Monday, January 12, 2015

UNCW - Learning From Our Mistakes

Final:  UNCW 64, Drexel 57

Player of the Game:  Damion Lee
Key to the game:  Interior Defense
Next Game:  Thursday January 10 vs James Madison at the DAC

Damion Lee is currently 5th amongst CAA guards in offensive efficiency (behind 4 guards from Hofstra, which is unbelievable).  Given the complete lack of offensive support that Damion gets from his teammates, and the ability for opposing coaches to key on him, that is a stunning accomplishment.  If the Dragons were to finish with less than double digit in conference losses, he would be a shoe-in for conference player of the year.  Quite frankly, he still should be, but the voters like to vote for the top of the league.

The Dragons are going to smash through double digit losses, no matter how good Damion is.  

In the same post game press conference in Wilmington, Coach Flint said, in almost back to back sentences:  "We sorta have to change the way we play," and "I got four freshman, so you can't make it too complicated."  If you're slamming your head against the keyboard now shouting about how dumb if you want to keep things simple then maybe you shouldn't change the way you play, well, you're not alone.  In a related story, Drexel is 1-6 in games where they have broken out the 4 guard set, beginning with the UD home game last year.

Friend of the blog @DrachenFire82 wrote on the CAAZone this morning:

I can't figure out if Bru is afraid the bigs will all foul out if he plays more 
than one or if he thinks he can chase points by throwing out another guard 
all the time. I mean, seriously, none of Bah, A Williams or Myles can be 
trusted with taking anything more than 2 shots per game? Combine that 
with, besides Lee, none of the other guards having a Penn's shot of finding 
the DAC of making a shot and we're shooting ourselves in the foot in 
attempting to come down with a board.

That's on point.  When choosing between a 4th guard or 2nd forward, the choice is adding another guard who isn't ready for primetime, or adding someone who can rebound the ball.  When a team shoots as poorly as the Dragons have this year, they need all the second chances that they can get.  With this smaller lineup, they aren't getting them.  What is the team adding by having an extra Mojica, Wilson or London out there that they can't get from a guard that is already on the floor?  The value add of an extra guard is minimal.  The value add of an extra big man is likely a handful of possessions a game and better interior defense (UNCW shot 60% from 2 in this game).  By the by, a couple of harder shots in the interior and 3-4 extra possessions for the Dragons wouldn't have made a difference in many of the games they have played recently - but would have likely been a huge difference maker in this game.

Now since the four guard set has just been beaten to death here, a couple of things in Bru's defense after this game.  The Assistant Director of Communications from the Dub sent out the list of who was officiating the game prior a few hours prior to tip off and it spelled trouble all over for the Dragons.  With Andrew Marotta and Bob Testa, two of the CAA's worst in the building, the foul count was sure to be high which is a significant disadvantage to a road team that was already undermanned.  Nothing Bru could have done about that besides pray that they didn't call stuff on Damion.  

Beyond the foul issues, Drexel proved at Towson that even in the four guard set they could slow the game down.  In the postgame presser, Kevin Keatts noted that he had wanted to play a game in the 70's or 80's, Bru didn't and that even though the score was low, Keatts liked the tempo of the game.  At only 64 possessions, the Dragons did slow the game down.  Maybe not as much as they could have, but for a game with 8 guards on the court, this was played pretty slowly, which is one of the reasons that the Dragons were in this game.  Playing slowly helped DU keep the turnover margain in their favor for the third straight game, a welcomed area of significant improvement for this team.  Have they gotten too safe though?  UNCW's freshman point guard had as many assists (5) as the entire Dragon team.  This was Drexel's second straight game with only 5 team assists, which is borderline unbelievable.  Coach Coen talked about how safe DU was with the ball last year and that they wouldn't make a dangerous pass even if it meant points, and this years team is taking that to another level.  There's a fine line between two many turnovers and not enough assists, if you're looking to see if this team is progressing, watch how that battle plays out in the next few box scores.

Back to back short rest road games are tough, 4 games in 8 days is tough, refs that will surely get your team in foul trouble is tough.  All of those things are much more complicated when you only have 8 guys.  It was a terrible spot for the Dragons to be in.  And yet, Drexel kept themselves in this game, even if it was Damion Lee doing it by himself on the offensive end.  In this tough season, the effort hasn't waned, and that's reason enough to continue to support the players on the court.  Come on out to the DAC on Thursday and show them you support that effort, and that we all support DU.

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