Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hofstra Pregame - Avoiding the Avalanche

The good ship Dragon sails into Hempstead on Wednesday to take on the Hofsta Flying Dutchmen.  The suddenly relevant Dutch have shown some game in conference play, with a 3-3 start (2-1 at home) and a win over William and Mary a week ago before losing the next two to Northeastern and Towson in that order.  Coming off of back to back losses with back to back road games coming up after they play Drexel, this one is a big one for the Pride if they want to still be relevant once we get to the end of the season.

From a Drexel perspective, this game continues to be about getting right.  Sitting 2-4 in conference after 4 home games and only 2 roadies will make some heads hang.  Tied for 7th in a 9 team conference, where losing the tie breaker means playing an extra game in Baltimore might just open some eyes, and the team certainly looks to be beginning to feel the frustration.  Bruiser showed some of the fire we had been looking for from him this year last game, although we'd prefer a controlled burn next time, and Chris Fouch's frustrations seem to involve trying to solve the problems all by himself.  The Dragons could use a win just for confidence sake, especially since a loss to ill perceived Hofstra could really add to the already bubbling over psyche.  It all adds up to this being the most meaningful game ever for these two teams that will be virtually meaningless for postseason outlook.

In case you thought the Drexel defense has been even mediocre in any game this year, I invite you to take a look at the Kenpom conference only stats for the Dragons:

On average, Drexel is still making CAA teams look like top 5 offenses nationally

Interestingly, both teams have players named Allen that are questionable for this game.  Tavon has not been practicing this week for the Dragons, and lets all be honest, looking at the long term goals for this team he shouldn't play, but nor should Kaz Abif who almost certainly will play, despite even Bru saying that he looked bad trying to play hurt last game.  On the Hofstra side of the coin it 6'6" big man Jordan Allen who is questionable while returning from a broken nose and concussion.  Given our treatment of concussions in this day and age, I'm not sold that he'll be playing, although if he is cleared he should be pretty good to go healthwise and could contribute.

Without Allen Hofstra would roll only six deep, with Darren Payen filling in as an emergency bigman seventh man only if necessary.  Without a healthy Tavon Allen for Drexel, it's not a great matchup for the Dragons though.  Hofstra runs tall, with the only guy under 6'4" playing at the point in elite distance shooter Dion Nesmith.  If Frantz picks him up that leaves the smaller DU guards to pickup 6'5" Jamall Robinson and more importantly 6'6" sudden phenom Zeke Upshaw.  Upshaw's numbers seem to mirror Fouch's, outshooting Fouch from behind the arc this year, and taking almost as many shots (31%) for his team when he's on the court as Chris has (32.5%).  When he's in the game expect Tavon Allen at 6'7" to pickup Upshaw, although I'm not sure any Drexel fan want to see it.  When Allen isn't out there...  Canady?  Fouch?  Not really calling out the name of shutdown defenders here, although Fouch's defense is light years better than in past seasons.

Underneath, both teams seem to think that feeding their bigs is tantamount to asking for herpes, so this will be an old school CAA guard game.  If Kaz continues to work his way back - he's been starting to practice some - the guards don't seem to mind feeding him the ball, and Williams seems to be getting some better looks as of late, so maybe there's a shot for the edge here to go to DU.  If the guards do get them involved and contributions from them, that could easily be the deciding factor in this one.  None of the Hofstra bigs step outside, so this will be a much easier matchup for Drexel's forwards on defense then a Towson or William and Mary offensive set was, due to that they should be able to offer the guards a little more help with defending Hofstra's penetration.

At the end of the day, I think Hofstra has only had one day to gameplan since their last game, a roadie at Towson on Monday, the Dutch are only six deep and I think that adds up.  Personally I'm a big fan of Joe Mihalich as a coach, and think the Islanders will be pretty good in the upcoming years, running a fun uptempo offense, but I don't think the timing of this game lends itself to that.  Every Hofstra game is a battle, but the edge down under the basket might be the difference.

Prediction:  Drexel 67, Hofstra 64
Vegas Line:  Drexel -3.5


  1. Well written Agree with all points. Hofstras 3rd game in 6 days playing shorthanded may be their undoing. Mihalich did a terrific job at Niagara. Witness their struggles this year. Hofstra will be good in a few years. This years version, has overachieved, given the depleted roster. Huge game for Dragons. I would also expect them to win, but they had better get them in the next couple years. After that with Mihalichs players and system in place, this will be a tough trip.

  2. "sails" not "sales" into Hempstead. Unless, of course, the Dragons are looking to purchase a win.

  3. Yup. That's awful. I need an editor, but in the meantime thanks, and it's been edited.