In the past, road games could be a challenge for a William and Mary team that relied on outshooting their opponents to win games, While the Tribe still relies on shooting to win, this year they're doing it inside. Taking 45% of their shots at the rim is how they have been able to withstand the loss of star player Marcus Thornton. No longer are they relying on the less predictable outside shots, no longer will they be as vulnerable in road games like they were when they went to the wire at Drexel two years ago. Instead they will use more backdoor cuts than ever, more quick passing and more pick and rolls. It's become about the technique now just as much as it was about sharpshooting then. And against guards like Terrell Allen and Sammy Mojica, who have been very poor off the ball defenders in their short DU careers, it spells trouble.
While Drexel's physical man to man defense has showed some signs of life of late, the fouling continues to be a concern. In a game like this one where the guards are likely to be beat regularly, expect to see the forwards rack up fouls early when they jump out to try to help. Expect the Tribe's top free throw shooters, junior leader Omar Prewitt and sophomore point guard David Cohn to get the ball early and often and challenge the interior defense. With penetration and a focus on off the ball defending, the Dragons should counter with extended bouts of Rashann London at the point and Tavon Allen going for as long as he can stand to be on the floor. Fans will also be watching Ahmad Fields closely as extended minutes on his behalf would both show health and give an idea of what to expect from him on the defensive end. Inside, it will be about alertness and how well Kaz Abif and Rodney Williams can pickup the Tribes plays and get to the spot in time. This has actually been a strength of Tyshawn Myles over his time at DU as he has shown an ability to not get beat by the same play twice that may find an important role in this game.
Knowing that they will be outshot, the Dragons absolutely must crash the glass and be smart with the basketball. They'll only be able to stay in this game if they take more shots than the Tribe. Last year when DU hosted this game they were blown out in embarrassing fashion, 73-47. This year, it's tough to see them making it all that much better.
Prediction: William and Mary 76, Drexel 61
Vegas Line: William and Mary -5
Alan Boston's Take:
Don't really know what to say: Bruiser has apparently lost his way. Once known for great defense and mostly good shots, this years team has evolved into not that. Sad, because they have rebounded well and hit some threes, but you can not continue to take bad shots in conference and expect to win. William and Mary is not known for defense, so if Drexel runs their stuff, open looks could be had, however going the other way could be trouble. There is no prettier offense in the country than what the wizard of William & Mary Tony Shaver runs. People know what is coming and can not stop it. A crippled Drexel team somehow beat William & Mary on senior night last year. At 0-2 in the conference and at home, you know Drexel will be all in, however, if they continue the bad habits of games past, no amount of focus, energy or talent edge will help them here. This should play at as your classic home dog. Lets hope Bruiser corrects a couple of things. It is a big hope. Against my better judgement:
Drexel 78 William and Mary 76