Thursday, November 3, 2016

Welcome to 2016-17 Drexel Hoops: Dig In

With one hell of a World Series in the rearview mirror baseball has cleared the stage and a vital season of Drexel Dragons basketball lies in front of us.  With every build it is the foundation, the base that must be rock solid.  For Coach Zach Spiker and his colleagues, this year will be that foundation.  There are many more questions than answers, and how those questions are answered, what this programs base will be, seems as important as the wins and losses.

"Defense Wins Championships" is a mantra that all Dragon fans know as false.  Teams win championships, and part of that is how they defend.  In his career, Zach Spiker's Army teams have been in the top 200 of the country defensively just once.  All of the usual caveat's apply, it was a service academy, recruiting et al.  There's another side to that coin, those Army teams were playing weak Patriot League schedules and making those opposing offenses look good.  The only year they were in the top 200 was his first year, which was also the only year he slowed down the tempo.  That should be a predominant concern about the foundation to be built.  This teams defensive effort was lacking under Bruiser last year, which makes one really question what is in front of them for this season.

On the offensive side of the court, we know they will run.  Their exhibition game on October 27th would have been one of their top five most uptempo games last season.  Fans may break their necks trying to keep up with the action when the team faces off against Elon or Wilmington.  And with big men who haven't shown aggressiveness in the past, and a rookie point guard, there's only so many plays that can be drawn up.  An emphasis on hitting the offensive glass makes sense.  If they can take care of the ball and hit the offensive glass, they can only be so bad, and those things are in their control.  These are pillars for every successful team that isn't coached by John Calipari.  After that, for this season, it may well be the Mojica and Overton show, and a trip to a little place called jump shot city.  With jump shots comes inconsistency.  With a new offense to learn comes inconsistency.  With freshman point guards comes inconsistency.  With...  the reader gets the point.  And that is why Spiker will preach what he can control: rebounding and turnovers.

Coach Spiker also controls much more than just his team on the court.  A Drexel fan linked to a video here, and towards the end of the interview Bruiser Flint notes, repeatedly, that some Athletic Directors are basketball guys and some are not.  And the ones that are not use Search Firms.  It's not hard to connect those dots and make an assumption to Bru's thoughts on Eric Zillmer.  That may not be a shot at Flint's former AD, but more a statement of fact.  Somewhere at the top of every Division I coaches job wishlist is autonomy: being given the job of running his team without interferance from above, or from boosters, or anyone else.  Dr. Zillmer provides that.  What that also means is that this program, from the bottom up, is in Zach Spiker's hands.  It will take his image, which seems to point towards a rah rah, up tempo, exciting atmosphere.  But when building this foundation it's the substance, not the style that will matter.

Welcome to another season of Drexel Dragons basketball.  It's unlikely to be the best of seasons.  It's unlikely to be the worst of seasons.  It's quite likely to be one of the most interesting, thought provoking and exciting seasons.  It's not a reload, it's a full rebuild.  And together, team, department, and supporters, this build can be anything we make of it, nothing is off the table.

See you at the DAC.

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