Thursday, February 19, 2015

JMU (away) - Postgame

Final:  James Madison 82, Drexel 78

Player of the Game:  Damion Lee
Key to the game:  Bringing a knife to a gunfight
Next Game:  Saturday February 21 @ Northeastern

The exciting part about writing this piece is that I haven't thrown this fine wireless keyboard through a window to a snowy landing below.  Frustrations are running high at DragonsSpeak HQ right now as DU skids to a second straight loss.  "Skid" is the operative word there.  As in, when one confronts ice driving down the street and loses all control of their vehicle.  An out of control vehicle might end up sliding forward to safety, but more often then not one finds oneself not so much where the plan was to be.

The Dragons are skidding.

Specifically, they can't stop anyone. Yes, that's only in the four guard, but they seem hellbent on the four guard, so... the Dragons can't stop anyone.  Hofstra, 1.31 points per possession.  JMU 1.26.  The best offense in the country (Wisconsin) only does 1.24!  And yes, the four guard has helped the offense (kind of, we'll write on Tavon Allen's struggles next week) and they were especially outstanding yesterday, getting 1.20 points per possession themselves.  It was the first time ever in the Flint era that Drexel has scored 1.20 points per possession and lost.  The Dragons scored 49 second half points and didn't even tighten the score.  For the math and "we already knew this would happen" inclined:

13:07 in the three guard, 22 points allowed.  Over 40 minutes that's pace for giving up 67.1 points

Generously removing the six foul shots JMU hit in the final minute, here are the four guard numbers:

25:53 minutes, 54 points allowed.  Over 40 minutes that's pace for giving up 83.5 points

That's a 16 point difference.  That actually narrows the projected 17 point difference that we had been seeing.  Improvement looks interesting sometimes.

Any guesses on how many layups the 3 guard gave up?  Zero.  Four guard?  Twelve.

"But anonymous angry guy on the internet, look at the offense!" you say.  Glad you mentioned it!  Please allow me to drop some knowledge:

January 15, 2015.  Drexel scores a Flint career low 35 points.  Only 14 points scored in the paint

February 18, 2015.  Drexel's offense catches fire.  They score 18 points in the paint.  In the second half when they had a 49 point outburst?  Only 4 were scored in the paint.

This is peeking ahead to next week, but the four guard doesn't actually improve the offense.  It doesn't get better, higher percentage shots.  It just gets Sammy Mojica, a better jump shooter than 2 of the 3 starting guards, onto the court.  If Bruiser simply played Sammy more in favor of Tavon on offense, there's no indication that we would see any improvement at all when the Dragons go from the three guard to the four guard. At JMU, they held onto the ball exceptionally, but they didn't play better offense, they just hit a higher percentage of jumpshots.  Their own coach called them the worst shooting team in the conference, so you want to bet on this to happen again?

And that right there is the crux of the argument.  If all the team is going to do is take jumpshots, then yesterday is about the best offense that you can ever expect.  Low turnovers, high three point shooting.  With the best possible offense, they still lost the game.  Credit to JMU for hitting their jumpshots as well, and for hitting the boards hard.  Elon or Charleston or Towson lose that game, no question.  But when Drexel plays poor defense, doesn't rebound, and plays a top team, even their best offensive game will lose.  And that's what happened in Harrisonburg.  The Dragons played well.  They played their asses off, they never quit, and they played with heart.  They fought that steering wheel right to the end.  But the four guard defense has them skidding out of control.

Four Guard Tracker:

In the 7 games since Rodney Williams return, the Dragons +/- vs opponents has been:

3 Guard:  +15
4 Guard:  -9


  1. Should I be starting to get concerned that the + number for three guard has been shrinking? It's gone from +37 to +15 over the last four games. Guessing it's a matter of playing better shooting teams, but 3-guard has been outscored by 22 while 4-guard only 4.

  2. I understand the thought and I am watching it closely. What I would tell you now is that Damion Lee was 1/5 fg while the 3 guard was in and 7 of 10 while the four guard was on the floor. If you buy into the idea that he gets better shots when the 4 guard is on the floor then I guess you can say it's related, but I think the small sample size has a lot more to do with it than anything else. Had the team as a whole hit open jump shots at the same rate while the 3 guard was on the floor than the 4, the offense would have been similar and you would have seen significant +/- gains with the 3 guard.

  3. Oh good, now I'm going to have to investigate Damion's shooting in the 3 and 4-guard offense.