|Photo: Action shot of the top three Drexel forwards and Damion Lee, in the second half at William and Mary|
Emphasis on the title again: I am not a doctor
I have not spoken with the teams trainer or any other member of the staff since the game at William and Mary tipped off.
I can tell you the following:
Kaz Abif was walking around during warm ups without a noticeable limp. He was not injured in the Southern Miss game so one can assume that this is a recent development and he’s taking his body weight on the knee so I don’t expect this to be a long term injury.
With regards to Ruffin, it looked to me like a calf strain, and everyone in the place could tell that he was unable to put any weight on it, hence the crutches. That charts to a grade 2 or 3 strain, which best case is about a month on the shelf, and worst case is surgery, the recovery time from which would be after the end of his senior season. Once again, I’m not a doctor, just a guy with a combined about 3 years of his life spent in physical therapy, a good view of the player at the time of injury and the aid of the internet.
So that’s the cringeworthy status of the walking (or not) wounded. There is good news on the horizon as well, and its name is Rodney Williams.
Yes, there’s a chance Rodney picks up his fifth foul before he gets out of bed in the morning. And yes, he’s looked a step behind in reading what was going on around him in the court at times, and his box outs are more of a theoretical idea then they are an actual, you know, thing. But have you seen him go above the rim to pull a board? Did you notice that when he’s passed the ball, he catches it? Maybe you noticed his 60% shooting as a freshman. My favorite though is this: He’s blocked 7.6% of the opponents shots when he is on the floor. Last year, the entire DU team combined blocked 9.5% of opponents shots. In his senior season Frank Elegar blocked 6.9% of the opponents shots, good for 90th in the country. Williams is outpacing Frank as a freshman. Chaz Crawford blocked a ridiculous over 11% as a freshman, but did it while shooting only 47% from the field and 33% from the line.
Oh, have you seen Rodney turn the rare pass from a guard into a dunk, not a layup. Dunking from nearly standing still. Want to compare his offensive line to Frank Elegar as a freshman? Well you really can’t since Frank only took 13 shots as a Freshman. Rodney has taken 33 thus far and is clearly about to receive a lot more, so he may just get a chance to put himself ahead of the curve. And what about those fouls? Well currently Williams has the exact same foul percentage as Daryl McCoy did as a freshman. It worked out OK for that McCoy kid, and with Williams additional athleticism advantage on Daryl, he should be able to adjust to the college game a little easier.
No one is saying that Williams is going to stand in and do what Dartaye does. The loss of the MVD will be hard on this team in the games coming up. Rodney won’t suddenly stop fouling and start picking guys up to box out quicker or to roll with help D faster now. Those are the things that every Drexel big man has come in and struggled with, it seems beyond question that the big fellas have a bigger learning curve once they hit college then the guards do, and much of that is about the speed of the game. But Rodney Williams has a chance to be a special talent here at DU, and the additional time he’ll see now will go towards speeding up that adjustment. When this kid is able to stay on the floor for more than 20 minutes a game, people are going to start buzzing about him, and when they do you can be the hipster who said “yeah I knew him before he was big”. Because behind the fouls and the step slow thats there now, is a special player.
How special? I started writing that last section on December 5th, I was so excited about this player early on in the season. Now there’s an unfortunate reason to post it. When a door closes, yadda yadda… We’re going to get a chance to see Rodney in a lot more action now, so sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
Moving on from Mr. Williams, it seems clear that Goran has overtaken Mohammed Bah for the next spot in the rotation. Goran gets caught flat footed from time to time and it can burn the Dragons on the rebounding and defense side at times, but he’s shown serviceable and for an off the bench big man, he’ll be ok at the CAA level. His promotion would seem to be more of an indicator of the lack of faith the staff has in Bah, who seems like he has the physical tools but may be struggling to pickup his role at either end of the court.
There’s going to be some ugly nights watching guys grow into roles they aren’t used to. That’s ok, the pressure is very much off now. These upcoming games are all about getting the team where it needs to be to be peaking at the right time. The chalkboard for the front line is almost a blank slate, so the staff can get creative. Here’s to four guards. Here’s to zones. Here’s to a little shake and bake, and a player on the front line who can jump out of the gym for the first time in a long time.
Saturday the 25th of January is a rematch, William and Mary at the DAC. The roles should be sorted out by then. Let that be your gauge of where this team will go from here, give them some time to get their feet under them after the Ruffin injury. For the record, I think Rodney Williams will be dishing out some payback that night, so get on down to the DAC for that one. See you there.