Monday, January 20, 2014

Delaware Pregame - Rebel Rebel

The story of Drexel's injury plagued season continues and has been well noted throughout the blogosphere.  Delaware has also been battling with an undermanned roster throughout the season due to suspension after suspension, which is about what you would expect from an athletic department that has been fighting for relevancy in the CAA for the entirety of the Ross era.  The Blue Hens are walking a fine line with a coach that the fanbase has been vocally turning on for the last few years and a team that's now had multiple players suspended for conduct detrimental.  Can they tiptoe to a title?  In a weakened CAA perhaps, but they'll need a lot of things to break their way.

Meanwhile at the DAC, the first of the reinforcements came back two days ago in the form of Dartaye Ruffin.  The sight of him outweighed his performance a bit as he works his way back from a calf strain.  The really big news out of the UNCW game was that Drexel's depth finally showed again, with the game being about much more than just Fouch and Frantz, as Freddie Wilson and Mohamed Bah stepped up and Major Canady played the solid game that we have become accustomed to.

In the short rest clash tonight Delaware will get back the services of Jarvis Threatt, returning from suspension after the Northeastern game.  Threatt's biggest threat is in penetration and passing.  No reason to step out on him at the arc, save that for Kyle Anderson who surpasses anyone from William and Mary as the leagues leading white guy who just hits 3's.  Hopefully the team is watching some tape of Bashir Mason guarding Gerry Mac before picking up Anderson.

The big guy in the UD offense is still Devon Saddler.  I've taken a lot of shots at him over the years, and his half season suspension plays right into that commentary, but sometimes you have to give credit where credit is due.  He's made himself a complete player this year.  His turnover rate is WAY down, which means either he's grown up a bit, he trusts his teammates more, or Monte Ross has really coached him up...  so we'll assume he's grown up a bit.  While playing smarter he's also shot the hell out of the ball, both the 56% from two and 42% from three are career highs.  He's only had one game since the new year with less then 22 points, and he's been efficient while doing it.  It's quite scary.

With all the focus on the guards, UD doesn't use their bigs all that much more than DU does.  This is a run and gun team, which may actually benefit a Drexel team that has looked pretty good on the few times they've run the break this season. With the skill of the guards on both sides, neither team turns it over a whole lot, so the rebounding in this one will be extremely important.  With all the running and the focus on rebounding combined with the short rest, if Dartaye Ruffin isn't completely healthy or is looking like he did in the UNCW game, he needs to be on the sidelines more often then not, allowing him to heal and the more athletic freshman to keep pace with UD.

The Dragons have a great shot at taking this one if they show like they did in the second half of last game.  Frantz and Canady need to drive and distribute, make this a full team contest instead of our guards vs their guards.  Reward the DU forwards, because if the bigs stay focused and in this game, there will be plenty of shot block opportunities on the other side.  Saddler is the best player on the floor, and Anderson and Fouch aren't that far apart as shooters, so if this comes down to guards vs guards, bad news will be coming down for DU.  That's just life without Damion and Tavon, and one that the DU point guards need to accept.

For the prediction, I'm taking the team I trust to play smarter and the only team in this matchup with a top 100 kenpom win this season.

Prediction:  Drexel 74, Delaware 68
Vegas Line:  Drexel -2

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