Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Northeastern - And So It Ends

Final:  Northeastern 90, Drexel 81
Player of the Game:  Chris Fouch
Key to the Game:  Play in the paint
Next Game: ??

All season long the post game columns here after losses have been entitled "Learning From Our Mistakes".  It's important to learn from history, and while my thoughts on Bru and the staff's performance over the course of the season will be on a later post, when I've had some time to really get it right, and offer the Athletics Department the chance to comment, some of it has to come up with this game story.  This was written in the post-game of the last game before the new year, a home loss to Buffalo:

"The coaching left, being generous, something to be desired.  The continued overreaction to foul trouble doesn't help the team.  For all of the managing of fouls that they did, not a single player from either team fouled out.  Sure you run a risk playing a guy with fouls, but Bobby Hurley managed McCrea aggressively and challenged Drexel to knock him out of the game.  The Dragons hid their starters on the bench."

"Tavon Allen - almost half of the teams turnovers by himself.  I honestly believe his basketball IQ has improved, but the collection of turnovers and midrange jumpers should have him running laps right next to the coaching staff."

Tavon only had one turnover in this one, but the continued poor shot selection left him just 3-10 from inside the arc.  When Chris Fouch was a freshman, he was on the court for less then half of each game on average because Bru thought he was a turnstile on defense.  It was a teaching moment for Bru.  Why the staff treated Tavon's questionable shot selection without pulling him all year I don't know, what we do know is that not learning and adjusting caused trouble for the Dragons in this game.  Having both Ruffin and Massenat sit with four fouls while down double digits with less then 10 minutes to play also made one wonder what they were being saved for.  And while the bigs struggled, the crown jewel in this game was called right here on the DS twitter as it was happening:

The Dragons went to the four guard at the 4:53 mark of the first half, with the score NU 23, DU 15, when Tavon Allen checked in for Mohammed Bah.  They got out of it at the 2:57 mark when Pantovic subbed in for Canady.  In that minute and fifty six seconds, Northeastern had four possessions which netted them a three, a trip to the free throw line, and two dunks.  All told nine points in four possessions, while the Dragons had a bucket in the paint (Frantz), two turnovers and a missed jumper, good for two points in four possessions.  The lead ballooned from 8 to 15 in those not even two minutes and there was no looking back.  The Husky coaches wanted to play in the paint all night (Eatherton, Spencer and Stahl had 23 of the 52 field goal attempts that NU took and took an additional 26 free throws) and the Drexel staff gave them two minutes of rolling out the red carpet to do it.  After getting destroyed against UD trying to play the four guard all DU fans wished never to see it again, and while no one knows what was going through the heads of the staff at the time, it certainly paints a picture of a panic move from the bench, trying to decelerate a Northeastern surge and instead accelerating it.

A hat also needs to be tipped to NU.  They outshot expectations from the free throw line, they finished at the rim and they dominated the boards.  After playing Drexel twice, Coach Coen knew that these were the pain points for the Dragons, had a plan to go after those pain points, and the players executed that plan.  It was the best game by NU of the three they played against Drexel this year and even if Drexel had played well, this was going to be a tough ballgame.  Some times you get beat, and sometimes you beat yourself, and this game was probably somewhere in the middle.

In a game that the Dragons lost by nine against a team that did play well, that two minute, seven point surge and some smarter shooting from Allen could have been the difference.  We'll never know.  But maybe it's time to start learning from our mistakes.

With an RPI of 133, the Dragons may have a shot to pickup a game in the CIT.  Usually this is a good play if the team has a lot of younger players that could gain from the experience.  This Dragons team may not be that team, but if Chris Fouch is healthy (he told me he was, but that was pre- x-rays) I'd like to see them in that tourney.  The Athletics Dept paid for the ladies to play postseason ball last year, they do usually do right by their players, and I for one would like to see these seniors have their tourney run, even if it's in a marginal tourney.  Records will show that these Flint teams do better when the opposing team hasn't seen them before, so a tourney setting might well be favorable to a CAA Tourney setting.  If the kids want to play in it, I hope the Athletics Department supports it.

There will be more on the blog in the next couple of weeks, let it be CIT coverage or just looking to next year (God help me, I'm optimistic about this roster).  We'll have some recruiting stuff pop up from time to time in the next couple on months as well, so feel free to keep checking back.  I'll be sure to let people know on twitter (@DragonsSpeak) when something gets posted.  Most of all, thanks again for your support.  It was great to meet a couple of readers for the first time down at the Tourney, and I'll try to keep this monster chugging along.

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