Saturday, November 28, 2015

San Diego - Pregame

Insert Obligatory "Anchorman" Reference Here

Alan did a better job than I could ever do writing up this San Diego team's quagmire, so please reference his piece below for pertinent knowledge on the squad.  Quick and dirty version from my eyes: San Diego lost star Johnny Dee (great f'n name) and head coach Bill Grier last year.  Largely due to self inflicted wounds they should stink to high heaven this year. They have lived up to that billing, and I am totally convinced that UA-Anchorage is better than them (and had home court against DU).  This is a much easier game for the Dragons than playing the D-II team was.  Crazy world we're living in.

That short write-up on the opponent is indicative of where the Dragons are right now.  They need to treat their own wounds before they worry about who is on the opposite bench from them.  The good news is that after today's throwaway game the Dragons only play one game in the next 17 days - plenty of time to reassess, ignore statistics and breakdown video if they're allowed to.

The following statement is a true statement.  I want to make it very clear that it is NOT something that I am advocating.

If the administration were ever to make a move midseason, it would be after a loss today.  If the Dragons return home 0-6 and the admin was already considering moving on in the offseason then they need to consider making the move now.  The Dragons have one game in 17 days so there is time for a new coach to acclimate himself.  Generally when a new coach comes in their team plays harder for them for the first game (see: Dolphins, Miami) and the next game happens to be an embarrassment in waiting against city rival La Salle.  If there was one spot all season to make the move, it would be when the Dragons plane lands this week.

Here's why they should not make the move:  First and foremost, it's 800k in dead money.  That's an awful lot for President Fry to choke down.  Second, the interim coach would be someone from his staff, who are all Bru disciples, and they would need to carry the DU banner the whole season knowing that they weren't coming back next year no matter what they did.  Knowing they won't be there next year also kills any chances to recruit.  Beyond that, the current players (see: Mojica, Sammy and Allen, Terrell) have much longer for people to whisper thoughts of transferring in their ear, making it much more likely they leave the program.  Firing Bru at this time is a full reset button and ensures that the program is as bad next year and maybe the next few, as it is right now. 

The wiser play right now is to offer Bruiser the almighty "vote of confidence" and assure him he will get anything he needs to help this team get better.  And we can be reasonably confident that this will happen as Dr. Zillmer is, how shall we say, heavily invested in the success of Bruiser Flint.  And Dr. Eric Zillmer doesn't think Dr. Eric Zillmer is wrong very often.

So yes, I have seen your emails, I have gotten the texts, I know the CAAZone has been a "Fire Bru" cesspool for years now (and I continue to be upset that it has driven rational people away from that community, which is an important community in our small landscape.  The zone is an opportunity to have your voices heard by Drexel Admin pretending not to hear it, and that's critical feedback that they may not otherwise get so I encourage everyone to post there).  

Beyond DU fans, I have been contacted by multiple people outside our program about Bru's job and that's a noteable change.  It shows how bad this situation is - people around the college hoops community are noticing that DU's dumpster fire is getting out of control.  That's uncomfortable from the coaches to the administration to the fans.  But that perception doesn't mean an in-season move is the right call - just ask conference-mate UNCW, who may or may not have been heckled by Drexel fans after doing just that.

There's an on the court reason not to make the move too.  Excluding Tavon Allen's awful 9/31 (29%) from INSIDE the arc this year, the Dragons are shooting 56.4% from two this year, good for 26th in the country (tied with Kentucky).  The Bru led team record for 2pt shooting is 49.6%, accomplished by the team that should have danced in 06-07.  That's the beginning of good offense, and the coaching staff has adjusted towards it.  The Dragons are taking less 3's than almost any Flint coached squad before it.  He has them taking the correct shots, and they are making those shots, for the first time in his career.  

There's more good signs on offense: after an awful start to the year, turnovers are trending down. The Dragons are also 31st in the country at getting to the line which is outstanding.  If they control Tavon's shot selection (as in, none inside the arc) this has the makings of a real offense.  

The big, blatant, gigantic holes in this team come in the areas of rebounding and defense.  A person wiser than me reminded me yesterday that these things are 90% effort.  This is about guys buying in, trusting and supporting each other.  When Rob Brooks is talking about players not having legs in the first game of a tournament, that's not about lack of energy.  That's lack of heart.  

Ask a Drexel fan who has followed this program for a decade if Bru can fix someones shot and that person will laugh in your face.  But ask if Bruiser can get his guys to play hard.  He can.  This appears to be a fixable problem as it stands, and Bru might actually be just the guy for it.  But he can't keep sounding like a beaten man in interviews.  Fans get his confusion - the stuff that he normally does wrong is actually going right - so he thinks this team should be good.  And it's very clearly not a good team right now, he's said that himself.  A lot.

Much like an Athletic Department, this team is going to embody it's leader. That leader needs to find his voice and return to his basics - to hit the reset button for this team.  And he needs to do it before someone else hits the reset button for this program.

Prediction:  Drexel 67, San Diego 60
Vegas Line:  Drexel -4.5

Alan Boston's Take:

Drexel finally found a team they can beat, perhaps even beat soundly. San Diego U had all but hired Columbia coach Kyle Smith but it got nixed very late in the process. In comes Lamont Smith, an alum who was an assistant to Craig Neal. He has no head coaching experience and he has worked for Randy Bennett, so perhaps he knows something, but the way it went down just wreaks of politics which generally does not work out. Years ago, they had a solid program and a terrific coach in Brad Holland. With the success of Gonzaga, several in the league got greedy. San Diego U was one.  With only 2 starters returning, a freshman point guard and a coach who likely does not belong, San Diego U has been terrible.  They played their best game in the first round of this tournament. Even Bruiser can't fuck this one up. Yes, I have finally knocked a coach I have always had tons of respect for, but perhaps my respect for the man, has negated the fact that he is not a great head coach.

Drexel 80 San Diego U 63

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