Three games into the conference schedule, and that number sure looks like it'll be determinative this season.
In wins over James Madison and Drexel, the Wrens shot a combined 15 for 27 (55.6%) from behind the arc to roll to huge halftime advantages and coast to easy wins. And in a loss to CAA-leading Delaware, W&M went 9 for 26 from deep, losing a tight roadie by five points. Though it's early, the Tribe leads the CAA in shooting percentage and trails only the College of Charleston in three-point accuracy.
It's a simple game for W&M this year: you shoot the ball, a lot from outside, and when they go in, you win. When they don't, you don't. You won't be turning opponents over a great deal, and you won't be playing much shutdown defense. (And I don't expect you to maintain a +6 rebounding margin, though it'd be fantastic if you did.) So let's hope the jumpshots travel.
Yesterday's 78-56 win over JMU was W&M's first twenty-point drubbing of the Dukes since February 2005. It was basically over after the Tribe shot 71.8% from the field in the first half on the way to a 42-24 lead. Marcus Thornton paced the victors with 20, with Tim Rusthoven adding 17 points and 7 boards. Though he only scored four points, Terry Tarpey played another complete game for W&M, grabbing nine rebounds and dropping five dimes.
For all the accolades Thornton, Rusthoven, and freshman Omar Prewitt deservedly receive, it's the sophomore Tarpey who's rapidly becoming one of the keys to the Tribe's success. Though only 6'5", Tarpey paces W&M with 6.8 rebounds a game (good for 10th in the CAA), swipes 1.6 steals per contest (4th in the league), and rounds out a full stat sheet with 5.9 points and 2.0 assists. He's upped his game in CAA play, recording a double-double in the loss at Delaware, and averaging 9.7 boards in league games. He's the kind of hard-nosed, rugged player that's vital to a team of skilled but not always physical athletes. To steal from ourselves, he may be the redass we've been seeking.
This week takes the Tribe on the road for a pair of critical early-season contests. W&M travels to Long Island to take on Hofstra on Wednesday. The Pride are 2-1 in league play after a disappointing 4-10 out of conference start. One of the few bright spots for Hofstra during last year's dismal campaign was a 70-59 home win over the Wrens, who returned the favor in Williamsburg. If W&M is who we think they might be, they need to show us with a win over an improving but not terribly good Hofstra squad.
On Saturday, the Teej and I will travel with the Tribe to Philadelphia as the Green and Gold plays Drexel. Though the Tribe handled the Dragons fairly easily in the conference opener, Drexel boasts a win over Alabama this season, and led #1 Arizona by 19 before falling in early-season action. Bruiser Flint's team was extremely banged up in the two teams' first matchup, and if they're healthy, pose a very difficult road test for W&M.
Team G:TB's road trip to Philly will also include a stop at LaSalle to see the Explorers host VCU. It's a veritable hoopstravanganza for the good guys. If you're in the area, stop by and say hello. We'll be the tall, pale, balding dude and the short, bespectacled handsome fella - and we'll both be wearing tri-cornered hats and no pants.