Friday, January 30, 2015

UNCW (home) - Pregame

Quick little statistical/gaming note,* when a home team wins by less than 3 and then has a road rematch later in the season, the opposing team wins the rematch upwards of 67% of the time.  Home court advantage is almost always considered to be 3 points or more, so by winning by less than 3 it is assumed that on a neutral court, the team that won by less than 3 is the weaker team.  In a road game situation the team that lost that first game actually becomes a heavy favorite for game two.

UNCW won the first matchup between these teams by 7.  If you move that 6 points for the swing from one home court to another, UNCW should then be about a point favorite at the DAC.  Simple math.  Except that it's wrong.  For a couple of reasons:

First, Rodney Williams has returned.  Was he rusty and seemingly ineffective last game?  Sure.  But his mere presence allowed Coach Flint to have the comfort to play 28 minutes of two forward basketball.  The first time that Drexel played UNCW, they played four guard for 36 minutes of the game and two forward for just 4 minutes.  That led to UNCW hitting 61% of two point shots, totally 30 points in the paint against the Dragons.  That ain't happening this time.

Second, while UNCW is straight fire right now, winning 7 of their last 8, including impressive road wins against Hofstra and Northeastern, they are no longer running like wildfire.  Specifically, after playing 7 of their first 11 games with 70+ possessions, they haven't played that way once since the new year.  It appears that Kevin Keatts is slowing things down as a way of helping out his slightly overwhelmed freshman point guard, Jordon Talley.  This game should be a 60 possession or so CAA rockfight, and it's clear that those are the games that Bruiser & Co prefers to play in.

Add these together, along with the emergence of one Tyshawn Myles, and suddenly UNCW shouldn't be a one point favorite anymore, should they?  What, you haven't heard about Tyshawn Myles yet?  Well lets help some CAA coaches urinate in their finely tailored pants:


It's a razor small sample for Myles, but look!  Look!  Get excited!  Freshman Tyshawn is outrebounding Sophomore Samme Givens!  He has a turnover rate 25% lower than the next best current DU big man.  The foul shooting is an issue, sure, but this is the guy.  He's positioning himself well, never getting over the backs called on him, and buying the Dragons extra possession after extra possession.  He only played 5 minutes the first time these teams squared off.  That ain't happening this time either.

Prediction:  Drexel 62 - UNCW 56
Vegas Line:  UNCW -1.5

*This should be foot noted but the book I am referring to is packed right now in preposition of a move tomorrow.  If anyone knows the study so I can give credit more quickly, please send an email to DragonsSpeaks@gmail.com  




Alan Boston's Notes:  The surprise of the CAA, UNCW, arrives in Philly, winners of 7 in a row. Their first year coach Kevin Keatts is a former assistant to Rick Pitino, a coach I do not hold in high regard, so I am surprised by their success.  I thought they might struggle in rematches as teams are more acclimated to their pressing style, but in their loan rematch. they beat Hofstra, a team they blew a lead to in their first battle. Still, I think teams will do better 2nd time vs UNCW. 
In their first game, UNCW+Drexel played a close game that UNCW won 64-57. However that was Drexel, sans Williams. Drexel played their best half of basketball this year, in the comeback win over Northeastern. With Williams return, Bruiser should get rid of the ridiculous 4 guard offense. 4 guard offenses are effective because  speed can trump power. I have no doubt that 4, maybe even 5 guard offenses will become common. However, Bruiser does not play fast well, so the 4 guard look has been an unmitigated disaster. Even though 4 guards makes sense vs pressing Wilmington, Bruiser needs to be rid of it completely. If he does, with Willliams more comfortable his 2nd game back, I expect Drexel to build on the excellent 2nd half vs Northeastern. They are certainly good enough now to handle upstart UNCW.

Drexel 65 UNCW 55

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Northeastern – The Happy Recap!

Final: Drexel 65, Northeastern 60
Player of the Game (non-Lee edition): Rodney Williams
Key to the Game: Limiting NU opportunities
Next Up: Saturday, January 31 VS UNCW @ 4 PM

Hi, I’m not Dan, I’m Ryan, but you probably know me as DrachenFire (if you ever visited Busch Gardens Williamsburg, my namesake may have given you a concussion) or, if not that, as bottom right hand corner guy:
I was honored to be asked to fill in for last night’s game and provide a post-game recap. It’s probably a bit long and I wasn’t able to make the game, so I watched while trying to balance a two year old and keep him from knocking over the table holding my iPad with the game on. So here are my thoughts, if you don’t like them, blame Dan. It is his blog after all.

If you had checked the CAA standings prior to last nights’ games, you would have found 5 teams sitting above .500 in league play, separated by a game between the tied for first 6-2 teams (WM, UNCW and NU) and the 5-3 teams (HU and JMU). That Drexel was 0-4, and had lost by an average of 20 points to 4 of them, probably didn’t elicit a great deal of confidence as they hosted the fifth of those teams in Northeastern to wrap up the first half of conference play. However, the Bru Crew were coming off a 53-51 homecoming win against Charleston and received the good news that Rodney Williams would be making his conference debut which hopefully would turn into the great news that the 4 guard lineup was dead.

As posted in the pregame, and as should be remembered by anyone who watched the NU/DU tourney game last year, Northeastern is a heavily in the paint centered offense. Here’s the chart again:

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-RSFGquiTTQU/VMkgL5owDEI/AAAAAAAAAv4/wLO4zc2HWYQ/s1600/NU.jpg

48.7% of their shots occur at the rim and they make 56.5% of them. While it was mentioned that their overall offensive rebounding isn’t the best, they are currently 3rd in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage in conference play. So the key was to limit their shooting opportunities by crashing the glass and causing them to keep turning the ball over (fun stat: Drexel is #1 in defensive turnover percentage in CAA play) while limiting our own turnovers. Special focus would be placed on keeping Scott Eatherton from reaching the 17.0 PPG and 13.3 RPG he averaged in three meetings against Drexel last year.

As the game tipped, we were treated to the familiar 3 guard, 2 forward setup, and there was much rejoicing. Burry the 4 guard, pee on its fresh grave and onto getting things turned around! For the first 9:16, things were going relatively well. Northeastern was running their offense, but the Dragons were right there hanging tough, playing at a good pace and only down by 3. At the under 12, Eatherton subbed out with 6 points and 2 boards and the hand of the 4 guard punched its way through its freshly dug grave and checked into the game. Drexel went on a quick 4-0 run to take the lead and Coen sent Eatherton back in and Bru did not respond. While Eatherton only provided 2 more points, NU’s continuing focus at the rim as well as their first two made three-pointers allowed the Huskies to end the half on a 19-8 run to head into the break leading 29-19. The half ended with Drexel having the same amount of shots, while shooting worse, even rebounding and -1 in the turnover department while playing over half the time with 4 guards. That led to this internal conversation during halftime:

Me: Hey Dr. Zillmer, what diagnosis do you give a coach that continues to go 4G expecting different results?
Zillmer: The same diagnosis as someone who continues to watch and has imaginary conversations with the AD.
Me: Curses. You win this round Imaginary Zillmer.

The second half should be a reason of great optimism for the Dragon faithful – almost all 3 guard, 2 forward. They limited the Huskies to only taking 21 second half shots to their 32, they out turnovered them 8-0 and, while winning the total rebounding margin by only 3, they only permitted the Huskies 1 offensive rebound, just to not be poor hosts. It was an almost complete reversal of the first half; one that saw the preferred lineup go +18 for the half to erase the 10 point halftime deficit, and ending the game +15, compared to the total game -10 of the 4 guard lineup. It’s time to bury the 4 guard for good, at least during meaningful game time. There may be a place for it on offense when trying to hold a lead late in the game.

I know I’m going to get some flak for picking Rod as the POG. We all know what Damian can do, and Sammy played very well last night contributing 10 points, but I’m sticking with Rodney. The post-Samme era has been plagued by injuries, yes, but also the complete unbalancing of the offense. Since the 06-07 season, which best I can tell is when we went to primarily the 3G/2F set, the shot distribution has been about 60-40 to 65-35 in favor of the guards. The bigs provided 33-45% of the points each season and scored a combined 20 or more points around 24 times each season. Drexel went 93-49 when the bigs provided 20+ points, when they didn’t 23-27. Since Samme’s graduation the shot spread has gone 75/25, 80/20 and through the Iona game this year 75/25. Big point contributions shrunk from 35% in Samme’s last year to 24%, 23% and 25% post Iona. Rodney was responsible for 60% of big FGAs, and was 3rd on the team in FGAs. In the first 8 CAA games, guards shot 9 out of every 10 shots and scored 91% of the points. The bigs were only averaging 4.6 shots per game. In his first game back, Rodney had 8 attempts and the spread was back down to 80/20. Still not good, but better, and as Rodney knocks the rust off, hopefully things even out a bit more. It’s important. They don’t get the 20 nearly enough post-Samme, but they still win – 12-5 past three years, opposed to 23-41 when they don’t.

As for Lee, who I haven’t really mentioned until now because he truly deserves to stand alone, he went off for 33 (24 in the second half) on 9/16 shooting, 3/5 from three and 12/12 at the line. If this were broadcast on one of the NBC networks, they would have had to superimpose the peacock feathers as he strutted to the line towards the end of the game he was so confident he would knock them down. I know the team has had issues this year, but you owe it to yourself, Damion and the team, because they have played their butts off this year, to head to the DAC because he is special to watch. Hopefully, the team can start to pull themselves out of the hole they dug the first 8 games so his POY chances start to increase. His odds should be high now if you look at his conference rankings beyond points (he’s up to 23.1) and minutes played. He’s 5th in RPG, 2nd in defensive RPG; he’s 13th in assists per game and 5th in steals. Seriously, just give him the award now. Consider all that, and what this team would look like if he wasn’t on it. The horror. There’s no way to know how many more chances you’ll have to see him live and in person on Sam Cozen Court. Pack the DAC, cheer him on, cheer on the rest of the team and let’s keep the momentum going!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Northeastern - Pregame

The first half of the conference season closes with a big one at the DAC, and it kicks off a stretch of games that will almost certainly determine the Dragons seeding when they head to Baltimore.  Consider that two of these four games will be played in the rockfight style that the Dragons have found favorable (Northeastern, Charleston), one is a revenge game at home against a good but not great UNCW squad and the final game is against an Elon team that is 1-4 in its last 5.  On the flip side, two of these four games are against teams tied for first in the conference, one is against an Elon team that destroyed the Dragons, and the final game is a Saturday road game that will involve short rest travel.  Storylines abound.  Lets just project a 2-2 split and call it a day shall we?

Not so fast.  The return of Rodney Williams should return this team to a two forward rotation, and significantly strengthen the Dragons interior defense.  UNCW shot 60% from two against the Dragons the first time around, and that's not happening against a three guard/ two forward Dragon set.  Wednesday's game against Northeastern is a bit of a different animal though, and it's because they run a perfect offense.

Rockfights.  Low possession, low scoring games.  Nailbiters on the road.  This is what defines Coen's teams and Flint's teams, same strategy, same competitive outcome, right?  That's a common thought, and the common thought couldn't be more wrong.  Yes, both teams play slow, and playing slow leads to more close games.  But this year, the teams couldn't play more differently.  Bill Coen spoke last year about how Bruiser's offense is unwilling to make the risky pass that leads to the easy shot.  This year, that pass defines Northeastern's season.  They are risking the ball, turning it over on 20.9% of their possessions in league play, good for dead last in the CAA.  So why is their offense so perfect?  For that we turn to hoop-math.com:


Only 18.7% of NU's shots are mid range jumpers.  That's 13th fewest in the country.  For perspective, rarely used Tyshawn Myles is the only player on Drexel that shoots under 20% of their shots from mid range.  As detailed in the past the midrange jumper is the worst shot in basketball.  NU's risky passes work to get them to the rim for almost 50% of their shots, which is why their effective field goal percentage (55.4% in conference play) is so high.  Drexel's conservative offense only takes a third of their shots at the rim, leading to their CAA worst 42.5% effective field goal percentage.

If their offense is so good, why are the Huskies just 6-2 in the piss poor CAA?  They don't value the basketball like Drexel does.  Northeastern's turnover rate is terrible, and their rebounding isn't much to write home about either.  So while much like Hofstra, they will almost certainly outshoot the Dragons on a percentage basis, if the Dragons make the game not about shooting, but about number of shots, then they can be right in this thing.

Bruiser mentioned on the conference call this week how much better the Dragon's ballhandling has been since conference play started, and he's not exaggerating.  Drexel's cut down turnovers by around 15% since conference play started, even while many conference opponents have shown pressure.   Combine that with a strong rebounding presence tonight,  and this is a winnable rockfight for the Sons of Flint.  The team has found a rebounder in Tyshawn Myles who is running laps around his teammates in a way that fans haven't seen since Samme Givens.  Put him and Rodney Williams on the floor and the Dragons will win on the boards.  With the point guard situation under control, they can win the turnover battle.  Coaches, fans, say it with me again:  Make this game about number of shots, not shooting.  That is how Drexel can not just compete in this game, but they can win.

Last note:  With no apologies at all to Scott Eatherton, the best player in this game will be in Blue and Gold.  Conference Player of the Year voters, please take note.


Prediction:  Northeastern 56, Drexel 55
Vegas Line:  Northeastern -6


Alan Boston's Notes:  Pre conference, Northeastern looked to be the class of the league. With all 5 starters returning, the return of a healthy Quincy Ford and a terrific coach to guide them, they were the logical team to beat. Early on, they did not disappoint. They were 6-2 and had Cal Poly blown out, but well coached Mustangs shot the lights out and came from 16 down to beat Northeastern who missed one and ones and lay ups down the stretch, in gagging away the game. Still, they recovered to beat host Santa Clara and push an excellent St Mary's team to overtime. They came from 16 down and won most impressively in Richmond. To start conference play they manhandled Delaware, but then were shocked at home by UNCW. They then won 5 conference games in a row before being run out at William+Mary on Saturday. There was a home loss to Detroit thrown in there. With such little practice time in modern college hoops, teams with many returnees have an edge to start the year. Northeastern has leveled off, since their terrific start. Still, this is their best team in a very long time. Coen will out coach most, which means it is a mismatch vs Bruiser. Northeastern did struggle to win both at James Madison and at Towson, so they are beatable. But this Drexel team has not displayed the willingness to defend to the bitter end that Bruisers best have. Lapses on D vs Northeastern, usually lead to open 3s. Trouble looms for the Dragons.

Northeastern 68 Drexel 55

Monday, January 26, 2015

College of Charleston - The Happy Recap

The Drexel coaching staff trolled its fans on the final play of the game, and caught College of Charleston completely off guard.  All season long when Drexel runs four guard opposing coaches have been sending a forward out to the perimeter, taking Drexel's sole forward out with him and leaving the paint exposed.  When College of Charleston Coach Earl Grant saw Drexel's four guards in the game for the final play of Saturday's contest, he ran a play to do exactly that, attempting to get his guards to the basket.  And that's when the Drexel staff threw in a wrinkle.

Mohamed Bah did not follow Charleston star forward Adjehi Baru to the perimeter, he stayed planted right in the middle of the paint.  A surprised Charleston guard hit him in the numbers with a pass.  Ballgame.

It was a high risk move.  Two possessions prior to that play the four guard formation had given up an offensive rebound.  On the final play, had the Charleston guard penetrated and Bah had to step up and defend him, the backdoor pass that Charleston was looking for would have been available, and an unblocked Baru would be rushing in for the rebound as well.  But as it was, the four Drexel guards denied the hot shooting Cougars any looks from three, forcing Charleston to go for a tie before Bah and the Drexel coaches denied that as well.

Not only did the staff shoot the moon on the last defensive play of the game, the final offensive play wasn't too shabby either.  Bruiser drew up a play out of the timeout, and Sammy Mojica threw a perfect fade pass to Damion Lee enabling Lee to quickly release a three that swished home for the lead.  Repeat after me:  There is no such thing as a bad shot for Damion Lee.  He's a better shooter from 30 feet than some of his teammates are from 10, which is why this chart is so messed up:

Courtesy: Kenpom.com

The category highlighting is mine.  For all the good that the Drexel staff did in this game, it appears the decision to change Tavon's shot in the offseason was... poor.  Certainly his knee injury is playing into his shot as well, and he must be frustrated.  The coaching staff is starting to ride him a bit for not making key passes when he has the opportunity to do so, but they may be slightly late to the party on this one.

Despite giving a neon green light to Tavon's shooting, this win helps start a new narrative.  The Drexel Men's Basketball Team:  They're not as bad as you think they are!  With the reported return of Rodney Williams, Drexel seems to have weathered the early season storm, standing at 3-5.  Along with Williams, the Dragons have found a legit guy in Tyshawn Myles, and Sammy Mojica has shown that he can contribute as well. 

What is tremendously under-reported in the College of Charleston game is that the Cougars went 69% from downtown, outrebounded the Dragons (it was close), had a reasonable 11 turnovers.  The Dragons had to play their ass off to beat that team.  Only 5 turnovers, the best interior defense that they have played in quite some time including 5 blocked shots, and the effort that we have seen all season long is what helped the Dragons to victory on Saturday.  That is a baseline that they can work on in an exceptionally mediocre conference.  And so maybe this is the better narrative for now:

 The Drexel Men's Basketball Team:  It's not over yet

Saturday, January 24, 2015

College of Charleston - Pregame

When the calendar mercifully flips to February, there will be a new goal in the Drexel Men's Basketball team offices, and it will be to avoid pillowfight Friday in Baltimore.  As such, Saturday's high noon affair against the College of Charleston suddenly matters very much more than it appears to.  There certainly seems to be a top 5 and bottom 5 in the league right now, and only one of those bottom 5 will have the night off when the CAA Tournament begins.  A chance to beat one of those other bottom 5 teams is a luxury that no one at Drexel should take lightly.

The matchup of this game couldn't be better for the Dragons.  Coming off of a humiliating defeat in which Bruiser said his players did not show up, Drexel will come out strong against a Charleston team that plays a style the Dragons enjoy.  It's a rockfight, play your forwards, take it slow and throw some elbows type of game.  Add to that the fact that the Cougars are coming off of an OT affair on Wednesday, and you have a big game that is ripe for the Dragons to take.

On Charleston, the players to watch are Adjehi Baru, Joe Chealey and Canyon Barry.  Baru is a solid senior big man who is suffering from a bit of Mohamed Bah-itis.  As the only big man who is a threat on Charleston, every player on the opposing team is looking to box him out and it's really chipped into his rebounding numbers.  Despite the lack of any other forwards of note on the team, Baru continues to show skill and will still put points on the board for the Cougars.

Joe Chealey has done what you ask a point guard to do.  He took an "eh" freshman year and significantly progressed as he has taken over the full time floor general rule.  He's a better shooter this year, his assist rate is up, and turnover rate is down.  In his last three games Chealey has averaged 16 points and 5 assists, so Rashann London, already heavily criticized by Coach Flint for his defense, will have his hands full.

The last of the bunch, Canyon Barry joins Four McGlynn, Kyle Anderson and Elijah Bryant as CAA guards who are being asked to do way too much by their coaches.  None of those guys are ready/have the skillset for the roles that they have been given.  In the case of Canyon Barry, he is a shot up shooter who is being asked to be a scorer/slasher.  When Barry spots up, he is trouble.  When he is off the dribble, let him dribble.  That simple.  And that goes for most of this C of C team.  Take away Baru inside and Charleston only has the three to survive on.  Yet even that three ball hasn't been enough.  The College has hit 40% or better from three in 5 of their 7 CAA games, yet only one won.  That's because hidden in very slow, low possession, low scoring games is the worst defense in the conference.  The scores look low, only two opponents have broken 70 points against the Cougars, but when you play 55ish possession games, that's simply not an accomplishment.  The more relevant statistic is that 6 of their 7 opponents have scored 60+ against them.

Charleston can't stop teams, can't rebound, only has one seasoned and skilled big man and is asking young guards to carry the weight.  What does that sound like to you?

First to 50 wins.


Prediction:  Drexel 58 - Charleston 48
Vegas Line:  Charleston -1


Alan Boston's Notes:  College of Charleston is a very strong program. Since Kresses retirement, they have not been as consistent. They have a new coach this year, who I think will be an excellent hire.  Earl Grant was hired late in the process, so this year has been a struggle. He was an assistant to Greg Marshall, certainly one of the top 3 coaches in the country, so I have no doubt that this program will return to its strong mid major ways. The team has played better lately. Interestingly the improvement has come with an injury to Stitt, who figured to be an key player on this team. However, this is a terrific spot for Drexel. College of Charleston put out a huge effort in overtime loss to UNCW. With Stitt out, they are relying on just one point guard, who played 43 minutes and got worn down late, by the Seahawks incessant press. Down one,Chealey went in for a layup in the last seconds in overtime and the shot got blocked and unluckily went off Charleston with one second to go. Coach blamed fatigue for kids not making better decisions down the stretch. But this is Drexel, 2015. Good spot or not, they can find ways to screw up, that quite frankly, to this casual observer, are almost not believable. Drexel should be super focused off of yet another embarrassing performance at Hofstra. They should beat C of C, who may not have their A game. They are a tough team to trust. Still, this is too good a spot to pass up, 


Drexel 55 C of C 49

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hofstra - Learning From Our Mistakes

Final:  Hofstra 86, Drexel 58

Player of the Game:  Damion Lee
Key to the game:  Interior Defense
Next Game:  Saturday January 24th vs College of Charleston at the DAC

Drexel lost by 28 last night, and it wasn't as close as the score makes it seem.

Adam Hermann correctly notes that Hofstra shot themselves in the foot enough to keep this a game until halftime.  The game should have been over long before that.  Going in everyone knew that there was a high odds shot that Hofstra would be the better shooters, and would likely not turnover the ball a ton.  The Dragons responded by going small again, leading to their absolute obliteration on the boards.

86-58 is what happens when you get outshot, outrebounded, and lose the turnover game.  This is a good time to remember that there are no victims, only volunteers.

Caption:  65%!!!!


Drexel moved to the four guard set as of the Iona game.  Since that game they have played a weaker schedule than they did in the first half of the season, and yet have stepped backward in almost every statistical category. They worst stat may not be on that chart: Opponents have gone from shooting 47% from two to 54%.


The only time that last nights game was remotely in question was when Hofstra settled for three point attempts at the close of the first half.  They only took 2 three point attempts in the first 6 minutes of the second half and saw their lead balloon from 8 to 21.  A Hofstra team that has lived and died by the three this year simply said "eh, we don't need to shoot em," and they were completely correct.

So if DU can't defend the paint in a four guard set, and if rebounding is off 10% since they have moved to it, then the rational behind the four guard must be either defending the perimeter or offense.  There's two different problems if the reason for the four guard is defending the perimeter.  One, the paint should always be the primary concern on defense.  Two, opponents were hitting 33% before the switch to the guard heavy line, and the weaker opponents that they have faced since they moved to the four guard have hit at 36%,

That leaves the only tenable thing that the four guard could be helping as offense.  While turnovers are down, the Dragons effective field goal percentage has dropped from 44% to 42% since the switch.  Tavon Allen (36%), Freddie Wilson (33.5%) and Sammy Mojica (39.2%) each have worse effective field goal percentages than any contributing player since Gerald Colds.  Forcing an extra member of that group onto the court only makes your offense worse, not better.  And it's not remotely close.

So there you have it.  We know the other option, going to a short bench at forward isn't attractive.  We know that Austin Williams especially has struggled to find himself this year and that Tyshawn Myles needs some conditioning work.  But we see the way that the defense improves when these guys return to the roles that they practiced all offseason.  Bruiser has said the Dragons won't outshoot anyone in this conference, so we know the importance that falls on turnovers and rebounding as well. What we don't know is the thought process that is going through the staff right now.  They're smart guys, and they see something.  The question is what?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hofstra University - Pregame

What we have here is a problem.

Hofstra is the worst matchup in the conference for our Dragons.  They run uptempo, they don't turn the ball over (the whole team seems to be expert on basketball transfers), and they shoot particularly well.  The Flying Dutchmen may be the only team in the conference that is strong at the point guard spot as Juan'ya Green has been a nationally elite caliber distributor, and he is flanked by Ameen Tanksley and Brian Bernardi who are both shooting better than 45% from 3.  Remember the 13 points and 8 assists that Dion Naismith had against the Dragons in Hempstead last year?  Yeah, he's a sixth man now.  And coming off of back to back losses, these guys will be coming into this matchup with the Dragons as an angry bunch.

Basketball games are won in one of two ways, either you outshoot your opponent, or you shoot a lot more attempts than your opponent.  Hofstra is going to outshoot the Dragons.  If they also win the turnover battle (which is expected), then the only way for the Dragons to get more shots than the Dutch is to absolutely dominate the boards.  In the past four games, we've seen UNCW and College of Charelston, both big underdogs, hit the boards hard against Hofstra.  UNCW won outright and Charleston was leading with 5 minutes to play.  Northeastern was the outlier, getting creamed on the boards, but scraping by against Hofstra by shooting a ridiculous 68% from inside the arc and 50% from downtown.  

Similar to the James Madison game, there are two ways* that the Drexel coaching staff can play this, and we should know the outcome of this game in the first five minutes if they play it wrong.  They can try to run and follow the Northeastern plan, trying to outplay Hofstra at their own game,  Bru has already said his team is the worst shooting team in the conference though, so that just doesn't seem like the smart play.  Alternatively, they can ask Mohamed Bah, Austin Williams and Tyshawn Myles to go and win them a ballgame.  They won't get passed the ball, but their impact will be felt on every possession.  At the same time, tell Damion Lee that he needs to rebound like he was still playing the 4 while he plays on the wing.  

Don't make this game about shooting, make this game about number of shots.  Hofstra wants to live and die by the three, so never give them a second life.  They want to run, make it a rockfight.  In short, bring on the pain in the paint.  Do that, or play their game and just get creamed.  Those are the choices available to the coaching staff, we'll see what they choose at 7pm tonight.  Any guesses?  Here's mine.


Prediction:  Hofstra 76, Drexel 52
Vegas Line:  Hofstra -12

*Third Option:  Deflate the Ball



Alan Boston's Notes:  It is hard to knock Joe Mihalich.  He always had good teams at Niagara. He always recruited good players for the so called mid major levels. His first year at Hofstra was expected to be rough. For his 2nd year, he has 8 new players, however 4 of them practiced with the team last year. Two, Juan'ya Green and Ameen Tanksley, played for Mihalich at Niagara. The talent has been upgraded immensely. Mihalich's team always play fast. Half court sets are not the norm. In many cases, that style can lead to a helter skelter team, that takes many bad shots. That is not the case with Mihalich. They are one of the top 3 teams in the league. They will not be in a good mood when Drexel comes to town. They went to Northeastern and lost 91-83 and followed that up by losing at home to UNCW, who got back at them for blowing the previous battle at Wilmington. Do not know what Drexel can do to hang with this team. Actually, I do know, but that will not happen. What will happen, will not be pleasant for Drexel rooters.

Hofstra 82 Drexel 43

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Delaware - The Happy Recap

On a cold winter Saturday, the struggling Dragons went to arch rival Delaware and watched their best player struggle from the field, lost the turnover battle, and had one of their three available forwards foul out in 8 minutes flat!  And they won the game.  It may not have been drawn up that way.

Few would predict the Dragons to win a game when Damion Lee only hits three shots from the field.  While his perfect 11 of 11 from the line had a big impact on the win, it was his teammates rallying to the rescue that brought this one home.  That list of teammates starts with a guy that the coaches have pretty clearly been avoiding for the past month, Tyshawn Myles.  Myles put up 11 points and 11 boards in 26 minutes, his first career triple double.  Behind Myles, Tavon Allen shot a disciplined (ok, one shot had me do the no, no, no, YES!) 5 for 10 effort from the field.  Sammy Mojica added 8 points on just 6 field goal attempts.

From this vantage point, the most important take away in this game was the starting lineup:

G  Rashann London
G  Tavon Allen
G  Damion Lee
F  Mohamed Bah
F  Austin Williams

It wasn't Williams finest hour, fouling out in 8 minutes and thus restricting the Dragons to using the 3 guard lineup for only 10 minutes in the contest.  Despite that the 2 forward lineup set a tone.  Drexel was able to offset the turnover differential in this game (UD only had 5) by winning the battle on the boards for the first time since the Penn State game in Allentown.

With the number of shots taken by the teams near equal, this game came down to execution: who hit their shots.  The self proclaimed "worst shooting team in the CAA" wouldn't have been the pick of many, but with an outstanding 81% from the line (Damion 11/11, rest of team 6/10) and 36% from 3 (Tavon Allen 2/4) it was the Dragons who prevailed.

Was this game the blueprint to longterm success?  Probably not.  When your coach thinks you have the worst shooting team in the league, it's a really good idea to take more shots than your opponent. The Dragons were very lucky that Kyle Anderson had his worst shooting game of the year.  Foul trouble dictated this game though, and it was clear that the Dragon coaches were trying to get another rebounder on the court throughout, they just weren't able to.  At one point they pushed Tyshawn Myles to the point where he had to ask for a breather, which is a great sign of change from the staff as well as show of confidence in a kid who deserves it.

So maybe a tiny step towards a blueprint is there.  Maybe it's simply to return to what Bru has always done:  Winning the boards, taking care of the ball, playing strong defense and then hoping the offense can hit tough shots.  It's not the sexy thing, but it's something this team can execute.  And with Damion Lee, perhaps the best guard ever to wear a Dragons jersey, maybe they can hit some of those tough shots as well.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Delaware Sucks - Pregame

Last week there was a girls high school basketball game in California in which a team won 162-2.  I can tell you without question that both the Delaware and Drexel basketball teams would beat at least one of the teams that played in that game.  Past that, well...  hmm.

For the first month and a half of the season, UD was the worst team in the country.  With the return of former suspendee Melvin King-Davis* and sharpshooter Kylie Anderson, they merely suck now, and are no longer a total embarrassment.  They match the Dragons with three wins, coming against a St. Bonnies team that slept on them while looking ahead to a game with UMass, a less-sucky win at C of C, and then they snuck out an OT win at home against The Terrible Tigers of Towson.  

Alongside Melvin* they start sophomore bigman Mo Jeffers* who doesn't really do anything for them offensively, and off the bench backing those two up is Chico Corbett* who, lets be honest now, shouldn't be in division I.  Cool it with your argument that neither should Bru.  

At the guard, UD has Kammy Hayes* filling the role of Tavon Allen, a poor shooter with worse shot selection that Bru's best friend has given a total green light to (way to go Coach!*)  Freshman Kory "just because it starts with a K doesn't mean it's a girls name" Hoelden* does the same thing next to him, but shoots less.  Decent distributor though, that kid.  So let him shoot.  After that comes lone senior Kylie Anderson* who is a one trick pony out at the three point line.  Mark him down as the opposite of the freshman, step out on him and let him drive or pass.  

So there you have it, UD has one player that should worry anyone in King-Davis, and 50/50 on whether or not he is suspended between now and tip off because, well, Delaware.  

The Drexel stuff, well you know about that.  Same as last week and the week before that.  Get Lee open, get the ball inside, play 3 guards, should win easily.  Bru won't do any of it.  Lather, Rinse, Repeat.


Prediction:  DU 50 - UD (sucks) 50
Vegas Line:  Delaware -3


*Note:  I don't bother to learn the names of UD players, and neither should you.  

Alan Boston's Much More Logical Notes:  With its only returning starter out Delaware, predictably began the year a mess. Bad loss after bad loss culminated in a home blow out loss to rival and MEAC member, Delaware St. Then Kyle Anderson made his first appearance in the Temple game. Their best bench player from last year, who got hurt in the opening loss to LIberty was also back for the Owls. Things started to get better. Even with their terrific fr p.g. Kyle Holden out, they gave up the last ten at FDU and lost 76-74. Holden returned for Robert Morris where the lost on the road 84-81 but things were clearly getting better. It came together on Dec 30 with an impressive win at home over St Bonny. Experienced Northeastern took them apart in the first league game, they then went to Hofstra led early, trailed only 27-22 at the half before losing 71-58. They blew a 6 pt lead in the last 30 seconds and lost in ot at UNCW, but did not in blow out win at Coll of CHarleston they won a war in overtime vs Towson 67-64. Clearly Delaware is a different team that began the year. They have 2 terrific freshman point guards in Kory Holden and Anthony Mosley. Mid majors typically have a home run yr every 4th. Delaware is in yr one. I have nothing to say about Drexel. I do not understand what Bruiser is trying to do. It is not like what James Madison does is any secret. Drexel fooled me when they showed some of the old Drexel ball at Towson. They wont fool me again. 

Delaware 68  Drexel 65

JMU Postgame - Learning From Our Mistakes

Sadly, the DU's lowest scoring game in the Flint era was entirely predictable.  We don't need a game story, since we can just use the game preview written in this space:


"Zone defenses are primarily beaten with quick ball movement, perimeter 
shooting and offensive rebounding.  Bru then has two options:  Flood the 
floor with guards who can't shoot, knowing that Allen, London, Wilson and 
Mojica will all get wide open looks from mid range and beyond.  The 
downside is that none of those guys have hit those looks before, and with only one 
forward on the floor against JMU's height, DU won't get any offensive rebounds."

Done and done.  There's a little more to it:  @MedicSBK on twitter made a fantastic point on twitter that since Damion Lee was playing the 4 instead of the 3, he was the one "flashing" in the zone.  That took Drexel's best shooter, put him inside the arc and in a pass first position.  Bru decided to put his best offensive weapon in a pass first position, and in doing so gave a belated Christmas gift to Brady & Company.  To Brady's credit, his Dukes came out in a 3-2 and not a 2-3 zone, inviting the Dragons to pass the ball into the paint, something the Dragons have resisted doing all season.  That trend continued.

Enough is enough, we can beat the offense into the ground but they seem to be doing a fine job of that by themselves.  Here's where I have a beef, from Adam Hermann's Triangle Piece we see Bru's quote:

“From a defensive standpoint, I can’t ask for much more”


For the first 5 minutes of this game, our wayward Dragons took a 9-0 lead while the Dukes couldn't appear to get out of their own way.  JMU tossed the ball out of bounds, they lost the ball out of bounds and they had an offensive foul in the first 3 minutes, while never even getting off a single shot attempt.  After the five minute mark of the game, after JMU got its footing, JMU scored 54 points in 51 possessions, a 1.05 points per possession pace.  Drexel's offense has only done 1.05ppp or better 3 times this season.

The Dukes shot 62% from inside the arc in this game, which is consistent with what the Drexel defense has allowed since they went to the four guard lineup.  Bru will tell you that his defense doesn't force turnovers, it is just designed to not give up shots.  JMU shot the ball just fine.  As a matter of fact, they shot the ball so well that they turned over the ball 18 times, and still put up 54 points in 35 minutes.

Don't like numbers?  Watch the Dukes run the same play 5 times (hat tip, anonymous emailer) early in the second half and get open shots all 5 times.  Watch how many times Bah has to show on a screen so far from the basket that he, the only big man on the floor, has no chance to get back to the basket in time to guard someone in a paint.  Which is why, despite Mohamed and Damion's best efforts, JMU ended with 26 points in the paint and 13 from the line.  They outscored the Dragons with shots from the paint alone.

“From a defensive standpoint, I can’t ask for much more”

Ouch.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

James Madison Pregame

For the second straight year James Madison University has kept star guard Andre Nation away from the team when they travel to the DAC.  This year, he's not coming back.  While it's about time that Matt Brady and the staff at JMU took discipline seriously, it leaves a bit of question as to whether Nation struck out on what would seem to be his 100th strike, or if JMU just decided he wasn't worth the hassle anymore.  Related, Nation is shooting 60% from the foul line and just 17% from behind the arc thus far this year, and ranked as JMU's least efficient starter.

When asked about his fight with Alex Rodriguez, Jason Veritek answered 
with the immortal: "We don't throw at .260 hitters"  Apparently, JMU doesn't
protect 17% shooters either.

The team left to move on without Nation is actually pretty good.  While there is certainly a hole formed by Andre's departure there is certainly potential for an addition by subtraction situation as well.  

The ball starts with solid point guard Ron Curry, who hasn't had a great shooting year but has stepped up as one of the better floor generals in the CAA.  Around him are trees.  6'7" Jackson Kent is working his inside out game with pure shooting skill, 45% from downtown and 83% from the line.  6'8" Tom Vodanovich is running the 4 and showing that while young, he has some skill in the post, and that all sets up sophomore big man Yohanny Dalembert (yes, related to the former 6er) who is on his way to becoming a star in the CAA.  At the shooting guard spot will be Cincinnati St transfer Winston Grays who has a pretty stroke.  While their depth will be challenged, JMU has a quality team whose starting five will be just fine without The Nation.

What their size gives JMU in offense and rebounding, it takes away from in an area that Matt Brady's teams have historically struggled:  Defense.  Guys like Jackson Kent just aren't that mobile, and one of them will have to try and stick with Damion Lee.  Since they can't do that, expect to see a lot of zone tonight (possibly even a return of the box and one) at the DAC as the Dukes try to counter the Dragons speed advantage.  And that's where this game will be won and lost.  

Zone defenses are primarily beaten with quick ball movement, perimeter shooting and offensive rebounding.  Bru then has two options:  Flood the floor with guards who can't shoot, knowing that Allen, London, Wilson and Mojica will all get wide open looks from mid range and beyond.  The downside is that none of those guys have hit those looks before, and with only one forward on the floor against JMU's height, DU won't get any offensive rebounds.  The alternative is to leave two of those four guards on the floor alongside Damion and two big men, leaving just as many shooters on the floor (1) and the possibility to get stick backs and clog the lane on defense.

Just in case we haven't beaten this into the ground enough, look Tuesday for a stats post breaking down the 4 guard vs the 3.  It's ugly.

For my prediction, I'm assuming that Bru will show his stubbornness, because that's the track record.  I look forward to knocking down a victory drink postgame if I'm wrong.

Prediction:  JMU 56 - Drexel 48
Vegas Line:  Drexel -2


Alan Boston's Notes:  Since I have no idea what to make of Drexel, I shall try to shed some light on James Madison, or maybe not. Matt Brady saved his job with an improbable NCAA tournament run a couple years back. Like many mid majors they fell of the map last year with the suspension of Andre Nation. Again he has been a problem appearing briefly before being tossed once again. What is left is a lower division CAA team, a team with 6 frosh on the roster, a team that does have a nice win over Richmond and a win at Ball St, but also a myriad of poor performances. I say this with the utmost reservation, but this is a team Drexel should handle. It is not like they have been bad in conference. They beat Towson at home, won in Charleston, played Northeastern tough at home and kept it close at Wm&Mary. What does the suspension of Nation do? In the past it has seem to hurt them, with a lack of go to guy. This time, I have a feeling it may be different. He is obviously a problem. Perhaps the team will come together. The coach is very capable. The team seems to lack talent. Perhaps the freshman are good. You would think the NCAA appearance would have helped in that regard. To me Drexel is at least a notch better, but with Drexel this year, that seems not to matter.

Drexel 56 James Madison 51

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Friday Night Fights


Toledo/Akron
NJIT/Yale
Quinnipiac/Monmouth
Green Bay/Milwaukee

That was the slate of men's college basketball games last Friday night.  Three of those were available on the ESPN family of networks.  Get excited for this Friday too, which features 6 MAAC games and Western Illinois vs North Dakota St.  Then, in the stretch run come February, we'll have Ivy League ball to look forward to for exciting MAAC and Ivy regular season action.

This time of year is great because six nights a week we have college basketball in our living rooms, almost offsetting the 9 months of HGTV that grown men watched while waiting for hoops season.  Maybe asking for the seventh night of the week is greedy.  Besides, we all know the NCAA cares about kids missing class, even though the hypocrisy of the NCAA still puts National Championships on Mondays as long as the TV networks pay enough.  But if you buy into that underlying belief that kids shouldn't miss class then teams shouldn't play Friday when they can play Saturday and miss less class.  That's fair.  Kind of.  Because it still doesn't mean Friday nights have to be empty nights.

And an empty night Friday is.  The barren landscape leaves the ESPN family, Fox Sports, NBC Sports el at airing re-runs of their version of Sportscenter, or in the case of last Friday, a year old rerun of the Australian Open, a 3,000th rerun of "The Book of Manning presented by Chick-Fil-A" or even worse: NBA "Basketball."  There's a lot of smart people who work at those television conglomerates.  Economics demands that when the alternative is a broadcast lineup like last Friday's, or a live college basketball game, the choice is to be a simple one.

Hence, a proposal:

Friday Night Fights meets NCAA hoops to form Rivalry Friday.  Take two teams that play within an hour of one another and offer them a TV spot on Friday night.  No one misses class, the TV stations make a buck, and schools get a ton of exposure from people at bars who will no longer be stuck with SportsCenter on mute.  Better than that, good local rivals start having a reason to play each other again.  Right now George Washington can never schedule Georgetown.  Marshall needed an act of (state) congress to play West Virginia.  Offer national TV spots for these games and all of the sudden Coaches and President's at BCS schools may just pickup the phone.

Once conference play comes around, people around the country can experience a Big 5 game with a Friday night atmosphere, check out what they have been missing when VCU and Richmond square off, or see a real bracketbuster when Cincinnati and Xavier duke it out.  All in arenas packed with college students ready to explode on Friday night.

League offices, TV networks, powers that be across the land:  Have your fans be greedy.  Get paid.  Let there be Friday Night!




Monday, January 12, 2015

UNCW - Learning From Our Mistakes

Final:  UNCW 64, Drexel 57

Player of the Game:  Damion Lee
Key to the game:  Interior Defense
Next Game:  Thursday January 10 vs James Madison at the DAC

Damion Lee is currently 5th amongst CAA guards in offensive efficiency (behind 4 guards from Hofstra, which is unbelievable).  Given the complete lack of offensive support that Damion gets from his teammates, and the ability for opposing coaches to key on him, that is a stunning accomplishment.  If the Dragons were to finish with less than double digit in conference losses, he would be a shoe-in for conference player of the year.  Quite frankly, he still should be, but the voters like to vote for the top of the league.

The Dragons are going to smash through double digit losses, no matter how good Damion is.  

In the same post game press conference in Wilmington, Coach Flint said, in almost back to back sentences:  "We sorta have to change the way we play," and "I got four freshman, so you can't make it too complicated."  If you're slamming your head against the keyboard now shouting about how dumb if you want to keep things simple then maybe you shouldn't change the way you play, well, you're not alone.  In a related story, Drexel is 1-6 in games where they have broken out the 4 guard set, beginning with the UD home game last year.

Friend of the blog @DrachenFire82 wrote on the CAAZone this morning:

I can't figure out if Bru is afraid the bigs will all foul out if he plays more 
than one or if he thinks he can chase points by throwing out another guard 
all the time. I mean, seriously, none of Bah, A Williams or Myles can be 
trusted with taking anything more than 2 shots per game? Combine that 
with, besides Lee, none of the other guards having a Penn's shot of finding 
the DAC of making a shot and we're shooting ourselves in the foot in 
attempting to come down with a board.

That's on point.  When choosing between a 4th guard or 2nd forward, the choice is adding another guard who isn't ready for primetime, or adding someone who can rebound the ball.  When a team shoots as poorly as the Dragons have this year, they need all the second chances that they can get.  With this smaller lineup, they aren't getting them.  What is the team adding by having an extra Mojica, Wilson or London out there that they can't get from a guard that is already on the floor?  The value add of an extra guard is minimal.  The value add of an extra big man is likely a handful of possessions a game and better interior defense (UNCW shot 60% from 2 in this game).  By the by, a couple of harder shots in the interior and 3-4 extra possessions for the Dragons wouldn't have made a difference in many of the games they have played recently - but would have likely been a huge difference maker in this game.

Now since the four guard set has just been beaten to death here, a couple of things in Bru's defense after this game.  The Assistant Director of Communications from the Dub sent out the list of who was officiating the game prior a few hours prior to tip off and it spelled trouble all over for the Dragons.  With Andrew Marotta and Bob Testa, two of the CAA's worst in the building, the foul count was sure to be high which is a significant disadvantage to a road team that was already undermanned.  Nothing Bru could have done about that besides pray that they didn't call stuff on Damion.  

Beyond the foul issues, Drexel proved at Towson that even in the four guard set they could slow the game down.  In the postgame presser, Kevin Keatts noted that he had wanted to play a game in the 70's or 80's, Bru didn't and that even though the score was low, Keatts liked the tempo of the game.  At only 64 possessions, the Dragons did slow the game down.  Maybe not as much as they could have, but for a game with 8 guards on the court, this was played pretty slowly, which is one of the reasons that the Dragons were in this game.  Playing slowly helped DU keep the turnover margain in their favor for the third straight game, a welcomed area of significant improvement for this team.  Have they gotten too safe though?  UNCW's freshman point guard had as many assists (5) as the entire Dragon team.  This was Drexel's second straight game with only 5 team assists, which is borderline unbelievable.  Coach Coen talked about how safe DU was with the ball last year and that they wouldn't make a dangerous pass even if it meant points, and this years team is taking that to another level.  There's a fine line between two many turnovers and not enough assists, if you're looking to see if this team is progressing, watch how that battle plays out in the next few box scores.

Back to back short rest road games are tough, 4 games in 8 days is tough, refs that will surely get your team in foul trouble is tough.  All of those things are much more complicated when you only have 8 guys.  It was a terrible spot for the Dragons to be in.  And yet, Drexel kept themselves in this game, even if it was Damion Lee doing it by himself on the offensive end.  In this tough season, the effort hasn't waned, and that's reason enough to continue to support the players on the court.  Come on out to the DAC on Thursday and show them you support that effort, and that we all support DU.

Friday, January 9, 2015

UNCW Pregame

The Dragons have their first of three short rest road games this CAA season on Saturday in Trask Coliseum, or as those in the know call it, The House Where They Pretend Teal Is Still A Good Idea. The Hawks have surprised early in the conference season, and should sit 3-0 right now after playing two CAA favorites and a Delaware team that yes, really does Suck.  Coach Keatts (more on him in Alan's notes) team blew the game against Hofstra, so the senior laden Seahawks enter this game 2-1 in conference.

While the blog's conference preview liked UNCW to surprise in conference this year - and while they should be 3-0 - lets also note that it is a bit of a mirage.  They really did blow the hell out of the Hofstra game, the Northeastern game was a fluke game in which the entire NU team was decidedly uninterested in playing basketball, and the Dub's best win out of conference was against a very weak East Carolina squad.  So the 7-7 overall record is a bit misleading which is why Kenpom still doesn't believe in the Dub, ranking them 218th nationally and 6th in a weak CAA.  That mirage might just play in a group of very young (and very poor) CAA teams, especially when three seniors are getting plenty of minutes.  As a matter of fact, for those DU fans who don't think Damion Lee sits enough, take note that Wilmington's Freddie Jackson plays even more minutes then Damion.

Along with the coaching change in Wilmington went a style change.  Gone are the days of rock fight, and in are the days of pressing, uptempo high scoring sexiness.  And therein lies the ballgame. 

Take note statheads, DU's two slowest games of the season look like this:

@ Towson:           W 55-41
vs Southern Miss   W 59-36

As all Drexel fans know by now, against three straight running teams (Iona, W&M, Elon), Bruiser went four guard and allowed opponents to dictate pace, and lost those three home games by an average of 15 points per game.  In case this wasn't abundantly clear, Drexel needs to rockfight their way thru the CAA schedule while Keatts' squad would like to get out and run.  Dictating the pace of this game should dictate the outcome.  

On defense, the name of the game is denying Freddie Jackson.  The Dub really doesn't have a guard to compliment him as Ponder will only challenges from deep and Jordon Talley isn't shooting well enough to be considered any kind of threat.  Inside, the Seahawks have the omnipresent (and underrated) Cedrick Williams who is backed up by seven foot shot-blocking sophomore C.J. Gettys.  Senior Addison Spruill is an undersized inside/out force at the 4 who will likely be the matchup to watch against Damion Lee if Bru deploys the four guard again.

Drexel fans, look for a rockfight, hope for a rockfight, but realize that Bru hasn't forced the tempo against an uptempo team yet this year.  The question then is, did he learn from the Towson win?  

Prediction:  UNCW 69 - Drexel 58
Vegas Line:  UNCW -5.5


Alan Boston's Notes:  First year coach is former Rick Pitino assistant Kevin Keatts. This means two things. UNCW will be doing a lot more pressing and their half court offense will suck. Bruiser finally decided to go back to being Bruiser. It sickens me that I burned up all my money waiting for him to coach what he knows, but he did. The result a dominating win over Towson. Now comes UNCW a team that blew a late lead to Hofstra to start conference play. They then went to Boston and led heavily favored Northeastern wire to wire in a most impressive win. They came home and came from 6 down in the last 30 seconds and beat Delaware in overtime. Their play has been erratic to say the least. In part due to a new system. In part due to a freshman point guard. If Bruiser sticks to playing a grinding half court game, he will make UNCW lives miserable. Without great athletes, Pitino team's half court offense sucks. It makes sense that UNCW especially with a frosh point guard will struggle in that sort of game too. Drexel has dealt with better presses than they will see here. Please Bruiser stick with what works. If so, you will be once again rewarded.

Drexel 57 UNCW 49

Towson - The Happy Recap!

Final:  Drexel 55, Towson 41

Player of the Game:  Freddie Wilson
Key to the game:  Turnovers
Next Game:  Thursday January 10 @ UNC Wilmington

 A funny thing happened on the way to the Dragons 0-18 CAA season.  Their defense showed up.  Towson turned over the ball 11 times (to Drexel's 3!) and most of them were forced, including 6 Drexel steals, half of which were from Freddie Wilson.

Oh, Freddie Wilson.  Yes, he is officially branded Freddie Wilson of the Terrible Shooting, but maybe you missed him running the point and having zero turnovers in four of the last five games.  Maybe you missed him only picking up 6 fouls in that time, while getting to the line 20 times himself.  And yes, while his shooting has been brutal he showed up last night to the tune of an efficient 3 of 5 night from the floor.  He wasn't settling for bad jump shots this time, he got to the rim on a regular basis and only attempted a single three.  And that is how Drexel won this game.

Up until Freddie's Bull Run to the basket, Drexel didn't win games when they shot 21% from three.  And when they were outrebounded in those same games, they were quickly on their way to blowout city.  So why then, was this night unlike other nights?

After 27 points were scored in the first 10 minutes of the game - not exactly a scoring bananza in itself, which ended with Towson on a 11-4 run and threatening to run away with the game, Bru answered with a substitution: In went Austin Williams and out went Sammy Mojica.  Suddenly the game was even slower.  Only 17 points were scored in the back 10 minutes of the half, Towson only had a single offensive rebound in the back half of the half, and Drexel battled back to a tie game, 22-22.  A message had been sent.

In the second half Bru went back to the 4 guard, but the game stayed just as slow.  As a matter of fact, at a stunning and seemingly impossible 49 possessions, this was the slowest game in the Bruiser Flint era at Drexel.  Alan Boston kept saying that Bru needed to slow it down and play his game, and going into Iona I told him that I thought he was wrong, that this DU team could play with pace.  Turns out, in a move stunning no one, the guy who made his career being smart about this stuff was right on the money.  Because as good as the defense was, here's what you didn't realize about the offense that scored 55 points.

At 1.12 points per possession, yesterday Drexel had it's most efficient offensive game of the season. Good defense led to good offense.  It's amazing what 26 points in the paint will do.

So while Towson helped out at times with what their own coach called "terrible guard play" including Four McGlynn shooting from 35 thousand feet, respect what Drexel did.  And give Bru his due, because when he absolutely had to do something that he didn't want to do - put a second big man in the game and hit the brakes - he did it.