Five and five.
After leaving out of conference play at 2-8, then losing Rodney Williams to a stress fracture for the first half of conference play, the joy in Mudville was less than full. Getting out of the opening 10 games of conference play at .500 with Rodney Williams back seems like stealing. And while the back end of the season is a bit of a loaded schedule (only 3 of the final 8 games are at home, and one of those home games are against Drexel's worst matchup: Hofstra) it looks like 3 wins down the stretch will get them out of playing on Friday night. With Rodney back and favorable headwinds going into the final 8 games, that seems a very attainable goal. Coincidentally, that would also crack 10 wins for this seasons edition of the Dragons, taking the season from "Disaster" to "Disappointing".
Looking at the eight remaining games, here's a quick rundown of each opponent:
2/5 - Elon - They shot the ball well to beat W&M early in the year, their only top 200 win all season. A very high paced team that tries to force teams to turn the ball over on defense (DU had 19 in the first meeting). On offense, might be the one team in the league with worse shot selection than the Dragons. Tanner Samson, a spot up shooter is the only efficient guy on the team. Elijah Bryant "makes the team go" but he's their answer to Tavon Allen on shot selection, except he shoots it almost 50% more often than Tay. More on this tomorrow.
2/7 - College of Charleston - Very tough game. Quick turnaround back to back road games for the Dragons. They had to squeak out a win against C of C at home, and if they're tired and sloppy, they will pay dearly for that in a low possession game where each bucket is worth a little more than normal. This is the game that fans will expect as a win, but is right smack in the middle of the Danger Zone for the Dragons.
2/10 - Towson - Mark it down as a must win. They play a style that Drexel prefers, they don't have a point guard, Four McGlynn is overwhelmed with his workload and with apologies to John Davis, they don't have a guy that can create their own shot. All the Dragons need to do in this home game is play composed, run their sets, and the final score will be there.
2/15 - Hofstra - The league finally found out what Hofstra was. Specifically, the Pride have no pride in their defense. This allows the better offensive teams in the conference to outscore them (W&M put up 100, Northeastern 91!). The problem with that is that the Dragon offense doesn't force opposing defenses to work. Bruiser himself will tell you that his offense takes what the other team gives, it doesn't create. Drexel wants no part of a scorefest, and even less so against a running team like Hofstra. This is a miserable matchup for DU.
2/18 - JMU - As anticipated in this space, JMU looks better without Nation and currently resides as the surprise of the conference. Having already played Northeastern and W&M 4 times (0-4), their remaiing schedule is soft and they may cruise to a top 4 seed. On the road in Harrisonburg, this game should give Drexel fans a good barometer on Bruiser. His team was totally embarrassed as they were unable to solve the JMU zones for 40 minutes, en route to the worst offensive output in Flint's career. Have they learned and adjusted since then?
2/21 - Northeastern - Harrisonburg to Philly to Boston in 3 days in mid February. Thanks schedule makers! Bit of a revenge game for Northeastern, but if they continue to slow it down, we should continue to like DU. In a slow paced game, Drexel simply takes care of the ball better than U does. In the first matchup, the Dragons ended up with 11 more field goal attempts along with 2 more free throw attempts than the Huskies did. When the game is going to be low scoring, that many extra shots will win it almost every time. The coaching edge is obviously in Coen's corner the second time around, and it's in Boston, so no one get ahead of yourself, but with Eatherton and Co looking a bit soft, this game is there for the taking. Northeastern needs a leader almost as badly as Hofstra needs a defense. They don't seem to have it.
2/26 - Delaware - Senior night at the DAC against a team the Dragons led wire to wire against on the road. They have a fluke win against William and Mary when the Tribe fell asleep, but otherwise haven't shown themselves as any good all year long. With a loaded schedule in front of them, I expect 1, maybe 2 wins the rest of the way for the Hens. The Dragons need to ensure that they aren't on that list.
2/28 - Short rest game against a William and Mary team that is a bad match upon Marcus Thornton's senior night? As mentioned in the season preview, this will be ugly. Like, I may not even cover this game because it will be that kind of ugly, ugly. Note: The only other game this year the Blog didn't cover was the U Sciences game.
As things stand, four, maybe five of these games look winnable. To avoid Friday night, and get to 10 wins, the Dragons need to win three of those. It starts tomorrow at Elon.
Buckle up, it'll be a fun ride.