Final: High Point 75, Drexel 66
Player of the Game: Rodney Williams
Key to the game: Interior Defense
Next Game: Saturday November 21 vs Monmouth
The Dragons opened their home slate against an underrated High Point on a warm DAC Wendnesday. With a home game against an opponent that should be playing at a level similar to the high end of the CAA talent pool this was a great opportunity to learn who the Dragons are as a team. In a game with plenty of takeaways, there was one overriding theme.
High Point coach Scott Cherry knows what he is doing. His team members know their role and they were very aware of opposing personnel, which was clearly exemplified in the paint throughout the game. In the era of valuing each shot, Coach Cherry has his shooters behind the three point line and his guys who play on the blocks or penetrate taking high percentage shots or none at all. Of their 60 points scored from the field last night, 56 were scored inside the paint or behind the arc. No midrange jumpers to be seen. This is what coaches who understand modern basketball do, and his team has completely bought in, in very impressive fashion.
The challenge of defending smart offense was given to the Dragons, and Bruiser Flint's starting five did surprisingly well defending it. They did a good job in the paint which enabled the guards to hang with their men on the perimeter. And then Rodney Williams picked up his second foul, just 3:41 into the game, causing Coach Flint to sit Williams for the remainder of the half. That's the moment when Drexel fans learned that we'd all been fooled with talk of depth, five forwards and ten interchangable pieces that could be pushed in and out to best matchup with an opponent. As it turns out, Rodney Williams is not an interchangeable piece.
With Williams in the game those first three minutes and change, High Point had only scored three points and that was on one of their two mid range jumpers throughout the game and a free throw. John Brown was 0/2 from the field with a turnover and no rebounds. Williams left and Brown's line for the remainder of the half was 5/6 from the floor, 14 points and 4 rebounds. Looking at the full game, the Dragons outscored the Panthers by 11 in the 19 minutes with Rodney in the game, and were outscored by 20 in the 21 minutes without him. Brown's full game line with Rodney in the game? 5 points, 5 boards, 2 turnovers and 4 of his 5 missed shots. Drexel coaches and fans knew going into the game that how they played Brown 1 on 1 would weigh heavily on the outcome of the game and what everyone learned was that DU only has one frontcourt player that can guard a player on that level.
There were some positives coming out of this game for the Dragons as well. Kaz Abif seems like he could be a real offensive threat this year and a guy that the Dragon guards can and should look to feed the ball to. Then there was the real stunner of this game, when Tavon Allen put on one of his career best showings, at one point he was 6/6 from three. If Tavon is going to take 11 shots in a game, it's good news when 8 of them are from behind the arc as his midrange game has been a four year struggle. The other continued sign of hope was the play of Terrell Allen who continues to look like a veteran at the point. Fifteen trips to the free throw line along with 4 assist and just 2 turnovers along with a genuine leadership when on the ball makes Terrell continue to be the bright beacon of hope in the young season.
While there was low points (someone put starting sophomore Sammy Mojica on a milk carton please) including the release that Major Canady is out for the season due to injury again, there continues to be hope for this young looking team. While they seem a year away, if Bruiser can fix the interior defense, he's already found some consistent offense from Terrell Allen, and Kaz Abif along with hopefully getting Ahmad Fields back soon. What we learned in these first two games of the year is that there is plenty of potential here in a season that could be the truest measure of this coaching staff in a long time. And with that, we're onto Monmouth.