Last weekend we were looking for:
* Austin Williams to stay on the floor
* Alihan Demir to stay home and crash the boards on defensive rebounds
* Troy Harper to be the more disciplined Troy Harper that fits so well in this system
The program earned a B here. Austin Williams’ 37 minutes were a a key to the victory against Northeastern, and Alihan’s rebounding numbers featured a slight uptick, but he was still out front on the break at times. Troy Harper wasn’t served so well by his numbers, which don’t look good (2-9 from inside the arc!) but they don’t show the full story of a player that played much better defense and looked more in the flow of the offense then he did two weeks ago. There’s still room to improve as this team continues to come together. And that leads nicely into what we are looking for from the men this week:
* How do they handle success? This team has been relatively (apologies to Overton, Myles and Green) healthy for a few weeks now. The narrative would seem to be that they got healthy, finally had time to play and come together and now they’re a much better basketball team. As impressive as the weekend was, they need to prove to fans, and themselves, that they can keep focus when things are running well. That means beating up on JMU in Thursday’s revenge game and at least keeping the road tilt at W&M competitive. The game against the Tribe in particular looks like a challenging spot.
* Watch Kurk Lee. The sophomore floor general has been going thru a slump this year. A hot December helped him shoot a very good 39% from three since November ended. He’s taking some smarter looks when penetrating as well, so the shooting hasn’t been so much of the issue so much as his spreading the ball has been. This team has shown to be a really good offense when Kurk is the straw stirring the drink, but the assist rate is way down this year, and its only gotten worse in conference play. The staff seems to have noticed. Tramaine Isabell was seen bringing up the ball a bit more last game and Lee’s down to 33 minutes a game in the last seven games. In reality, he was playing far too many minutes out of necessity early in the year and this is a much more reasonable pace that will hopefully allow him to find the passer that he was last season.
* Watch the women! A big 2-0 homestand last week with the huge win over Elon rolls into a should win game at home against Towson on Friday. And that rolls into the trappy-trappy-trap game look at they head to Charleston for a 1pm tip on Super Bowl Sunday. It’s quick turnaround travel, it’s the game prior to their next matchup with Elon and Charleston has been a house of horrors for the team in the past. Beating the Cougars is essential if they want to keep their hopes for the leagues 1 seed alive, and this is a very scary game for Dragon fans. Look for the senior class that bailed them out against Northeastern to step up again in Charleston if they are going to pull off the W.