Sunday, November 30, 2014

Southern Miss - Pregame

The Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles visit the DAC on Sunday, November 30 in a return game from last season's Drexel Trip From Hell.  That trip included a 17 point loss to the Golden Eagles that wasn't that close and two extra nights stay in a New Orleans airport hotel, with nary a scent of beignet nor even a note of jazz in the air before they could return home.

This will not be that.

85 of the 115 points scored in last years game were scored by players who will not be participating this year.  It's a whole new class not just on the DU side without Frantz, Chris, and Kaz but also on the Southern Miss side.  Neither team has shown strength this year with their relatively young squads, with wins against struggling teams Cornell and Troy highlighting their resumes to date.

On the court, this is a bit of a fun matchup as both teams rely on a star wing player and a solitary big man.  It'll be Damion Lee (shooting 47% from 3 after he got his feet wet in the first game of the year) against Golden Eagles redshirt sophomore Matt Bingaya on the wing.  Bingaya is filling up the stat sheet inside and outside of the arc (53% from 2, 40% from 3) and if that isn't enough for the DAC Pack to hone in on, he's from Delaware (the town of Delaware, OH).  On the inside Rodney Williams needs to start showing more of an offensive game than he has shown thus far (shooting just 35% from the field, 53% from the charity stripe) as he faces off against Southern Miss go to guy Norville Carey.

Southern Miss will switch defenses, and they'll be aggressive.  With all of the turnover struggles that the Dragons showed in Charleston, fans should be watching to see how they respond to pressure today.  With a good week of practice since their last game, one hopes that ball handling was the point of emphasis as it will be tested today.  If they can't handle pressure today, that will be a huge red flag for the rest of the year.

Turnovers scare the heck out of me today, but DU should be able to offset that with good numbers on the boards.  Look for some better shooting after a week to rest and being in their home digs, and Damion Lee inflating his line with foul shots down the stretch.

Prediction:  Drexel 67 - Southern Miss 61
Vegas Line:  Drexel -3.5

Alan Boston's Notes:  Southern Miss began this year fresh. They lost 4 starters. They lost one of the best coaches in the country. Prior to Tyndall, Southern miss was blessed with Larry Eustachy, so Doc Sadler has 2 extremely tough acts to follow. When I first bet college hoops, I remember James Green, now at Jacksonville St, working miracles in Hattiesburg. They have terrific coaching history. Sadler is pretty good too, but most are a notch down from Eustachy and Tyndall. The good news is he starts with a brand new team, which will make it easier to put his stuff in. The bad news is So Miss is a tough place to recruit. They began this year by struggling with their rival So Alabama before getting away in the last minute. They went to Alabama and although they avoided the blow out, they were never really in the game. They came from behind to beat a very weak Troy team. They were outrebounded 36-23 by Troy. That is not good. Drexel has the edge in both talent and experience. They are playing a young team making their first long road trip. They should win easily, but this is Drexel, so I write that with the utmost care. Drexel by 15

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Cornell - Pregame

Vacation plans didn't leave me a chance to write anything up for the charitably named "7th place game" in Charleston.  I've yet to research this one or watch the USC game (wil recap both this week) and I'm not going to give you all a writeup without doing it right.  I'll stand by my prior statement that not winning against USC is indicative of not winning for a while, while hoping that I am wrong.  While I am failing you though, Alan Dvorkis generously picks up the slack.

Alan Boston's Notes:  Oh how Cornell longs for the Steve Donahue days. Oh how Steve Donahue longs for the Cornell days. Both coach and program have fallen on hard times. Donahue could not work similar magic at Boston College. I believe the new approach toward hand checking hurt his team. Without great athletes his guards were constantly broken down 1 on 1. Cornell has been abysmal since SD departed. Last year, they hit rock bottom. However this year has started well. They beat George Mason in Fairfax wire to wire. Logically, they did not play as well the next game but still only lost by 4 at Loyola Md.  They then returned home and came from 17 down to beat local rival Colgate, a very well coached team that is hard to deal with. IN this tournament, So Car was too athletic for them and ran them out. They then played a terrific game only to lose to Penn St, on a steal and lay in at buzzer. I have not seen them play but typically ivy teams are well coached and prefer to play slow. The good news for Drexel is that Cornell will not press. Perhaps if Drexel sees a press another 5 times, they may learn how to deal with it, or maybe not. No matter, this is a game Drexel should win. They by far have the superior talent. Cornell is not likely to exploit Drexels shaky guard play. Drexel by 8

Friday, November 21, 2014

University of Southern California - Pregame

Obligatory joke on how surprised I am to be speaking of Miami and USC in back to back posts and ot have the NCAA Enforcement Department involved.

 Obligatory note on Andy Enfield 1:  Way to marry up.

Obligatory note on Andy Enfield 2:  The DAC Pack (well, me) was present in Philadelphia when Dunk City was created and it was our crowd that deafened the Georgetown crowd that was present.  WE MADE YOU ENFIELD!

Non Obligatory note to Andy Enfield:  Thank you for pushing pace.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  This game may be ugly, but at least it will get into the 60's.

Two teams that are BAD face off in the Charleston Classic today.  No truth to the rumor that they are dropping the Classic before this game and just calling it the Charleston.  As Alan Boston notes below, this USC team just hasn't caught up to the run and gun coaching that Enfield preaches.  The net result of that is turnovers galore.  With the offensive struggles that DU has had this year, one can hope that this is just what the doctor ordered for the Dragons.  Rather than fighting the run and gun and trying to slow the game down, quick fast break scoring could really help this team right now, so the Dragons may be best off letting USC run their style, and run, run, run some more.

The Trojans are trotting out a crew of athletes who don't want to play the half court game, and it shows.  They can hit water from a boat about as well as the Dragons from distance, so one might consider a zone against them, although Dragon fans know full well that they won't see it.  The Dragon big men really struggled with help defense against Miami though, and they will be tested even more in this game.  It's absolutely vital that Williams, Bah et al step up their game when the USC guards slip past their turnstile counterparts.  That's the game:  stop the USC penetration and once again, don't turn the ball over and give up fastbreaks.  These guys aren't going to shoot 50% from 3 to take the game from you like Miami did.  It'd be nice to get Damion a bit more involved as well, no?

KISS, Keep It Simple Stupid and this game could get the Dragons over the 50 point line and just maybe into the win column.  Based on how well the Dragons defended inside and limited the fast break, this is a really bad matchup for a weak USC team.  Look for FT's from Damion Lee down the stretch to seal it.  If the Dragons don't win this one, it could be a long while til they do get in the win column.

Prediction:  Dragons 65 - USC 56
Line - Dragons by 4

Alan Boston's Notes:  Entering his 2nd year, Andy Enfield brings his USC team that has got off to a very poor start. After losing at home to Portland St, they could never put away Tenn tech and then in the first round of Charleston Classic, they got blown out by Akron. Enfield, of course, found fame with his entertaining Florida Gulf Coast crew that upset both Georgetown and San Diego St and then led Florida before the referees said "we are not allowing you to win," and proceeded to allow Florida to do whatever they wished and not give Gulf Coast the same privilege. I wonder why the powers that be, allow refs to destroy NCAA Cinderellas.  ESPN's highest rated game was the Princeton Georgetown affair that turned late when a Princeton player ended up in the 3rd row with a bloody nose courtesy of a Georgetown elbow+shove, without a foul being called. It happens virtually every year. It sucks. Florida got by Butler when Udonis Haslem was pushed by the Butler player who he had applied a choke hold to and the foul was called on Butler. They later lost in overtime. I do not get it because Cinderella is big for ratings. They are always the main story. They are fun to root for. They create good television. That creates money, which is all the NCAA cares about. Enfield will turn USC around but presently, without his players, they are struggling to understand his stuff. Drexel has a very good chance to shut this team down and get their first win of the year.

Miami (FL) - Learning From Our Mistakes

Final:   Miami 66, Drexel 46

Player of the Game:  Freddie Wilson
Key to the game:  Shitty Offense
Next Game:  Friday Nov 21 vs Southern California (Charleston Classic)


Strange game.  Going in one would have thought 46 Drexel points would have (sadly) made this a competitive game.  They gave up 66 in this game, so the defense then must have been the problem?  Maybe they could have stepped out better on Angel Rodriguez, but by and large the defense seemed prepared for what they saw and looked strong.  Fast break points then?  Miami had only 6 fast break points.  The Canes also only had 5 points from the stripe.  

What killed the Dragons today would kill any team against Miami.  The Hurricanes went 52.4% from 3, draining 11 from distance for half of their final score.  Historically Miami teams and Larranaga teams are teams that aren't great from distance, and if you pack it in and force them to struggle inside the arc, keep them out of fastbreaks and off the foul line, you'll have a pretty good chance to win the game.  Today in an empty, tough gym to shoot in, Miami sank three after three.  Sometimes that happens, and more often then not, that means they will win.  Credit where credit is due, Drexel had a good defensive gameplan and executed it, they just faced a team that beat it.

Also:  Good lord this Drexel offense sucks.

While we're giving credit, Miami played Damion Lee extremely well.  It's not going out on a limb to think he will never shoot only 6 shots in a game in which he plays more than 35 minutes again in his career.  Damion took what little he was given: he took 6 shots from the field and scored 6 points from the floor.  While I commented on Twitter that a couple of the shots late were frustrated "hero" shots, his frustration is understood when DU can't run a set all game to get him a clean shot.  How the staff can get Phil Goss open for 4 years and can't get Damion Lee open once, well I just don't know.

The elephat in the room here is obviously Mr. Tavon Allen.  He seems like a genuinely good kid, and I don't want to bury him anymore than I already have.  He's shooting 24% from the floor this year (24% from 2 and 24% from 3 actually) and he's shooting the ball on 31% of the possessions that he is on the floor, which is more than any other player on the team, including Damion Lee.  This team may have a personnel problem at guard, but if it does it's hidden by the simply massive shot selection problem.  Tavon led the team in minutes with 38 today, and that may win the "Home Alone Movie's Shovel to the Head Coaching of the Year Award".  I know shooters gotta shoot, but leading the team in minutes and shots while shooting 24%?  Just seems like Bru giving the world his middle finger and then telling us fans to like it.
Shot selection was far from the only problem with the offense:  Even if you exclude Allen's shots, it just pushes the team from 31% shooting to 35% shooting for the game.  I've been a defender of the big guys all offseason, and now going into the year, but they were flat out poor in Charleston.  Outrebounded, struggled significantly with help defense on penetration, and just 3 of 14 from the field while getting to the line for just one 2 shot trip.  Bru was either so fed up or desperate he went to Tyshawn Myles for the first time this year.  In short minutes, it appears that Tyshawn may pass Sooren on the depth chart.  Myles and Mojica seem to both be primed for jobs simply by not significantly screwing up while they are out there.  At this point not hurting the DU offense simply makes you a better player than some of the starters, let alone off the bench guys.

In case you were wondering why Freddie "the turnstile" Wilson was the player of the game, it wasn't a hard decision.  21 minutes played with only 1 turnover which is huge for him personally, and on top of that he was the only player who both took shots and was efficient shooting (12 points on 12 shots).  Add a steal and an assist, and he was by far the best of the worst.  And he played 17 less minutes than...  oh nevermind.

Last thing, for those of you, including the DU coaches, who are tired of me talking about midrange jumpers, here's how the Canes scored today:

33 points - 3 pointers
22 points - points in the paint
6 points - mid range jump shots
5 points - foul shots

Can hate Coach L all day, but that's close to perfection.  For comparison, here is DU's chart:

18 points - 3 pointers
10 points - points in the paint
10 points - mid range jump shots
8 points - foul shots

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Miami Jailbirds - Pregame

"I am DVRing the game today, I want to be surprised by how many points we lose by."

"Drexel is only a 9 point dog against Miami?  [Vegas] knows something we don't"

"[The Dragons] acted like they had never seen a press before"

Ladies and Fellas, I'm not even in Philly, the above are pieces of emails/tweets/text that I've gotten since Monday.  To say that there is no joy in Mudville right now may be the understatement of the century.  Going up against a team that will show the Dragons a bunch of different looks, apply plenty of pressure, and that just knocked off a small team from Florida, some concern is probably fair, but the tides may have shifted a little much for just two games in.

The bad news for the Dragons comes in threes here:

1)  There's usually some Dragon advantage in out of conference play because the opposing coach hasn't seen Bruiser's unchanged system 20 times before.  With Jim Larranaga on the opposing sideline, that advantage is wiped away.  And since "Coach L" changes tactics over time, he will have an advantage that Bru will not.

2)  For those who haven't heard, the injury of the week is Austin Williams.  After missing the SJU game, he's now reported to be out 6-8 weeks.  Sooren Derboghosian has moved from 5th to 3rd in the big man depth chart already this year, and he hasn't exactly earned it on merit.

3)  Miami is just going to press all day, and if you were an opposing coach that had seen the SJU tape, so would you.  As previously noted, that makes Wilson likely a better play than Allen, but it's highly unlikely that you see a whole lot of that because, coaching.

There is good news though!  For one thing, come on man (and woman), the DU hoops season isn't over yet.  I promise.  I think each of us should find a Dragon fan right now and do a little of this:

Certain teams are better in a fast paced game, and certain teams favor a slower tempo.  This is an area that I don't think coaches (not just as DU, but across the nation) frame in the correct way right now.  Beyond what your team seems best at, there are studies that will show that the lower the shot clock, the lower the odds of your team making a basket is.  Also, think of a coin flip, the fewer the number of times you flip it, the more often a statistical anomaly will happen, such as having all heads or all tails, even though we know that over time the coin should land heads or tails around 50% of the time each.  The same is true in basketball: the fewer possessions, the smaller the sample size, the more likely it is that a fluke happens.  This is why when DU has their best teams, the slow pace makes me want to slam my head up against the wall, but at times like this, when the program is struggling, it's just what the doctor ordered.

Last year, Miami was one of the slowest playing teams in the country.  This year there is no sign of that letting up.  Couple that with DU's slow pace and you have the recipe for a third straight Drexel University game where the first to 50 points wins.  That slow pace also pushes the odds of the statistical anomaly, such as Drexel, the underdog, hanging with Miami.  And it's also why the thoughts of Miami winning by double digits is so bizarre.  Miami would almost have to hold the Dragons in the 30's for the game to cover that.  That 9 point spread in a first to 50 game isn't small at all, it's huge.

Add to all of that the clear letdown spot Miami is in.  This game will be played in front of no one on a neutral court, and the Hurricanes are also coming off of the big cross state win over Florida.  So it's a huge line, in a let down spot, do with that what you will.  For Drexel though, it's about winning the game, and there is one simple way that they can do this.  Hold on to the damned ball.

In a game this low scoring every point matters even more than usual.  So foul shots will be critical (it's important for DU that once again Damion is the guy who gets sent to the line time and time again, another reason why he should be handling the ball more) and the game will be won and lost either at the stripe or with turnovers.  Miami isn't Saint Joe's, if a player provides them with 10+ free points, this game will get into blowout city.  The good news for the Dragons is that they came out of that SJU game knowing that the big concern was the turnover.  If they can hang onto the ball, and get through the press without providing the Canes with easy points, then this game is suddenly even lower scoring, and anybody's to win.  That's the key to the game: beat the press, and keep it slow and easy, a lesson that they should have learned after the Hawks game.  Do that and we'll have ourselves a ballgame after all.

And if all else fails, just remember Drexel fans:  It's not your fault*

Prediction:  Miami 56, Drexel 49
Vegas Spread:  Miami -9
TV note:  This is a 3pm EST ESPNU game

Alan Boston's notes:  A long time marginal top 25 program is now a semi annual threat to go far in the tournament. The fantastic Jim Larranaga has brought his scramble defense to the south. He uses a pressing style, which, if handled, will slow the tempo and if not will lead to many dunks for Miami. With Drexel's inability to handle St Jos press and their overall shaky guard play, Bruiser had better be working on a way to handle it, or Drexel will be in for a very long night.

* Eric Zillmer - Sorry, it might be

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

SJU - Learning From Our Mistakes

Final:  Saint Joe's 52, Drexel 49
Player of the Game:  Damion Lee
Key to the game:  Free points for SJU
Next Game:  Thursday Nov 20 vs Miami (Charleston Classic)

The word you are looking for is accountability.

Around the under four timeout last night, I posted this:
In the postgame presser, we got this (thanks The Triangle):

“We have to finish plays. We can’t keep going into games and missing every lay-up. We’re getting them, that’s the crazy thing. We’re getting great looks and guys have to be stronger.”

In the preseason, we heard this from Bru:

Last season, we shot a lot of 'threes' because our big guys didn't score much. We think our bigs will score more."

Last night, Rashann London and Tavon Allen combined to take more shots than the entire frontcourt.  And while we're here, lets talk for a minute about Tavon.  He was, at worst, the Hawks 3rd best player last night. Here's a quick breakdown:

--1/8 shooting - 3 points
-- 6 turnovers on the stat sheet lead to 7 SJU points, SJU also missed 3 free throws off of Allen's turnovers
--The Hawks scored 5 points off of what Bru calls "shot turnovers" when Tavon missed from deep
-- 2 fouls, one of which SJU got an "and 1" on, the other of which put them on the line in a 1 and 1 situation (SJU thankfully missed the front end)

All in, Tavon scored 3 points for Drexel, directly gave SJU 7, indirectly gave them 12 (23% of SJU scoring), and had they hit their free throws could have been responsible for upto 18 SJU points.

Bru played Tavon for 33 minutes while Freddy Wilson and Sammy Mojica played a combined 16.  Now if those two guys can't play better than Tavon did, they should take up blogging, because basketball isn't for them.  Yet the same coach who playued Gerald Colds and Derrick Thomas over Chris Fouch stuck with Tavon Allen.  And that's just not fair to a player who is known to be hurt.  Tavon didn't start at Colorado because of that and had noticable limps both in the Rockies and at the DAC.  Allen is putting his heart and soul out there and trying to give his all for the Dragons, but clearly he isn't healthy.  Instead of letting him heal, or even pulling him when he is a clear detriment to the team, he's being left out there to take a beating.  And in the postgame, as predictable as ever, Bru blames the players.

We knew this game was going to be sloppy with short rest after the Colorado trip.  And Coach Flint isn't wrong, had the Dragons hit bunny layups this game was easily theirs.  But Truman never said "The Buck stops with my IRS commissioner".  Accountability has weight that comes with it, yes, and no doubt some of this attitude of "can do no wrong" comes from above, but accountability also means that you can identify and fix mistakes.  It's early enough in the season that items can be fixed, and wounds can heal.  There is plenty of time here.  You expect some missed shots and bad turnovers in a short rest game.  What isn't expected is playing the injured guy who is helping the other team win for 33 minutes.

Bru, give him a break.  Give us all a break.  Give the other guys a chance to develop.  The Bru of 5 years ago would have had this Bru running sprints for leaving Tavon in.  The players didn't execute at the DAC, and that was mentioned in the presser.  They'll correct that and hit their layups.  Will what went unmentioned also get corrected?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Saint Joseph's University - Pregame

There is a scene from West Wing in which the White House speechwriters are trying to crank out a speech introducing a new Vice President, they don't really like the guy, but they know that he needs to be introduced  with strong support in accordance with the importance of the position. They struggle to do so and crank out two drafts, one that shows how they actually feel, and one that is intended to go public.

The game at the DAC tonight is right in line with this.  While you shouldn't read too much into the first game of the season, in the first game of these season both of these teams appeared to be well, not good.  Drexel lost by double digits at altitude, while Saint Joe's kicked off the season with a home loss to Fairleigh Dickenson.  Unless the first game of the season was a total fluke, the game tonight at the DAC is meaningless.

Or, as they will put in the press release:  Huge game tonight!  Watch the rivalry between SJU and DU continue in the newly remodeled DAC!  Two city powers fighting for pride, in another round  of the epic matchups that have gone back and forth.  Come one come all!

Regardless of which view you take, it shapes up to be a good game.  The line came out around a pick and with both teams coming off of poor outings, they will be scrapping for a win.  While Drexel would like to gain some momentum going into the Charleston Classic, it's SJU that is desperate for a win.  Due to what can only be called bizarre scheduling, the Hawks will play at the DAC and then board a plane the next day so that they can get absolutely blown up in Spokane, playing Gonzaga on the road on short rest.  Anything short of a historically bad loss would be good news for the Hawks in that one, and a win was off the table the day the schedule came out.

In the game played last year between these teams 130 points were scored, 70 by players who won't be participating in this game tonight, so while this maybe an ages old rivalry, look for a new edition tonight.  Dragon fans are thrilled to see Halil Kanacevic gone along with Langston Galloway, while the Dragons are without Fouch and Frantz.  In their place look for DeAndre Bembry to try to rebound off of his opening day performance (he dropped 18 on the Dragons last year) and Chris Wilson to step up to lead the Hawks while Lee and Williams answer the bell to lead the Dragons.  Dragon fans may not be familiar with Chris Wilson, but don't sleep on him, he's a skilled big man who has only been riding pine for most of his career because of how good Kanacevic and Ronald Roberts Jr were for the team from Hawk Hill.

The keys to this game for the Dragons are pretty simple.  The guards need to answer the question of whether or not they can shoot.  While they had excuses leading off the season at altitude against a tough opponent away from home, there won't be any at the end of this one.  The Drexel staff and fans desperately need to see then hit their open looks.  On the flip side, Coach Flint noted that the team needed to get the ball inside much more than they did last year when he spoke before the season started.  At Colorado they got the ball inside even less than last year instead.  While again, there is an excuse - the Colorado front court was extremely talented and the advantages in that game were at the guard spots - there's no excuses this time.  Bru needs to folllow up on his promise and ensure the ball gets inside.

I'll take the experience of the Dragon guards against the Hawks as the Dragons show a better shooters touch, stay even or better on the glass and win the turnover battle in the DU home opener.

Prediction:  Drexel 69- SJU 63
Vegas Spread - Pick Em

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Colorado U - Learning From Our Mistakes

Final:  Colorado 65, Drexel 48

Player of the Game:  Rodney Williams
Key to the game:  Shooting
Next Game:  Monday Nov 17 vs Saint Joseph's at the DAC

The Dragons went on the road last night to play against what might be the best frontcourt in the Pac-12 in Colorado University.  Josh Scott will be a contender for the leagues Player of the Year this season, and the Dragons answered with a lineup that had no forwards with more than a season of college basketball playing experience.  That is a bloodbath in the making and if you look at Josh Smith's 21 points (on only 11 field goal attempts!) and 11 rebounds then it's easy to think that it was.  

The young Dragons frontcourt actually held their own though.  They were outrebounded but not considerably - the Dragons grabbed 19% of offensive rebound opportunities to the Buff's 24%, and the DU forwards received almost zero help from their guards there, who only provided 1 offensive rebound (Freddie Wilson) as they concentrated on stopping the CU transition game.  Also, they held forwards not named Josh Smith to just 6 shots, and the DU players actually had less turnovers than their CU frontcourt counterparts.  For an area of the game where they should have been crushed, the Dragons did what they needed to do, avoid getting blown out and give the guards - an area where DU looked to possibly have an advantage - a chance to win the game.

There is a scientific term for the Dragon guard play last night and it is Stunkus Upus The Jointus.  This would be the dilemma.  People will look at the 29 three point attempts and say they settled or that the shot selection was the problem, and they won't be wrong, as the ball just never seemed to go inside all night.  Still, I see hope in the shot selection from last night.  After shooting almost 40% of their shots as jump shot 2's last year, that number was 20% last night, almost halved from the year before.  Which is great news, since the Dragons shot 9% on 2 point jumpers.  That's not a typo.  They didn't set their feet inside the arc, they looked to get rid of the ball too quickly and the result was a disaster, but only half of the disaster that it would have been last year.  

Yes, three point shooting hurt the team, but they were shots worth taking.  Of the 29 attempts, almost none were strongly contested shots.  These were good choices that didn't go in the basket.  The Dragons should have gone inside more, but knowing that inside was where the strong Buffaloes advantage was, it's hard to judge whether or not Bru's preseason promise of getting the bigs the ball more is totally out the window yet.  With that caveat, the Buff's could have played Shaq, and there's still no way that Bah, Austin Williams and Sooren should have combined for zero shots.

The DU Player of the Game goes to Rodney Williams, who undertook the first step in making the voters in the CAA preseason POY ballot look like fools.  An 8 and 7 performance against this CU frontcourt, showing continued development and a willingness to go to a hook shot, and staying out of foul trouble while playing extremely good defense (including 1 block and 2 steals) was great to see.  Bru was down on his turnovers, but one was on a ridiculous behind the back pass that was fumbled away by Mohamed Bah (pretty bad night for Bah, although asking him to guard Josh Smith was... not great).  Underrated note on Rodney:  He also led the Dragons in minutes.

So what are the takeaways from this one?  One we already knew, this is a team with 2 legitimate stars.  Besides Rodney holding his own against one of the nations best frontcourts, Damion Lee showed enough signs to make us think he can be back to his old self this year.  The turning point in this game came on a controversial charge call that was turned around by the officials and called a block, Lee's fourth, with just an 8 point Colorado advantage at the time.  Lee had to sit for a few, and when he came back he was ice cold, not making a shot.  We still want to see more out of Damion than we got today, but it would have been interesting to see his final line had that call not been turned around.

The other big, and perhaps more concerning takeaways were the freshman.  Tough to judge them on their first game, but Rashann London looked not ready for prime time, and the point guard walked out of the arena with zero assists.  Mojica didn't get many minutes but looked a little smoother.  Give them some time before you push any panic buttons, but it is an area worth watching.  If the freshman can contribute on the ball, then Freddie Wilson can continue to play off the ball and just catch and shoot, a roll he continues to look much, much better in.

It's one game and one game only.  As noted in the pregame, the first game of the season is always a bit flukey.  On the balance, its hard not to be encouraged by the DU performance.  The Dragons frontcourt won't face a bigger challenge this year, and they held their own in Boulder.  Half the midrange jumpers from last year from the guards.  These are relevant takeaways.  Let the team get back to the home court, and see how they shoot in the friendly confines of the DAC.  If the outside shooting comes, this team will become a pretty tough beat.

Friday, November 14, 2014

CU Preview - Tap The Rockfight

For the second straight year the Dragons will start their season in a PAC-Choose Your Own Number gym.  This time it'll be in the Coors Events Center in front of a sold out Drexel alumni reception (and others) against a Colorado Buffaloes team that had a brief visit to the dance last spring.

The numbers that jump off the page for both teams are the shooting numbers.  Colorado did not shoot the rock well at all last year (eff fg% 48.3%) and lost Spencer Dinwiddle and his 41% shooting from deep to the NBA draft.  On the flip side, even if Drexel had shot the ball well last year, the losses of Fouch and Massenat have left that cupboard bare.  If that information doesn't make you cringe, Drexel is running out a freshman point guard in Rashann London who wasn't expecting to be the starter this year and CU is rolling out a point guard that besides being their weakest player, they don't really seem to want him to have the ball.  If you're looking for offense, may I suggest you turn the channel.

Colorado is going to run an inside out gameplan all season long, with stud Junior forwards Josh Smith and Xavier Johnson willing to migrate out towards the three point stripe (Johnson might be Drexel's best three point shooter if he was wearing the other jersey tonight).  Traditionally Bru's teams have struggled against this type of offense, but this might be a better year than some for the Dragons to face off against it.  Not only do the Dragons have length across the floor, but they have much quicker, athletic big men than the McCoy/Ruffin/Givens group of the last few years.  Smith and Johnson are the key to this game, they are sure to challenge Drexel's very young front court, and the DU staff will learn a lot about how their guys, especially the freshman, rise to that challenge.

While the front court battle is a strong CU advantage, if this game becomes a guards game DU could hang.  While Askia Booker can get hot, his overall shooting numbers are quite weak and he's the guy that you want to make beat you.  At the two CU has a 6'2" perimeter guy, Xavier Talton, who is an effective shooter but doesn't want to play inside the three point stripe and may struggle with DU's length at the 2.  On the wing it's advantage Drexel, as Drexel's stud Damion lee matches up against sophomore Jaron Hopkins, who is coming off of a largely underwhelming freshman year.

Colorado's bench rolls much deeper than the Dragons, and the front court should be able to pound the Drexel youth movement, all of which spells problems for the Philadelphia squad.  Foul trouble will be of massive concern, as Josh Scott can sink free throws with almost any guard in the country, and run through the lack of Drexel frontcourt depth while doing so.  That is the scenario that the Dragons must avoid at all cost.

On the flip side, there's no better game to be a double digit underdog than the first game of the year.  Neither team has seen game action yet and both coaches will be adjusting on the fly.  Unexpected things happen.  Also, don't forget the Dragons China trip which has given the team an opportunity to play together a bit and give the freshman some looks before the season started, which is a nice advantage going into tip-off.  Drexel fans should hope for a let em play officiated rock fight, and if they get it then the game could be interesting.

Prediction:  Colorado 64 - Drexel 53
Vegas Line:  Colorado -14

** Be sure to follow on twitter as I'll have lineups and any possible injury news as soon as it is available at Coors.  @DragonsSpeak

Notes From Alan "Boston" Dvorkis:

"Tad Boyle came over from No Colorado and has continued the resurgence started by Jeff Bdzelik, who I am sure wish he had never left. Boyle has upgraded the talent. He has many back from last years team that was devastated by an injury to their best player late last year. They need a new point guard. He says he may go by committee or he may start a freshman. Either way, it could be the only thing stopping them from another NCAA berth. A strange bit of scheduling for sure. Drexel will get in by winning the CAA tournament. It has been proven in the past. It is a battle of not being one of the so called power conferences. It is sad. It is what happens when big money matters more than the kids. So scheduling Colorado at Colorado is to me not a very smart way to begin the year. They are a top 25 team with or without a good point guard."

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Twas the Night Before Tipoff

Yesterday I pushed through the high/low scenarios for the year.  Today it gets personal.  Here are my keys to the season, largest items of concern, and prediction:

The Keys:

1)  Let it be a freshman, a senior, or Tavon, the coaching staff needs to use out of conference play to find their third scorer.  We saw what happened when Frank Elegar was the only guy out there who could score, as good as Frank was, it was the worst Drexel record in a couple decades.  They have to have multiple pieces, it can't all be Lee (or Williams).

2)  The inside out game.  This was mentioned by friends at the CAAZone before I could get it up here, but there has to be much more willingness to get the ball inside.  Bru's quote to the daily news was "We think our bigs will score more."  Last year the bigs only took 19.7% of the teams shots (scoring 25.6% of the teams points from the floor, as they were more efficient than the guards).  That 19.7% number is insanity and will need to come close to doubling this year.  That's a major adjustment from the guards first offense that DU has run post-Samme Givens.

3)  Rebounding.  There has been talk about how long this DU team will be with the size of Allen, Lee, Bah and Williams.  As previously noted, Damion didn't pull down a single offensive rebound in his four and a half games last season, Tavon's 3 rebounds per game doesn't inspire confidence and even Rodney Williams was only pulling down 5 boards a game in his average 20 minute stints.  Rodney will need to stay on the floor more, but the coaching staff needs to make it clear that the glass will be an all hands on deck responsibility this year, the guards can't just sit back and hope for Dartaye anymore.  All that said, with the size and athleticism of the roster, even when Tavon isn't on the floor, if the effort and mindset is there, the rebounds should be there.

The Concerns:

1)  The point guard spot will have all eyes on it early in the year as it gets handed off to a freshman.  What people forget is that much like a Chip Kelly offense is for a quarterback, Drexel's offense is pretty point guard friendly.  Readers may remember my classmate, Jeremiah King, or Bashir Mason, Jamie Harris, and Frantz Massenat all who played the point in their first year and were just fine, if not better than that.  My concern isn't that so much about the point as it is about a potential overreaction by the coaches to the loss of Major Canady.  Freddie Wilson can not and should not play a minute at the point.  They made that call at Seton Hall, and by placing both a sophomore and a freshman on the depth chart in front of the senior, the Drexel coaches had already made that decision here.  I would much rather see Damion Lee bringing the ball up court than taking away a scorers mindset from Freddie.  Keep it simple coaches, you have already made this call correctly once, don't undo it now!

2)  Foul trouble is a killer this year.  I always thought last years team was fine even with the injuries (as I showed on the scenario 1 post), this years team can't take any more losses.  Depth is non-existent barring some surprises, so foul trouble will cause major issues.  We know that the Dragons could spend all game helping little old ladies cross the street and Bob Testa would still call three illegal screens on them, so foul trouble will happen, but the guys need to do everything they can to avoid the dumb, unnecessary foul.

3)  The coaching.  Hear me out here now because this cuts both ways.  The staff got themselves in trouble when they decided that Damion would be their golden goose.  It made for some internal discontent when after watching Fouch, Mejia and Hawthorne always get the quick hook because of their defensive liabilities, players watched Damion make SEPTA turnstiles jealous while getting more and more minutes.  The rules had changed.  The end result was - by Bruiser's own admission - 2 of the worst defensive teams of his career.  This is bad.  What's worse is playing that four guard set at the CAA Tournament.  As mentioned previously though, both of these attempts showed Bru making an attempt to change, offering to be flexible with his previously rigid approach, and I think that is a net positive.  We saw a successful zone at times.  The Dragons even successfully inbounded the ball once or twice.

Lets talk about that defense though.  Check this out from Kenpom:

Check out the defensive efficiency after the calendar turned to February.  The fellas went to school.  They entered the CAA tournament as an elite defensive team, and I'd argue the CAA tournament number is skewed by the four guard set and amount of fouling that needed to happen.  Bru can teach defense.  And he can adapt.  The question is, can he realize things and begin to fix them fast enough..  No change was made with the Tavon situation until after the season was over, and it took 4 months of a 5 month season to make the appropriate defensive adjustments.  He's getting better at it, but he's going to need to be much better at it to become a successful (read, tournament worthy) head coach.

The Conclusion:

In this CAA there is opportunity.  I wouldn't object to anyone placing this team anywhere between first and sixth in the preseason expected standings.  I'll go one better than the CAA writers expected and say a third place finish with the option of a pay to play tournament.  I love the challenging out of conference schedule and think that it will help really shine on the teams weaknesses prior to the conference season, putting a spotlight for Bru to follow and fix as we move into 2015.  

At the end of the day (yeah, I said it) Drexel basketball is always better than no Drexel basketball, so lets go support our Dragons.  See you tomorrow night.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Scenario Two: Bring On the Pain

Scenario one showed exactly why this shorthanded DU team can win, scenario two is the opposite.

The truly scary scenario for the Dragons is if Damion Lee has a repeat of last year.  No, not the injury, but rather the way he played when healthy.  He was bad.  Not like "talented player having an off night" bad.  He was BAD.  While his defensive deficiencies have been noted extensively, here are his offensive numbers for those four and a half games:

PPG            13
FG%           37%
3Pt FG%     27%
Off Reb/G   0.0
APG            2.2
TO/Game    1.4

Kenpom O Rating: 102.2  (The team rating was 103.8, good for 186th in the country, a team rating out to 102.2 would have been the 212th ranked offense in the country per Pomeroy).

You know what they call someone who can't shoot, rebound or play defense?  A starter at UNCW.

Damion Lee is, without question, the most talented player on this team.  If he puts a season up like he started to last year, the Dragons will have to rely on the frontcourt for scoring.  That means relying on a player who only scored 5.4ppg and was often in foul trouble a year ago in Rodney Williams, or a player who they have already said they don't think of as a scorer in Mohamed Bah.

The Dragons are OK though because they play defense well enough that they can always turn a game into a rock fight, right?  No says  Coach Flint, who just told the Philadelphia Daily News that "The last few years we haven't defended anybody", and he's right, after being in the top 100 in defensive efficiency (Pomeroy) for 7 years running, the Dragons have been on the outside looking in the last 2 seasons.

Go and ask a 7 year old youth basketball player what happens when his team can't shoot or play defense.  Then realize that even Bru's biggest supporters don't pretend that he is a brilliant on court tactician.  Think the 2007-2008 team that went 12-20 (5-13) without Frank Elegar or a Scott Rodgers led defense.  What outcome do you see for this years team?

Well, don't think about that quite yet.  Even in a bad five game stretch, and with a poor season, Tavon Allen and Damion Lee shot 37% and 40% respectively.  The 07-08 guards?  As a group they shot 35% from the field (led, I said led, by Rob Hampton's 41%).  So when you're drawing up worst case scenario's realize that the 07-08 team went 5-13 in a much better CAA while being an all time poor shooting team.  The Dragons are in a different era of talent now, and even on a worst case basis, this team will be better than that team was.  On top of that, we will talk about the defense on the next post, but it's not as bad as it looks.

The floor for this team is not as low as many think it is.

Scenario One: Let the Winning Commence

Enoch Hood, Alioune Diouf, Charles Cook, Taylor Bessick, Marvin King-Davis, Devonne Pinkard

Those are the relevant bench players from the last two CAA champions.  Cook is a quality basketball player, and King-Davis maybe kinda has some potential, but a murderers row it is not.  This is a list of guys that have two things in common: 1)  Their teams can't keep their starters from getting suspended, and 2) They have more titles individually than all Drexel players post-millennium combined.

Putting aside that suspensions aren't injuries, and that Monte sold his soul for a title, lets note the obvious: These JMU and Delaware teams were as deep as Kim Kardashian.  UD had that bench and lost a ton of games from Saddler, Threatt and King-Davis during the season.  Monte Ross (who, did I mention, soul was only slightly cleaner than Andy Dufresne's body after crawling out of Shawshank) seemingly blindly stumbled around and led that team to a 14-2 conference season.

In case this isn't clear:  The CAA ain't what it once was, and depth is an overrated feature.

I believe the Dragons have two stars in Damion Lee and Rodney Williams. Williams' snub from the pre-season All CAA teams will come back to bite many a sportswriter.  Rodney may be undersized for his position, but he sure didn't appear to be undersized when he swatted more shots per game as a freshman than any of Frank Elegar, Dartaye Ruffin, or even Robert Battle did when they were froshes.  Everyone knows the talent that Damion Lee brings to the table which is why those same sportswriters, coaches and SID's did vote him as a Preseason All Conference First Teamer.

So who then could be the third of the big three?

Last year the coaching staff had a number of calls that they would want back, but the one that has been newsworthy in the offseason has been Tavon Allen choosing to - or being told to - shoot his 2 and 3 point attempts with the same hand.  While there is no evidence that he was any better with his right hand than with his left, there is overwhelming evidence that he shot the ball poorly with both last season. It's to the coaches credit that they recognized the problem, and are trying to change things up and look for more consistency.  It is absolutely, positively, not to the coaches credit that they watched him take a whopping 29% of the shots while he was on the floor last year before then saying "there's a problem with that guys shot."  The coaches allowed him to take more shots per minute than Frantz Massenat, and only afterwards decided to assist in fixing his shot.  All while the DU bigs were seemingly never fed in the post.  In case the repetition didn't tip you off, my brain exploded writing that.

So until he proves otherwise, lets assume that Allen isn't the third of the big three, and that the coaching staff has now figured that out.  Mohammed Bah showed flashes last year, but struggled to adapt to the DU system at times, and with the hesitation shown in feeding the post, lets cross him off the list for now.

There are two other options to play the guard position and be that third threat.  With Major Canady out, it appears that Rashann London will be running point for the Dragons.  If you look historically at guys like Mason, Harris, and Massenat you will see nary a point guard that was asked to score significantly as a freshman.  Expect him to be a pass first guy until he gets his college legs under him.

There is a lone senior waiting in the wings, often forgot about this offseason, and rarely played down the stretch last year.  Freddie Wilson has been at two schools, and two different staffs have seemed to cringe at his on court decision making.  There is an easy solution to this, which is to take him off the ball.  Don't ask him to do something that he can't do, keep it simple, help him find his spots on the floor and use that quick release.

The long and short is that there is options.  And while the staff may have blown it with a very talented team last year, they also sent a new and clear message.  Remember the 2-3 zone against Arizona?  The four guard set against Delaware?  They weren't all successes, but they were the first time in a long time that this staff has shown a willingness for mid-season change, to try new things and to see what works.  If they continue with that spirit through the out of conference season, similar to how Denise Dillon sends out multiple looks and rotations in out of conference play to find her teams core, then they will find their big three.  Once again, they have a team with enough talent, it's just a matter of finding the correct mixture.  They don't need depth, and in this CAA they can win.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Guest Post: CAA Thoughts With Alan "Boston" Dvorkis

While the blog's CAA preview does not come out until the end of the out of conference season, I am beyond delighted to be able to share Alan Dvorkis' thoughts on each CAA team below.  For those not familiar with the name Alan Boston, he has made a career watching college hoops, and has been acknowledged as "almost frighteningly smart" by former Vegas bookmaker Scott Schettler.  He has followed this blog for the last year and is seemingly continuously working to make me less of an idiot as well, all of which I am tremendously grateful for, and the only reason I'd let a Penn guy write on these electronic pages.  Without further ado, Alan:

I mentioned that I would give a CAA preview a shot, from a gamblers perspective. I am Alan "Boston" Dvorkis. I have earned a living exclusively by betting on college sports, mainly basketball for the last 26 years. But why this blog? After all, the only attachment I have to Drexel is my dearly departed close friend Sally Soloman, who taught chemistry at Drexel for many years. Still, I learned to love college basketball, while attending the University of Pennsylvania from 1976-1980. I was fortunate enough to see the Big 5 bloodbaths that ALL were played on a neutral court*, The Palestra. It was amazing. There were even double headers. One admission paid for both. Yes, perhaps I am a bit of an old school romantic. I enjoyed 45 second shot clocks. I do not like the 3 point shots. I loved when college hoops was played out in old gyms, like the snake pit, where the students were on top of the floor. Now, big money has ruined the once wonderful game. With big money, comes all this ridiculous conference realignment so I must check and see who is even in the CAA before I write my thoughts. Here is my attempt at succinct brilliance. 

College of Charleston - Tricky call as their new coach was not hired until August. Still, Earl Grant has terrific pedigree as he was a long time assistant to one of the top 3 coaches in the country, Gregg Marshall, he was then an assistant to another great coach Brad Brownell, so I am sure he will do fine. This team disappointed the last 2 yrs, so I think the coach will eventually be a big upgrade. With 2 returning seniors in the backcourt, Stitt at the point and Baru.  I do not think this team will drop off from last year,  even though the coach has minimal time to put his stuff in. This is a very good program, that with this coach, I think will be at or near the top of the CAA within 2 years, that is, if the league still exists. This year, Charleston will finish in the upper half, with the top spot, not entirely out of the question.

Delaware - I was happy to see Monte Ross finally have some success. He seems like a quality human. However, his success came more from having athletes, than from x's and o's. The problem with relying on athletes, especially when you're a mid major,  is that you eventually play someone more athletic and you are left with no way to win. With only 1 starter returning and the likely upgrade in recruiting that comes with NCAA bid not yet relevant, unless Coach Ross remembers his Phil Martelli roots and uses some of the beautiful offense that Martelli's teams run and that Ross' teams used to run, this team with one scholarship senior and a freshman point running the show will struggle for sure. Bottom half of the league likely.

Drexel - Well, I am a big Bruiser fan, so I shall not shit on him like many are ready to. He is just a jam up human and a good, not great coach, but if I had a son who played hoops I would be honored to have Bruiser coach him. I know, it is all about the winning now. You have to make the tournament to get the big bucks. At least if Bruiser makes the tournament - and this team can - it wont be with shady recruiting, with false promises or paid off AAU coaches. Last year Drexel was a lock to make the tournament until a myriad of players missed 50 games to injury. With ever changing lineups, chemistry was lacking. Bruiser also butchered a couple of end games, but it was the injuries that destroyed what could have been an amazing year. Remember this team dominated Arizona, (the team I have rated number one this year) for a good part of the game. Then after losing to Arizona the next night, under impossible conditions beat Alabama in a trillion overtimes. I am told that Abif is done and someone else too [Major Canady], but his name is not Lee or Allen or Williams, so hopefully that will be it. There is still plenty of talent here. Yes, it is tough to win with a freshman point guard, but if this team defends like a typical Bruiser team and does not have any more injuries, I think they will win the CAA.

Elon - From the Southern Conference, which sadly has basically disbanded comes the Phoenix. Matt Metheny a long time assistant to the terrific Bob McKillop has done a very good job here. Last year was his best year, and with it, his first recruiting class graduated. So with many seniors gone, he is left with one returning starter. If senior point guard, Austin Hamilton is healthy, it will ease the losses. Hamilton started at the point as a freshman but injuries have stunted his playing time. It reads like he is healthy, if he is, it should keep them out of the basement but still in the bottom half of the league.

Hofstra - This seems to be peoples dark horse, but in spite of both the fantastic Juan'ya Green and Ameen Tanksleyin who came with Mihalich from Niagara now being eligible and in spite of the excellent track record of Joe Mihalich, I still think they are a year away from winning the conference. The only 3 players that return from last year were all starters and Mihalich is an excellent recruiter, so the talent level is way up, and it all adds up to a contender, but I feel just not quite enough to win the league. Mihalich has surprised me before.

James Madison - 2 years ago, JMU won the conference tournament to make the NCAA tournament and save Matt Brady's job. Last yr, 6 seniors graduated from that team, to be replaced by 6 freshman, then Andre Nation, their best player was suspended a total of 17 games and of course they struggled. Well Nation is back [suspended for the first 5 games] and he is a beast. Junior Ron Curry moved to the point last year and did well. The 6 frosh were thrown to the wolves and will be the better for it. Like Hofstra this team has a good upside but I think they are a notch below the top tier teams.

Northeastern - Bill Coen is terrific. This year he returns all 5 starters and gets his best player Quincy Ford back from injury. Ford played in only one game last year. Their point guard TJ Williams started every game as a freshman. He was excellent and should be that much better this year. Coen always gets the most out of what he has and this year he has an experienced team that has talent. He will get absolutely the most out this team but they too must avoid injuries. If they stay injury free, they will battle for the top spot.

Towson - What a job by Pat Skerry. From 1 win to 18 wins followed by last years home run 25 wins. They lose their top 4 scorers including a freak named Benimon. He is irreplaceable. They also need a new pg who will be a juco or a frosh. The school is investing in hoops. They built a new facility, told Skerry he had all the time he needed and they were rewarded with an unbelievable year in 2014. They will drop off this year, but he is recruiting at a high level, so the program is strong. They will be low to middle of the pack this year, but after this year, they will be a threat every year until they go to a bigger league.

UNCW - Wow. I was wrong. Buzz Peterson was a disaster. Even hiring the brilliant Eddie Beidenbach as his lead assistant last year did not help. Now UNCW has hired a Rick Pitino assistant, Kevin Keatts. I doubt he will be very good, no matter, it is sad to see this once strong program fade. The talent there is down. I doubt Keatts will be an x's and o's genius and he will need talent to press all over the place to overcome his lack of schemes. Last place is likely this year. He is a good recruiter, so they will not be down long.

William & Mary - I often wonder what would Tony Shaver do, if he had Duke like talent? Scratch that, it would be unfair. What if he had Harvard like talent, I mean The New Amaker Harvard like talent (yes, an intentional dig)? He would be top ten for sure. Well he has to deal with William & Mary talent, a strong academic school that will not relent as Harvard did. Only 2 starters return, but one of them is Marcus Thornton, possibly the greatest to ever play at W&M. So Shaver has some talent. He also has several who played many minutes last year. He has a couple who are returning from injury. He has a potential future star at point in redshirt freshman Michael Schlotman. He lost 3 starters but he still has talent and Shaver does not need much to win. A definite threat for the title. 

So Drexel, Northeastern, William & Mary will be top 3. College of Charleston 4. UNCW last. The others in between. Hope at least a few sentences have relevance. I am not much of a previewer as I know the relative strength of a program but not the nitty gritty. Nevertheless, I said I would write something, so here it is. Enjoy this blog. It is excellent. Enjoy the hoops, even if the powers that be attempt to ruin. 

*Note from Dragons Speak:  Only a Penn guy can call that court entirely neutral!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Looking Back to Look Forward

It's the Super Bowl, World Series and World Peace all rolled into one!  It's...  Dragons season tip off!

You may have noticed a distinct lack of previews on this site.  You may have seen injury news from the Dragons and wonder why it hasn't been up here.  You may ask yourself, how do I work this?  And you may ask yourself "Where is that large automobile?" You may look at the DAC and tell yourself "This is not my beautiful house!"  As you watch the calendar turn and let the days go by before the season starts.

The challenge has not been lack of information (although with 5 newcomers, there's an argument), or even lack of time.  The challenge has been the filtering of that information.  There's so much out there that with a record of 0-0 you can make almost any argument for the Dragons outlook this season.  They may have 2 of the top 10 players in the CAA starting for them, leading them to greatness.  You can argue that they had 2 of the top 10 last year, and ended up in mediocrity.  Or you can assume that Rodney Williams is too undersized to dominate, they have already lost at least 40% of their starters for the year in Major and Abif, and even in a weak conference they are ripe to get rolled.

Usually this blog has an opinion on everything, but this time it's gonna weasel and in the next three days we'll present all three arguments for you to enjoy.  We also hope to have 1-2 CAA-wide pieces, possibly with a college hoops guru guest writer.  A lot of content to hit the wall here in the next four days, and I'll be tweeting court-side in Boulder come Friday.  Until all of that is ready to go, I leave you with links into the past, from what I thought were three of the most important items we saw last year that will be meaningful this year:

It's a Trust Thing - The Need For Balance

Praising Bru - In Which We Saw Bru Trying to Evolve

Not Just in PJ's - In Which We (Rightly) Crush Bru and Staff for Loving the Jump Shot