Sunday, January 12, 2014

Northeastern - The Happy Recap - Learning by DUing

Final:  Drexel 93, Northeastern 88 (2OT) at The DAC
Player of the Game:  Chris Fouch
Key to the game:  A Deep Bench
Next Game:  Tues Jan 14 vs Towson @ The DAC

There is a known medical phenomenon where an injured individual, while healing, will compensate by overusing other areas of the body to take the stress off of the injured area, causing a new injury to the now overworked area.  On a body that makes complete sense.  Why the Drexel basketball team is currently doing it player by overused player is a medical mystery.

Three starters were out entering this game for the Dragons, and a fourth (Frantz Massenat) left the court twice, one time in which he was documented being well looked after.  Former backup, now starter except not, Tavon Allen left the game with a bad ankle sprain so knock him out for a few weeks at best.  Had you placed a wager at the beginning of the season that Chris Fouch would be the last man standing from the top six players on the Drexel roster, you could have made some very nice coin.  But Fouch was out there for 47 minutes in this 50 minute effort, which was only beaten out my Massenat who despite leaving with injuries twice still managed to be out there for 48 minutes.  Frantz likely woke up this morning looking more swollen then someone with a peanut allergy on the Planters Factory Tour and still only sat for 2 minutes.  Hats off to that guy.  He'll surely play on Tuesday against Towson, but there's plenty of logic towards sitting him for that one.

The Dragons were more limited since Rodney Williams spent his game in foul trouble.  There won't be a double OT game for the rest of the year that Rodney won't foul out of, but in this game he wasn't particularly assisted by the three blind mice officials that the CAA allowed to "work" the contest.*  The larger concern is that during his 20 minutes on the floor, Rodney only pulled down 2 boards.  That's a growing concern since last game he played 22 minutes against a not exactly elite frontcourt at William and Mary and only pulled down 4 rebounds.  This is something bearing watching as the foul trouble is one thing, but not rebounding when he is in the game is a very real red flag.

Rather then throwing the zone out there with all of the Dragons personnel limitations and despite Northeastern begging for it, Bruiser elected to hide his (lack of) forward depth by playing 4 guards for a significant stretch of the game.  This was not fun to watch.  While his zone has gotten beaten both times that he has played with it this year, the loss of Tavon Allen may prevent the 4 guard play going forward and given how the team looked when they had 4 guards out there, not being able to use that formation is just fine.  It's clear that it's going to take Bruiser Flint some time to find something that he's comfortable with, and speaking as a fan that's just fine by me.  After years of seeing very similar plays on both sides of the ball, a few weeks in which Bruiser isn't allowed to be in his comfort zone may be a great thing for both Bruiser's growth as a coach.

Defensively the Dragons should be lauded.  They held the two beasts of the frontcourt on Northeastern to 22 field goal attempts and 8 free throw attempts combined.  As the NU frontcourt was the big advantage for the Huskies in this game, that was everything that the Drexel staff could have hoped for and more.  Hat tips are well deserved to YeaRod, Gordo and Bah for containing the NU frontcourt and continuing to learn by DUing.

No one expected Banegas-Flores to be a big scorer for Northeastern, he's the guy on the other team that you want to try to beat you.  That he almost did is a testament to a great game from him, alongside Demetrius Pollard.  Pollard is probably the one guy that Drexel should have done a better job on, he had a very good night even before he hit the shot that put the game into OT.  Read this before being critical of Bru's not fouling.

Making Chris Fouch the player of the game in this one was a tough call.  Without Frantz Massenat's 12 rebounds (!!) and 8 assists Drexel probably goes down, and a tip of the cap to Frantz is well deserved, especially doing that while gingerly limping around the DAC during timeouts.  Alas, when it comes to efficiency Chris Fouch just had one of the best games of what has been a great Drexel career.  It was clear that Bill Coen saw just how few weapons Drexel had on the floor and made sure Fouch was a focus for his defense, allowing him "just" 15 shots in his 47 minutes (Fouch had been averaging 2.28 minutes per shot going into this game). That Employee Number 3 hit 10 of those 15 shots made that defense moot.  What was especially nice to see was Chris' off the ball movement which was downright Goss-ian, exemplified on one play where he floated toward the top of the key while Major Canady was driving to open himself up for a dish from the point guard which led to 3 points, nothing but net.  Nailing the dagger with an assist by referee Bob Testa (what a crazy game this was) makes the decision to make him Player of the Game even easier.  With 31 points on only 15 field goal attempts, Chris should get all the credit in the world for a career game.

There's a lot to be said about where the team goes without the use of Tavon Allen, who had been playing some time at the 4 with the starting forwards both out.  Also more to be spoken about the role of Major Canady, whether or not Frantz really should sit on Tuesday, and the truly disappoint effort from Freddie Wilson.  Also, a followup to the big men's performance in this contest (Lady Gaga Applause Applause for Mohamed Bah).  For that and more, the Towson pregame will be up by Monday evening.

*The officiating was bad both ways.  Bill Humes, Bob Testa and Louis Andrakakos are all CAA regulars, and all household names to CAA followers.  If referees are great when they are unknown, well...  these guys are very well known.

**This article was written while consuming Williamsburg Alewerks Coffeehouse Stout.  Among my all-time favorite beers, from the only place in Williamsburg that can't spell.

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