The Defense Had Better Not Rest…

It hit me last night–round about the third gulp of Nyquil and right when Dog the Bounty Hunter was getting his man–that we’re going to see a lot of 59-55 games this year. Start with the conference being as balanced as anyone can remember. Throw in the three point line moving back. Then, there’s the relative strengths of each team.

Wha? Check it out:

VCU: one of the top defensive teams in the entire country last year but struggled offensively and lost a natural shooter in Jamal Shuler.

ODU: another nasty defensive team who shapes up to struggle offensively this year.

Northeastern: probably the second best defensive team in the conference last year but not good offensively. Everybody is back.

Mason: A great man defensive team buffeted by that Scramble defense, which we recently learned is a 1-3-1 trap. Lost their top two scorers.

Drexel: putrid on offense and always good defensively.

JMU: Horrid defensively last year but Matt Brady has started every interview with some variation of  “all we’re practicing is defense.”

Georgia State: they ran some teams into the ground last year, and Rod Barnes is a defensive coach.

It bodes for some ugly basketball games, but it is also a key part of the formula for winning in the NCAA tournament. Put a marker on this one.

***

And since we’re preaching defense, it is only natural to go with a preview of:

We’re huge Bruiser Flint fans around these parts. The Drexel coach has never ducked one question, not even close, and he has a refreshing approach to the media: if you ask a dumb question, he will nicely let you know in his own way.

True story: in the postgame presser after losing to Virginia, Flint was asked the silly question of how Frank Elegar “felt” going against all those big ACC bangers.

“I don’t know,” chuckled Flint, “go ask Frank.”

Next question.

Flint is as affable off the court as he is intense on it, and he will need every bit of his personal resolve and humor this season, because it looks to be a struggle. The Dragons were bad offensively last season, and they lost their primary threat in Elegar.

The Dragons were last in the CAA in scoring, scoring margin, three point field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and 11th in field goal percentage.

Three Key Statements

  1. Tra Hawthorne has got to be that rock, where day in and day out you can count on him, no matter what happens.
  2. It’s been a long time since Drexel has relied on guard production and shooting, and this year the line moves back.
  3. Chris Fouch’s ACL injury looms.

Season Shaper(s)

  1. The duo of Jamie Harris and Gerald Colds have got to make that freshman to sophomore year jump. Each saw extended action last year and the learning must pay off immediately.
  2. Kenny Tribbett, who can never be faulted for effort, has to translate that to the games. Drexel needs a force on the block to run its offense, and that needs to be Tribbett. Leon Spencer will play but must adjust.
  3. Fight on: Drexel has always been scrappy. Three of the Dragons’s first four CAA games coming out of the holidays are roadies, and the lone home game is VCU. They may reach a critical stage in the season by January 15.

The Underdog

Evan Neisler. If there was anyone in the league who spent last season “feeling their way around” to see how the CAA would take, it was Neisler. He is a gifted athlete and knows what he’s doing on the court. Now, it’s about production.

Hey Coach, What Happens If…

  • Tribbett still doesn’t produce and Spencer doesn’t get acclimated quickly?
  • Hawthorne remains inconsistent?
  • Scott Rodgers gives up?

If you can look into the seeds of time, and say which grain will grow and which will not, speak:

Drexel will beat some good teams this year because they are generally the toughest team on the block. But Flint was dealt a tough hand this year.

Place range is ninth through 12th.

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~ by mglitos on November 6, 2008.

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