. Placing and keeping a hand/forearm on opponent.
2. Putting two hands on opponent.
3. Continually jabbing by placing hand or forearm on opponent.
4. Using an arm bar to impede the progress of the dribbler.
Note that simply touching the player with the ball is not an automatic foul.

Block / Charge Plays 
What Changed:
In a review of recent seasons, two types of plays were identified as the most difficult to call correctly: Defenders moving forward at the time of contact (even though the contact may occur in the defender’s torso) and the time frame when the defender must be in legal guarding position during airborne shooter situations. Now, when a player begins his upward motion to pass or shoot, the defender must be in legal guarding position.

Ken Pomeroy broke this down here on November 11, a good read with a small but reasonable sample size (163 D1 games in the opening weekend) and determined scoring to be up 6.4%, almost entirely due to additional free throws, and two fewer offensive turnovers each game. What Mr. Pomeroy doesn't mention is the type of turnover that has decreased. Are fewer guards losing their handle because of the lack of hand checking on defense or have there been less offensive charges called because of the change in the Block/Charge rule?

While it's a question worth answering, that data is difficult to obtain, and luckily for us it doesn't need to be answered to continue this particular line of thinking.  Handchecks can occur on the perimeter, but if an offensive player wants to try to draw a call for it, watch for the player to start moving towards the basket.  Similarly, the vast majority of blocking calls are called closer to the basket.  Allowing us to take this as gospel, taking a three point shot is not more likely to draw a foul this year as opposed to last year.  Driving to the basket is the play that gets rewarded with the new rules.  

Roughly 30% of shots from the field are taken from three point range.  If there's been a 0% addition to scoring from last year to this year due to those shots, that means the 6.4% of added scoring in each game is almost entirely due to two point shots.  This means that in the roughly 70% of the game played inside the arc, scoring is up over 9%.  The value of the dribble drive this year has gone up almost 10% from last year, a 10% per possession difference is the difference between Drexel's offensive efficiency from last year, and Alabama A&M's.  Not to pick on A&M, but they were 327th in offensive efficiency last year.  As a player, if you were able to drive the ball effectively last year, you're a stud now.  If you struggled, you're average now.  If you didn't do at all, you're probably still not doing it, and the new rules screw you a bit.  The value of a jump shooter has taken a huge hit relative to his peers.

How then, should coaches adjust to these changes?  Certainly asking Chris Fouch to put a lid on his outside shooting seems the act of a fool, but asking an injury plagued star to create more contact is also probably a poor decision.  In some of this, common sense will need to be used (how that applies to Drexel specifically will be included in a followup post).

I turn your attention to Saturday's William and Mary victory at Rutgers.  The box score reads as follows:

3 Point Shooting:
W&M:  5/17 (29%)
Rutgers: 10/19 (.53%)

In a game in which Rutgers dominated the Fighting WhateverTheHellTheyWannaBeCalled's from downtown, the Scarlet Knights lost by almost double digits.  Think about that.  William and Mary got dominated from three and rolled over an AAC level opponent on the road.  What's next, Princeton not hitting from deep and winning?  

One more stat to lay on you:

Percentage of attempts taken from three point range (2013):
W&M:  32.1% (50th)
Rutgers:  24.9% (326th)

Despite the rates from last season, in this game Rutgers took more attempts from three than W&M did.  Even with the big bodies of Judge and Jack in the middle, Tony Shaver told his guards to get to the rim.  Shaver watched his team go on the road, get buried from 3, fail to win the turnover battle, and win easily.  Oh by the way, TheFightingWhatevers took 32 free throws to Rutgers 12.  They went for the rim, and they got exactly what they wanted.

Grabbing the first three smart coaches that I chose at random, here are their 2013-14 percentage of shots taken from downtown, with the 2012-13 percentage in parenthesis next to it:

VCU:  31.2% (35.7%)
Saint Mary's: 31.3% (37.5%)
UMass:  20.8% (36.2%)

The smart coaches are having their teams take less jump shots/  It's small sample size data, and when I looked at Gonzaga after those three I noticed that they had significantly increased their percentage of three's taken.  It helps that the Zags are also the fifth best three point shooting team thus far this year, hitting almost 50% of them to date.  This highlights that common sense needs to apply when adjusting to this data. 

Common sense also says that each and every coach out there better adjust to this data, or get left in the dust.

Friday, November 22, 2013


Statistically there's very little doubt that Mike Trout has been the best player in baseball the last two seasons.  To date, the young Mr. Trout has a total of zero Most Valuable Player trophies to show for it.  The argument most often heard by the baseball writers who vote on this is that the trophy isn't the "Best Player Award", it's the MVP.  Feel free to laugh at the idea that baseball awards the best pitcher the Cy Young, the best fielder the Gold Glove, the best hitter the Silver Slugger and the best player...  absolutely nothing.

There is more than enough talent to go around on this Drexel team and plenty of arguments can be made as to who the best player is.  In regards to which player is the most valuable however, there can only be two.

Major Canady looks like a good fit for the system here at Drexel.  He's listed 6'4", seems athletic and a capable passer.  Thus far, when he's been on the court there has been a noticeable drop off in the play of the Dragons.  Not surprisingly, a freshman with four college games under his belt isn't playing at the level of an All Conference player like Frantz Massenat.  Having Frantz on the floor makes this team much better.  When Freddie Wilson becomes available, the 6'3" junior transfer from Seton Hall won't be able to fill Frantz's shoes either, but he'll be a welcome assistant.  You can rely on Frantz to be in the top 100 in assist rate in the country, shoot well from the perimeter and have a solid handle.  This makes him a good to elite point guard.  But due to the depth behind him, which is certainly a step down, but just as certainly does exist, he is not the most valuable player on this Drexel team.

Dartaye Ruffin is listed 6'8", 250 pounds.  In four games this year he has played over 30 minutes a game, has shot 7 of 11 from the field (64%, someone give him the damn ball) has only turned over the ball 4 times (the players that he was guarding in the first 4 games this year have had 12 turnovers) and has improved his rebounding beyond his very strong rate last year.  In the most physical battle on the blocks that Ruffin has seen this year, Ruffin owned Wally Judge, as Judge ended up in early foul trouble and ended the game with all of 3 rebounds, paling in comparison to Ruffin's 9 boards.

When Ruffin goes to the bench he is replaced by either of two freshman, Rodney Williams or Mohamed Bah.  If you're familiar with the history of Drexel forwards under the Flint/Connors regime you'll know that they are far from finished products and generally don't see the floor.  Daryl McCoy had a dreadful freshman year.  Samme Givens shot only 44% and was a fouling king as a freshman.  Frank Elegar took only 13 shots all season long in his first year.

Williams and Bah could be great players for the Dragons, but right now they are teenagers growing into almost 7 foot bodies, adjusting to the speed of the game at this level, and with the new block/charge rules the learning curve is steeper than ever for the big fellas.  The staff can ask them to guard guys like Wally Judge or UCLA's David Wear all day long, but when they do...  well, the two freshman have combined for 16 fouls in 64 minutes while defending the weaker forward from the opposition.

Ruffin has 17 fouls in 123 minutes while spending all of his time guarding the best forward on the opposing teams.

When watching the Dragons at the Garden next week, keep your eyes on Dartaye Ruffin.  You might not be seeing the teams best PTP'er, but you will be watching the MVD.  The Most Valuable Dragon.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

One Week In - Some Housekeeping

We're nine days into this blog, only a week since I've mentioned it outside of friends and family, and the early returns are promising.  What was an exercise in throwing out my thoughts to whoever would read them (presumably Drexel fans I know and maybe my mom if she felt tossing me a bone) has very quickly become real, with triple digit daily hits, encouraging e-mails and texts from writers I very much respect, and attaboys from friends and family.  I can't thank all of you enough for the support, and I promise to try and raise this thing to a level that can provide you with something that will add to your Drexel fan experience.

I also want to thank The CAA Zone for existing and giving me a place to advertise this a bit and for linking this up and sharing their audience with a start up.  I will be doing a once a week around the league segment but for the regular reader, but is the place to go to catch up on all things in the league, it's been a daily read of mine for years now.

It's much too early in the season to be looking at season stats seriously (say that five times fast) so the statistical orientation of this blog hasn't really had a chance to shine through yet.  That's not to say we can't put together a great piece of writing, and I really admire this from Brendan Prunty at, a breakdown from the Rutgers side of the Dragons game up there.  (Thanks Nick DiFranco for pointing it out).  I hope to bring that level of thought to this page as the season continues to move forward.  In order to facilitate that, while I continue to thank you for the kind words, I ask you also to keep a critical eye in this space and tell me what I'm not providing that you would like to see.  Getting this information early can really help shape this into something useful for you, the reader, which is the goal of this thing.  So please reach out in the comments below, toss me an e-mail, see me at a game, send a carrier pigeon, smoke signals, et al.  I'd like Dragons Speak to become a place where everyone can take away some kind of nugget of information each week.  Accomplishing that starts with you.

In the out of conference season this place will seem a little less structured, but we'll have a pretty set schedule come conference time, with weekly columns about the league, as mentioned above, and also weekly links, a weekly stats breakdown, and continuing with the previews and hopefully a lot more happy recaps.

For now, I'll have daily content up thru the preview for the Arziona game on Wednesday.  Thanks again for all your support, and go Dragons!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Is Bru Getting Soft?

An urgent call to those surrounding Drexel's all-time winningest coach!  Things appeared to be going so well for the Dragons during the second half of their recent game against Rutgers, that both Coach Flint and Coach Connors were seen sitting on the bench at the same time for more than fifteen seconds.  

Fear swept Drexel fans who noticed the action, or lack thereof, on the bench.  Surely the staff hadn't gone soft.  Not so early in the season, with so much work to do.  The fans needed someone to step up and proclaim that the even hand of Drexel coaching was still there and ready to drop the hammer.  

Just when desperation was setting in, the fans worries were erased.  Assistant to the Head Coach Calvin Hicks rose to the occasion, and let the officials know that the hammer was still right where it belonged, on the Drexel bench, ready to strike.

Rutgers - Back With The Happy Recap

Final:  Drexel 70, Rutgers 59 @ The RAC
Player of the Game:  Tavon Allen
Key to the game:  Backcourt Depth (see:  Allen, Tavon)
Next Game:  Wed, Nov 27 vs Arizona @ Madison Square Garden

A funny thing happened on the Scarlet Knights way to Madison Square Garden last night.  They were manhandled.

The Dragons went up to beautiful* Piscataway, home of The State University of What Exit and took on the most physical team they have seen this year.  Rutgers had two upper classmen wide bodies in the frontcourt, a former NBA coach on the sideline, and last seasons best three point shooter in the Big East working the point.  Rutgers also features one of the better wings the Dragons might see this year in Pitt transfer JJ Moore.  In short, for as much turmoil has been seen in that program in the last twelve months, the Dragons were still facing a pretty good team on its home floor.  And then the Dragons helped polish that home floor by wiping it with the Rutgers basketball team.

For the second straight game, the Dragons celebrated Mardi Gras by remembering the theme "Do Whatcha Wanna".  In the preview I talked about how the Dragons needed to keep those bigger bodies in the Knights frontcourt out of the paint and force them into jumpers.  They succeeded with this, limiting Judge to just four shots and forcing Jack into 6/13 shooting, most of which were jump shots.  Also noted was that the Dragons would need a turnover edge to offset Rutgers projected edge on the boards, and a look at the postgame box shows that while the Dragons did win the turnover game, it wasn't quite as important as originally thought.  The Dragons surprised me by breaking even with Rutgers on the glass despite Rutgers' size and experience advantage in the paint.  Credit to Dartaye Ruffin, who avoided foul trouble and stayed out on the court for 38 solid minutes last night.  While the number of minutes over the early season is a concern, this is a different team when Ruffin is in the game, something which will be explored further in an upcoming blog post.

In the backcourt, Frantz Massenat's line may not look like much, but look at it closely.  I posted a pregame prediction on twitter projecting him to have a big game with 34+ minutes, 15+ points, 4+ assist and 2 turnovers or less.  His final tally:  39 minutes, 12 points, 7 assists and 2 turnovers.  He was a poor foul shooting night away from hitting all 4 major categories for a point guard, and perhaps more importantly look at what he did on the other end:  Myles Mack was held to 9 points, 2 assists and 3 turnovers.  While Mack's laser like focus in repeatedly tossing the ball into the front row of seats may not have been forced by Frantz, it's worth noting that Mack took just 7 attempts from the field, the first time in 12 games that Mack hasn't had double digit attempts.  For the second straight game, the perimeter D was so good, the opposing guards who normally do work from three point land weren't even bothering to attempt shots, and Massenat led that charge.

The player of the game could easily have been employee number 4, especially if he had sank those free throws, but had I named him, I'd be hearing it from you guys.  Tavon Allen's 21 points on 17 shots and 2 assists was positively Saddler-esque, but the fact that it came off the bench was huge.  Allen checked in before the under 16 timeout in the first half and saw almost every minute of action after that, finishing with a Chaz Crawford/Chris Fouch-ian 34 minutes off the bench.  He did this because Fouch spent the whole game in foul trouble (credit him for filling the stat sheet in the 19 minutes he was on the court with 10points/3rebounds/4assists) and Damion Lee ended up with both a flagrant foul and a technical foul in the first half.  Drexel badly needed a 4th guard this game, and Allen answered the bell. In a game that wasn't going to be won inside by Drexel, they needed their guards to step up.  When Lee and Fouch couldn't stay on the court, it was Allen who rose to the occasion and ensured that Drexel's guards could continue to impose their will on both ends of the court.

Rutgers has talent.  Not a lot of depth, but they are well coached, and I project them out to be floating right around the 100 mark in the rankings when the year ends.  This game was not a signature win against a great opponent.  This was a taking care of business win.  The same can be said about the prior game against Elon, who I slot into the 125-150 range this season.  What very good teams do against teams like this, when playing on the road or neutral court, is spend all game making it very clear which team on the court is the better team.  They come in with game plans and execute them.  That's exactly what Drexel did at the RAC this week.

The Dragons now have a week between games to prepare for the trip to the Garden.  You can check back here daily during that time for your Dragons fix, as articles on the new rules, the already named team MVP for this year (if you follow @DragonsSpeak on Twitter you already know who it is), a brief Calvin Hicks post and more will pop between now and next Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Rutgers Pregame - RU Gardening?

On the night of November 14th, 2005, I was walking home from Drexel's campus when my phone rang.  I'd just seen Drexel defeat Princeton with my father's family, one of my last memories of us all together.  My father had went to Princeton, and both him and my grandfather were proud Kentucky born college hoop fans, so this game not only brought us together, but the Drexel win gave me a feather in the cap for the evening.  And then the night got better.  I received that phone call, from Sean Joyce, the DAC Pack's advisor during my Presidency (and all others).

Sean was calling to tell me that Sam Houston State had gone on the road and beaten Missouri and that all of the sudden, instead of traveling to Missouri, Drexel would be hosting a nationally televised game at the DAC for the right to go to Madison Square Garden and the NIT final four.  He told me that I had to get every student that we could to pack the DAC in front of national TV in less than three days time.

Thankfully I had a great team around me as Jesse Zanolini, Tino Cerimele, Ed Ostapowicz, Bill Torr and a half dozen others that I need to apologize to for not naming here (my memory simply ain't what it used to be apparently, if anyone can help me with this let me know and I'll be sure to give credit) rallied together to get student's into the DAC.  I asked Res Life for permission to go door to door through the dorms letting students know about the game.  They said absolutely not.  So we went door to door through each freshman dorm anyway.  Every door was knocked on by someone in a DAC Pack shirt, telling them all about how ESPN would be in the house, the team had a chance to play Duke, and the chance for the team to be spending Thanksgiving in New York, on ESPN a couple more times.

The result?  It can be seen in pictures on the walls at the DAC.  One of the biggest, most exciting crowds we've ever had packed the building, and Ryan "Rainbow" Bright and Sam Houston State never had a chance.  Drexel came out strong and never looked back.

I want to thank everyone that helped with that effort again.  It's still one of my favorite achievements with the DAC Pack, and I hope you enjoyed it and take pride in it half as much as I still do.  And I hope that even though this years team won't be playing at the DAC for that opportunity, they still can realize the possibilities in front of them in NYC.  I hope they feel that same drive that Bashir, Kennell, and Frank felt that night as they led the team to victory.  I hope I enjoy it half as much from the big boy seats as I did from the student section, although I'm not sure that's possible.

Drifting back towards the game itself, it's just as important that the team realizes that they ain't facing Sam Houston St on their homecourt, this is a Big East/AAC team in a true road game.  They'll have a few thousand in attendance and they'll be looking for their own trip to the garden.

This game will feature Drexel's first challenge against really physical bigs this season, as Rutgers runs out 6'9" 250 pound senior Wally Judge across from Kadeem Jack, a 6'9" 230 pound junior who back in the day was offered a scholarship by Coach Flint to be a Dragon.  While Jack's decision making is a very real question mark, so is the thought of Kaz Abif and a couple of freshman trying to body him up all game long. He will settle for jumpers so Drexel's smaller 4 players will need to keep pushing him out of the post and encourage the jump shot.  Judge is more of an issue in the paint and on the boards, and seeing him battle against Ruffin should be fun for anyone who likes some good snot knocking senior big men going at it.

The RU offense is led by Myles Mack, a rich man's Chaz Williams.  He had an off night against Canisius from the floor, but don't bet on that happening twice in a row.  Rutgers also features JJ Moore, a 6'6" senior transfer from Pitt, who will be Damion Lee's responsibility on the wing.  He's not afraid to shoot from anywhere on the floor and Damion will have to guard him out to the three point line.

Drexel will have it's hands full, in a Big East/AAC gym against a team that wants to be at MSG just as badly as they do.  Likely without a rebounding advantage, Drexel will have to win the turnover battle to hang in this thing and would be tremendously helped if the shooting started to come around.  Expect a slower, shot clock killing tempo in a game where every basket will be a big one.

Prediction:  Drexel 67-66
Vegas Line:  Pick em

Elon - Back With the Happy Recap

Final:  Drexel 71, Elon 64 @ The RAC
Player of the Game:  James Flint
Key to the game:  Balance
Next Game:  Tues, Nov 19, @ Rutgers

The Dragons brought home a W on a warm November Monday in a game with a 5pm tip time on a neutral court at a near empty arena.

Any Drexel fan knows that empty arenas have never been a specialty of Bruiser's teams, and even less so, neutral courts with empty arena's.

This was different.

This team walked into an arena, did almost everything they want to do, never trailed in the game, and imposed their will on anyone in the other teams jersey.

I walked away from this game asking those with me what this Drexel team was good at.  Pre-season we certainly expected the answer to be shooting, but they haven't shot well in a game to date.  43% from the field against Elon is certainly nice, but mid 40's from the field as a high point on the (early) season?  Not so much.  In a previous post I discussed how the rebounding - while still above average - has not been as good as prior years.  The team isn't as good defensively as they've been in the past.  Maybe the ball-handling has been a bit better, but 9+ turnovers every game doesn't scream special.  All the key notes and identities of Flint's teams past, and none of them quite applicable to this team yet.  There's an identity in there, but it hasn't been out there in full force yet.

While these statistical sliders have shifted up or down slightly in the first few games, and all indicators now seem to be firmly in the above-average to good position, there is one piece that does stand out.  Like a zen master, (totally the first thing you think of when you think of Bruiser, am I right?) this team has achieved balance.  On a score sheet in which 3 guys had 15+ points and no one else had more than 6, that's a tough sell, I get that.  So before you call me crazy, I ask you to consult your old box scores and write in to the blog the last time that you saw Drexel play 9, that's NINE players for double digit minutes.

Foul trouble can drive a man to drink, and seeing Bru yell out for some "Mo Mo Mo" from Mohamed Bah makes you wonder what Coach Flint will be washing down his 300th career win and 214th win at Drexel with.  The thing is, when Dartaye Ruffin only played 18 minutes and his primary backup came in and racked up 4 fouls in 12 minutes, instead of turning to a big tall glass of Mad Dog, or throwing some Yanni out there, he had - another competent bench player!  I've heard both sides of the "depth is important" argument over the years, and no one has won me over yet, but I know that when the refs call 25 fouls, you wanna roll deeper than Kanye at a Psychologist convention.  For once, Drexel had it.  So while Fouch steadied the ship all game long with consistent quality play, and Tavon Allen had 15 points in 15 minutes, hitting jumpers like KG (discussion of his love of poor quality jumpshots aside for now), both worthy player of the game performances, they aren't getting that game ball (blog ball?  I need a name for this.  Suggestions??)  tonight.

Put simply, Flint put his team in position to win.  They were able to go 9 deep.  They defended the three point line so well in the first half that Elon not only wasn't hitting threes, they weren't even attempting them.  He rotated his players to try to roll with the foul situations, and while he probably held Massenat out one play too long, he did very well with the balance of the subs.  And for this, he has career win number 300 and a new Drexel record.  Tomorrow, we talk about the concerns this team might have down low, how the level of competition is about to significantly increase and how the hand checking rule may impact this team.  Tonight though, the game ball should go to the well dressed man with the team that rolls nine deep.  Congrats Bru.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Elon Pregame - Phite the Phoenix

The Dragons roll to Piscataway, NJ this week for a couple of pre-season NIT games, beginning at 5pm Monday versus the Elon No Longer Fighting Christians University of Unrising Phoenix.  It can be easy to look ahead to the second game of the tourney, potentially against host Rutgers with a chance to head to Madison Square Garden on the line, but doing so would be a great mistake as the first game pits the Dragons against the SoCon pre-season favorites.

The four teams in this pod of the tourney were ranked by Pomeroy as follows at the end of the 12-13 season.  In parenthesis is the number of players who played 15+ minutes per game last season and are no longer with the team this year:

Rutgers - 109 (4)
Canisius - 116 (2)
Drexel - 169 (2)
Elon - 211 (0)

This shapes up to a pretty even field in the pod, with Rutgers given a "home court" advantage and a "their prior coach was a master tactician but batshit crazy and the program is a shell of its not so impressive former self" disadvantage.

What might be strange is that in a year where Drexel will be the more experienced team in 90% of their matchups, they will not be against this Elon team.  All SoCon (no Dac Pack, not SoCo) guard Jack Isenbarger looks like he will play his first minutes of the season (stress fracture) against the Dragons after being in uniform but not taking the court this Friday against Charlotte.  Isenbarger is one of three pre-season all SoCon players for the Phoenix this year, alongside Lucas Troutman, Elon's all-time career blocks leader, who with a name like that should be playing for Yale.  Also in the pre-season All SoCon squad is Ryley Beaumont, a 6'7" inside out player who will be Kaz Abif's personal chore all early evening long.

Not only will they not be the most experienced team on the floor, but the Dragons will also yield the height advantage they usually bring to the court, although this should matter less.  The term that the reader should think of going into this game is "Ivy League," two words that will send a shiver down many a Drexel fans spine.  Elon features Austin Hamilton,a  5'10" sophomore who started as a freshman at the point, alongside a bunch of tall white guys who chuck up three balls.  Thus far 43% of their shots have been from downtown, after 39% were last year.  For comparison, Princeton's highest % of threeball's to two point shots in a season in the last 5 years was 38%.  Elon doesn't force turnovers, they don't rebound, they just make trifecta's like they're that guy with the black lung at the OTB.

The note then is this:  If Damion Lee or any other guard is slow stepping out to defend the perimeter this game, Bruiser will be (almost) totally justified in every Mike Rice loving word he quietly, discreetly, and calmly tells the player on their way off the court.  The importance of perimeter defense will also put considerable pressure on the mobile Kaz Abif, which should be one of the benefits that Drexel gets after having both Ruffin and McCoy out there last year.

If an experienced Drexel team can play smart basketball for 40 minutes then they should be able to take care of business at the RAC.  If they don't well...

Prediction:  Drexel gets physical.  Drexel 66, Elon 60

Vegas Line:  Dragons by 4

Friday, November 15, 2013

Making the Leap

When analyzing the offseason losses for the hoops team, one name comes up time after time:  Daryl McCoy.  While his effect may have a net positive on the offensive end of the floor (a post for another day, but soon) it projects to almost certainly have a negative effect on the defensive end as well as on the glass at both ebds of the court.  Per kenpom, during his four years at DU McCoy averaged out to be a top 100 rebounder in the country on both ends of the floor, and that's despite playing alongside strong rebounders like Givens and Ruffin who grabbed some that may otherwise have ended up in Daryl's hands.

In the 12-13 season, Drexel ended up with the ball exactly one third of a time that one of their shooters clanked one off the rim.  This is a good, but not elite number.  The team secured the ball 74% of the time that it was up on the defensive glass though, good for 6th in the country.  Having two space eaters in the middle really helped with that as the two bigs on the court at any time were responsible for 56% of Drexel's boards last year.  But now, without the king of all space eaters, how can Drexel continue to achieve rebounding success?  Looking back to 2005-2006 (coincidentally the last DU team to play Thanksgiving weekend in the NIT), Drexel pulled down 36.5% of their possible offensive boards and 70% of defensive boards doing this with a frontcourt of Elegar, Crawford and Oveneke, not a wide body amongst them.  The secret to how this smaller group pulled down as many boards as the big guys from last year?

They didn't.

That trio (and Kenny Tribbett, Tim Tillman, and Matt "Mad Dog" Stevenson) combined to pull down just 48% of the team's rebounds that year.  The guards on that team (not exactly with the size of our current guards) hammered the boards that year.  Sanchez had a monster season on the glass, but even 6' pg Bashir Mason contributed with a triple digit rebounding total that year.

In the very short and potentially worthless sample that we have thus far this year, Drexel's rebounding at a poor rate of 26.39% on the offensive glass, and 71% on the defensive side which is above average.  Perhaps more importantly, the frontcourt has pulled down 58% of these boards.  While this certainly could be small sample, it can also be read as the guards being just as reliant on their bigs for the boards as they were last year, if not moreso.  This seems like an unfair expectation given the loss of McCoy.  In order to try to assist our small sample, we should look for other areas that also may show a lack of adaptation from the guard play.

Looking further, we do see more evidence: Thru two games, Abif and Ruffin have hit 63% of their shots, combined for only three turnovers, but have only combined to take 19 of the 123 shots (15%) taken by the team.  Despite the coaching staff running plays for the big guys after seemingly every timeout during the UCLA game the forwards only took 9 of the 63 shots in that game.  The big men got the ball after timeouts, and were never fed the ball again, just like last years bigs.

When you combine the lack of passing into the interior, and the lack of extra help on the boards, one begins to see a pattern that looks a lot like last years team.  To the fans eye, there's a large difference between Kaz Abif and Daryl McCoy.  To the eyes of Drexel's guards, this difference might not yet be clear, the confidence yet to be increased.  The sooner that the Drexel staff can deprogram these guards from last years squad and get them to better explore the strengths of this years team, the sooner they start helping out on the boards and feeding the bigs, the faster this team can make the leap to the next level, on the glass and in the standings.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Welcome [Back] my Friends To The Show That

The idea of this blog has been bouncing around for me for some years now, with a lot of thoughts that could have gone into something like this hitting the pages of the CAAZone boards instead.  After taking the opportunity to step away from the DAC and the Zone a bit last year I walk into this year refreshed and with a real desire to enjoy Drexel hoops and share that enjoyment with others.  I am extremely thankful for the support this blog has gotten in the first 24 hours from launch, people whose opinions I really care about have been tremendously supportive, which really helps me make the decision to stagger onwards with what should be a collection of idle thoughts, quick reaction, advanced metric* analysis (once we have some games/data under our belt), and general Delaware/CAA bashing.  Once the DAC Pack, always the DAC Pack.

The aims for this blog will be 99% on the court.  While there will be off the court topics spoken of when it’s necessitated, by and large if you want to discuss off the court issues, I’d encourage you to tweet, e-mail or speak to me offline. 

It’s not a secret that I have been a critic of this coaching staff.  This is part of the on the court product, and thru this blog I will continue to comment and ask the questions that I believe need to be asked.  Some of the things that we’re seeing and excited about early this year are things we could have seen last year, but the staff chose not to move that direction, and you can be sure that throughout the year we’ll see things we agree with (getting the ball into the post coming out of timeouts vs UCLA) and disagree with (inbounds plays).  Those items are deserving of commentary, and you will be able to come here to read and discuss them.

With that idea in mind, I would like to attach one lengthy disclaimer to this criticism: The first college hoops team that I ever rooted for was the Marcus Camby led UMass team which featured Assistant Coaches James “Bruiser” Flint and Mike Connors.  This coaching staff came to Drexel the same year that I did, and I was so excited when I learned that they were coming that you would have thought Drexel had won the CAA right then. 

Beyond that fandom, I ask everyone to realize that no matter what criticism was posted on message boards, was shouted from behind the bench, was written about in the school paper or was just said to their face (sobriety be damned), these coaches always pretended not to hear it.  When the ticket requests came in, they looked after the Drexel fans on the road, when we ran into each other at the bar a round was always picked up, and when an e-mail is sent it’s always responded to.  These coaches are not just professionals but also genuinely good guys, examples for others inside the DAC and around the sport.  While I certainly wish that they would move significantly further in the analytics space that was studied in depth by names like Shaka and Stevens, and hope to continue to discuss that through this blog, I will continue to have respect for these men as people, and as the coaches of my favorite team.  I ask that you apply similar respect when criticizing or lauding them in the comments section of Dragons Speak.

So that’s what this is, a space for critical thinking, analysis and most of all enjoyment of Drexel hoops.  I’ll try to get pre- and post- game stories up, but if you’re looking for gamers, you’re in the wrong place.  This is an attempt to catch the trends of the season, revel in the presence of a very talented DU team this year, and enjoy the DU community hopefully in some kind of intelligent fashion.  There’s a ton of really smart people who follow Drexel hoops, and hopefully we can highlight their thoughts all year long.

Over the next week I expect to have a few posts up on what to look for this season, game previews for the PNIT games on game date, and recaps of the general trends that we can pull from those games, so check back daily as the blog begins to get some real content behind it.

Thanks again for joining me, and welcome aboard.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Two Games In

The leaves are crisp, the winds are blowing in, no longer across broad stretches of outfield but rather thru the open "Emergency Exit" doors of the DAC, ensuring that it stays a brisk 87 degrees inside.  Yes, basketball season is back again in West Philadelphia, and I hope to harness part of the love and energy that so many have for this team and this game right here on these electronic pages this season.  Any and all are welcome for the ride, and to enjoy the (hopefully and intentionally well moderated) comments section below.

The expectations for this years Drexel team, based off of media polls, preseason previews, and your standard guy on the street, are high this year.  This seems right, as DU is playing three seniors who have all been four year starters, including a shooting guard who could have two Drexel degrees by now, or a bakers dozen or so from Delaware.  Going into UCLA the "guys that know" in Vegas' smoke filled rooms projected a single digit game between the #22 UCLA Bruins (full disclosure:  missing key senior Travis Wear) which shows a good deal of respect for this Drexel team as well.

Whether or not one should take anything away from the first game of any teams season is worth arguing about, and certainly a midnight tipoff a six hour flight from home against a ranked team is up on the high end of the bell curve of challenges so everyone might be better off throwing this one out.  It's due to this (and my own travel and time limitations) that I'd like to merge the takeaways from this contest with the takeaways from the teams second contest against Illinois St.

Thru two games, there are some glaring changes between this years version and last years Sons of Bru-narchy.  Jumping to the top of the list:

- About 10 pounds of muscle on Kaz Abif.  This.  Matters.
- Abif and Ruffin playing 141 minutes of 160 possible so far at the 4 and 5.  Double Edged sword?
- Chris Fouch is back, has taken 29 shots in 2 games and probably needs to shoot more.
- With Damion Lee off to a slow start, Bru has removed the duct tape linking Tavon Allen and the bench, giving him 20.5 minutes a game in the first couple of contests and showing a legitimate four guard rotation of scorers for the first time since Mason, King, Goss and Whitworth.  I can't believe I just wrote that.  If you aren't excited about this team, go compare this years guards to every. single. season. that. bru. has. been. here.  If Cannady can do more than catch a couple of minutes when Frantz needs a spell, that's a bonus.
- Athletic bigs.  Being down to one space eater is huge for this team, it allows the guards to penetrate more and spaces the floor better.  Abif's jump shot will make his defender step out a bit further than they had to last year.  Had a great shot of Bah's athleticism with his block at Illinois St.
- 70% free throw shooting!

There are also some similarities:

- Allen is still in love with his midrange jumper.
- Little sign of depth up front - the minutes for the bigs, especially an injury prone guy like Abif, have to be concerning.
- Massenat putting up Saddler numbers, but without the lack of control, suspensions, taunting, or being from Delaware
- 20 turnovers in 2 games, at least 25% as a direct result of inbounds plays.
- There should be some defensive concerns.  It was a middle of the pack defense last year, and while the loss of McCoy may help space things out on offense, it certainly will hurt the defense and rebounding.
- Not feeding the post.  This was clearly a point of emphasis for the staff against UCLA as time after time the ball would get sent in after stoppages, and time after time it would never touch a big mans hands inside the arc after that.  Through two games Abif and Ruffin have shot 12/19 (63%) from the floor.  They might be worth a look.

I'll follow up to this with a blog intro post in the next day or two, get into the new rules and their projected effects in the near future (lots of questions about this already) and hopefully you will see a lot of progressions in the blog setup and layout this week as I get down to work on something I've been threatening to myself to do for years now.  In the meantime, please feel free to use the comments section below to talk about the product on the floor for DU.  Thanks for indulging me by reading, and thanks to the Dragons for giving us a team to talk about.  Two roadies, one win, and they're off and running.  See you in Piscataway.