Drexel Player of the Game: Tavon Allen
Key to the Game: Offensive Execution
Next Game: Thursday Feb 4 v JMU
It's easy to say that Saturday's game against Hofstra exemplified the entirety of the Drexel men's basketball season. It's easy to say it was more of the same, close, but simply not good enough to win. This game was different though, it wasn't about coaches having guys out of position, or the players "desire to win" whatever that means. The team played hard, the fundamentals, for a change, were there, but once again the win column stayed unchanged for the Dragons, holding at 3 for the 2015-16 season.
While Tavon Allen was putting on a show (12-24 fg, 33 points) from deep, it was easy to not notice what else was going on in the Drexel offense. Time and again, throughout the game, the Dragons got the ball down low feeding the forwards who have spent the better part of the season begging for the ball. The sixteenth game of the year for DU was the first time this season that both starting forwards had double digit shot attempts. Kazembe Abif and Rodney Williams combined for 25 of the teams season high 74 shots. That's a great sign for this offense and a signal that it should be abusing the opposing teams defense.
Along with feeding the forwards unsurprisingly came one of the teams best rebounding efforts of the season. On the offensive glass, Sammy Mojica led the team with 6 offensive boards. The team limited themselves to just 5 turnovers, the lowest number this season and the first time all year that they turned over the ball on less than 10% of possessions. The Dragons showed the discipline they had been missing, they got the ball inside, they slammed the boards. This was the Drexel team that we had been waiting to see all year, and that excitement was felt among one of the larger DAC crowds the season, announced at 1,510 fans. There was electricity in the building both from the Drexel fans excited to see their team gunning for an upset and a significant Hofstra fanbase looking on in horror for most of the contest. Yet when the dust had settled. that excitement on both sides was for naught, as Hofstra retained their share of first place, walking away with a 70-64 win that left Drexel fans once again looking for answers.
The good news is, as problems get fixed, the answers are getting simpler. Saturday's game can be baked down to three things:
--Fouls continue to be a problem for a team that still hasn't adjusted to the new rules. Credit Joe Mihalich for working to get some calls from a very inept officiating crew (Dennis Alloco, Matt Potter and Matt Oblas) but this wasn't just his or the crews doing. In 5 of the last 6 games Drexel's opponents have gotten to the line significantly more often than the Dragons, and part of that is due to the love for the pullup jumpshot, and part of that is still due to a defensive gameplan that still hasn't yielded to this years rule changes.
--They got the ball to the forwards, and by the numbers Rodney Williams (1st) and Kaz Abif (4th) are some of the leaders in offensive efficiency on this squad. But on Saturday, neither came through. Rodney's highlight reel dunk aside, they both settled for what their coaches have taught them, hook shots and jumpers, while the Hofstra players were going hard to the rim and getting fouled. Obviously, one of those techniques will score more consistently than the other, and the inconsistency of the Drexel forwards shooting may well have cost them the game.
--Given the lack of turnovers Hofstra's fast break was neutralized, another key win for the Dragons. but despite the lack of fastbreak, Hofstra still went 16/26 from inside the arc and took 31 free throw attempts. Tanksley and Green did what they do, and every Hofstra player who saw at least 10 inutes on the floor finished with over a point per possession to their name. By comparison, Drexel only has one player who has averaged over a point per possession this season, Rodney Williams, who fouled out of this game right before Hofstra broke it open down the stretch. Even without their usual easy fastbreak buckets, Hofstra scored like there wasn't an opposing defense on the floor. Had the Dutchmen not gone a stunning 0-11 from behind the arc in the first half, this game would have been a blowout in their favor.Rodney Williams started off today's game with another huge dunk that sent the @DacPack into a frenzy!https://t.co/RYP2P9zvH7— Drexel Dragons MBB (@Drexel_MBB) January 30, 2016
And that's a hell of a thing. Because on a day when Drexel did everything right on offense besides putting the ball in the bucket, they should have been blown out. The Dragons are ranked eighth in a ten team conference in defensive efficiency, and right now that's looking generous. With the offense seemingly running decently, it's time for Bruiser to return to his roots and get the effort turned up on the defensive end.