Player of the Game: Frantz Massenat
Key to the Game: Balanced Scoring
New Game: Wednesday Feb 19, @ JMU (The Convo)
Drexel forwards with the first 6 Drexel points of the game. And he wrote in his notebook: "Game Over"
— Dragons Speak (@DragonsSpeak) February 17, 2014
My one and only tweet during the Drexel/ Hofstra game.
This game was a number of things, and what you see depend which way you look through the kaleidoscope. Some will see a double digit win at home with under one point per possession allowed on the defensive end for the fourth straight game (ladies and gentlemen, we have a legitimate streak), improvement all around. Others will see 28 more foul shots allowed, in game inconsistencies, and a general failure to dunk, and aren't impressed with beating Hofstra in a rebuilding year at home. As always, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
Four straight games of allowing less then a point per possession is nothing to scoff at, no matter who the opponent. Here are oppoents who broke that mark against the Dragons earlier this year: St. Francis (PA), UNCW, Tennessee St, and yes, Hofstra. Keeping your opponent under that mark is a challenge against a any D1 opponent, and doing it in four straight games is a fantastic sign for this club. In a 64 possession game, the Dragons had six steals and seven blocks, which are huge numbers, especially for a DU team that doesn't usually force turnovers. The seven blocks are Drexel's second highest total in a game in the last two seasons, with the high in that span being when they had eight against Arizona. Wait what? Ask Chaz Crawford, that's a stingy scorers table at the DAC, it better be a clear block if you want it counted, this ain't no soft table like, I don't know, the VCU's of the world (no truth to the rumor that they gave Larry Sanders another 5 blocks this week just for kicks).
Drexel won the first half of this game by seven, and the second by four, and they couldn't have happened in a more different way. With Allen and Kone in quick foul trouble (they combined for six first half minutes) someone smart, let it be Massenat, Canady or the staff, called on the team to bring on the boom in the interior, and Ruffin and Williams answered the bell. The pair cominbed for 16 points (57% from the field), 8 rebounds, 2 blocks and importantly, just 1 foul in first half action. Drexel only shot 29% from deep in the first half (although it beats me as to why they shot from the perimeter at all at that point) Fouch, Allen and Canady combined for just 4 points in the first half, and yet the home team went into the locker room with a 7 point lead. If Chris hits like normal in that half, Drexel is going to the halftime with a double digit lead. For those who have been screaming out for the bigs to participate more at both ends of the floor, for taking dunks instead of jump shots, and for getting the other teams forwards in foul trouble, this had to be a tremendously satisfying half of basketball.
And then the second half happened.
The Hofstra starting forward tandem returned to the floor and the Drexel starting forward tandem stopped touching the ball. Rodney Williams went to the line once, but otherwise didn't have a second hafl field goal attempt. Ruffin went two of three from the field, but that was it as the pair combined for five points. The net result of the guards playing keep away? Drexel shot 70% from three point land and still only won the half by four. Hofstra actually won the turnover battle in the second half, doubling up DU six to three, a shocking turn of events given that Drexel leads the country in least amount of turnovers per possession and per game. Hofstra held onto the ball, got themselves to the free throw line, and kept themselves close in the half despite Fouch and Massenat combining to go 5-5 from behind the arc.
While Drexel got away from what worked for them in the first half, not all was lost in the second half. The game never got too close, Mohammed Bah continued to show how much he is developing, noteably with a "hey, look what I found" block, and most importantly Chris Fouch, who had looked lost for the previous 3 halves, scored 14 points in the half while hitting both of his three attempts and going six of seven from the line. Chris is continuing to show very strong free throw shooting during conference play, now at 87%, good for second in the CAA behind Four McGlynn of Towson. Fouch handles the ball just fine, thank you, and Bruiser may have to get into the gooey, uncomfortable territory of telling Frantz that Chris is option #1 when the other team is intentionally fouling from here on out.
All in, while this was by no means a perfect game thrown by the Dragons, it was a world better that what the coaches were seeing in the first half of the conference season. With four straight defensive games to be proud of (please, please stop fouling) and an offense with five options (when was the last time we saw that at DU?) the talk going into this game was making things right for the stretch run. This was a very solid first step in doing that. And so we leave just the way we entered, with one tweet.
Actually, there's two because I enjoyed the Frantz one so much I had to include it (thanks Jerry):
Frantz Massanat in two gms vs. #Hofmbb this year: 56 pts/16-30 FG/11-16 3FG/13-18 FTs/16 assists/3 TOs/6 rbs. PLEASE GRADUATE THX #CAAHoops
— Jerry Beach (@defiantlydutch) February 17, 2014
Drexel has the best player in the conference and a metric crapton @batogato of senior leadership. Can win three in three. #CAAHoops
— Jerry Beach (@defiantlydutch) February 17, 2014
In the interest of helping out, here are Frantz' career numbers versus Hofstra with maybe one more game left:
7-1 record, 49% FG%, 55% 3PT%, 80% FT%, 15.8 PPG, 4.4 APG, 1.3 TO/G