When asked about his fight with Alex Rodriguez, Jason Veritek answered
with the immortal: "We don't throw at .260 hitters" Apparently, JMU doesn't
protect 17% shooters either.
protect 17% shooters either.
The team left to move on without Nation is actually pretty good. While there is certainly a hole formed by Andre's departure there is certainly potential for an addition by subtraction situation as well.
The ball starts with solid point guard Ron Curry, who hasn't had a great shooting year but has stepped up as one of the better floor generals in the CAA. Around him are trees. 6'7" Jackson Kent is working his inside out game with pure shooting skill, 45% from downtown and 83% from the line. 6'8" Tom Vodanovich is running the 4 and showing that while young, he has some skill in the post, and that all sets up sophomore big man Yohanny Dalembert (yes, related to the former 6er) who is on his way to becoming a star in the CAA. At the shooting guard spot will be Cincinnati St transfer Winston Grays who has a pretty stroke. While their depth will be challenged, JMU has a quality team whose starting five will be just fine without The Nation.
What their size gives JMU in offense and rebounding, it takes away from in an area that Matt Brady's teams have historically struggled: Defense. Guys like Jackson Kent just aren't that mobile, and one of them will have to try and stick with Damion Lee. Since they can't do that, expect to see a lot of zone tonight (possibly even a return of the box and one) at the DAC as the Dukes try to counter the Dragons speed advantage. And that's where this game will be won and lost.
Zone defenses are primarily beaten with quick ball movement, perimeter shooting and offensive rebounding. Bru then has two options: Flood the floor with guards who can't shoot, knowing that Allen, London, Wilson and Mojica will all get wide open looks from mid range and beyond. The downside is that none of those guys have hit those looks before, and with only one forward on the floor against JMU's height, DU won't get any offensive rebounds. The alternative is to leave two of those four guards on the floor alongside Damion and two big men, leaving just as many shooters on the floor (1) and the possibility to get stick backs and clog the lane on defense.
Just in case we haven't beaten this into the ground enough, look Tuesday for a stats post breaking down the 4 guard vs the 3. It's ugly.
For my prediction, I'm assuming that Bru will show his stubbornness, because that's the track record. I look forward to knocking down a victory drink postgame if I'm wrong.
Prediction: JMU 56 - Drexel 48
Vegas Line: Drexel -2
Alan Boston's Notes: Since I have no idea what to make of Drexel, I shall try to shed some light on James Madison, or maybe not. Matt Brady saved his job with an improbable NCAA tournament run a couple years back. Like many mid majors they fell of the map last year with the suspension of Andre Nation. Again he has been a problem appearing briefly before being tossed once again. What is left is a lower division CAA team, a team with 6 frosh on the roster, a team that does have a nice win over Richmond and a win at Ball St, but also a myriad of poor performances. I say this with the utmost reservation, but this is a team Drexel should handle. It is not like they have been bad in conference. They beat Towson at home, won in Charleston, played Northeastern tough at home and kept it close at Wm&Mary. What does the suspension of Nation do? In the past it has seem to hurt them, with a lack of go to guy. This time, I have a feeling it may be different. He is obviously a problem. Perhaps the team will come together. The coach is very capable. The team seems to lack talent. Perhaps the freshman are good. You would think the NCAA appearance would have helped in that regard. To me Drexel is at least a notch better, but with Drexel this year, that seems not to matter.
Drexel 56 James Madison 51