When the opposition shoots 29%, misses layups and open 3's (actually, all of their deep shots, they went 0-11 behind the arc) what more detail do you need? Teams from lower divisions would have beaten Charleston on Saturday. It's not about the game story this time, it's about what we've learned from this 4 game stretch, part of a 6-1, 7 game run the Dragons are on.
I made fun of that hashtag on twitter in mid January. A week after I did, Athletics hung a billboard facing my office window with that hashtag on it. And let me tell you something, if making fun of the Athletic Department means the basketball team starts winning games, then I'm about to lay down some smack. Like a lot of smack. Like Eric Zillmer's Ego is so big, it demands two psychologist at the same time - unless one of them is him - then one will do. But alas, I don't think my making fun of the Athletics Department is actually helping the team win, so I won't do that.
What has been helping this team win? Certainly the return of Rodney Williams. Five straight games of over a point per possession efficiency from Sammy Mojica. Turnovers are down, point guard Rashann London only has one game in conference play with more than 2, which is very strong for that position. Damion Lee certainly has been a can't miss part of the success.
Better shooters are taking the shots too. Freddie Wilson hasn't taken more than 3 shots in a game in the last month. Tavon Allen is using his body much better and taking more contact, perhaps overcoming his injuries a bit. In the last month he has taken 31 free throws. In the month prior: 10. Tyshawn Myles is the frontcourt answer to Sammy Mojica: High energy freshman that will make mistakes but will also make enough plays to more than justify his minutes on the floor. Most importantly, as a team they're winning. After collecting 3 wins in the first two months of the season, they have 6 in the last month.
Certainly scheduling has played into things. After a challenging out of conference schedule, the CAA is much weaker. The Dragons have only beaten two decent teams during this streak, and both of those were home games. It took shooting 60% to win one of those as well, and lets not expect that to happen again. The question then looms. While there has been significant improvement, should you #DUBelieve quite yet? Or has the shift just been from being one of the worst teams in Division I to a non-laughingstock, an improvement, but still not exactly a contender?
Regardless of whether you choose to be a cynic, or to #DUBelieve, the improvement in this team is unquestionable. The coaches should get, and deserve, the plaudits that are coming their way. On a personal level, how am I grading them out? The same way I have been all year:
In the last 4 games since Rodney Williams return, the Dragons +/- vs opponents has been:
3 Guard: +37
4 Guard: -5
I would #DUBelieve that this team was a contender if this staff ran their stuff, their sweet spot, what they've run forever. Right now, knowing they will look to go 4 guard against the top conference teams such as W&M or Hofstra, I can't buy in. There has been improvement, and a team that many, including myself, had thought was lost has been found. They can't defend or rebound in that set though, and continuing to watch them try is driving this fan mad. They're close now, and we all can see a way for them to compete. DUBelieve that they will though?
Comments section below. Let me know what you believe.