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.