While the blog's conference preview liked UNCW to surprise in conference this year - and while they should be 3-0 - lets also note that it is a bit of a mirage. They really did blow the hell out of the Hofstra game, the Northeastern game was a fluke game in which the entire NU team was decidedly uninterested in playing basketball, and the Dub's best win out of conference was against a very weak East Carolina squad. So the 7-7 overall record is a bit misleading which is why Kenpom still doesn't believe in the Dub, ranking them 218th nationally and 6th in a weak CAA. That mirage might just play in a group of very young (and very poor) CAA teams, especially when three seniors are getting plenty of minutes. As a matter of fact, for those DU fans who don't think Damion Lee sits enough, take note that Wilmington's Freddie Jackson plays even more minutes then Damion.
Along with the coaching change in Wilmington went a style change. Gone are the days of rock fight, and in are the days of pressing, uptempo high scoring sexiness. And therein lies the ballgame.
Take note statheads, DU's two slowest games of the season look like this:
@ Towson: W 55-41
vs Southern Miss W 59-36
As all Drexel fans know by now, against three straight running teams (Iona, W&M, Elon), Bruiser went four guard and allowed opponents to dictate pace, and lost those three home games by an average of 15 points per game. In case this wasn't abundantly clear, Drexel needs to rockfight their way thru the CAA schedule while Keatts' squad would like to get out and run. Dictating the pace of this game should dictate the outcome.
On defense, the name of the game is denying Freddie Jackson. The Dub really doesn't have a guard to compliment him as Ponder will only challenges from deep and Jordon Talley isn't shooting well enough to be considered any kind of threat. Inside, the Seahawks have the omnipresent (and underrated) Cedrick Williams who is backed up by seven foot shot-blocking sophomore C.J. Gettys. Senior Addison Spruill is an undersized inside/out force at the 4 who will likely be the matchup to watch against Damion Lee if Bru deploys the four guard again.
Drexel fans, look for a rockfight, hope for a rockfight, but realize that Bru hasn't forced the tempo against an uptempo team yet this year. The question then is, did he learn from the Towson win?
Prediction: UNCW 69 - Drexel 58
Vegas Line: UNCW -5.5
Alan Boston's Notes: First year coach is former Rick Pitino assistant Kevin Keatts. This means two things. UNCW will be doing a lot more pressing and their half court offense will suck. Bruiser finally decided to go back to being Bruiser. It sickens me that I burned up all my money waiting for him to coach what he knows, but he did. The result a dominating win over Towson. Now comes UNCW a team that blew a late lead to Hofstra to start conference play. They then went to Boston and led heavily favored Northeastern wire to wire in a most impressive win. They came home and came from 6 down in the last 30 seconds and beat Delaware in overtime. Their play has been erratic to say the least. In part due to a new system. In part due to a freshman point guard. If Bruiser sticks to playing a grinding half court game, he will make UNCW lives miserable. Without great athletes, Pitino team's half court offense sucks. It makes sense that UNCW especially with a frosh point guard will struggle in that sort of game too. Drexel has dealt with better presses than they will see here. Please Bruiser stick with what works. If so, you will be once again rewarded.
Drexel 57 UNCW 49