Drexel player of the game: Rodney Williams
Key to the game: Shot Selection
Next Game: Thursday Jan 7, Home vs William and Mary
When a Grandparent who loves their grandchild offers them a balloon, the child should take it.
When a hated rival offers to punch a person in the face, they shouldn't take it.
When an opposing coach says "I'll give you this shot" it's a lot more rival than loving grandfather.
In this day and age, where every coach knows what every kid shoots from every spot, teams should never take what the defense gives them.
Walking into the game at Elon, if you told Bruiser Flint that Tanner Samson would only hit 2 of his 9 three point attempts and that Terrell Allen would win the battle of the point guards against Elon stud Luke Eddy, he would have taken that to the bank. Especially with that effort coming off of a single days rest. He would have been thrilled with that information because with those two players off the table, Elon doesn't have a ton of big threats, but what Elon does have is likely the worst defense the Dragons will play against this year.
The Dragons hit their key defensive goals, just like they hit their key goals did when they dominated the boards in Wilmington, yet they still started conference play 0-2. And while turnovers plagued them in both games, it was shot selection that was the real culprit. In the two conference contest, the Dragons hit a very strong 40% from three, and just 34% from two. They actually shot better from three than inside the arc not just cumulatively, but in both contest independently. It was enough to make one wonder why they bothered running offense at all.
And then the second half of the Elon game happened. And the Dragons ran offense and got the ball to their forwards. And the forwards, who had taken just 3 of the teams 32 shots in the Dragons miserable 25% shooting first half, took 11 shots in the second. The big men took that opportunity against the weak Phoenix defense and went 8 for 11 in the half. And just like that Drexel was back in the game.
The Dragons failure to feed to the post in the first half was mystifying. Not only was the Elon interior defense bad, but Rodney Williams scored the first 4 Dragon points in the game (1 of 2 from the field, 2 of 2 from the line) in the first 2:06. After those first two shots out of the gate the Drexel forwards combined for 1 shot in the final 17:56 of the half. Rather than feeding the inside, Coach Flint's guards took ill advised shot after ill advised shot, netting themselves a 24% shooting percentage in the first half. And that outlines the flaw in Bruiser's coaching under his current contract. Call it "The Lee Effect". It's all guards, all green lights, no passing inside, and it hasn't been a plan that worked.
In Bruiser's system, once the ball crosses the 3 point arc, unless there is an uncontested layup coming up for a penetrating or fast breaking guard, the forwards need a touch. While Rodney Williams has been getting fed of late, Kaz Abif has not, which is bizarre as Kaz has been the better shooter throughout his career. Part of the issue is that Kaz is getting hung out in the high post a lot when Rodney is out of the game, and the team has been adamantly (and perhaps correctly) told not to feed Myles, Bah and Austin Williams. In the case that those three are on the floor with Abif, he needs to be the one getting onto the low block.
While the forwards have not shot the ball as well this year, if you remove Rodney's first two games coming back from injury the groups percentage for the season is 44%. And even if you choose not to give them the benefit of that doubt, their shots are still better than the Drexel guards shots once the ball crosses the arc.
It's easy to say the kids didn't shoot the ball well. But anyone blaming them is missing the underlying in the above chart - Bru's guards never shoot the ball well on 2 point jump shots. And in the last three challenging and disappointing seasons, they've taken more of those shots than ever. At some point, the staff needs to trust its front court. With Damion, Frantz and Chris it was easy to tell them not to, but even with that much talent, they weren't successful when they ignored the frontcourt. This year the guards don't have that level of talent, yet they're still being put in a system that tells them to ignore the post much too often.
Don't let coaches and staff blame the players for poor shooting.
We know better.
Reference points courtesy www.hoop-math.com and www.kenpom.com