Annnnnnnnd We’re Back
When the late author David Foster Wallace was being interviewed by David Lipsky for a Rolling Stone piece that eventually became a book, Wallace made the remark I’ve titled this piece with. Of course Lipsky titled his book with the same remark, which was then turned into a movie worth checking out, but anyway, I find it applicable here.
I’m not going to get pretentious about Drexel basketball, but the past week has been one in which we’ve seen the Dragons become themselves. They’re a below average team with some talent, no depth, and a massive void where a defensive identity should be at this point in the season.
After winning four games in a row, and hoodwinking me something fierce, the Dragons had their hearts ripped out by Towson at the DAC, and then, still licking their literal and figurative wounds, they were hammered on the road at Charleston, despite doing their best to hang in.
A Big Problem
If you needed any more proof that Austin Williams is one of the best defensive players in the CAA, just look what happened to Drexel when he limped off the floor, never to return, against Towson.
Towson's Zane Martin and Mike Morsell put on a show, hitting some jumpers and the Tigers buried open looks from three to claw back into the game, but when you don't have a rim protector and rebounder of Williams' caliber back there, everything changes.
Tyshawn Miles is a great team player and a high energy guy who can give you 8 to 10 minutes of defense and rebounding, but he can't be called on for more than that.
Tadas Kararinas has shown some finesse on the offensive end, but his defense is still lacking. Yes, he's extremely raw, but I would've thought that with over half a seasons worth of practices and more game time than Coach Spiker would've ever wanted to give him, he would have shown some improvement on the defensive end. He still looks like a kid lost in a crowd searching for his mom when he's trying to protect the paint.
Jarvis Doles basically showed that he has some range and that's about it this season. He can't be counted on to play much defense at this point, and he's seen his PT dwindle as the Dragons got healthy.
I don't want to rip the freshmen too much, because they're just that. The coaching staff needs to help these guys improve, and I haven't seen that over the course of the season.
The point is with Stretch out, you knew Charleston was going to be a bear of a game.
He doesn't have a 7'9 wingspan like Mo Bamba, and he isn't imposingly tall, but Austin Williams blocks shots because he has incredible timing and body control, oh, and because his guards give him plenty of opportunities to get blocks.
Lee, Isabell and Harper all need to improve their on ball defense. It's way too easy for the guards in the CAA, and there are a lot of good ones, to go right by them and get into the lane.
Once the guard penetrates, Williams often slides up in the paint to contest a layup, and the guard will leave a drop pass for the man Williams left. If that doesn't happen, the guard will kick for a corner three, or just create enough space to pull up for a jay a la Zane Martin.
I'm all for a decline in Williams block numbers if it means are guards are playing better defense around the perimeter.
Stretch's injury doesn't appear to be a season-ender, but it's unclear if he will be available at Northeastern.
If I Were the Coach
I would hold Williams out at Northeastern. The chances of the Dragons getting out of a play-in game at the CAA Tourney are slim, the Dragons are awful on the road, and Northeastern is very, very good, and will be very, very pissed after the way Drexel beat them at the DAC a few weeks back.
This will be an epically difficult game for Drexel to win with or without Stretch, so if there is even an inkling that he is hobbled and not 100 percent ready to rock and roll, I'm keeping him in one of those nice grey sweatsuits.