Thursday, January 16, 2014

25 shots and a Basket Ain't One

There has been an awful lot to talk about with Drexel hoops in the past few weeks, and while bookending everything with injuries, some items have been lost in the shuffle.  A few quick thoughts on what has been under reported by yours truly then:

- Not really under reported, but criticizing Bru was pretty much shooting fish in a barrel after the Towson game.  Without question he's been a little softer in persona the last couple of years and while no one is complaining about that, the defense has also taken steps backward in that time.  One has to get curious on how much one is related with the other.  As far as the zone goes, and the four guard scenarios, both of which have been heavily criticized in this space, it needs to be noted that while those have been bad, bad looks for this squad, they've also been a delight to see.  After 13 years of fans begging for Bruiser and staff to evolve, seeing some changes has been a lot of fun regardless of the outcome.  That Bru is fixing something that hasn't historically been broken (the defense, rather than the offense) is curious and indicative of a bit of panic on his part, but from the camp of "anything is better than nothing", there needs to be some applause for it as well.  Ideally he'd be taking a look at how to get the ball inside more often on offense rather then fixing the defense that he has made his trademark though, so hope for continued evolution.  Personally, I continue to long for the day where statistics are taken into consideration half as much as video is by this staff, but that won't happen until the house here at DU gets cleaned some day, regardless of how many Stevens and Shaka's use statistics to leave DU in their dust.  Watching this is like watching an air traffic controller who is avoiding using radar in this day and age.  Why man?  Why?

- Rumors of their demise have been greatly exaggerated.  In the last three games, almost all of which were without Ruffin and Abif, and over a third of which were without Allen, Drexel put up an average of 1.11 points per possession.  That's 10% higher scoring than any DU team has ever had in a season under Bru.  There's only one other game this season where they have scored like that (Tenn St).  Going back to the 2006-2007 season, Drexel is 50-3, that's 50 wins and 3 losses, when scoring 1.11 points per possession in a game.  This 1-2 streak is an aberration, although certainly paints an ugly light on the current defense.  I continue to believe that DU is running a good effort out there right now and coming up a bit unlucky as well.  When bodies start to come back off the bench, this team can still have a run in them.

- The rest of the media is starting to pickup what we already know.  Drexel is 4th in the country in turnover rate and according to Kenpom Drexel is the only member of the top 4 in that category to have played against a top 100 strength of schedule this year.  Those extra possessions usually are the difference between winning and losing a game, and have won a number of games for what has been a poor shooting Dragons team this year.

- Related to last, Drexel has 25 shots and a basket ain't one!  It's not easy to find a team who wins the turnover battle, dominates on the boards (DU rebounded 45% of their missed shots against Towson to TU's 27%) only shoots 7 less free throws, and loses the game.  Drexel took 25 more shots from the field then TU did, so to lose that game is just staggering.  Another sign of the aberration that that game was.

-Did I mention the monster rebounding advantage against a much bigger team?  Rodney Williams played 30 minutes for the first time in his career, and changed his career high in offensive boards from 3 into an 8.  Once again, this kid is gonna be good when he gets his timing.  Lookout CAA, @YeahRod is coming.

- Give some love to Major Canady.  In the last 4 games, all of which he has seen 19+ minutes in, he has had a grand total of 6 assists and 1 turnover.  His foul shooting has been a problem, but he's been 5 of 9 from inside the arc and is picking his spots and succeeding.  He's been willing to pass the ball inside, and has been a really nice compliment in Drexel's no turnover offense.

- I believe the defense comes back.  When it does, Drexel will still have the 2nd best offense that they've had since Phil Goss was a student.  If done right (and with the injuries it will have to be done just right) this team will be a contender in March.  Give Bru some room to keep messing around, hopefully he'll find something better then what he's found so far, and just hang on tight for the next month.

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