Friday, January 2, 2015

Elon - Preview

If there is still hope to be had for this years Drexel team, it's because they haven't lost to a bad team yet.  All of their losses this season have came against top 150 teams (kenpom and RPI).  This is why most ranking systems still have the Dragons sitting middle of the pack despite a 2-8 record.

Elon comes to the DAC on Saturday and they are not good.  The Pheonix have played a soft out of conference schedule which has led to a 6-5 record with their best win against Miami of Ohio.  Freshman Elijah Bryant is doing his best to make Tavon Allen look disciplined with his shot selection, they aren't getting anything from their frontcourt and their best shooter, Luke Eddy, just went down for the year with a knee injury.  That leaves Junior guard Tanner Samson as their lone threat from distance.  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.

The Pheonix want to play uptempo and for the second straight game I say let em.  As long as the Dragon guards spend a little less time admiring their shots and a little more time concentrating on transition D, that pace won't hurt DU.  It certainly appears that an uptempo game plays to Freddie Wilson's strengths at the point, and should create better looks for Damion Lee in transition as well.  Drexel's offense underperformed against Iona, but that was largely because of how soft DU played in the paint, it had little to do with pace of the game.  What uptempo will mean is less action for Mohamed Bah again, which is troubling with the absence of Rodney Williams.  DU is likely to see a 4 guard lineup at some point, and there will be significant pressure on the freshman forwards to perform.

If Elon wins this game it will due to the Dragons turning it over.  If Freddie plays like he did against Iona, this game is the Dragons to lose.

Prediction: Drexel 68 - Elon 59
Vegas Line:  Drexel -5.5

Alan Boston's Take:  Drexel starts their CAA campaign vs newcomer Elon.  They are led by long time Bob McKillop (Davidson) asst., Matt Metheny. He is a well respected head coach. Elon moves up to the CAA from the rapidly deteriorating Southern Conference. It is sad to see big money's ugly tentacles creep down to even the lower mid major level. Rivalries mean nothing. Money means everything. As teams scramble to find better conferences, to help recruit better players, to be a part of a lucrative television contract, we find leagues that bear little resemblance to what they looked like ten years ago. At least Philadelphia has the Big 5. Shame that Villanova still lives by scumbag Rollie Massimino's decision to not play their big 5 home games at The Palestra. Shame that money trumps tradition. Shame that big money has ruined college basketball. Come to Kentucky.  Play a year. Go to the pros. Basketball needs to do as baseball. Either go straight to the pros from high school, or you are required to stay at college for 3 years before you're allowed to go pro. College basketball should not be a minor league for the NBA. The big 5 should include Drexel and become the big 6. They should play all their games at The Palestra. Half the tickets go to each school. Although Elon fits well in the CAA, it does not mean they are here for the right reasons.

Elon has one starter returning from the schools best team ever. Like most majors, your home run team is senior laden. If you do it right, freshman replace seniors. Freshman who are not among the elite, struggle. Elon, recently lost one of their better scorers, Luke Eddy, for the season. Although they have won 2 straight since the injury, it was at Kennesaw St and home to Marist, not the best of competition. Elon does have a senior starting at all important point guard. Austin Hamilton continues to battle injuries that have haunted him since his freshman year. He played a season high 23 minutes in their easy (they led by 19 before late charge) win over Marist. He should be ready for more now that conference play begins. 

Elon is young and not overly talented. They are well coached which should scare any Drexel fans that remain. They have had some good efforts, winning in Miami Ohio, losing by only 13 at Duke, 5 at Missouri and 1 in overtime at Northwestern. They have won 3 in a row, 2 of which were on the road (although Greenesboro game was closer to neutral), so they come to Philly with confidence. Drexel has a big edge in talent but they are at a big disadvantage in coaching. Conference play is a new season. Among mid majors, it is all that matters. Drexel is the healthiest they have been in a very long time. With a new beginning, this looks like a good game for Drexel to turn it around. They should beat Elon, in fact, they should beat Elon with ease. But with the students not yet back, the big mismatch in coaching and a team that likely lacks confidence, you never know. I believe Drexel will get this turned around. Drexel 59 Elon 53

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