Drexel-Alaska Post Game: Upset to No-one

Mark Walush returns to review the Alaskan catastrophe from yesterday:

Final Score: Alaska-Anchorage 71 Drexel 65

Player of the Game: Sammy Mojica
Key to the Game: Defense
Next Game: Today, 4pm EST vs San Diego
There is so much that can be said about this game that is covered in the first line of this post.  But for now, we will focus on the positives.  For the second game in a row, fans saw a solid performance from Sammy Mojica, who went off for 20 points on an efficient 15 shots and 3-4 shooting from the line, while also chipping in 6 rebounds and 6 assists with only 2 turnovers.  Sammy’s resurgence comes as a bright spot compared to his early play which left a lot to be desired that invoked fears of a sophomore slump year.  This game showed those flashes of explosiveness that the coaches saw last year and hoped would infuse this team.
Offensively, Drexel shot 38.3% inside the arc, 40% from 3, and only 50% from the line.  The also outrebounded UAA by 11 and had 9 blocks.  Drexel also assisted on 75% of their shots, showing an emphasis on moving the ball and players getting the ball to the open man instead of trying to force bad shots.
Unfortunately, that is about all of the good that can be said about this game.  For the second straight game, Drexel spotted their opponent a 10 point head start, had a furious comeback to get close or lead by halftime, only to see that lead evaporate after halftime never to get close again.  Drexel turned the ball over 13 times, committed 27 fouls to UAA’s 19, and only averaged a meager 0.96 points per possession.  The 4-big rotation was completely shut down, shooting a combined 4-14 against a team that they had a ton of size on.
Talent is not the issue in this case, as I believe that this team has the talent and ability to win in the CAA.  However, they are typically only performing to their potential on the offensive end, and basketball is a two-way sport.  Oddly enough, the defensive end has been the demise of the team this season, and even more surprising, is how bad the D has actually been.
The worst stat of the night is that the Dragons gave up over 1 point per possession, something they have done in every game this year.  The 1.04 ppp mark is actually the lowest mark the Dragons have conceded this season, but still ranks well above the D-1 average for defensive efficiency.  For a team and coach that used to pride itself on defense, take a look at defensive ranks since the 2002 season, when Bruiser took over as Drexel’s head coach:
Kenpom Defensive Efficiency Ranking
2016 (as of 11/28/15)
Drexel has consistently fielded one of the better defensive teams in the country for the better part of the last decade, except for the past 2 years.  This has also coincided with the new rule changes enforced by the NCAA.  Since Bruiser’s teams have always been physical, grind it out, beat your nose in defensive teams, these new rules emphasizing freedom of motion and cracking down on arm bars and hand placement of offensive players, something that was a staple of the Drexel defenses of legend.  The question now is, if defense was the glue holding this team together, how do they play Bruiser’s style within these new rules?


All of the statistics aside, losing to a Division II school is unacceptable, no matter the circumstances.  Losing 2 games in as many seasons to Division II schools? That is enough to cost many coaches their jobs.  Unfortunately, the small, diminishing following that Drexel basketball has, was not surprised at that result of this game, with some even commenting that they would actually be more surprised if Drexel won this game.  That shows signs of greater program problems than can be discussed in this space, and a growing number of people see the only relief is a total change in program culture, which of course needs to start at the top of the food chain.  Unfortunately, we have seen this song and dance before and it looks like there is no end in sight.

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