Posted: 11/30/2011 5:56:12 PM
Sorry I haven't been posting much lately. There's a number of reasons it's been tough this season to post my plays, but rather than bore you with excuses, I'll just apologize and get on to tonight.
There's an interesting game on the schedule tonight that caught my eye. In what ought to be a real Philly battle tonight, I'm going with:
This game's particularly interesting to me because of the contrast in styles. St. Joes is an athletic, young team just starting to figure it out this year. Drexel, on the other hand, is its usual physical, hard-nosed team that tries to impose its will on you. Whichever team can control the style of the contest obviously has the bench chance to prevail here.
Let's look at the two teams in a bit more detail, starting with Drexel. This is the quintessential Bruiser Flint Drexel team: it's physical, defensive-minded, and dominant on the boards, while simultaneously lacking in offensive creativity and shooting. The strength of this team is its trio of big men--Samme Givens, Dartaye Ruffin, and Daryl McCoy-- a trio that led Drexel to being the 17th best offensive rebounding and #1 best defensive rebounding team in the country a year ago. Now they all return and bring back that rebounding and inside scoring to anchor this unit. Now, the guard play is what's really held this team back so far, as the shooting has been abysmal. They do get gunner Chris Fouch back tonight (most likely, anyway) for the first time this season, but despite his launch-tastic scoring mentality, he lacks the accuracy to really be an efficient scorer. Despite their offensive problems, though, this team definitely takes on Bruiser's identity and is an extremely tough-minded defensive bunch. They play an in-your-face man-to-man that really stifles the perimeter game of its opponents; its current opponent 3-point FG% of 20.3% ranks third in the country. With their ability to force misses and clean up the glass, this is one of the best defenses in the country despite not turning their opponents over very often and fouling too often.
St. Joes, on the other hand, is a bit more interesting and dynamic of a team. After an ugly two-year rebuild, Phil Martelli finally has this team moving in a direction that Hawks fans can be excited about again. Guards Carl Jones and Langston Galloway form a dynamic scoring duo, with Jones the slasher and Galloway the shooter of the two. Inside they've got talented and super-athletic center C.J. Aiken, a shot-blocker on the defensive end and a guy who can step out and shoot it on offense. Rounding out their rotation is underrated banger Ronald Roberts, fan-favorite forward Halil Kanacevic (the Hofstra transfer), athletic winger Daryus Quarles, and freshman true point guard Chris Wilson. This is an extremely young bunch and they play like it sometimes, but there's a lot of talent here. Still, it's coming together quickly, certainly quicker than I expected, and it's a testament to how good of a coach Phil Martelli is. Offensively they've been extremely efficient, aided by their outstanding shooting (especially from 3, where they've hit at 44.2% as a team). Defensively, they've been only average, but that's a huge step forward from last year's horrible team defense. Their interior D has been particularly good, and is largely the result of C.J. Aiken's gamechanging shotblocking ability. But it's not a high-pressure D, so they will generate very few turnovers. The last SJU-specific note of relevance here is that this isn't a particularly good rebounding team, ranking 311th in offensive rebounding and 183rd in defensive rebounding.
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