Tuesday, January 28, 2014

William and Mary - Learning from Our Mistakes Part 2

A final thought on part one before moving on to part two:

"The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. 
You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, 
but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime." 

-Babe Ruth

W&M recap Part two: The non-Fouchian macro level takes from the game.  That was not a catchy title.

Mike Tuberosa noted on the TV broadcast that Kaz Abif was returning to the team in this game and trying to work his way back from injury, that he was trying to play just a few minutes to be ready for the second half of the season.  Abif played 13 uneventful and at times sad minutes, minutes where Drexel seemed to not be able to buy a loose rebound.  If the objective was to get him in, allow some guys to rest and start getting him used to playing again, mission accomplished.  If the objective was to help win this particular game, the mission outcome was a little more murky.

The reason that I bring up the comment from the TV broadcast is that Drexel is starting to fold in a lot of formerly injured players.  With the return of Abif, short of Damion Lee everyone besides Goran Pantovic is back now - kind of.

There are three levels of a player returning to play.  The trainer needs to clear the player for activity.  That's obvious, it's step one, buck stops there.  Then the player needs to feel physically and mentally able to play, that's step two.  Then the coach needs to make a coaches decision that returning the player to action in his current condition is the best thing for the team and the player given the current objectives for both.  This is step three.

Tavon Allen was cleared to return to action for the Delaware game last week.  He wasn't within a fifty dollar cab ride of being 100%, but he was medically cleared.  It took two eyes and zero medical knowledge to see that he was visibly hurt.  It was the Delaware game though, an arch rival, not to mention a team coached by Monte Ross, close associate of one Coach Bruiser Flint.  At the end of the year, that game will be looked at as pretty meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but maybe due to emotion, or a need for some momentum from the team, or just competitive fire, Bru thought that in order to accomplish this seasons objective, a league title, it was important to the team to win this game.  And in order to win this game he needed to get some minutes from Tavon, injured or not.  

Sure, Bru asked his player if he could go.  Tavon said yes.  It was an expected question with an expected answer.  The only person with the control and discretion, with the wisdom of experience in that equation was the coach.  The coach that didn't ease Tavon in, but rather played him 30 minutes.  He played him until Tavon did finally hit the wall of having to ask to leave the game.  He played him 30 minutes in a game that Drexel lost by double digits despite Tavon having an electric 19 point performance on one leg.  He played him 30 minutes in a game where Drexel never trailed by less than 9 in the second half.  It wasn't easing Tavon in.  It wasn't doing what was best for the team's overall goal.  And quite frankly it wasn't doing right by the player.

Tavon Allen played 2 minutes against William and Mary on Saturday due to that same ankle injury that he played 30 minutes on the prior game.  Clearly the ankle did not react well, only someone with zero medical experience or more could have seen that coming.  Drexel then lost to William and Mary on a buzzer beater three in a game where Canady and Wilson combined to play 49 minutes.  Could having Tavon out there for even 15 minutes have changed the outcome?  We don't know if either games outcome would have changed if Tavon hadn't dressed on that Monday night, but we do know that Drexel wouldn't have lost anymore games than they did, and he'd be healthier now as the calendar almost flips to February.  

Thank God they eased in Kazembe.

Other news and notes:

Despite the lack of Allen, foul trouble from The Frantz (how have we not used that yet?  Monday, Tuesday... Happy Days) and Fouch's one man rampage, Drexel actually had their third best offensive output of the season with 1.19 points per possession, pushing their prior game versus The Tribe to number 4 (1.16).  When Chris and Frantz were on the floor they were crazy efficient and in a game with only 55 possessions the fact that they combined to score 50 was just silly crazy good.  That duo has combined to shoot a very strong 49% from two, 37% from three and 84% from the line over the last five games.  Frantz has also been averaging almost seven assists per game in those contests, and prior to that had only had more than seven assists once in any game this season.  So with those two hitting their stride, if the supporting cast can get healthy over the next couple weeks, with the way The Frantz is distributing the rock, this offense will be extremely potent.

While the defense still put up horrific point per possession numbers in the William and Mary game, many people, including Bru, seemed to think it had improved a bit.  Marcus Thornton got open a bit too easily, but still had to hit some hard shots.  He was on absolute fire and really the only William and Mary player that seemed to be able to create on a regular basis.  Rusthoven only pulled down two offensive boards and did most of his work from the line.  Guys not from Chesapeake, Virginia on William and Mary only hit two of eight from distance, on a usually hot shooting club.  Perhaps more important to look at was attempts, and while it was a low possession game it was still great to see the Drexel D limit the Tribe to their second lowest number of three point attempts of the season.  The Colllege only took 15 attempts from downtown in this one, significantly down from the 23 they took in the first meeting.  

The offense is clicking.  The lights are beginning to flicker on with the defense.  If the coaching staff can have the patience to let players slowly ease in, Kaz Abif-style, and this team can get healthy, there might just be a run in these guys yet.  Beware the team that gets hot in February!  These Dragons aren't dead yet.  

Part three of the W+M wrap should be up this evening.  We'll be talking officiating, we'll be talking Bru.  Stay tuned.

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