Monday, January 5, 2015

Elon Postgame - Don't Miss The Point

Final:  Elon 77, Drexel 67

Player of the Game:  Damion Lee
Key to the game:  Guarding the perimeter
Next Game:  Monday January 5 vs W&M @ the DAC

This is a bad basketball team.

Going into this game, I told a couple of Drexel fans that we knew DU was mediocre, but we didn't know much beyond that since they had beaten the teams that they should have beaten and lost to the teams that were any good.  I said that if we lost to Elon we would know that this is a bad basketball team.  So, now we know.

Many, including Coach Flint, want to say that the key to the game was the three point shooting in the first half by Elon.  Those that want to make that argument may not be wrong but they're completely missing the underlying point.

Taking a second and granting them the point, lets note this:  Tanner Samson took 10 attempts from long range in this game.  Tanner shoots 80% of his shots each year from 3.  He's the definition of a one trick pony.  Tanner is going to take jump shots from behind the arc, and that's it.  He's not going to drive by anyone.  He's not going to cut to the basket away from the ball.  He's the easiest guy on the court to guard, and it's not close.  In the preview I even said: 

Samson takes 80% of his shots from behind the arc though, so against a man to man defense, as long as his man doesn't leave to help out, there is no reason Samson should threaten the Dragons. 

(In my best Bruiser voice)  Dude took 10 shots.  He was open to shoot the ball 10 times.  (/Bru voice) For perspective, the other player in the conference who just sits outside the 3 point line is Towson's Four McGlynn.  McGlynn took 6 three point shots against the Dragons last year in two games combined.  More perspective: Last year when the Dragons played against the Phoenix in the Preseason NIT, Samson only took 5 shots.  

Samson was left open to shoot the ball 10 times in this game.  There were only 68 possessions in this game!  You're telling me that this guy, who only has one move, was left open to do it on 15% of the possessions?  And you want to give them credit for it?  Last year the Dragons only allowed 22% of the points against them to be scored from three point territory.  This year it's 28%.  

This year's Dragons are jumping off of their man too quickly since they don't trust their teammates to stay in front of theirs, they aren't fighting through screens and they're just plain soft.  Elon hit the shots, give them credit.  The Dragons are the ones that invited them to take the shots though and someone should mention that.

Again, all of that inside baseball misses the much larger, much more important point.  

At tip off of the game only 3 of the 32 President's Suite High Donor seats were occupied.  That total never grew beyond 5.  The games attendance was 1,061, a couple hundred of which were wearing Elon colors.  The Athletics Department will tell you that it was a winter break game, and that's why attendance is so low, or that the team needs to win to draw people (at which point, why do they need a marketing department?)  But we know that the Athletics Department doesn't think they can draw, with or without break.  They gave it away when the DAC was renovated and after this phase of the renovation it remains 321st in Division I in terms of capacity.  

The coaching staff says it will start winning once the DAC is improved or replaced entirely.  The Athletic Director will tell you that renovations will come when the donations come in.  The AD's staff will tell you that the donations will come in once the fan base expands, which it won't because they're not winning.  Rinse, wash, repeat, it's a cycle so regular that washing machines are jealous.

This circle of finger pointing has gone on for over a decade now, and all of the people running these areas, the Head Coach, Athletic Director, and External Relations Associate AD's, have been here for the entirety of that time.  A fan at the game against Elon told me that the feeling he got from the staff at the DAC was of "tenured" individuals.  No turnover, no urgency, it's a group that is appreciative of the status quo.  That's hard to argue.  They've had a decade to try to take this program to the next level, in a conference where they were surrounded by programs who have done and are doing just that.  

The fire Bruiser chants are increasing, and that is expected: this team is bad.  But Bruiser's basketball team is merely inheriting the characteristics that surround them, a culture that the Athletic Director has supported for 15 title-less seasons.  So go ahead and shout "fire Bru!" just realize that like the people who think Elon won this game by themselves, you're missing the point.  Accepting mediocrity doesn't leave with Bruiser.  Lack of donors and lack of facilities doesn't leave with Bruiser.  

An empty trophy case won't leave with Bruiser.

And that's the point.


  1. The circle of blame will continue because there are no forces that would make it stop. So, too, will the decreasing attendance, waning interest, and lack of donors. Right now we might as well be in 1991, only worse as we're not moving to a better conference, the AD is not retiring and there is no indication that any kind of a shake up is in order.
    Similarities are that we are about to have a third straight sub par season, CAA is becoming nearly as weak, irrelevant and ill-suited for Drexel as the ECC was and that interest in Drexel basketball is still very limited. Actually, in 1991 at least we only had to look 4 years into the rear view for an NCAA berth. How many is it now?

    At that time it took the university president (who was in about his 4th yr) to step in and decide that change was needed. He related the retention of the mens basketball coach to the teams performance in 1990-91. Although he didn't have to act on the AD (they were retiring), he did make the unpopular move to fire the late Eddie Burke. The VP for Student Life said, there is a need for more enthusiasm for our basketball team, from everyone - from students, from the university, from Philadelphia basketball fans. Burke was upset and many were outraged that such a loyal, long standing university figure was booted because of wins and losses.

    We can only hope that Mr. Fry inserts himself into the Athletic department in the next 3 months like Breslin did 24 years ago. Otherwise, as Dan says, rinse wash repeat.

    1. And maybe that is the main problem. Breslin wanted basketball to be more important and led the university to near bankruptcy. I'm guessing that the two had no correlation at all, but perhaps that explains a few things.

  2. I know there was a host of other issues with Breslin, and I was hoping to isolate to just this one issue. He saw a problem with the support, success, and enthusiasm for our major sporting team and he had the stones to take a chance and hire someone to fix it. It worked - temporarily. It might not work every time, but at this point its well worth the risk.