That's not to say that OOC play isn't entirely meaningless. Non-con action reveals important strengths and weaknesses, and gives coaches a sense of where they need to improve.
In the case of our Wrens, we've already highlighted the issue that Tony Shaver's got to fix. He knows it, too. After W&M lost, 69-62, at Old Dominion, the Tribe head man said, "[W]e're not tough enough to win these games on the road right now. We knew coming into this game, the No. 1 statistic, the most vital thing we could do was rebound the ball and we gave up 15 offensive rebounds and 20 second-chance points. We've got no chance to win if we do that."
Then, W&M headed to Chapel Hill, gave up 20 of the game's first 24 points, and got trucked by North Carolina, 86-64. Was the Tribe going to beat UNC, even with a great effort? Unlikely. And did they show some heart in trimming a 25-point second-half deficit to 9? For sure. But that's some cold comfort from a team that's shown an inability to close against even semi-tough road opponents.
In our preseason preview, we said that we'd be perfectly happy with a 5-5 non-con record (because we don't count very well), "so long as it looks like progress, and we've figured out how we're going to defend the post."
|I prefer mine medium rare, to be honest|
FOG:TB Dan Crain is the proprietor of the oft-caustic, generally frustrated Dragons Speak (you would be, too, if Bruiser Flint was your coach and all your best players kept getting hurt), a Drexel hoops blog. He's also a really smart hoops mind who knows the CAA well. He just did a CAA season preview, in which he nails W&M's outlook: "They can't box out your grandmother, so they better make the first shot because they won't get a second. A team that is this reliant on shooting makes their margin of error much too thin to be considered a favorite, and should struggle on the road where shooting percentages generally decline."
Crain still picks W&M to finish second in the (admittedly not very strong) CAA, banking on the Tribe win 8 at home and 4 on the road. I can't say at this moment that I'm that optimistic. I see a team that's got a lot of offensive talent, but isn't very tough, outside of Terry Tarpey. I see a sophomore in Omar Prewitt who should be taking a leap from a terrific freshman season, but seems to have regressed, shooting .271 from deep and .556 from the line. I see no depth whatsoever in the frontcourt, and actually very little depth in general. Shaver really only seems to trust eight players, and those last two might be a reach. The four games in eight days run to kick off the CAA season will test the roster.
That early-season sprint, while grueling physically, doesn't require the Tribe to match up against any of the CAA's preseason favorites. W&M hosts the College of Charleston today travels to play at Drexel and at Elon, and returns home to take on JMU. A team with top-tier league aspirations wins at least three of those.
And a team with top-tier league aspirations resolves to show some resolve.