Their win against Wofford stands as one of the best out of conference wins for the CAA this year (sad) and they can still shoot the lights out. The Tribe has some skilled players in Tarpey, Dixon and Sheldon that can take some of the offensive pressure off of CAA Player of the Year candidate Marcus Thornton but their length doesn't make up for their lack of quickness on defense, like NU they turn the ball over too much, and they are badly missing Beasthoven's physical play. They can't box out your grandmother, so they better make the first shot because they won't get a second. A team that is this reliant on shooting makes their margin of error much too thin to be considered a favorite, and should struggle on the road where shooting percentages generally decline. To wit, they went 1-4 on the road in out of conference play, with the sole win against a terrible Western Illinois squad. W&M opens the CAA slate at home against College of Charleston but then has quick back to back roadies in Philly and Elon. The rest of the schedule runs pretty favorable. Mark em down for 8-1 at home, so if they can salvage 4-5 or better on the road (and they should) then they will finish towards the top of the table.
The above was posted in the beers of the CAA preview and was met with positive feedback from a few different folks down there that know what they are talking about it, which is always nice. Understanding that tonight's game is a road game on short rest for the Tribe, this is a terrible spot for them. No one, and I mean no one, thinks the Dragons are the better team in this game, but the tough scheduling for William and Mary makes it interesting. Here's what to watch for:
1) Offsetting the bad spot situation for William and Mary is the David vs Goliath battle of coaches. After starting 0-6 vs Bruiser's Dragons in his first three years with the Tribe, the Tribe of Shaver has gone 9-6 against Drexel, including the Valentine's Day massacre game that will never be forgotten.
2) William and Mary will want to play a guards game tonight, similar to Iona and Elon. Against the Gaels and Phoenix Bruiser indulged the opposing coaches, throwing a 4 guard lineup out there that couldn't keep up with the opposing guards. Not only that, but the lack of big men on the court led to second chances: The Dragons were outscored 22-8 in second chance points last game.
Stat of the day: When Elon shot the ball, 68% of the time they either made the shot or got their own rebound.
Playing 4 guards is a choice.
3) Damion Lee and Marcus Thornton are the two best guards in the conference. Prior to Damion's injury red shirt they were in the same class. Both are Maryland kids who saw plenty of each other prior to college and know each other well, so they always seem to be excited for this battle. It's maybe the best matchup of the year, so enjoy the treat of watching those two face off.
With the pace of this game much slower than the last two, we should see more Mohamed Bah, and hopefully less 4 guard play, especially with Tavon Allen hobbled. With the Dragons struggling this badly right now, I expect Tony Shaver to be able to take advantage, even with his own team playing as soft as the Dragons. Welcome to your first CAA Rockfight of the year.
Prediction: W&M 59 - Drexel 51
Vegas Line: W&M -4.5
Alan Boston's Take:
Here comes one of my favorite teams and one of my favorite coaches. Wm+Mary has never had a great basketball team. They have had great basketball coaches. Charlie Woolum and now in his 12th yr. Tony Shaver. Wm+Mary runs beautiful offense. It is a joy to watch. Their battle as it is with any school that tries to run a program properly, is they get outathleted. They have most of the players back from a very good team. Their best player is Marcus Thornton, who may be the best player ever at Wm+Mary. They had a decent pre conference with a win over a very good Wofford team and close losses both at Richmond+Old Dominion. They opened CAA play by destroying Coll of Charleston. Strangely enough, they outrebounded C of C 43-24. Coach at C of C said his team looked out of it, so perhaps one can ignore the magnitude of the score and the rebounding. I root for Wm+Mary. They are one of the few programs that are in this for the right reasons. They usually struggle on the boards. I would think that Drexel matches up well with them, but I am not sure about anything with this bunch. You keep waiting for Drexel to get it together. Again, they have a game they figure to play well in. But after recent debacles vs Iona+Elon, I would not count on it.
Still, I must go with logic