Saturday, December 29, 2012

This Week in Wrenball: Reckoning

We wrote in our season preview that anything better than a 6-6 mark headed into CAA play would be a positive outcome for a young Wrens squad trying to bounce back from a dismal 2011-12 campaign. With a 7-3 record going into the final two games of the non-conference schedule, W&M's playing with house money by our initial measure. (Though if we'd known how bad ODU would be, we might've revised our expectations.)

We see you too, Tony
While that .700 winning percentage is clearly progress, the underlying fundamentals (as my friends on Wall Street like to say) tell a mixed story. If we're being honest with one another, we acknowledge the tissue-soft nature of the Tribe's competition to date. Hampton, Liberty, High Point, Radford, Howard, and Salisbury ain't exactly Murderer's Row. CBS Sports' Jerry Palm, formerly the proprietor of CollegeRPI.com, ranks the Tribe's schedule to date 346th out of 347 Division I schools in terms of difficulty. If nothing else, it was good for the team's confidence.

On the other hand, though, a convincing argument could be made that the Tribe should be 9-1, at the very worst 8-2. W&M was within a basket in the final minute at Wake Forest, and led Richmond by 5 points with less than 90 seconds to play in overtime on the road. The latter loss, in double overtime, leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of Tribe fans. (Though Spidey's coming conference affiliation reckoning has the sweet smell of schadenfreude upon it.)

I attended a Tribe Club reception last week (and got berated by Shlara for pestering W&M AD Terry Driscoll about conference musical chairs), and while most of the cognescenti were realistic about W&M's opposition to date, there was an unmistakable whiff of optimism in the air. To be fair, much of that positivity derives from never-better one in seven CAA Tournament odds, but even seasoned Green and Gold observers sung the praises of Tony Shaver's squad. (And many are even more excited about the 2013-14 Tribe, citing what might be the best overall recruiting class since the Jimmy Moran/Billy Phillips coups of the mid-90s.)

With the Big Three of Marcus Thornton, Tim Rusthoven, and Brandon Britt playing at a very high level, and fourth option Kyle Gaillard gaining confidence with each outing (and leading the CAA, shooting 63.6% from the field), the Tribe is a increasingly deep team on offense, if untested on defense.

Tim Rusthoven may be in for a long afternoon
All our cautious optimism will be tested this afternoon, as W&M travels to West Lafayette, IN to take on Matt Painter's Purdue squad (televised on ESPN3). Though the Boilers enter the contest with a 5-6 record and desultory 201 RPI rating, they've bullied the Tribe's CAA brethren this season. Purdue drilled Hofstra, 83-54, on November 11, then hammered UNCW, 66-40, ten days later. They haven't beaten anyone of note, however, with a 73-61 win over Clemson counting as their best win, and losses to Oregon State, a down Villanova squad, and a mediocre Eastern Michigan on their ledger.

Junior guard Terone Johnson leads the balanced Boilermakers with 12.2 points per game, with four others averaging between 6.7 and 9.6. Massive (7'0", 280 lbs) freshman A.J. Hammons scores 9.6 points and grabs 5.7 boards a game. W&M has nobody anywhere near his size, which will present a challenge to Rusthoven and his mates on the interior - at the same time, Rusthoven's experience and post savvy will test Hammons' youth. (Thanks to Tribe SID Kris Sears for the latter insight.)

Even the most rosy-lensed Tribesmen* don't expect a win today, but we think W&M will give a mediocre Purdue team a run. We'd certainly be surprised if the Tribe becomes the third straight CAA team to get dumptrucked by the Boilermakers. In any event, we'll know a lot more today about what we've actually got here.

* Our online friend @WM_VA_Josh was casting about on Twitter for ideas for his new personalized license plate. We dropped knowledge on him. And the rest, like the Tribe's destiny, is history:

38 comments:

zman said...

I love the word congnescenti. I still believe all these Tribe basketball posts are a joke. I don't recall ever hearing about a basketball team while at W&M.

rob said...

no, they're real. got uniforms and everything.

Danimal said...

Furyk hangin at the Y with his son.unfortunately there is no practice putting green here. ZING!

rob said...

you guys trading hairline maintenance tips?

T.J. said...

shouldn't it be "wreckoning" for the sake of this post?

rob said...

tribe are 11 point dogs at purdue today, in case you were wondering.

T.J. said...

Marcus is fired up for today's game...

rob said...

hope rusthoven brought his big boy pants

Danimal said...

Rob made a funny. Speaking of Furyk, the 2012 Ryder Cup is replaying now if anyone is into sadism. I wish i would have known that when i saw that mofo. Would have invited myself over to his compound on the ocean to watch and critique his piss poor performance.

Mr. Truck said...

is reading these tribe basketball posts going to help me coach my children?

Shlara said...

The Tribe is looking pretty good!

rob said...

yep. too many easy baskets in that last four minutes for purdue, but the tribe offense is getting good looks.

rob said...

that's a pretty good half of basketball by the tribe. purdue hit several contested shots late or w&m would be up by more than 1.

rob said...

g:tb's obx correspondent reports that the new bathrooms at tortuga's are top notch. can't wait.

rob said...

well that sucked

Shlara said...

That was rough. But I have to believe that the experience of these close games will pay off in Feb and March

rob said...

soul patch update: still blonde, still looks like a dirt smudge. wife argues that it's gray. wife is wrong.

zman said...

I forgot to mention previously that the Low End hoodie from Mark was an exquisitely thoughtful gift. I thought he was going to get me a Jesus piece. The hoodie is better and frankly sublime.

Mark said...

It's great. I've worn it multiple times since Xmas. Only alerted you to it's existence because we don't live near each other.

zman said...

This is just too good to be true. 1979-2009, year by year, in what appears to be streamable and downloadable form. Merry Gheorghemas music fans.

http://www.itstherub.com/category/history-of-hip-hop/page/4/

Mark said...

Whoa.

Danimal said...

Nice find.
Sign me up for a future Pin-Stripe Bowl.

rob said...

developed a healthy appetite for dark & stormys over the past several months. not that there's anything wrong with that.

Mark said...

Dinner at my in-laws restaurant tonight. Just ridiculous food.

rob said...

my 8 year-old just watched 'home alone' for the first time. that movie's something else entirely through the eyes of a child. the smiles and laughter through the climactic home invasion scene made my day.

Mark said...

VCU harassed Fairleigh Dickinson into 33 turnovers today and won by 29. Shaka Smart is going to make a fuckton of money at a big school when he chooses to.

rob said...

that's a fact. and he'll pick when and where. dude is 35 years old. if he wants to, he'll break coach k's record.

zman said...

FDU! Say Teaneck!

rob said...

that's 3 close losses to major conference foes for the tribe. so, so close. at vandy on wednesday night. winnable, dammit.

Mark said...

Vandy sucks. And they absolutely suck offensively. Major chance for the Tribe. Of course, due to SEC allegiances I'll be rooting for Vandy.

Mark said...

Not really.

Texas-Oregon State was/is really, really fun.

rob said...

my name is maximus decimus meridius...father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife - and i will have my vengeance, in this world or the next

Shlara said...

Boys--I'm just catching up on movies--saw Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook this week. Both excellent. Both should win awards this season.
Go see them.

Shlara said...

Oh, and maybe I should read more history-focused books...but I had no idea that Mary Todd Lincoln was such a ball-buster

Clarence said...

It's true, Shlara. Maybe your college self could join me as I portray the president next Memorial Day.

Holy crap, I'm just going for a gag there, I hate being a dick like that to someone I dig.

Clarence said...

Mark, many thanks for the gift. I'm still trying to decipher it aurally, but the premise has me smiling.

Clarence said...

Oh, and Hi, Gheorgies!!!

Clarence said...

No, seriously, Hi, Gheorghies!!

This used to be my playground.