Final: William and Mary 85, Drexel 73 at Kaplan Arena
Player of the Game: Frantz Massenat
Key to the game: Perimeter Defense
Next Game: Sat Jan 11 vs Northeastern @ The DAC
Lots of storylines in this one. Yes, the team was down to Mohammed Bah, Mohammed Bah, and his backup Mohammed Bah at the end of this game. There will be a followup post, hopefully today if not tomorrow on the injury situation up front. I'm not a doctor, but the post will touch on both guys, as well as where to expect Drexel to go from here.
This post will be about who and what was on the floor, for a number of reasons. For one, the postgame posts usually speak about the game that was just played. Two, and feel free to disagree, but Drexel did not lose this game because the backups were in there. Three, based on a quick peruse of texts, emails and the zone boards, it's quick to see a lot of misguided enthusiasm out there and the other side deserves some representation.
That's right, I'm going to be the guy defending the coaching staff and the team today.
And I'm going to do that because sometimes you get beat. This game at William and Mary was as simple as that. William and Mary played the best game they will play all year long, and a beaten up, undermanned Drexel squad kept it a game, even as the referees did their best to take this game away from either teams hands.
Don't believe me? Check out the quotes from Tony Shaver in Dave Fairbank's Daily Press article. They're as nice as any coach will ever talk about their own team. When William and Mary shoots almost 50% from three, they aren't going to lose that often.
There were avoidable defensive breakdowns by Drexel on at least 4 of those three point attempts, including Fouch playing help D for reasons that baffled his Coach, as well as Freddie Wilson, well, being Freddie Wilson. It was discussed in the pregame that having Wilson on the floor would be problematic on the defensive end, and it was. When the team is playing four guards though, he's going to have to be out there at least 15 minutes or so. As it was Massenat played all 40, Fouch and Allen each only sat 3 minutes and Major Canady was on the floor for almost half the game.
Bru did everything he could to keep Freddie on the bench for this thing, and this is probably where the frontcourt injuries had the most impact, as Bru's hand was forced into playing the bad matchup. All in all, the Drexel defense wasn't at all a horror show, William and Mary just shot the hell out of the ball. If you didn't see the last trey from Marcus Thornton, it was an NBA range turnaround jumper with 1 second on the shot clock, nothing but net. No one is stopping that. Sometimes its your night and on this night, the William and Mary guards played very, very well.
Here were the Tribe guards collective stats: 54% from 2, 45% from 3, 75% from the line, 10 assists, 2 turnovers
Those are video game stats.
Give credit to where credit is due, William and Mary played a whale of a game. Their coach is saying it, Drexel's coach is saying it, the statsheet is saying it, and for what little it's worth, so am I.
At the same time, here's what Drexel did:
-- Only 3 turnovers for the whole team
-- A statistically even rebounding margin (27% offensive rebound rate vs 29% allowed) despite only playing one forward for the majority of the game
--Shot 80% from the free throw line
--Shot 56% from inside the arc, taking over 70% of their shots from inside the arc and forcing Tim Rusthoven into foul trouble
--Blocked 7 shots, one short of the season high (8 vs Arizona)
--Limited Julian Boatner to a single three point attempt (averaged 5 attempts per game this season)
--Held Marcus Thornton to his second lowest number of shot attempts on the year
I'm not suggesting that Drexel threw a perfect game of their own. There were some defensive mistakes, especially in the first half. They came out flat in the first couple of minutes, best exemplified by Tavon Allen not getting on the floor for a ball right in front of the Drexel bench. But Bru got into his teams face about that early on, and for the rest of the game players were on the hardwood. Chris Fouch was on the ground no less than three times. To Coach Flint's credit, going to a 4 guard setup over trying the 2-3 when the bigs were in foul trouble again was essential, and 100% the smart move.
This game won't look like a good loss, no kidding. But don't confuse the team that played at Kaplan Arena on Wednesday night with the team that no showed vs Buffalo, St. Francis and Southern Miss. They played hard, they played well, and they were well coached, but they were playing against a team that brought their A+ game. Had they played like this against Buffalo there's a highly likely shot they would have won that game. Running into a hot team happens, and the Tribe were on fire this game. Regardless of the Tribe effort, this game was still a great sign of recovery from the lifeless, zombie like team the fans had been seeing the last few weeks.