Final: Drexel 79, UNCW 63 at Trask
Player of the Game: Frantz Massenat
Key to the game: Sharing The Wealth
Next Game: Mon Jan 20 vs Delaware (sucks) @ The DAC
There's going to be a lot of positives for DU coming out of this post, but please indulge me while I get something off of my chest:
Chris Fouch has the ball out of bounds, Chris Fouch can't find a teamate, Chris Fouch calls timeout.
Timeout taken, CAA clown ref (this game was Tyberski, Ebersol and the second straight Bob Testa appearance. Drexel officials, is there a way to check on why Berto is now publicly giving you the finger? If I were being given the finger, I wouldn't just take it lying down) hands the ball to Chris Fouch and...
Chris Fouch has the ball out of bounds, Chris Fouch can't find a teammate, Chris Fouch tosses the ball up into a pile of players and UNCW comes out of it.
Both games with Delaware last year were one possession losses. It's basic, simple things like inbounding the basketball that cost a team one possession games. There is no one on this planet who thinks that not getting the ball in, calling a timeout and still not getting it in is acceptable. If that were to happen Monday, fans should walk out. It's absolutely pathetic, it's grade school, stuff you shouldn't even see in a pickup game. Given the lack of movement on the floor, it's entirely on the coaching staff. It's got nothing to do with injuries, it's basic fundamental basketball and it should have been dealt with long before now. Always remember UCLA at MSG, which would still be this programs biggest win of the Flint era if the team had just managed to inbound. Fundamentals win games. Other coaches are going to see that tape, see how well Buzz Peterson's pressure worked against DU, see the tough time getting the ball in in the corner, and they'll do the same. How will the Drexel staff answer that will determine at least one game in the stretch run... or in Baltimore.
With that, a thank you to Buzz Peterson for pulling back his pressure in the second half, two more concerns and then an avalanche of good news:
Dartaye Ruffin came back which was a thrill to see, and well ahead of projections, including athletic dept projections from as recently as a week ago, when his return was quoted in "weeks". A calf strain is very easy to re-injure, and given the lack of importance of the regular season at this point the quick return is a bit of a red flag. Ruffin's zero first half rebounds in 15 minutes of play may have been rust, but makes one question just how healthy he really is right now. Cross your fingers DU fans.
Chris Fouch was a relative no show for this game. His 9 shots attempted in this game were his lowest total since the new year, and there have been cardboard cutouts that have kept their man in front of them better then he did. The concern here isn't whether or not he had a solo bad game, those happen and DU won so it's water under the bridge if that's the case. The concern is if his 85 minutes in the prior two games didn't take a toll. If they did, what will the one day layoff between this game and Delaware mean? The UD game may be a very important thermometer reading on Chris, and since he's been THE guy this year, will be a good thermometer reason of the rest of the season as a whole.
In this pile of walking wounded concerns, lest we forget the double digit road win that just occurred. Frantz Massenat led the way with a career high 30 points on just 11 field goal attempts. That's an insanely good game at first look. Fact is, no UNCW guard could stay in front of him and the help defense from the Dub was suspect, to put it nicely. Frantz saw that he could score at well and did it, going 8-9 from inside the arc and 14/18 from the line. But Frantz was 4-6 from the field in the first half and 4-5 from the field in the second. The halves looked totally different for the DU offense though, and if Fouch wasn't part of it, what changed? Frantz's assist!
In the first half, Frantz had one assist (it's the loneliest number folks) and that was on a pass leading to a three point bucket from Major Canady. In the second half, we saw what so many Drexel fans have been wishing for all season. Seven assists in the half from Frantz, with the passes going to the following players:
Mohamed Bah - 3
Freddie Wilson - 2
Chris Fouch - 1
Dartaye Ruffin - 1
That's right, four assists to big men! And one of the assist to Wilson was on the fastbreak and led to a layup. The four assists to forwards in this game matched his total from the last three games combined. Again, he matched his total from the last three games in one half of this game. If that's the beginning of things to come, Drexel's offense will continue to burn bright.
The use of the word continue is relevant, and could be lost in the losses to Towson and William and Mary. Drexel has not only averaged over a point per possession in every conference game thus far, three of the four of those games (W&M, TU, UNCW) are the top three point per possession games the Drexel offense has had all season long, injuries be damned.
Two other players deserve highlights in this game. Without Abif or Pantovic, Drexel's frontcourt was thin at best. Ruffin only added three rebounds in 29 minutes, and Williams only stayed on the floor for 23 minutes, so a bad situation getting outrebounded could have been a disastrous situation without Mohamed Bah. Bah not only goes 4-4 from the field, but had 7 boards, a block, an assist, and nary a turnover in sight. This from a guy that Bru wanted to put so far down the bench that he would need a telescope see him before the injuries popped up. Bah was still caught flat footed at times, and is a raw player, but given his athleticism and the history that this staff has in developing forwards every DU fan must be thinking that this freshman forward class is Christmas morning.
The last guy that can't be overlooked was Freddie Wilson. He was talked up on this blog after he looked good in his first game of the season at Davidson. He was talked up by the coaches for his scoring ability. And then he wasn't bad. He was awful. Like Buzz Peterson would have tried to avoid putting him in bad.
How bad was he? Bruiser Flint sat him in favor of the rarely used Stevan Manojlovic in the first half of this game. Freddie had exhausted his rope with the fanbase, and he'd run out of it with his coaches too. And maybe that's just the wakeup call that he needed. He shot 3-4 from both sides of the arc in the second half of this game en route to a 16 point, 0 turnover half of basketball. He's badly needed some confidence this year and hopefully this can be just the shot in the arm he needed to show the Drexel fanbase the ability that he has.
One last note: Points off turnovers for UNCW: 14 in the first half and none in the second. The press is starting to take note of the lack of DU turnovers this year. In this game we all got a look at what the difference between this team as an elite ballhandling team and this team as the stumbling bumbling very average ballhandling team. The difference was 14 points per half. Stick a pin in that.
In the end this game was what we said it was in the pregame, a chance to get right. They did get right in the second half, with some assistance from UNCW. If they carry it forward, circle this one.