Final: Northeastern 54, Drexel 52
Player of the Game: Chris Fouch
Key to the Game: Melt down!
Next Game: Saturday March 8, vs Northeastern - CAA Tournament, Baltimore Maryland
Missing two front ends of a one and one (the second of which maybe should have been shooting two), throwing an inbound to the other teams free safety, fouling on a 3, inbounding to half court with 5 seconds left and taking a 3 with 3 seconds left instead of getting to the basket? All disasters. Doing them all in under a minute? Now you're special. There's not a person from the top down who didn't play a piece in this meltdown it seems, and for those of us who have seen us before, but with different players, it's hard not to ask what the constant is over the years. More on that in the offseason, but for now...
Talking about the coaching and/or dumb mistakes doesn't get us far. And there's another side to the coin: If there was a game to do this, now is the time. They don't need to worry about trying to beat a team three times now, which is a heck of a challenge in college ball, the obscene amount of foul trouble gave all four bigs about 20 minutes, a good primer game before the tourney, the ghost of Freddy Wilson got some minutes, which is good coaching, and most importantly, it was a meaningless game for the Dragons. It will setup a Co-op off in Baltimore, which I personally dislike since these are two of my favorite programs, but that's not a bad draw for the Dragons, who would probably rather see Northeastern than Charleston.
Walking into Matthews Arena, the Dragons objective was probably to get everyone some minutes, stay healthy, get Chris Fouch going and if they could, steal a win. Looking at those objectives, this game ended pretty favorably for the Dragons. They played nine deep, they walked away without assistance, and Fouch hit 5/13 (38.4%) from distance. While we normally talk in this space of spreading the ball around, Northeastern is a unique matchup, being the rare CAA team with a very good frontcourt and no guards to be seen. Northeastern spent the day going inside (27 of 51 shots from Eatherton, Spencer and Stahl) while the Dragons played their guards (36 of 57 shots from Chris and Frantz), both teams leaning on their strengths.
Two things did strike me from this one, that are important notes for next weekend. First, who easily Drexel allows teams to dictate pace. Much like Charleston, Northeastern wants to play slow, long possession basketball, which doesn't favor the Dragons nearly as much as it has in years past. Just like Charleston, they allowed it. Delaware likes playing up tempo, and against Delaware the Dragons played up tempo. Based off of this, expect another first round rockfight in Baltimore as Flint & Co allow Coen and Co to do what they want to. The second concern was a quote Alex Faust said on the NU broadcast from Bill Coen: "Drexel will take bad shots before they will pass the ball". That's a hell of a quote to get from a coach, and quite an indictment on the Drexel offense. Something to ponder for the week off.
In the end, Drexel did what they needed to do until the meltdown. As a Drexel fan, you have to walk away feeling OK about that. Northeastern won their final home game, and certainly feel good about that. Let's call it a draw and head off to Baltimore.
The blog will have posts up daily all week, with tourney predictions along with a pregame for the Drexel game on Saturday. That will also include a mailbag if you all want to offer up some questions or thoughts. Submit questions or thoughts to DragonsSpeaks@gmail.com or @DragonsSpeak on twitter.