Wednesday, November 12, 2014

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.

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