The two reasons the Dragons lost by 10 were named Elijah Bryant and Tanner Samson. Bryant had 32 points on 20 field goal attempts in his third most efficient game of the season, while Tanner Samson did what he do. 11 shot attempts, 10 of those were from deep. He went 40% from long range. Take note for this time around: In two of Elon's three CAA wins, Samson has double digit attempts from long range.
Put simply, if he gets that many looks from three, your team is playing shit defense.
The Dragons were playing very shitty defense that day, while turning the ball over 19 times. Add that up, and it equals out to a home double digit loss to one of the three worst teams in the league.
So why will things be different this time? Elon is a running team, so Drexel can be expected to go four guard again. I was asked on twitter by @jonpoet if the problem wasn't the four guard lineup, but rather who was in it. That deserves its own post, but in short, the four guard puts a ton of pressure on the forwards. Since Damion Lee plays the four in that set and is a non-factor on the offensive boards (he's often on the perimeter on offense, or shooting the ball himself), this lineup requires a big man that is exceptional at crashing the boards, and at the other end positions himself to help on defense while still shutting down his own man one on one. With forwards like Mohamed Bah (rebounding has been disappointing), Austin Williams (not ready for prime time), and Tyshawn Myles (coaches don't seem to want to play him despite elite rebounding rates) this wasn't a good fit.
The bizarre part about this is the only guy who could even have a chance of making this work is Rodney Williams. That's only bizarre because the Drexel staff installed this lineup as a response to Rodney getting hurt, they hadn't run it this year until he went down. Personally, I think that the Drexel defense and rebounding has been so amazingly poor in this set that the return of Rodney will be akin to sticking a band aid on a sucking chest wound. It may save a few points, but it will still be pretty terrible. And that's the problem with this Elon matchup. Elon runs and runs and runs, and instead of trying to dictate the game and slow it down, Drexel will go with the speed lineup themselves, just as they did the first time. And that's troublesome.
This game is a big game for the Dragons. As I wrote yesterday, the magic number to avoid friday is 3. They follow this game up with a short rest roadie at Charleston which will be a challenging game, and coming off a three game winning streak, back to back losses to conference bottom dwellers would really take the wind out of the Dragons sails. While this is a much better edition of the Drexel team, with the return of Rodney and the guards turning the ball over much less, I still don't believe that DU can overcome how poor they are defensively when they put in the four guard. Elon will have to beat themselves for the Dragons to win tonight.
Prediction: Elon 68, Drexel 60
Vegas Line: Elon -2
Alan Boston's Notes: Elon began their conference play with what then was a surprising win at Drexel. Since then, it has been a mixed bag, not surprising, given the youth on Elon's roster. They somehow beat the best in the conference, William and Mary 85-79 but also lost to both College of Charleston and Towson at home. Elon returns home after getting blown out at both Wilmington and Northeastern. Unfortunately for them, they are catching Drexel at the absolute wrong time. Drexel is coming off a home run win over red hot UNCW. Since Williams returned, Drexel has become a different team, a better team, one that is a threat to do some damage in the conference tournament. Williams return has given Drexel some much needed depth. It has given Bruiser options. He no longer needs to use 4 guards. I can only hope for Drexel's sake that Bru continued with that nonsense to counter pressing UNCW. Four guards has been a complete disaster. Sure vs UNCW it helped vs the press, but Drexel shot the lights out, which turned out to be a necessity, given that they were outrebounded 35-31. It has been beaten to death, but it deserves to be. Bruiser can not coach 4 guards. He does not recruit to play 4 guards. Four guards is not Bruiser and it showed on the court, with results that were seemingly not possible. Drexel fans should hope it is in the past, for good. If so, Drexel should win this game. They are the better team. They will have that extra bit of focus, that comes when you lose to a team at home and get to play them on their court. I know there is a chance for Drexel to be a bit flat off such a terrific effort, but I think as Williams plays more and more, the team gets better and better. Drexel continues to roll, that is, unless Bruiser puts 4 guards on the court.
Drexel 68 Elon 57