Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Towson Away - Postgame

Bill Treichel, frequent behind the scenes contributor, makes his writing debut with the below wrap of the Towson/Drexel showdown from this weekend. Thanks, as always, to Bill for his continued support.

Final Score: Towson 69, Drexel 50
Drexel Player of the Game: Terrell Allen
Key to the Game: Aiming for the broad side of the barn
Next Game: Thursday Jan. 21 @ JMU

The Dragons visited the Artist Formerly Known As Towson State on Saturday.  Those fans that chose to skip an afternoon of NFL playoff football were treated to a bit of a lopsided affair in favor of the home team.  The short short version for those of you in a hurry: Towson paired solid defense with pace in transition to race to a 33-12 halftime lead, and cruised the rest of the way.

For those of you not yet finished drinking your after dinner digestif (or morning coffee, whatever the case may be), let’s look at this one some more.  The defense was about the same as it’s been all season.  Drexel should crash the offensive boards better or get back more quickly in transition, but seem to be doing neither of those things well these days.  Let’s focus on the offense.

The first thing that we see is this contest is another illustration of a common theme this season:  Shot selection.  Some observations:
  • At some point in the first half: Drexel had more shots blocked (4) than points (3)
  • At the half, Drexel had only scored 5 baskets from the floor, all at the rim.  The were 0-for-everything elsewhere (minus the 2 foul shots)
  • The first non-layup, non-charity stripe shot: an inbounds play!  Well not so much a play, rather Tavon finding Mojica in the corner for 3.  This didn’t occur until at the 16:45 mark of the second half.
  • Throughout the first half, the Dragons were making a somewhat uncharacteristic attempt to attack in the paint: both by passing it in to forwards who didn’t reflexively pass it back out to the perimeter, and by guards slashing to the rim (sometimes a bit too recklessly).

While this was an illustration of the point (higher percentage shots usually go for higher percentages!), this game was not lost because the offense was taking ill-advised shots, for the most part.  Rather, they were simply outmuscled on the boards and outhustled down the court.   That inbounds 3-pointer by Mojica mentioned earlier?  That proved to be the only points in a 4-minute span until another inbounds play (this time for a dunk) brushed the dust off of the scorekeeper’s “visitor +2” button.  

For most of the 1st half, the baskets weren’t coming, but the defense was able to keep the game within reach.  Once the offense started pressing and playing hero ball, the Tigers were able to make Drexel pay in transition and build an insurmountable lead.  The Dragons were able to make up little ground in the second half, and finished the afternoon shooting 26.7% from the floor.  The team didn’t make their first mid range jumper until there was just 12:30 left in the game, and only one player shot above 38% on the day.  That was freshman Andrew Cartwright who drained a 3 in the waning seconds of the contest.  Freshman Terrell Allen led all Dragons with 15 points, but did most of his damage from the charity stripe (8-for-10).  The PG didn’t have the greatest assists-to-turnover ratio, but it’s hard to pick up assists when 73% of the team’s shots aren’t falling.

It seems obvious that despite this weekend’s outcome, the offense is moving in the right direction.  For the last few games, the team has begun doing some of the things that fans (or at least this fan) has been hoping to see all season.  For a team without a true deep threat, you have to manufacture ways to get the guys to the rim.  I didn’t think that a minor modification to the trademark Bruiser Weave (patent pending) would do that, but that’s what we saw the offense do at Towson.  The wheel wasn’t reinvented, but the players were coached to look for something better than just the open look that the defense gives them.  That, my friends, is a big step in the right direction.

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