Sunday, January 5, 2014

Southern Mississippi - Learning From Our Mistakes

Final:  Southern Miss 66, Drexel 49 at Reed Green Coliseum
Player of the Game:  Chris Fouch
Key to the game:  Rebounding
Next Game:  Wed, Jan 8th @ William and Mary


That's what Bru talked about in the postgame after the debacle in Hattiesburg.  Toughness is an easy thing to point to after games like this, it's not often that you see a team get more than 50% of their missed shots like the Golden Eagles did (55%) and its inexcusable.  If Samme Givens showed us anything, rebounds are about effort and intellect, and the Dragons frontcourt showed neither on their trip to Mississippi.  None of the forwards pulled down more than 2 defensive rebounds, which is staggering.  I'm not willing to research the last time that happened because I'm not sure if it ever has, in the Flint era or since peach baskets were used.  It's atrocious and unseemly, and when a team loses by 17 and second chance points are 19-2 it is very transparently THE

Sometimes you do everything right, and you scrap and you claw, and the ball just doesn't go in the basket.  This wasn't that.  This was effort.

But here's the thing:  So was Buffalo.   You can argue about whether effort was an issue at Hawk Hill.  The Dragons were bailed out by their shooting at Davidson.  After SJU I gave them a pass, everyone gets 1 game to throw out, and that was theirs.  Here's an email I received from a longtime Drexel fan a day after the game:

"This team doesn't add up to me. Once you have established you are a sizable, physical team, rebounding should be a constant when you adjust the stat against the quality of the opponent.  That performance doesn't demonstrate misfortune or coaching, this team is quitting.  Lee or no Lee, you don't get boarded by SMU and Buffalo if you don't have your head up your collective asses.

And it's not like we were weary from a long road trip.  Not often I sound the alarm after 4 poor OOC games in December.  Bru should start the bench next game."

The e-mailer is spot on.  

The fact is, one of the most talented team that Drexel has had is massively under performing, they are regularly not driving with all cylinders, and right now they seem to compare closely to last years picked 1st then disappointed edition.  The worry, that this was happening again and that they needed to prove otherwise, is why you read right here that this game was one of the most important games of the year.  The results don't inspire confidence.  Hearing the coach talk about toughness postgame, expressing this game as a one off, and not part of an ongoing trend, while taking no responsibility for it and throwing all of the problems on his players as they rolled under the proverbial bus, well that inspired less confidence, and was about to inspire a blog post all of its own before I read this last night:

Lets ignore the fact that having anyone in the tracks is probably bad and you would probably much prefer riding on the tracks.

This is, in my very limited memory, the first time that Coach Flint has come out and publicly stated that he himself needs to do something to improve this team.  More likely this is a sign of the times, that twitter is dangerous and you might type something at a time when your guard is down a bit that you wouldn't say during a radio or newspaper interview.  Nonetheless, it's him saying that he feels he needs to do something.  Don't look for him to make the team do community service down in Katrina distressed areas of Nola while they're stuck there (though that would both be smart, make the kids work off their lack of effort and would be a great photo op) or play hotel baseball like Mason did during their final four run, or even to tell his team that if they don't want to work, he'll make them, and install an every possession VCU havoc like press for a few games.  Although that would be bold, play into his teams depth, athleticism and turnover advantage and would be pleasant for the fans to watch, all while essentially making his players run sprints in practice to learn it.

No, we don't expect the coaching staff to ruffle feathers and shake things up, because if they were going to do that, they would have done it last year, the first time this happened.  What we will learn now is if the coaching staff learned something from last year that they can use this year.  It's the same reason after every loss this year the blog title is "Learning From Our Mistakes", because even in a lost season there is something to be gained.  So the question for the staff is:  What did you gain from last year?

So we conclude back with where we started.  Toughness.  Bru's own point.  But this time I'm not talking about his team, I'm talking about him.  Remember how hard it was for Dom Mejia or Chris Fouch to get on the court?  They couldn't buy a start and then there was the quickest hook in America if they did something Coach Flint didn't like?  

Where did that go?

-Tavon Allen had only 2 of his 12 shots in the paint while taking 4 mid range jumpers.
-Dartaye Ruffin basically didn't make the trip, took zero shots, had only 2 boards in 20 minutes and was actually allowed to play more minutes in the second half than he did in the first.

Credit to Bru for benching Massenat for a bit, but where were the hooks on the other guys?  Throw Goran in there and not only will you send a message, but you surely get some effort.  This is what I posted, as a layman, at halftime, and since I thought it was notable I actually cross-posted between twitter and the CAAZone message boards:

What's worse, here's what I posted in the first half:

It wasn't like someone watching from afar couldn't see the second half coming.  It was actually as obvious as a train speeding down the tracks while your team is in them.  Yet the quick hook wasn't there, Ruffin played additional minutes than he had during the first half, and adjustments were tough to find.

I agree with Bruiser that more toughness was badly needed on Friday night.  

From the top down.

So I do appreciate Bru's tweet.  I'm very happy to see him put some of this on his own shoulders.  Hopefully as a team they will learn from these mistakes and head down to William and Mary to begin games that count.  Time to work towards Baltimore, because this team has the talent to win it.  Help em make it happen Bru, a reeling Drexel Nation turns its eyes to you.

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