Friday, January 31, 2014

Towson Pregame - I'm Not Yelling Timber

On Saturday the men play their first game at the new SECU Center, in the second leg of a three games in six night run.  Reading the recap of the Towson game at the DAC as posted to the blog, and simultaneously beating the living bejesus out of a quickly dying horse, I note this opening sentence:

Known as a defense first coach, it's no surprise that it was four years since Bruiser Flint's 
Drexel Dragons have allowed over one point per possession in four straight games.  It's time to 
reset that clock, as Drexel opponents have crushed that number in the last four games 

So in the interest of continuity and the spirit of simplicity, we will start this blog with:

Known as a defense first coach, it's no surprise that it was four years since Bruiser Flint's Drexel Dragons have allowed over one point per possession in four straight games.  you can continue to reset that clock as Drexel opponents have crushed that number in the last eight games (divide by 100 for PPP):

To the press Bru has played the card of how good the W&M, UD and TU offenses are, and he's right, Towson is at 99 and the other two are both in the top 55, but Hofstra?  They're 207 and UNCW is 266, which is a way of saying that playing #99 again, this time on their home court, does not inspire the warm fuzzies.

A lot of things can be said about Bruiser Flint and most of those things already have been.  "He's tanking this game" is something that's never been said, nor will it be nor should it be.  So with an injured squad and only one day before their next game...  it's tough, but everyone who can walk will be out there.  One of the biggest problems that Drexel had in the first matchup was the lack of mobile bigs to get out to the perimeter and guard Marcus Damas.  Now Kaz Abif is back and when he isn't in the game Williams can get out there as Ruffin has also returned and should be able to handle the Parker-Rivera down low.  That should also help prevent Bru from whipping out his zone.  

Without a healthy Allen, there's still not much to stop Benimon from destroying the Dragons, but Tavon will at least get out there some of the time.  The Dragons can't expect Four McGlynn to be quite as quiet as he was last game so it will be up to Chris Fouch to play strong at both ends of the court.  A key thing to look for on all of the Towson shooters is how far the Drexel guards are willing to extend the defense.  Last game the Tigers hit a good number of uncontested three's from well behind the arc and Drexel has to make that adjustment and step out much more and that would seem an easy adjustment to make.

The funny thing about the first time these teams played is that outside of the defense which allowed 58% shooting from inside the arc and 50% from outside (so yes, credit to the Tigers for being on fire as well) the Dragons did all the right things.  They had a dominating +5 turnover margin which should at the very least repeat itself, and they crushed TU on the boards, with an almost 20% rebounding advantage.  And that was without Abif and Ruffin!  The Tigers have been an elite offensive rebounding club and Drexel has struggled a bit in that area of late, notably the first half of the Hofstra game, so that may pull back some, but the pendulum shouldn't swing crazily the other way.

There will be some cringing in the fan base, playing guys who are hurt with just one day in between games, especially after Allen has already re-injured his ankle once, but Bruiser Flint won't back down from anyone.  There will be 60+ minutes in this game of Abif, Allen and Ruffin, the threesome that totalled zero minutes in the last game these teams met.  That will mean less Pantovic, Bah and Cannady, three guys who have contributed a lot this year but yield to their starter breathern at both ends of the court.  It will also add some size on the perimeter, which is ever so critical in this matchup.

The effective field goal percentages in the last game these teams played were Towson 63.8% and Drexel 36.1%.  If that happens again then good night, nothing else matters, but since the Dragons hadn't seen that happen since 2012, lets assume the shooting goes back to a more reasonable discrepancy.  Drexel is a virtual lock to win the turnover battle.  Then it all comes down to the boards baby.  That's where this game gets won and lost.  

Drexel is going to surprise some people on Saturday, it's a revenge game and Bruiser can game plan against that same Towson team he saw just two and a half weeks ago, while Pat Skerry has had to prepare for what will be a brand new Dragons team, led by a point guard who is willing to get his forwards involved.  If the unbelievable happens, the Dragons can hit the halfway mark of the season at 4-4 with the hardest part of their schedule behind them and players returning to health.  That would change the look of this conference season pretty quick, wouldn't it?

Look for defense (pray for defense), look for rebounding...  and look for an upset. 

Prediction:  Drexel 75, Towson 71
Vegas Line:  Towson -3.5

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