Drexel player of the game: BaBiNey
Key to the game: Points off turnover
Next Game: Saturday Jan 9, Home vs College of Charleston
Bruiser Flint has been coaching at Drexel for 15 years, but Thursday night January 7th he may have done something brand new. Because on that night, in front of a crowd that would have sold out most neighborhood outdoor basketball courts, Bruiser Flint's Drexel Dragons shot 54% from the field and were blown out of the gym. The Dragons shot the ball well, shooting 50% over the first 30 minutes of the game before a torrid final quarter made the game look respectable, but even shooting that well they were no match for Tony Shaver's William and Mary Tribe.
What most Drexel fans will remember from this contest was the 21-0 run that William and Mary went on when they implemented a vanilla 2-3 zone in the first half (actually only 20 of those points were scored while they were playing a zone, but who is counting?) What fans won't notice is that Bruiser, while admittedly not calling a timeout, was screaming, imploring and begging his team to penetrate to break down the zone. Coming out of the half, they did just that and left Tony Shaver constantly checking in and out of the zone trying to catch the Dragons off guard. Sammy Mojica was particularly effective driving from the wing and passing up the jump shot to get into the paint.
Mojica was actually 4/4 from inside the arc against the Tribe, and that was indicative of an entire team effort. Rare were the two point jump shots until the final few minutes of the game when the outcome wasn't in doubt. Instead a real effort was made to get the ball to the paint, either via penetration or feeding a big man on the block. The combination players of the game went 11/15 from the floor, with 13 rebounds in a game where rebounds weren't plentiful. The team as a whole shot an unheard of 73% from two point range in this game which is a stunning achievement from a coaching staff that never looked like they were going to fall out of love with jump shots.
While the Drexel offense struggled from the perimeter, the positive impact of getting to the paint led to Drexel's third best offensive performance of the season, with 1.02 points per possession. People may point to the offensive rebounding numbers, but when most of the missed shots are from three, which are shots that don't tend to lend themselves to offensive boards, that's just what is going to happen. If the missed shots were from close range, you can count on the fact that there would have been many more rebounds for the Dragons.
So how then, with that strong offensive performance, did the Dragons get blown out? Well the Tribe wasn't so bad either. Terry Tarpey had a game, putting up 21 points, 6 rebounds and an incredible 6 steals. His quick hands led William and Mary to 21 points off of Dragon turnovers. And while the defense by the Dragons was at time embarrassing, getting beaten multiple times in transition for no good reason and some silly fouls, on the balance the half court wasn't that miserable. Only 26 of the Tribe's 72 points came in the paint, and aside from the Penn game William and Mary spent less time at the foul line than any Drexel opponent this year. What they did do was execute. They hit some tough shots (including an incredible mid range fading floater at the end of the first half) and when they got to the line, they made it count, to the tune of 89%. Sometimes, you need to tip your cap, and while Drexel has a lot of cleaning up to continue with, this was one of those nights.
One last note, for one of the friends of the blog. At one point in the second half, Bruiser was assertively giving some notes to Sammy Mojica, Someone made a joke that Bru may have been telling the young man that the team hadn't passed the ball around the perimeter enough on that particular possession, that 5 or a dozen more pointless passes were necessary. Well, a certain someone didn't think that was a joke.