Saturday, December 27, 2014

Iona - Pregame

When I write these previews, usually I write it up, then read and post Alan Dvorkis' thoughts, and then check the Vegas Line so that I can post it.  I prefer to write before looking at those particular filters, although looking back now one wonders what the advantage of writing with less information is.  I mention this because for the PSU game and now the Iona game, I read Alan's writing before writing my own.  Which created a new problem:  in the case of this game, I overwhelmingly agree with Alan and don't want to make you read the same thing twice.  Hence, a little change in style for this preview, as you will see this through my lens, leading off with Alan and then with a followup from myself.  Without further ado:

Alan Boston's Notes:  Now in his 5th year, Tim Cluess has certainly upgraded the talent level at Iona. He has got high level transfers to attend Iona, an anomaly in the MAAC. He has got talent there by playing a wide open fast paced style. I would expect Drexel to try and slow this to a crawl. Iona is not hopeless in the half court, but it is Drexel's only shot at winning. Iona has some impressive wins on their resume, at Wake Forest, a blow out at North Texas (who just steamrolled Creighton) and in their last game they blew out Florida Gulf Coast 86-67. 

This is a very good spot for Drexel. Although Iona has those 2 road wins they have also been blown out by supremely coached Wofford, not surprisingly at Arkansas and a bit more surprisingly at Monmouth and at George Mason. So Iona is very beatable. This is also Iona's next to last non conference game, now that that ridiculous, ill conceived bracket buster has ended. The bracket buster was supposed to be a way for mid majors to get a big win on their resume. Ultimately the powers that  be, made it a way for mid majors that were locks for at large bids, to lose, making them bubblish. Each and every year, the strongest mid majors would be thrown to the wolves, Tom Brennans Vermont team had to play at Reno after playing Stonybrook. The flight got delayed. They arrived the day of the game with no sleep. Nevada shot like 55 foul shots to Vermont's 10. Vermont lost. Luckily Vermont won their conference tournament and went on and fucked up the committees favorite, Syracuse. That was followed by Bucknell, coached by the great Pat Flannery making Bill Self look like the fool that he is. This happened every year. Trust me on that. It was a big time sham. Glad it is gone. Anyway, Iona is at Drexel then at UMass on the 30th. These final road games prior to conference can be tough on the road team. Of the 2, UMass is certainly a bigger game for Iona than Drexel. There is some chance Iona could be a bit flat here. Drexel will be rested. A couple of the banged up players should be 100%. They have shown some fight lately. If Bruiser avoids running with Iona, a minor upset should happen. Drexel by 5

Where I disagree with Alan:  I don't know that DU needs to play a halfcourt game against Iona. To date, DU is holding opponents to under 50% effective field goal shooting and has been top 75 in the country both in defensive rebounding and keeping opponents off of the free throw line, all this against a top 100 strength of schedule.  To date DU's opponents have combined to have some of the quickest (30th nationally) possession times at an average possession time of just 16.6 seconds.  The Dragons have defended these running teams fairly well, and when you figure out how many points have been scored against them off of fast breaks (turnovers) one realizes that this Drexel team has been pretty strong defensively.  Add to that how good the Sons of Bru looked late in the Penn State game when they were pressuring and running uptempo possessions to get back in it, and don't you just kind of want to see what the Running Dragons would look like?

A point that I would like to Alan's:  Iona can shoot.  I mean Iona can SHOOT.  #5 in the country in Effective Field Goal percentage, 43% shooting from outside the arc (and they pull the trigger from 3 a ton) and they get to the foul line an awful lot when they do drive.  In every game this season except one Iona has shot an eFG% of over 50%.  By comparison, DU has gone over 50% only twice this season.  If the opposition is almost assured to outshoot you, you better make sure that you take more shots than they do.  While rebounding should favor the Dragons, it'll be turnovers that are all important.  If the DU guards can continue to look as sound as they did for the final 35 minutes of the Penn State game, then Drexel can win this game.  If not, it'll get ugly quick.

Where I agree with Alan:  Great spot for Drexel.  Just a great spot.  They showed tremendous growth in their last outing, then got some rest, and now have a final game to show that they have figured some things out before conference play.  On the flip side, Iona is on the road at an empty DAC, off of the layoff, maybe looking ahead to the quick turnaround for their game against UMass just two days later.  If Drexel was ever going to win this matchup, this would be the game.

Quick aside on the Bracket Buster.  People smarter than me keep telling me that it was a terrible experiment.  As a Drexel fan that's tough to admit to, since it may have helped DU more than almost any other team.  However, as much as it helped it still never got Drexel dancing, so the naysayers might have a point this time.

Prediction:  Drexel 77, Iona 71
Vegas Line:  Iona -4


  1. Without a doubt, the Bracket Buster was a scam. Much like everything else the NCAA does, they try to funnel the money to the boys in the loop. Year after year, the strongest mid major, that 100% would have to be taken, even if they lost their conference tournament, was sent on mission impossible to their bracket buster. Bucknell had to go to No Iowa, Vt to Nevada, Wichita St actually wrote in 2012 that there was much more risk than reward, when they had to go to Davidson, I do not remember who else got screwed that year Siena in McCafferys last yr had to go to a very strong Butler team. I could go on, but point being, after year one, they attempted to screw mid majors, not help them.
    As far as Drexel trying to shut down Iona in a race track game. I always felt when the favorite in a game, generally the more talented team, wants to do something, has a preferred style, the best approach for the underdog, is to not allow that. I remember all of the good Bruiser teams, playing ruthless half court defense. Dan certainly knows a thousand times more about Drexel than I, so he may see something in this team, that would make fast better, I would have to see it to believe it, as Iona plays fast extremely well. They get down the court quickly and pull up for open 3s. It is a modern approach. It can be very effective. Thanks for allowing me to chime in. I like to read about views that differ from mine. It is the only way one can learn.

  2. "I like to read about views that differ from mine. It is the only way one can learn." Well said. I think that's my motto in life, although it's certainly led to clashes at times, its totally worth it. Thanks as always, Alan.