Monday, February 23, 2015

Northeastern (away) - Postgame

The losses are piling up in West Philadelphia like the snow in Boston and no one is happy to lose what was a winnable game.  With the loss the Dragons upcoming Senior Night battle with Delaware goes from a "really could use this" game to a virtual must win in order to stay out of playing Friday night as well as to finish .500 or better in conference.  It moves DU to a miserable 2-7 against the top half of the conference, a record that screams "not for real," which, we all kind of have figured out by now.  Well, most have.  Because I haven't.

I'm as confused as I've ever been actually.  The 1.03 points per possession that NU had in regulation was a decent number for the Dragons defense.  And it's the defense that has been the overwhelming problem.  Good news, then, something to stand by?  Well, no.  It was NU's 16 turnovers that brought that number down, not their shooting.  The unbelievable stat to me is that the Huskies made 20 two point shots.  18 of those were in the paint.  They hit only 2, that's 2 mid range jumpers.  The Dragons are still letting opponents drive, and the help isn't coming fast enough on the interior.  Meanwhile, when they actually were forced to the outside, it was for open looks leading to a 50% shooting percentage behind the arc for the Bostonians.  And that shit is just weird.

Why is that so weird you ask?  Glad you did.  Allow Ken Pomeroy to answer:

A defense predicated on staying in front of your man, of a Belichick-ian "Do your job" mentality, suddenly is trying to help too much, to jump into passing lanes, and force turnovers.  Normally I'd say that speaks to a lack of trust in your teammates, like the times when you're playing pickup and you just know that kid can't stay with who he is trying to mark, so a better player cheats off his man to help.  Bru called it "Hero Ball" earlier in the season.  Obviously whatever it is hasn't been extremely successful this season, but after years of seeing the same to the same results, this was a fanbase crying out for change.  So we saw some zone last year, we see some over pursuit this year, some traps, and I'll be the first to tell you that I have no idea what to make of it.  While the initial reaction, seeing the losses pile up, is less than kind, the fact is that sometimes there are growing pains when trying to grow.  The question then becomes:  Is this a conscious decision to try to force turnovers by the staff, or has Bruiser merely lost his identity?  If it's the first, then they're building to something, and fans should appreciate that.  If it's the second, well, then it's time for a new staff.  There's no in between here.

There is one other significant takeaway from this game, and it's easily correctable.  Bill Coen didn't double Damion Lee.  He did damned sure make him every part of the scouting report.  Watch the tape and anytime Lee puts the ball on the ground, half the NU team (sometimes 4/5th) leaves their man and collapsed on defense.  He needed to find the open guy there and didn't.  When running four guard, the big man was trying to box out a path for Damion and thus wasn't availabe for a pass.  Instead of watching, one of the off the ball guards needs to be cutting for the hoop and looking for a pass there.  Get that and turn those tough shots for Damion into a layup for Rashann London.  As talented as Damion is (and he won these battles a good deal), 1 on 4 makes for a long day at the office.

We knew going into this matchup that DU would win the turnover war, and NU the shooting.  The thought was that rebounding would make the difference.  And even when running the four guard, DU rebounded with the best of them, they dominated the glass in this game.  It just wasn't enough to overcome Northeastern's ease of getting to the lane and foul shooting.  Most of the time though, that turnover and rebounding formula is good enough to win.  And while the defense still needs a lot of cleaning up, there was progress here.  So as bad as things are in Dragon land, maybe we are seeing progress.  It's getting late though, and if you have to break some eggs to make breakfast, if this staff has an omelet in them, it's time to present it.

Four Guard Tracker:

In the 8 games since Rodney Williams return, the Dragons +/- vs opponents has been:

3 Guard:  +7
4 Guard:  -11


Obviously, the above was written before the news about Damion broke.  The break no doubt had an effect on his ingame decision making, although I stand by what was written above.  My thoughts are with Damion at this time obviously, and Wednesday I will writeup a post looking at the effects that his injury will have on the team.  

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