Monday, February 24, 2014

Delaware - The Happy Recap

Final:  Drexel 69, Delaware 65
Player of the Game:  Tavon Allen
Key to the Game:  Interior Defense
Next Game:  Wednesday Feb 26 vs College of Charleston, at the DAC (Senior Night)

Chris Fouch drives for a layup vs UD.  Photo Courtesy (my one and 
only Delaware friend):  Blue Hen Studios

Joe Biden was at the Bob to see the Women's hoops game prior to the Drexel/Delaware men's game on Sunday.  Credit the Vice President for being a smart politician.  Sure, he doubled down on Obamacare, but even the Veep won't take the risk of being seen with Monte Ross' Three Ring Suspend-O-Rama.

Tavon Allen was the story of this game, and not just for the reasons that you think.  Yes, his taking over the game at the offensive end in the second half (19 points on just 11 field goal attempts) proved unstoppable for the hapless U of not so much D squad, but the bigger story may have been the other side of the ball.  Devon Usher has been tearing up the league, with at least 24 points in each of his last five games.  Against Tavon, he scored just 16 points on 16 shots, a testament to Allen's effort, skill and size on the defensive end.  If Hofstra never wants to see Frantz again, then Delaware certainly can't be looking forward to two more years of Tavon Allen, who thus far has this career line against UD:

11-22 (50%) 2pt fg, 8-13 (62%) 3pt fg, 12.5 ppg

That line is for a sophomore, and one that played just 19 minutes against UD in two games last year.  Absolutely sick performances for the Tavon the Delaware Slayer, and ones that we hope to continue to look forward to for two more years.

It was Tavon's overwhelming performance that prevented Dartaye Ruffin from getting player of the game honors from the blog.  Dartaye was 1-5 from the field, never got to the line and while 12 rebounds (half of those from the offensive glass) is a strong effort, 2 and 12 usually don't get you those honors.  Thing is, its what's not in the boxscore that The Most Valuable Dragon brought to the table.  In the first game against UD, Delaware shot a stunning 59.6% from inside the arc.  This time around it was a pedestrian 47.6%.  While Dartaye was on the floor both times, his effort in help defense this game was especially notable.  He created blocks for his teammates, he ran out to defend the perimeter, along with coming up with 2 steals and 2 blocks himself.  His man, Carl Baptiste shot 5-7 last time around, this time it was just 4-9, and Devon Usher and Devon Saddler will still be running into him and stopping their drives in their dreams for the next week.  It was a high effort, smart, dominant defensive performance and without it Drexel does not win this game.

Two other nods are due, the first to Mohammed Bah, who is really becoming a spark plug for this Drexel team.  He may not know the playbook inside, outside, backwards, and forwards yet, but as far as raw ability and heart go, he shows it and has an impact every time he's out there.  This was a big game for the Dragons, and a kid who started the year deeeeeep in Bruiser's dog house just played 25 solid minutes in the big game.  He also had the first DU point that stopped UD's 10-0 opening salvo.  Bah had 5 points and 6 boards in 25 minutes, while at the same time being asked to guard perimeter players on the defensive end.  That's called scrapping, and he's doing it effectively and has for some time now.

The other nod is to Bru who "outcoached" his counterpart.  In the previous game, Delaware went small with 4 guards on the floor for most of the game, and Drexel tried to match it, running Tavon for 30 minutes with a bad ankle and asking the guy who was guarding Baptiste to also be in charge of help defense on both sides of the rim.  It did not work.  it wasn't within a fifty dollar cab ride of working.  This time, Monte went small again and Drexel stayed in their three guard rotation.  Whichever big was on the fourth guard sagged off of him and stayed available for help D, and while that did hang a guard out on the perimeter trying to defend two guys at once at times, Monte was either too inept to exploit that, or Monte had no faith in his guards not named Saddler and Usher.  Either way, Monte was playing Russian Roulette with a fully loaded gun.  Going the other way, with Massenat riding pine with foul trouble, Monte threw the press at the Dragons once, DU struggled with Major Canady running the point but managed to break it, and Monte never ran it again.  Neither guy can seem to make a big in game adjustment, so the coach with the better game plan walking into the game will most help his team, and that was Bruiser and staff this time.  Bruiser also gets credit for managing his seniors foul problems very well all the way through, and for his Connors Toss, because Coach Connors is a big man and to just throw him around like is quite the feat.  

This was a big win for the Dragons, for a number of reasons.  It proves that they can beat anyone in this league, after having spent the conference season only beating the basement of the CAA.  It was the sixth straight game where they held the opposing offense under a point per possession, and by far the best offense that they have done that against, which continues to foster the belief that the defense is back.  Perhaps most importantly, Massenat and Fouch were barely mentioned in this piece.  In the last two road games, they have averaged 29 points between them, well below their league averages, and the Dragons could have easily won both games.  The supporting case continues to step up and support their seniors, and I for one believe that the seniors will be there, god willing sharing the ball (still didn't do a great job of feeding the post in this one, although some turnovers and guys passing it back out to the perimeter makes it look worse then it was when you look at the box), come tourney time.

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