I have two loves, movies and pacing around my apartment muttering expletives about Drexel basketball.
This closest thing I have to merging those two loves is the incredible 1996 movie, nay, FILM "Eddie".
In the movie, Whoopie Goldberg plays a beaten-down New York Knicks fan who by a series of unprecedented events is pulled out of the stands and is eventually named the head coach of the team. You may think that is an implausible premise, but I think it's how Zillmer became the AD at Drexel so...
"Eddie" is probably the best movie of Whoopi's career and the worst of Frank Langella's, but it does act out the dream of every beleagured sports fan who has ever said "I could do a better job than that guy."
For the record, I do not think I could do a better job than Zach Spiker. I think he is a good coach with good basketball instincts who is realizing how difficult it is going to be to win at Drexel. A good sign of this is when the vast majority of your recruiting class are JUCO transfers or guys who were lightly recruited out of high school, so they did a prep year, but then they were lightly recruited out of prep school too.
Drexel needs to become a place that mid-tier high school recruits from the northeast want to come and play. It is up to Spiker to make that happen, and that starts on the court before it can happen in the prospects mothers living room.
I digress, I will have plenty of opportunities to complain this season, but this post is not that. This is me acting out a real life "Eddie" scenario, we'll call it "Joey."
If I we're plucked from Section 8 at the DAC and asked to coach the team, I would get crazy trying out different lineups really quickly. In all seriousness, the only way Spiker could get fired after this season is if he sets fire to the squash courts on Drexel's campus, but anything short of that wouldn't do it.
So, he's in a unique position to do some interesting things.
The first thing I would try is putting Demir at the 5.
I'd play a lineup featuring Lee, Harper, Walton, Doles, and Demir on the court. The goal here is to outscore the opponent, and not worry about defense at all. So, Drexel basketball.
Unless Tim Perry Jr. is just a shot blocking, rebounding stud, this team cannot protect the rim, nor can they out rebound anyone, so the goal is going to be long possessions and making shots.
This lineup only works under the assumption that everyone is a capable three-point shooter, which if left open they can be. Demir has shown he can score from the block through a mix of force and finesse. The goal would be to work the ball around, milk the clock, get it down low and give Demir the option to kick or shoot from close range.
I think my days of hoping Drexel locks down on defense under Spiker are over, so I am inclined to agree with his strategy to try and outscore every opponent.
Once that lineup blows up in my face, though, I might try a slightly more defensive minded lineup.
Lee, Walton, Washington, Demir and TPJR.
Obviously, this group would give Drexel great length on the wings with the 6'6 Walton and 6'4 Washington. The inability of Drexel to defend the wings and opposing guards in general was glaring last year.
If Tim Perry Jr. is able to block shots and rebound (I understand how insane I must sound putting this kind of pressure on Perry, but he needs to step up in a big way), then I think this lineup could be formidable. Harper as the sixth man off the bench could kinda-sorta run the point if he can control the reckless abandon he plays with.
The risk here is playing with a true freshman and two guys in Lee and Walton who are going to want the ball. Hopefully Lee's experience playing alongside Isabell last year has helped mature him to the point where he can be a facilitator as opposed to a shoot first player.
If those risks turn into failures, then things get really fun. It would be easy to give up on the Dragons at this point, but Eddie never gave up on the Knicks, so, here's plan c.
Lee, John, Walton, Demir, Butler.
Transfer Trevor John as opposed to Harper and Washington only makes sense if his incredibly small three-point shooting sample size at Cal Poly can turn into consistency for Drexel.
Bulter is a total and complete mystery to me. He hardly played at Navy, but averaged 27/game in high school. This tells me Butler probably played against inferior high school competition, but possesses an ability to score.
This lineup would also let Demir stretch his legs and show off his range, but you're sacrificing anything even close to defense.
The two constants are Lee and Demir because they are the two best players on this team. Harper is probably number three for me right now, but I love the idea of his energy off the bench.
There are so many unknowns, and I mean literally unknown players who we haven't seen live yet, on this team that it could be a very fun season. Of course, unless Spiker finds the secret recipe, it will be a losing one.
He is in a very unique position, and while last year featured plenty of iso-ball from a talented guard, this year could be closer to the offense Spiker draws up on his whiteboard.
As I said, I have faith in Spiker, but if we see the same milquetoast lineup that struggles night in and night out, I may have to use a line Eddie used on the coach she replaced.
"You gonna try something new tonight? Like trying to coach?"
What a film.