Friday, January 31, 2014

Towson Pregame - I'm Not Yelling Timber

On Saturday the men play their first game at the new SECU Center, in the second leg of a three games in six night run.  Reading the recap of the Towson game at the DAC as posted to the blog, and simultaneously beating the living bejesus out of a quickly dying horse, I note this opening sentence:

Known as a defense first coach, it's no surprise that it was four years since Bruiser Flint's 
Drexel Dragons have allowed over one point per possession in four straight games.  It's time to 
reset that clock, as Drexel opponents have crushed that number in the last four games 

So in the interest of continuity and the spirit of simplicity, we will start this blog with:

Known as a defense first coach, it's no surprise that it was four years since Bruiser Flint's Drexel Dragons have allowed over one point per possession in four straight games.  you can continue to reset that clock as Drexel opponents have crushed that number in the last eight games (divide by 100 for PPP):

To the press Bru has played the card of how good the W&M, UD and TU offenses are, and he's right, Towson is at 99 and the other two are both in the top 55, but Hofstra?  They're 207 and UNCW is 266, which is a way of saying that playing #99 again, this time on their home court, does not inspire the warm fuzzies.

A lot of things can be said about Bruiser Flint and most of those things already have been.  "He's tanking this game" is something that's never been said, nor will it be nor should it be.  So with an injured squad and only one day before their next game...  it's tough, but everyone who can walk will be out there.  One of the biggest problems that Drexel had in the first matchup was the lack of mobile bigs to get out to the perimeter and guard Marcus Damas.  Now Kaz Abif is back and when he isn't in the game Williams can get out there as Ruffin has also returned and should be able to handle the Parker-Rivera down low.  That should also help prevent Bru from whipping out his zone.  

Without a healthy Allen, there's still not much to stop Benimon from destroying the Dragons, but Tavon will at least get out there some of the time.  The Dragons can't expect Four McGlynn to be quite as quiet as he was last game so it will be up to Chris Fouch to play strong at both ends of the court.  A key thing to look for on all of the Towson shooters is how far the Drexel guards are willing to extend the defense.  Last game the Tigers hit a good number of uncontested three's from well behind the arc and Drexel has to make that adjustment and step out much more and that would seem an easy adjustment to make.

The funny thing about the first time these teams played is that outside of the defense which allowed 58% shooting from inside the arc and 50% from outside (so yes, credit to the Tigers for being on fire as well) the Dragons did all the right things.  They had a dominating +5 turnover margin which should at the very least repeat itself, and they crushed TU on the boards, with an almost 20% rebounding advantage.  And that was without Abif and Ruffin!  The Tigers have been an elite offensive rebounding club and Drexel has struggled a bit in that area of late, notably the first half of the Hofstra game, so that may pull back some, but the pendulum shouldn't swing crazily the other way.

There will be some cringing in the fan base, playing guys who are hurt with just one day in between games, especially after Allen has already re-injured his ankle once, but Bruiser Flint won't back down from anyone.  There will be 60+ minutes in this game of Abif, Allen and Ruffin, the threesome that totalled zero minutes in the last game these teams met.  That will mean less Pantovic, Bah and Cannady, three guys who have contributed a lot this year but yield to their starter breathern at both ends of the court.  It will also add some size on the perimeter, which is ever so critical in this matchup.

The effective field goal percentages in the last game these teams played were Towson 63.8% and Drexel 36.1%.  If that happens again then good night, nothing else matters, but since the Dragons hadn't seen that happen since 2012, lets assume the shooting goes back to a more reasonable discrepancy.  Drexel is a virtual lock to win the turnover battle.  Then it all comes down to the boards baby.  That's where this game gets won and lost.  

Drexel is going to surprise some people on Saturday, it's a revenge game and Bruiser can game plan against that same Towson team he saw just two and a half weeks ago, while Pat Skerry has had to prepare for what will be a brand new Dragons team, led by a point guard who is willing to get his forwards involved.  If the unbelievable happens, the Dragons can hit the halfway mark of the season at 4-4 with the hardest part of their schedule behind them and players returning to health.  That would change the look of this conference season pretty quick, wouldn't it?

Look for defense (pray for defense), look for rebounding...  and look for an upset. 

Prediction:  Drexel 75, Towson 71
Vegas Line:  Towson -3.5

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Hofstra - The Happy Recap

Final:  Drexel 77, Hofstra 74
Player of the Game:  Frantz Massenat
Key to the Game:  Running the offense
Next Game:  Sat Feb 1 @ Towson

It's frustrating.  It's just got to be frustrating.  Drexel had 12 more points off of turnovers due to a +9 turnover margin.  Despite some troubles on the boards in the first half, the second chance points were even at 15 and DU dominated the points in the paint 30 to 20 thanks to some great passing from Massenat making the Dragons look like Dunk City.  And while dominating the points in the paint they also shot almost 50% from behind the three point line, also behind a career game from Frantz.  The foul shooting was virtually even.  All in all, a very good Dragons performance if you look at the numbers.

So how on earth was this a one score game?

It's the same reason that this team is only 3-2 in their top five offensive games of the year.  Defense.  The 55% that Hofstra shot from inside the arc was their highest total in almost two months of basketball, a 14 game stretch. William and Mary had their best offensive game of the year against the Dragons.  So did Towson.  Delaware had their second best.  So did Northeastern.

The last time that a team put up less then a point per possession against Drexel was last year.  That's eight straight games.  Last years Drexel team, one of Bruisers worst defensive teams ever, only had that happen to them fourteen times all season.  The year prior, only nine times all season.  It's the Jacksonville Jaguars defense out there, the Washington Generals, The Bad News Bears.  The 118.8 points per possession that they've given up in conference play would be good for 347th nationally.  There are more teams in college basketball that you have never heard of than there are teams that have been worse defensively than the Dragons since conference play started.

UNCW, every team in the SWAC, The Citadel... and every other armed forces team, High Point, Mount Saint Mary's, and Penn.  All teams who have been better defensively than the Dragons in 2014.

Drexel's defense is so bad, that when they sit around the house, the house escapes.

Drexel's defense is so bad that Benny Moss is being called in to put it back together again.

Drexel's defense is so bad their shadows just dunked on them.

Drexel's defense is so bad that if they had been trying to keep people on the road in Atlanta this week, everyone would have gotten home.

That felt good.  Feel free to try it out in the comments section.

But wait!!  There's more!  Good news on the horizon.  Neither I, nor I imagine Bru, can believe I am saying this but Tavon Allen is (slowly this time, thank goodness) rounding into healthy form.  And while he's likely to cause a step back in Drexel's suddenly torrid offense, his size and experience will really help defend some of the bigger perimeter players that have been causing the Dragons such problems.  Abif will add some much needed depth and rebounding in the interior as he continues his slow drive to health.  Ruffin looks to be himself, and although he was largely responsible for Moussa Kone's big first half by choosing to lay out a red carpet for his offensive rebounds rather than boxing him out, in the second half Kone's line was zero points, zero rebounds a turnover and three fouls in six minutes.  Welcome back Dartaye.

Also, there's this:  Despite the defense and the poor first half on the glass, Drexel won the game.  It might be the best game Drexel fans have ever seen from Frantz Massenat with his 32 points, 9 assists and not a turnover to be found.  The bigs got plenty of dunk and layup opportunities in an offense that is firing on all cylinders right now.  It certainly appears that it was the defense and not the offense that was beaten up by injuries.  In the 2013 portion of the schedule, Drexel averaged around one point per possession flat, against a much harder schedule then they have this month, but with a full (less Damion Lee) roster.  If they can reclaim that when all of the Drexel players are back to health in a few weeks (take it slow fellas) and Massenat can continue to run the offense at this kind of level they won't compete in Baltimore.

They'll win the damn thing.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hofstra Pregame - Avoiding the Avalanche

The good ship Dragon sails into Hempstead on Wednesday to take on the Hofsta Flying Dutchmen.  The suddenly relevant Dutch have shown some game in conference play, with a 3-3 start (2-1 at home) and a win over William and Mary a week ago before losing the next two to Northeastern and Towson in that order.  Coming off of back to back losses with back to back road games coming up after they play Drexel, this one is a big one for the Pride if they want to still be relevant once we get to the end of the season.

From a Drexel perspective, this game continues to be about getting right.  Sitting 2-4 in conference after 4 home games and only 2 roadies will make some heads hang.  Tied for 7th in a 9 team conference, where losing the tie breaker means playing an extra game in Baltimore might just open some eyes, and the team certainly looks to be beginning to feel the frustration.  Bruiser showed some of the fire we had been looking for from him this year last game, although we'd prefer a controlled burn next time, and Chris Fouch's frustrations seem to involve trying to solve the problems all by himself.  The Dragons could use a win just for confidence sake, especially since a loss to ill perceived Hofstra could really add to the already bubbling over psyche.  It all adds up to this being the most meaningful game ever for these two teams that will be virtually meaningless for postseason outlook.

In case you thought the Drexel defense has been even mediocre in any game this year, I invite you to take a look at the Kenpom conference only stats for the Dragons:

On average, Drexel is still making CAA teams look like top 5 offenses nationally

Interestingly, both teams have players named Allen that are questionable for this game.  Tavon has not been practicing this week for the Dragons, and lets all be honest, looking at the long term goals for this team he shouldn't play, but nor should Kaz Abif who almost certainly will play, despite even Bru saying that he looked bad trying to play hurt last game.  On the Hofstra side of the coin it 6'6" big man Jordan Allen who is questionable while returning from a broken nose and concussion.  Given our treatment of concussions in this day and age, I'm not sold that he'll be playing, although if he is cleared he should be pretty good to go healthwise and could contribute.

Without Allen Hofstra would roll only six deep, with Darren Payen filling in as an emergency bigman seventh man only if necessary.  Without a healthy Tavon Allen for Drexel, it's not a great matchup for the Dragons though.  Hofstra runs tall, with the only guy under 6'4" playing at the point in elite distance shooter Dion Nesmith.  If Frantz picks him up that leaves the smaller DU guards to pickup 6'5" Jamall Robinson and more importantly 6'6" sudden phenom Zeke Upshaw.  Upshaw's numbers seem to mirror Fouch's, outshooting Fouch from behind the arc this year, and taking almost as many shots (31%) for his team when he's on the court as Chris has (32.5%).  When he's in the game expect Tavon Allen at 6'7" to pickup Upshaw, although I'm not sure any Drexel fan want to see it.  When Allen isn't out there...  Canady?  Fouch?  Not really calling out the name of shutdown defenders here, although Fouch's defense is light years better than in past seasons.

Underneath, both teams seem to think that feeding their bigs is tantamount to asking for herpes, so this will be an old school CAA guard game.  If Kaz continues to work his way back - he's been starting to practice some - the guards don't seem to mind feeding him the ball, and Williams seems to be getting some better looks as of late, so maybe there's a shot for the edge here to go to DU.  If the guards do get them involved and contributions from them, that could easily be the deciding factor in this one.  None of the Hofstra bigs step outside, so this will be a much easier matchup for Drexel's forwards on defense then a Towson or William and Mary offensive set was, due to that they should be able to offer the guards a little more help with defending Hofstra's penetration.

At the end of the day, I think Hofstra has only had one day to gameplan since their last game, a roadie at Towson on Monday, the Dutch are only six deep and I think that adds up.  Personally I'm a big fan of Joe Mihalich as a coach, and think the Islanders will be pretty good in the upcoming years, running a fun uptempo offense, but I don't think the timing of this game lends itself to that.  Every Hofstra game is a battle, but the edge down under the basket might be the difference.

Prediction:  Drexel 67, Hofstra 64
Vegas Line:  Drexel -3.5

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

William and Mary - Learning From Our Mistakes Part 3

Welcome to the final installment of the three part series on the Debacle at the DAC.  After going in depth on Chris Fouch's game in Part 1, Coaching and In Game Performances in Part 2, we wrap up with all things officiating.

The interesting thing about Frantz Massenat fouling out of this game is that he didn't have a foul on him for the first 16 minutes of this game.  His first foul came at the 3:06 mark of the first half.  He had played 14 minutes and 22 seconds to that point of foul free basketball according to the officials at hand.  From that point on Frantz played for 15 minutes and 39 seconds and picked up four more fouls on his way out of the game.  This from a guy who has averaged only 3.2 fouls per 40 minutes this year.  In the interest of clarification:

Fouls committed in the final 23:06 of the Drexel vs William and Mary basketball game

Frantz Massenat:  5
Entire William and Mary Team:  6

Looking deeper, here are the five fouls called on Frantz:

Foul 1:  With 3:06 left in the first half Brandon Britt drives on Frantz and Frantz gets no help defense, likely due to William and Mary playing with a perimeter big man that Drexel has to respect, so Williams was out of position to help, out at the three point line.  Frantz does a great job of staying in front of his man, but while backing up towards the basket lets his arms go down a bit as if he's going for the ball and gets the whistle specifically for that.  This one is tough to argue, and Bru doesn't:

Foul 2:  This is where things get fun.  Frantz is on Thornton and first has to battle through an illegal screen set directly in front of referee Andrew Marotta:

Then he gets caught in a clear reach in foul, whistles blown by multiple refs:

Foul 3:  This is pretty much a textbook charge.  The help D comes over in the form of Kyle Gaillard, establishes well before Frantz is airborne and falls straight backwards while an out of control Frantz tumbles down as well.

Foul 4:  This is where things start to get interesting.  Here Frantz is on Thornton again and Thornton dumps the ball to a screening Sean Sheldon.  Frantz looks like he's fighting through the screen, something that the refs allowed universally all night long, but with Sheldon holding the ball, Frantz is not just fighting through a screen, but also has both hands on the ballhandler.  It didn't effect the outcome of the play and in a game where the calls had been at a minimum, Bruiser's anger with the call is understandable.  At the same time, both hands on the guy with the ball is pretty much automatic these days.

Foul 5:  This one is the one that needs to be sent to the league.  It's a tough camera angle so we don't get the best view of all time, but the DAC Pack had it all the way.  Frantz had position on Daniel Dixon and Dixon threw an arm bar and then ran over Massenat who falls straight backward.  Note the distance between the referee who called the foul (hand circled) and the foul, but also note that the referee directly in front of the play is responsible for under the basket and NOT the area where the foul occurred.  The correct ref makes this call, he simply blows it terribly and in doing so tosses Frantz out of the game right after he had made a three point basket at the other end, reducing the Drexel offense to an exhausted Chris Fouch and nothing else, and letting Tony Shaver know exactly what would be coming for the rest of the game.

The DAC pack shows the officials whats up.  And in this battle, the crowd is correct, arm bar!

And which ref blew this call?  It's the same referee that called every single foul on Frantz Massenat, Port Jarvis High School Principal and soon to be full time NEC and Patriot league official Andrew Marotta!

Just for kicks here's one more call, again made by you know who.  Foul on Drexel's Rodney Williams:

In a game where the referees let them play, a point guard who doesn't have a significant fouling history fouled out and he did so with one maybe kinda debatable foul, one out and out blown call and all five calls against him coming from the same referee.  Did Frantz getting his fourth and fifth foul lose Drexel the game?  There's an argument to be made, and Bruiser was happy to make it in the press conference.  Regardless, there's certainly enough here to ask the league to review the tape and specifically look at the calls of referee Marotta.

There's another unfortunate side to this situation.  In a what has been a frustrating season for the Dragons, Coach Flint was caught in the moment and before the winning shot could even be reviewed left the bench and went straight after Referee Marotta.  Directly in front of the high level donors and Dr. Eric Zilmer (grey suit top of picture) who were seated in the front row, Bruiser went off on a colorful rant about and at the official, letting loose some frustrations and defending his team.  I've been following this team and sitting behind the bench at road games for 13 years now, and he used words that I've never heard him use in anger before.  And it was clearly heard in my second row seat, further away from him than the big donors and Dr. Zilmer.

The Athletics Department has declined to comment.

William and Mary - Learning from Our Mistakes Part 2

A final thought on part one before moving on to part two:

"The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. 
You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, 
but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime." 

-Babe Ruth

W&M recap Part two: The non-Fouchian macro level takes from the game.  That was not a catchy title.

Mike Tuberosa noted on the TV broadcast that Kaz Abif was returning to the team in this game and trying to work his way back from injury, that he was trying to play just a few minutes to be ready for the second half of the season.  Abif played 13 uneventful and at times sad minutes, minutes where Drexel seemed to not be able to buy a loose rebound.  If the objective was to get him in, allow some guys to rest and start getting him used to playing again, mission accomplished.  If the objective was to help win this particular game, the mission outcome was a little more murky.

The reason that I bring up the comment from the TV broadcast is that Drexel is starting to fold in a lot of formerly injured players.  With the return of Abif, short of Damion Lee everyone besides Goran Pantovic is back now - kind of.

There are three levels of a player returning to play.  The trainer needs to clear the player for activity.  That's obvious, it's step one, buck stops there.  Then the player needs to feel physically and mentally able to play, that's step two.  Then the coach needs to make a coaches decision that returning the player to action in his current condition is the best thing for the team and the player given the current objectives for both.  This is step three.

Tavon Allen was cleared to return to action for the Delaware game last week.  He wasn't within a fifty dollar cab ride of being 100%, but he was medically cleared.  It took two eyes and zero medical knowledge to see that he was visibly hurt.  It was the Delaware game though, an arch rival, not to mention a team coached by Monte Ross, close associate of one Coach Bruiser Flint.  At the end of the year, that game will be looked at as pretty meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but maybe due to emotion, or a need for some momentum from the team, or just competitive fire, Bru thought that in order to accomplish this seasons objective, a league title, it was important to the team to win this game.  And in order to win this game he needed to get some minutes from Tavon, injured or not.  

Sure, Bru asked his player if he could go.  Tavon said yes.  It was an expected question with an expected answer.  The only person with the control and discretion, with the wisdom of experience in that equation was the coach.  The coach that didn't ease Tavon in, but rather played him 30 minutes.  He played him until Tavon did finally hit the wall of having to ask to leave the game.  He played him 30 minutes in a game that Drexel lost by double digits despite Tavon having an electric 19 point performance on one leg.  He played him 30 minutes in a game where Drexel never trailed by less than 9 in the second half.  It wasn't easing Tavon in.  It wasn't doing what was best for the team's overall goal.  And quite frankly it wasn't doing right by the player.

Tavon Allen played 2 minutes against William and Mary on Saturday due to that same ankle injury that he played 30 minutes on the prior game.  Clearly the ankle did not react well, only someone with zero medical experience or more could have seen that coming.  Drexel then lost to William and Mary on a buzzer beater three in a game where Canady and Wilson combined to play 49 minutes.  Could having Tavon out there for even 15 minutes have changed the outcome?  We don't know if either games outcome would have changed if Tavon hadn't dressed on that Monday night, but we do know that Drexel wouldn't have lost anymore games than they did, and he'd be healthier now as the calendar almost flips to February.  

Thank God they eased in Kazembe.

Other news and notes:

Despite the lack of Allen, foul trouble from The Frantz (how have we not used that yet?  Monday, Tuesday... Happy Days) and Fouch's one man rampage, Drexel actually had their third best offensive output of the season with 1.19 points per possession, pushing their prior game versus The Tribe to number 4 (1.16).  When Chris and Frantz were on the floor they were crazy efficient and in a game with only 55 possessions the fact that they combined to score 50 was just silly crazy good.  That duo has combined to shoot a very strong 49% from two, 37% from three and 84% from the line over the last five games.  Frantz has also been averaging almost seven assists per game in those contests, and prior to that had only had more than seven assists once in any game this season.  So with those two hitting their stride, if the supporting cast can get healthy over the next couple weeks, with the way The Frantz is distributing the rock, this offense will be extremely potent.

While the defense still put up horrific point per possession numbers in the William and Mary game, many people, including Bru, seemed to think it had improved a bit.  Marcus Thornton got open a bit too easily, but still had to hit some hard shots.  He was on absolute fire and really the only William and Mary player that seemed to be able to create on a regular basis.  Rusthoven only pulled down two offensive boards and did most of his work from the line.  Guys not from Chesapeake, Virginia on William and Mary only hit two of eight from distance, on a usually hot shooting club.  Perhaps more important to look at was attempts, and while it was a low possession game it was still great to see the Drexel D limit the Tribe to their second lowest number of three point attempts of the season.  The Colllege only took 15 attempts from downtown in this one, significantly down from the 23 they took in the first meeting.  

The offense is clicking.  The lights are beginning to flicker on with the defense.  If the coaching staff can have the patience to let players slowly ease in, Kaz Abif-style, and this team can get healthy, there might just be a run in these guys yet.  Beware the team that gets hot in February!  These Dragons aren't dead yet.  

Part three of the W+M wrap should be up this evening.  We'll be talking officiating, we'll be talking Bru.  Stay tuned.

Monday, January 27, 2014

William and Mary - Learning From Our Mistakes Part 1

Final:  William and Mary 68, Drexel 66 at The DAC
Player of the Game:  Frantz Massenat
Key to the game:  Chris Fouch
Next Game:  Wed Jan 29 @ Hofstra 

Welcome to part 1 of a 3 part series on the game played this Saturday at the DAC against William and Mary.  I apologize both for the lack of brevity and the mundane pace in getting these posted, but wanted to take the time to do the research, talk to people smarter than me, and watch film, especially since I missed most of the first half of this one due to some sweet Bruins/Flyers tickets that a lovely young lady was kind enough to provide me for Christmas.  6-1 Bruins, boo ya, probably helped with the old blood pressure at the Drexel game.  Without further ado, Part 1:  The CF3 Chronicles:

So the average Drexel fan clicked on this page, read the header, saw Chris Fouch wasn't the blog's player of the game and lost little credibility he or she had for this blog and left the page.  To those still reading, thanks, and here's why Frantz Massenat is the POG.

Here's Chris Fouch's line from this game with Frantz Massenat in the game:

29 minutes - 8/13 fg (62%), 4/8 3pt (50%), 0/0 FT, 4 assists*, 0 turnovers, 20 points

Here's Chris Fouch's line from this game with Frantz Massenat on the bench:

10 minutes - 4/10 fg (40%), 1/3 3pt (33%), 2/2 FT, 0 assists, 0 turnovers, 11 points

From this data, we can conclude that Chris was not as effective with Frantz on the bench.  A player not performing as well when the teams starting point guard is on the bench?  Not a surprise.  But why?  I believe I have found the answer, in spades:

Field Goal Attempts taken by the team while Frantz Massenat was in the game:  44
Field Goal Attempts by Chris Fouch while Frantz Massenat was in the game:  13
Percentage of shots by team taken by Fouch while Frantz was in the game:  29.5%

Field Goal Attempts taken by the team while Frantz Massenat was not in the game: 12
Field Goal Attempts by Chris Fouch while Frantz Massenat was not in the game:  10
Percentage of shots by team taken by Fouch while Frantz was not in the game:  83.3%

This wasn't a small sample size.  As many have noted, the referee assisted in the teams rotation and Frantz ending up on the bench for 10 minutes.  So the 83.3% was a quarter of the game.  For those wondering, Wilson and Ruffin had the other two shots while Massenat was out, and Fouch and Canady had 2 free throws a piece during that time.

In order to add some sample size, I looked back at another game where Massenat sat for 10+ minutes, the most recent of which was against Towson (another 10 minute even stint).  Here is the same breakdown:

Field Goal Attempts taken by the team while Frantz Massenat was in the game:  52
Field Goal Attempts by Chris Fouch while Frantz Massenat was in the game:  17
Percentage of shots by team taken by Fouch while Frantz was in the game:  32.7%%

Field Goal Attempts taken by the team while Frantz Massenat was not in the game: 17
Field Goal Attempts by Chris Fouch while Frantz Massenat was not in the game:  10
Percentage of shots by team taken by Fouch while Frantz was not in the game:  58.8%

Note:  In the Towson game 3 of the 7 shots not taken by Fouch when Frantz was out of the game were offensive rebound putbacks by Rodney Williams.  If the putbacks are were not included in the calc, Fouch would have shot 10 of the 14 shots while Massenat was out, 71.4%.

Now a fool could come up with a defense to slow down the Dragons offense while Massenat is on the bench.  Monte Ross isn't the coach of William and Mary though, Tony Shaver is and that guy is pretty smart.  Going to the tape, here are three randomly chosen shots that Chris took while Frantz was on the bench.

Shot 1:  The semi-contested beyond NBA range three.  This was late in the shot clock so some credit needs to be given

Shot 2:  Here Chris passes up the bounce pass dunk option and shoots a floater while running into Tim Rusthoven well before even getting close to the restricted area underneath the basket.  No foul deserved, no foul given

Shot 3:  This is a great look at how William and Mary adjusted to the offense with Fouch on the floor.  All three of these pictures are from the same play:

Part 1:  With 26 on the clock Chris again passes up a bounce pass to Willams for a dunk possibility while pump faking an oncoming double team.

Part 2:  In part two you can see Thornton overplaying the pass to Fouch, along with two defenders stepping out on Chris while he doesn't even have the ball.  They can do this more easily since both Drexel bigs are at the three point line where the defense can completely ignore them.

Part 3:  Thornton had stepped back to help, but since he had FOUR (4!!!) teammates already stepping out on Fouch he rotates back to the perimeter, also ready to start a break the other way.  Fouch ends up taking the shot on this play too, amidst the masses.

Chris Fouch played a hell of a game on Saturday.  There's no doubt that his sixth year isn't playing out the way he expected it and his frustrations are likely high.  But in the 20 minutes of basketball that Frantz was off the floor in the two games that were sampled Chris took twenty shots and the other four players on the team took combined to take nine.  And three of those nine were on rebound putbacks.  Actually only one non-putback shot was taken by a forward in that half of basketball, a Goran jumper that went in.  Chris was absolutely the most talented Drexel player on the floor during this twenty minute stretch, but hey man, Carmelo Anthony just called and he thinks you should share the ball a bit more.

Frantz has seemed to have found his teammates of late.  The numbers are skewed by only playing one forward against Delaware, but he did a decent job of including the big men more in this William and Mary game.  The offense has been playing well and Massenat's additional willingness to find the bigs is part of that, and maybe even helping the forwards at both ends of the court.  Chris needs to get on that page as well.  When Massenat isn't on the court there's no one who will lead Chris.  Asking a freshman point guard to take charge of a sixth year senior is asking an awful lot.  This is a time when Bruiser, and Frantz, need to step in and talk to Chris.  Until they do, expect a lot more screenshots like the ones above when Frantz is getting a blow.

*All four assist from Fouch in that game were to Frantz Massenat.  His assist in the Towson game were to Canady and Wilson

Friday, January 24, 2014

William and Mary Pregame - What Have We Learned?

Yeah, the 90's were my jam

Do you smell that in the air?  A smell that's thicker than the greasiest 2am cheesesteak, a colder whiff than the coldest of winter winds, and slightly more rancid and ugly then a sunday morning frathouse.

It's the smell of revenge, and it's large and in charge at the DAC on Saturday afternoon as the Pantsless Griffins of William and Mary come to town.  The Fighting NotTribe have had a bit of a roadtrip from hell this week, flying into PHL during the height of the snowstorm on Tuesday, bussing to Hofstra only to lose amid a sea of guido's and friend of the blog, Jerry Beach, and then hanging out in frigid Philly before playing at the DAC and getting out of dodge.  At least when DU was stuck in New Orleans, the temperature was higher than the teams shooting percentage.

Between the W&M roadtrip, the revenge angle, and the 5 days of rest for the Dragons, off the court circumstances look promising for the Dragons in this game.  And there is on the court good news as well: In the first matchup between these teams the Dragons only shot 17% from three, while The College hit 48%.  Additionally, despite taking only one less attempt from outside the arc than inside, William and Mary went to the free throw line twice as often as Drexel, attempting 39 shots from the stripe.  None of that is likely to repeat itself at the DAC tomorrow which is a very friendly sign for the Dragons.  Along with all of that good news comes some from the trainers table as Dartaye Ruffin should be available for more than the 7 minutes that he played in the first matchup and the rest of the walking wounded will have had a full 5 days between games to ice up.

Despite all of the rough stats from the first game, the game wasn't a blowout.  Drexel only ended losing by 12, largely thanks to only turning the ball over 3 times all evening and some really nice jumpshot and layup games from the members of the supporting cast, as Fouch, Allen and Williams combined to be 15/20 (75%) from inside the arc.  The lack of interior defense by William and Mary must be remembered by the Drexel staff and guards going into this matchup.  On the surface the defense for William and Mary looks a lot like UNCW's second half defense did against Drexel, as the DU guards should be able to get to continue to get to the hoop and dish or score at will.  Frantz and Fouch both have no reason to have less then 15 points and 5 assists per man at the end of this one.

On the defensive side, I'll ask to the audience to allow me an effort to clarify some items from Tuesday's UD recap:

I have long been a proponent of Bru going outside the box and making adjustments.  At times I was just short of begging him to do that.  I was thrilled to see Bru breakout the zone and I really like the four guard set in the right matchup (and this game against William and Mary may well scream for it as Gaillard likes hanging out on the perimeter on the offensive end).  Sitting in 7th place in the league may not be time for screwing around, but this team has too much talent to end the season in 8th or 9th place, so it seems as good a time as any to take some risks, and these are the kind of risks that I like to see the staff take, in an effort to find out what works.  If that means blowing a game or two, like it may well have meant against UD, in order to be the strongest possible team in March, then blow some games, that's OK.

What makes my head explode is playing guys who are visibly and clearly hurt while running these experiments, especially when their injuries are ones where re-injury is likely.  If the staff is playing for March, then those guys didn't need to be out there.  If the staff isn't playing for March, and they really think that the defense played over the last few games is better then the straight three guard man to man setup that Bruiser has always run out there, then that's embarrassing for these players, it is an insurmountable obstacle, and they should all pack up and call it a season.  If that's the best defense for this team to be playing, it won't matter how many points they score.

So that's it.  It's the first revenge game of the year, DU matches up pretty well with these guys and should be able to score plenty.  The eyes of the fans will be entirely on the defense, and how the defense goes so shall Drexel go.

I can't believe I just wrote that with Bruiser Flint at the helm.

One last thing:  If you can get to the game early, head over to the Blue and Gold Club's Pregame setup, it's good value and you can meet and greet some of your fellow fans.  If you enjoy this blog, you enjoy talking Drexel hoop.  If you enjoy talking Drexel hoop, and you can get to the pregame, you need to be at the pregame.  Liberal, conservative, cats, dogs, everyone there will be on the same page on whats most important:  We love Drexel hoops.  Is there a better place in the world than that?

Prediction:  Drexel 75, William and Mary 62
Vegas Line:  TBA

OK Jerry, I played it:

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Delaware - Learning from our Mistakes

Final:  Delaware 90, Drexel 77 at The DAC
Player of the Game:  Frantz Massenat
Key to the game:  Bruiser Flint
Next Game:  Sat Jan 25 vs William and Mary @ The DAC

If you're reading this, you're likely a Drexel Dragon basketball fan.  And if you're a fan of Drexel basketball, you should be a fan of Bruiser Flint.  And if you're a fan of Bruiser Flint, you should know the one thing about him that he wants everyone to know.  His teams play defense.  It is right then, to be a Drexel fan and be confused and shocked when watching Drexel's defense get absolutely shredded throughout this conference season.  Conference opponents have averaged 1.192 points per possession against the Dragons in the five games they have played.  To put that in perspective, a team averaging 1.192 ppp would be the 5th best offensive team in the country right now, slotting in between Michigan and Wisconsin.

Again, Drexel has just made the cumulative offensive efforts of William and Mary, Northeastern, Towson, UNCW and Delaware resemble what Michigan and Wisconsin is doing this year.  The Syracuse offense is not as effective as what those five teams have combined for against Drexel.  It's a five game sample, a sixth of the season.  This is no longer small sample overreaction, it's not a few teams getting lucky, it's simply the look of one of the 10 worst defenses in all of college basketball right now.  Saint Francis is looking at the Dragons defense to learn what not to do.  Delaware is laughing all the way to ninety points.  This from a team whose coach prides himself on defense first.

A wise acquaintance from an opposing CAA member school asked me an interesting question about this after the game last night.  That question can be summed up as "Whats wrong?"

Earlier in the year, against Saint Joe's, Buffalo and Southern Miss, we talked about the players and why we weren't seeing their best effort.  Here on the blog we pretty well gave the staff a pass on the poor performances.  That seemed on the money when Drexel came out of the new year and the offense was back in order, the rebounding percentage went right to where was expected and the turnover rate went back down into "extremely good" territory.  What is interesting now is that the players not only seem to be giving full effort, they also seem to be executing at a high level.  They only turned the ball over four times against Delaware, they shot well enough to win from the field and a solid 77% from the charity stripe.  This leads me to believe that unlike the games against Southern Miss and Saint Joe's, this is more a coaching issue than a player effort and execution issue.  So what then is wrong with the coaching?

On a micro level we look at the Delaware game and its a bit of a head scratcher.  There's two hypothesis' that have been discussed for this team going into this game.  Investigating them both:

Hypothesis A:  The chance for a bye has already been sunk.  With injuries mounting and the odds of a first place finish all but nil, it's time to experiment with game plans, find strategies and personnel groupings that work, and get the team ready for the stretch run.  The problem with this is that Bru is playing guys who may have been cleared to play, but that the naked eye can easily tell are not fully healed.  Beyond that, both Allen and Ruffin are coming off of injuries where there is a significant re-injury risk.  Playing these two seems to indicate beyond reasonable doubt that Bru is playing to win now, which vacates Hypothesis A.

Hypothesis B:  The coaching staff is playing for today.  Whether it be for pride, for March seeding or something that the layman fan can't see, the staff sees these as important games in achieving their overall season goal.  Because of that, every warm body that can contribute should be expected to regardless of condition, and the coaching staff will do whatever they can to put the team in a position to win.  The problem with this hypothesis is that Bruiser Flint has stated with his actions for over a decade now that a man to man defense with three guards and two forwards is the most effective way to play defense.  He had no intention of playing that defense against Delaware, and for the conference season has either been in a zone or four guard set for a significant and possibly majority chunk of the five games.

If the coaching staff is pushing for today, where's the hard-nosed man to man?  If the coaching staff is looking forward to March, why are injured guys gutting it out on the floor until they have to go to the staff and ask to be taken out?  And for this game in particular, if the staff is going four guard run and gun, why is your injured, slowest, least athletic forward on the court 15 minutes longer than the reigning freshman of the week who seems to have springs in his feet?

Those questions and the rest of the Delaware game analysis leads us up to assist in the macro analysis.  We turn to Aaron Sorkin's The West Wing to take us home:

" He’ll check his gauges and look at the artificial horizon, which shows that the plane is level, but he won’t trust this information. So, he’ll make an adjustment, then another and another. The result? The number of pilots who fly out of those clouds completely upside down would knock you out."

In the beginning of the season there were stories all over the place, including here, about the effects of the new NCAA rules.  Bruiser publicly answered that on ESPN, going to halftime at Madison Square Garden saying that he was worried about foul trouble so he was going zone.  So Drexel played zone.  Then multiple forwards went down, and suddenly the staff decided the way to combat that was with a four guard look.  Suddenly, the Drexel defense was making their opponents look final four bound, every night.  The Delaware Blue Hens are a three point shooting, run and gun team.  The Hens only shot ten three point attempts in the evening, their lowest total of the season, and was a smart move.  Why take threes when the Dragons are offering you layups?  Bruiser's adjustment after adjustment have made this team upside down, they've lost their identity as THE defensive team in the CAA.  

The players are playing their hearts out.  The word that comes to my mind when looking at them defensively is confused, but tentative, unsettled or indecisive also works.  This from the same players that are operating with clockwork precision on the offensive end, maybe the best five game offensive stretch of any Flint team.  It seems like the players are executing exactly what they're being told by their coaches right now.  A disciplined, solid offense and a confused, not sure which way to turn defense.

Lets all hope that the problem is that easy.  We've seen the three guard man to man defense for the better part of thirteen years here at Drexel, so maybe it's as simple as Bruiser turning on the autopilot, getting right side up and remembering how this team got up into the air in the first place.  And if it's that easy and the defense comes around, then with guys healing, an offense that might just keep clicking, and a steady diet of DAC Pack home cooking maybe this team can get back to where it needs to be come March.  

Hit the autopilot Bru.  Find your bearings.  It's about time to get out of the clouds.

Monday, January 20, 2014

UD In Game

Giving this a second shot.  This is all real time thoughts, unedited:

Start of game:

UD not even pretending to defend Canady.  Even if DU uses their bigs this will be 4 on 5 if he can't ge involved.

Early offensive foul on Saddler.  Could prove big.  With King-Davis going to the line, UD has gotten 6 points oin 4 trips, all from bigs.  That's big.  Can they stay with it?

Ruffin checking out very early.  Maybe Bru read the preview.

U16 media timeout

Allowed threat to drive, allowed an and one on it, and then gave up a look from 3 from Anderson.  Blowing the guard coverage in every possible way in that sequence.

Canady hits a 3.  He's got to keep that up and earn respect from Monte.

Bah is out for Wilson and DU has gone 4 guard early,  This looks by design.  Bru adjusting to the faster paced UD game.  How long can Bru leave Williams out there?

Frantz with 3 straight layups.  Keep doing it til they stop ya.  Freddie Wilson stops Frantz instead by taking an inside the line jumper.  Thanks Freddie.

U12 Media Timeout

Fouch penetrates and draws Kyle Anderson's second foul.  Big.

Tavon Allen in trying to steal some minutes on a gimpy ankle.  Don't love it.  Bru doing it because Canady has 2 fouls.  No, I hate it.  Go back toa  3 guard look before you play a banged up player at this point in the year.

UD showing no interior D.  Drexel guards with hard takes almost every time down, including a Frantz drive and dish to Ruffin.  Inspiring.

Tavon with a contested 3 that goes and pushes the Dragons back within single digits as the U8 TO hits with five and a half to go.

U8 Media Timeout  - UD hitting 68% from the floor and 100% from the line.  Fair to say the DU D isn't great against the uptempo.

Turnovers:  Drexel 0, UD 5.  UD up by 9.  Duck and cover.

With 5 to go in the half Bru leaves Fouch in with 2 fouls.  Bru currently the desperate girl at the bar.

Tavon misses a 3 and Monte tells his team to slow it down on the way up the course.  Horrendous move by Ross, leads to a missed shot from UD followed by DU taking it to the cup and getting fouled.  A foul and a point or two for Drexel, assist by M Ross.

U4 Media Timeout

UD shooting down to 59%.  Their lead extended to 12.  What's wrong with this picture?

TV guy thinks Bru needs to learn to make adjustments.  First person who is paid to be at the DAC to say that in 13 years.  Probably should have led with BREAKING.

Blue Hens with the ball and no shot clock up 16, take a timeout.  One bucket away from a 50 point half on Drexel's home court.  Doesn't exactly scream "heart" for the Dragon players or "smart" for the Dragon coaches.

Halftime thoughts

UD with 1.36 points per possession in the first half.  Somewhere Bruiser of 10 years ago just burned the locker room to the ground and .  Running with them seemed like a pretty bad idea as soon as early in the half, honestly no idea what the hell he's thinking right now.  The 4 guard formation continues to be an even worse idea then his zone was and he has adjusted from it... not at all.

Game is still winable with some defensive stops.  Frantz is getting to the basket at will, not sure why the team got away from it.  The good news about an up tempo game is lost of possessions means lots of points and the ability to come back is much greater.  The bad news is that Drexel is clearly a trainwreck against it defensively.  Completely unprepared, which probably has something to do with the short turnaround, something to do with injuries and something to do with their coaches.

Start of second half:

Wilson and Allen both start the half.  Gotta give credit, Bru is going to go down with both guns blazing.

After we saw some good offense with Fouch getting into the paint in the first two possessions Allen breaks it with his patended contested 2 point jumper.  He does hit a wide open 3 in the next possession for redemption.

MUCH better job of making UD run their halfcourt offense this half instead of running and gunning.  The result:  A 7-0 run and a 9 point game.  Timeout, MonTAY.

Allen with another contested 2.  Now 1 point per possession for him in the second half, and 2 dumb shots for every 1 good one.

Frantz is driving again!  #ItsAboutTime  He's heading to the line shooting 2.  Bapiste staying in for UD with 3 on him, gotta knock him out.

Ruffin with a monster block on Baptiste, the first time today Drexel has told a UD big where to stick it.  Mark it down, big play, as UD had just remembered that they had forwards.  Great to see that play out of Dartaye and the hustle to save the ball after the block.  Going the other way, another drive, another UD foul, Saddler's second.

U16 Media Timeout

Usher with a worlds dumbest shot miss for UD, followed by Baptiste picking up a capital C Cheapie foul at the other end, his 4th, and its fair to say that UD hasn't started the half well.  Just 2 points in the first 5 minutes of the half for them.

Frantz with a Capital C cheapie called on him, his 3rd of the half just 6:12 into the half.  Followed by Wilson volunteering for a foul right after.  Nice to see him within a football field of his man though.

Refs going to get their TV time this half it appears as Saddler now picks up his 3rd.  Free throws will decide this thing down the stretch?  Both teams good from the line.

Allen with a 3 and then gives Threatt an open look at the other end on a 15 foot 2.  Gotta be fine with that shot, don't let him drive.  Except the next time down Allen lets Threatt drive right by him, followed by a quick UD timeout for no discernible reason.  Monte!

Frantz with an on the line, contested 2.  If he didn't make that, that's a really really dumb shot.

Usher being looked at by the UD trainer.  Assuming the UD trainer has a UD education, lets go ahead and assume Usher is dead.

U12 Media Timeout

Drexel D still playing ok this half.  UD hitting some tough shots of late, and they seemed to have figured out DU's drives.  Getting blocked too often of late.  Freddie Wilson is passing up shots again as well which is painful to see.

DU getting smoked on the boards is becoming a trend worth of addressing.

Frantz with an all time dumb foul.  His 4th, on a 3 point attempt, well after the shot.  There's no part of that which is ok.  Probably my fault for complimenting the DU D.

UD hits another bucket and its 19 points with 7 to play.  And he wrote:  It's all over.

U8 Media Timeout

Bru throws the press on.  Too little to late, but still nice to see.  Results in a 10 second violation.  Meanwhile we see Usher going off the court again, in a shocker the UD training staff may not have played that right.

Allen with another 3.  He's been lights out from distance tonight.  Hobbling, shouldn't be in the game and not very good at anything else, but lights out from 3.

Baptiste fouls out on yet another cheapie which will also put Frantz on the line for a one and one.

Canady with a 3 to make it a 12 point game.  The only hope left on the Drexel side resides in Monte.  This must be how W&M fans feel when they play Drexel.

U4 Media Timeout

Blue Hens... not great against the press, and DU's press isn't exaclty Havoc.

Wilson hits a 3.  When he catches and shoots and doesn't think about it, it really is a pretty sight.

Game set match, Delaware.

Credit Bru and Drexel with a much better second half than first.  Hopefully learned something, mainly that they need to play a halfcourt game against UD next time.  3 guards please, Bruiser.

Delaware Pregame - Rebel Rebel

The story of Drexel's injury plagued season continues and has been well noted throughout the blogosphere.  Delaware has also been battling with an undermanned roster throughout the season due to suspension after suspension, which is about what you would expect from an athletic department that has been fighting for relevancy in the CAA for the entirety of the Ross era.  The Blue Hens are walking a fine line with a coach that the fanbase has been vocally turning on for the last few years and a team that's now had multiple players suspended for conduct detrimental.  Can they tiptoe to a title?  In a weakened CAA perhaps, but they'll need a lot of things to break their way.

Meanwhile at the DAC, the first of the reinforcements came back two days ago in the form of Dartaye Ruffin.  The sight of him outweighed his performance a bit as he works his way back from a calf strain.  The really big news out of the UNCW game was that Drexel's depth finally showed again, with the game being about much more than just Fouch and Frantz, as Freddie Wilson and Mohamed Bah stepped up and Major Canady played the solid game that we have become accustomed to.

In the short rest clash tonight Delaware will get back the services of Jarvis Threatt, returning from suspension after the Northeastern game.  Threatt's biggest threat is in penetration and passing.  No reason to step out on him at the arc, save that for Kyle Anderson who surpasses anyone from William and Mary as the leagues leading white guy who just hits 3's.  Hopefully the team is watching some tape of Bashir Mason guarding Gerry Mac before picking up Anderson.

The big guy in the UD offense is still Devon Saddler.  I've taken a lot of shots at him over the years, and his half season suspension plays right into that commentary, but sometimes you have to give credit where credit is due.  He's made himself a complete player this year.  His turnover rate is WAY down, which means either he's grown up a bit, he trusts his teammates more, or Monte Ross has really coached him up...  so we'll assume he's grown up a bit.  While playing smarter he's also shot the hell out of the ball, both the 56% from two and 42% from three are career highs.  He's only had one game since the new year with less then 22 points, and he's been efficient while doing it.  It's quite scary.

With all the focus on the guards, UD doesn't use their bigs all that much more than DU does.  This is a run and gun team, which may actually benefit a Drexel team that has looked pretty good on the few times they've run the break this season. With the skill of the guards on both sides, neither team turns it over a whole lot, so the rebounding in this one will be extremely important.  With all the running and the focus on rebounding combined with the short rest, if Dartaye Ruffin isn't completely healthy or is looking like he did in the UNCW game, he needs to be on the sidelines more often then not, allowing him to heal and the more athletic freshman to keep pace with UD.

The Dragons have a great shot at taking this one if they show like they did in the second half of last game.  Frantz and Canady need to drive and distribute, make this a full team contest instead of our guards vs their guards.  Reward the DU forwards, because if the bigs stay focused and in this game, there will be plenty of shot block opportunities on the other side.  Saddler is the best player on the floor, and Anderson and Fouch aren't that far apart as shooters, so if this comes down to guards vs guards, bad news will be coming down for DU.  That's just life without Damion and Tavon, and one that the DU point guards need to accept.

For the prediction, I'm taking the team I trust to play smarter and the only team in this matchup with a top 100 kenpom win this season.

Prediction:  Drexel 74, Delaware 68
Vegas Line:  Drexel -2

Sunday, January 19, 2014

UNCW - The Happy Recap - Getting Right

Final:  Drexel 79, UNCW 63 at Trask
Player of the Game:  Frantz Massenat
Key to the game:  Sharing The Wealth
Next Game:  Mon Jan 20 vs Delaware (sucks) @ The DAC

There's going to be a lot of positives for DU coming out of this post, but please indulge me while I get something off of my chest:

Chris Fouch has the ball out of bounds, Chris Fouch can't find a teamate, Chris Fouch calls timeout.

Timeout taken, CAA clown ref (this game was Tyberski, Ebersol and the second straight Bob Testa appearance.  Drexel officials, is there a way to check on why Berto is now publicly giving you the finger? If I were being given the finger, I wouldn't just take it lying down) hands the ball to Chris Fouch and...

Chris Fouch has the ball out of bounds, Chris Fouch can't find a teammate, Chris Fouch tosses the ball up into a pile of players and UNCW comes out of it.

Both games with Delaware last year were one possession losses.  It's basic, simple things like inbounding the basketball that cost a team one possession games.  There is no one on this planet who thinks that not getting the ball in, calling a timeout and still not getting it in is acceptable.  If that were to happen Monday, fans should walk out.  It's absolutely pathetic, it's grade school, stuff you shouldn't even see in a pickup game.  Given the lack of movement on the floor, it's entirely on the coaching staff.  It's got nothing to do with injuries, it's basic fundamental basketball and it should have been dealt with long before now.  Always remember UCLA at MSG, which would still be this programs biggest win of the Flint era if the team had just managed to inbound. Fundamentals win games.  Other coaches are going to see that tape, see how well Buzz Peterson's pressure worked against DU, see the tough time getting the ball in in the corner, and they'll do the same.  How will the Drexel staff answer that will determine at least one game in the stretch run... or in Baltimore.

With that, a thank you to Buzz Peterson for pulling back his pressure in the second half, two more concerns and then an avalanche of good news:

Dartaye Ruffin came back which was a thrill to see, and well ahead of projections, including athletic dept projections from as recently as a week ago, when his return was quoted in "weeks".  A calf strain is very easy to re-injure, and given the lack of importance of the regular season at this point the quick return is a bit of a red flag.  Ruffin's zero first half rebounds in 15 minutes of play may have been rust, but makes one question just how healthy he really is right now.  Cross your fingers DU fans.

Chris Fouch was a relative no show for this game.  His 9 shots attempted in this game were his lowest total since the new year, and there have been cardboard cutouts that have kept their man in front of them better then he did.  The concern here isn't whether or not he had a solo bad game, those happen and DU won so it's water under the bridge if that's the case.  The concern is if his 85 minutes in the prior two games didn't take a toll.  If they did, what will the one day layoff between this game and Delaware mean?  The UD game may be a very important thermometer reading on Chris, and since he's been THE guy this year, will be a good thermometer reason of the rest of the season as a whole.

In this pile of walking wounded concerns, lest we forget the double digit road win that just occurred.  Frantz Massenat led the way with a career high 30 points on just 11 field goal attempts.  That's an insanely good game at first look.  Fact is, no UNCW guard could stay in front of him and the help defense from the Dub was suspect, to put it nicely.  Frantz saw that he could score at well and did it, going 8-9 from inside the arc and 14/18 from the line.  But Frantz was 4-6 from the field in the first half and 4-5 from the field in the second.  The halves looked totally different for the DU offense though, and if Fouch wasn't part of it, what changed?  Frantz's assist!

In the first half, Frantz had one assist (it's the loneliest number folks) and that was on a pass leading to a three point bucket from Major Canady.  In the second half, we saw what so many Drexel fans have been wishing for all season.  Seven assists in the half from Frantz, with the passes going to the following players:

Mohamed Bah - 3
Freddie Wilson - 2
Chris Fouch - 1
Dartaye Ruffin - 1

That's right, four assists to big men!  And one of the assist to Wilson was on the fastbreak and led to a layup.  The four assists to forwards in this game matched his total from the last three games combined.   Again, he matched his total from the last three games in one half of this game.  If that's the beginning of things to come, Drexel's offense will continue to burn bright.

The use of the word continue is relevant, and could be lost in the losses to Towson and William and Mary.  Drexel has not only averaged over a point per possession in every conference game thus far, three of the four of those games (W&M, TU, UNCW) are the top three point per possession games the Drexel offense has had all season long, injuries be damned.

Two other players deserve highlights in this game.  Without Abif or Pantovic, Drexel's frontcourt was thin at best.  Ruffin only added three rebounds in 29 minutes, and Williams only stayed on the floor for 23 minutes, so a bad situation getting outrebounded could have been a disastrous situation without Mohamed Bah.  Bah not only goes 4-4 from the field, but had 7 boards, a block, an assist, and nary a turnover in sight.  This from a guy that Bru wanted to put so far down the bench that he would need a telescope see him before the injuries popped up.  Bah was still caught flat footed at times, and is a raw player, but given his athleticism and the history that this staff has in developing forwards every DU fan must be thinking that this freshman forward class is Christmas morning.

The last guy that can't be overlooked was Freddie Wilson.  He was talked up on this blog after he looked good in his first game of the season at Davidson.  He was talked up by the coaches for his scoring ability.  And then he wasn't bad.  He was awful.  Like Buzz Peterson would have tried to avoid putting him in bad.

How bad was he?  Bruiser Flint sat him in favor of the rarely used Stevan Manojlovic in the first half of this game.  Freddie had exhausted his rope with the fanbase, and he'd run out of it with his coaches too.  And maybe that's just the wakeup call that he needed.  He shot 3-4 from both sides of the arc in the second half of this game en route to a 16 point, 0 turnover half of basketball.  He's badly needed some confidence this year and hopefully this can be just the shot in the arm he needed to show the Drexel fanbase the ability that he has.

One last note:  Points off turnovers for UNCW:  14 in the first half and none in the second.  The press is starting to take note of the lack of DU turnovers this year.  In this game we all got a look at what the difference between this team as an elite ballhandling team and this team as the stumbling bumbling very average ballhandling team.  The difference was 14 points per half.  Stick a pin in that.

In the end this game was what we said it was in the pregame, a chance to get right. They did get right in the second half, with some assistance from UNCW.  If they carry it forward, circle this one.