Saturday, January 2, 2016

Elon Away - Pregame

The Dragons head to Elon, North Carolina to finish out a brutal six day, three game road swing that bridged the end of out of conference season to the beginning of conference season.  Playing in this road wary, fatigued spot is never a position to win.  While Elon looks like one of the weaker teams in the conference, Drexel faces not just the headwind of the schedule coming into this game, but also some key matchup problems:

With the departure of inefficient ballhog point guard Elijah Bryant, junior Luke Eddy has stepped in and looked good doing it.  Not only does Eddy have the 11th best assist rate in the country, he is one of the best point guards in the country at penetrating and getting to the line.  Against him will be freshman Terrell Allen, who has struggled to stay in front of opponents all year long, and is coming off of playing 38 minutes against UNCW with just a days rest in between.

If that's not a tall order, remember that last year the Dragons could not, as in could NOT contain spot shooter Tanner Samson last season.  Let us flash back to the recap of the game at the DAC against Elon:

Tanner Samson took 10 attempts from long range in this game.  Tanner 
shoots 80% of his shots each year from 3.  He's the definition of a one trick pony.  
Tanner is going to take jump shots from behind the arc, and that's it.  
He's not going to drive by anyone.  He's not going to cut to the basket 
away from the ball.  He's the easiest guy on the court to guard, and it's not close.

Samson was left open to shoot the ball 10 times in this game.  There were 
only 68 possessions in this game!  You're telling me that this guy, who
 only has one move, was left open to do it on 15% of the possessions?  
And you want to give them credit for it?  Last year the Dragons only allowed 22% 
of the points against them to be scored from three point territory.  This year it's 28%.  

This year's Dragons are jumping off of their man too quickly since 
they don't trust their teammates to stay in front of theirs, they aren't 
fighting through screens and they're just plain soft.  Elon hit 
the shots, give them credit.  The Dragons are the ones that invited
 them to take the shots though and someone should mention that. 

Much of that quote from last year could easily be talking about this season.  And a team that's not up for this game and has been playing sloppy, soft basketball will be a team that continues to leave Tanner Samson open.  

Beyond Samson, Matt Matheny brought in freshman Dainan Swoope who has been very effective from behind the arc this year.  With a team short on interior bodies, look for some four guard run and gun from the host team.  The Dragons will try to counter in much the same way they attempted to win in Wilmington, with a slowed down pace and by pounding the glass.  If they can slow the pace down, and more importantly, contain themselves and play with discipline, then this is a winnable road game.   If not, Luke Eddy will make a living at the free throw line while Terrell Allen, Rodney Williams and Kaz Abif all look on from the bench, down with fouls.  

Prediction:  Elon 79, Drexel 68
Vegas Line:  Elon -5.5

Alan Boston's Take:  

Good news for Drexel. Fields plays a solid 11 minutes. Good news for Drexel. 25, let me write this, Twenty Five offensive rebounds vs UNCW. Bad news for Drexel. They could not make a lay up after many of those rebounds. Part of the problem may have been UNCW's ability to block shots and part of it could be a bit scary for a Bruiser Flint coached team, perhaps a lack of fortitude or that extra bit of toughness to convert when close. 

I hope it is the former or perhaps just a bad day, but the reality is that Drexel is in a very tough Colonial and does not have one of their strong teams. They must make lay ups. They also must not foul. Bruisers teams always defended well and to my eyes with smarts. The new rules, sadly, favor one on one basketball. A transfer from Division 2 Barton, Chris Flemmings made 15 of 16 foul shots for UNCW. That can not happen. Drexel should get better as Fields gets more playing time. He will be a top tier player in this league. Drexel does have talent and it is not hard to envision them winning games in conference. They have what looks like a winnable game. 

Elon has struggled defensively this year. Things were looking better after a home win vs rival Greensboro and an impressive win at a very good UNC Asheville. They then went to Duke and got destroyed and then hung for a while before a mid 2nd half run allowed Northeastern, (who played without starter TJ Williams) to get away. Williams' absence allowed Elon's PG Luke Eddy to have a big game. Drexel must contain him to win this game. Unfortunately this is Drexel's 3rd straight on the road in 6 days and Elon should be all in after letting the game get away from them on Thursday. I think in 2 weeks, Drexel wins this. For today.

Elon 72 Drexel 68

No comments:

Post a Comment