Saturday, January 03, 2015

This Week in Wrenball: Resolutions

Out of conference schedules for mid-major leagues like the CAA are essentially equivalent to preseason NFL games. In all but the most rare of years, non-league play serves to prepare teams for a conference slate that will determine which single team will make the NCAA Tournament.

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
W&M beat the teams they should've, and didn't get a single win against a stretch opponent. The jury's still out on post defense, as the Tribe really didn't play a big guy worth anything, other than Carolina's large and talented frontcourt. So I guess we're not perfectly happy. We're perfectly medium, with a side of apprehension.

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.

On the plus side, and it isn't all worrisome, I still see Marcus Thornton, averaging 19.1 ppg and shaking off a slow shooting start to make 42.7% of his threes. I also see a sophomore who is taking a leap after showing late-season glimpses of promise. Daniel Dixon is the team's second-leading scorer, averaging 11.5 ppg and making 50% of his threes. If he's what he's seemed to be in the early going, and Prewitt shakes of his funk, the Tribe's got three scorers the equal of anyone in the league.

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.

67 comments:

rob said...

the third round of the fa cup is being played today. 7th division blyth spartans lead championship (2nd division) side birmingham, 2-0, in the first half. sparta!

rob said...

draymond green triple double!

rob said...

and birmingham scored three second half goals to win, 3-2. my bad.

sad robot.

Mark said...

Florida about to take on ECU in the Birmingham Bowl. Take the Pirates and the 7 points. You probably won't need them but Vegas is giving them to you.

rob said...

little danny starfucker's gonna break the bank for ndamukong suh, isn't he?

rob said...

the tribe are 7.5 point favorites this evening against charleston. the visitors have played a much more difficult ooc schedule, but haven't beaten anyone except george mason, who sucks. still, 7.5 seems too high to me.

Mark said...

So Florida isn't getting smashed and the basketball team takes on UConn at 2. This is going to require some real focus by me.

TR said...

Get ready to see Seton Hall back in the rankings. They beat #15 St. John's on Wednesday and #6 Villanova today. And both wins were without stud freshman PG Isiaih Whitehead, who has a broken bone in his foot.

Clarence said...

Sing it, TR

Back to the days of Andrew Gaze
Back to the nights of Luther Wright
Pirates, PJ's Pirates are we
Seton Hall University

TR said...

Poor Luther Wright. He was like NJ's Eddie Curry. He was 7' 2" as a high school junior, but had almost no basketball skills. Coulda been worse, I suppose. He could've ended up like Eddie Griffin.

mayhugh said...

Pretty entertaining Birmingham Bowl. Lots of speed on display, and lots of timely TO's. Congrats, Mark.

rob said...

i really nailed that tribe analysis. up 30 with 3 minutes left. prewitt playing his best game of the season. dixon a non-factor.

zman said...

Someone must've tried to teach zson to wipe after he pees. His new thing is to throw a piece of toilet paper into te bowl after he's done. The paper never touches his junk, he rips it from the roll and immediately dunks it in he bowl, but I guess this is a step forward in hygiene.

mayhugh said...

Seems like everyone is picking Carolina, there is usually a home loss the first weekend, is there any prudence to taking Arizona?

zman said...

Arizona might cover (10-6 or something like that) but I can't see Lindley winning a playoff game. Either of the AFC home teams could lose IMHO.

So do a three team teaser the opposite way.

zman said...

What exactly is Game of War other than a means for Kate upton to make more money?

Mark said...

I didn't trust either of these shitty teams enough to wager on them. Took the under and the Arizona points under though.

Thanks, Mayhugh. Florida probably should've lost that game but made some plays against the ECU offense in the red zone. I'll take it. 7-6 is better than 6-7.

Oh and Dante Fowler is a beast. I'll miss him.

zman said...

Which is worse: Lindleys spiral or Carlsons hands?

Mark said...

I know there's not many UFC fans here but tonight's fight (Jones-Cormier) could/should be epic. Two best light heavyweights alive (possibly the two best fighters period). And they genuinely dislike each other.

mayhugh said...

That was a cartoonish fumble by Ginn Jr. More points for Carolina and this game is over. Lindley is a mannequin in the backfield.

TR said...

I hear you on the UFC fights tonight Mark, but with the late run time, the cost and my sobriety (66+ hours), probably not in the cards.

Haven't seen Cormier much, but Jones is the best fighter I've ever seen.

Danimal said...

Am invited to go watch at a neighbor's....what time will that start? 11?

Mark said...

10ish. The main event won't start until 11-11:30.

Shlara said...

Wizards @ Spurs & Steelers playoff game...my "last channel" remote button is getting a work out.

rob said...

headed to minny on tuesday. forecast high temps for the three days i'm there: 7, -2, 15. fahrenheit. speak well of me.

zman said...

Crash Davis?

rob said...

not what i was aiming for, but it works

rob said...

who's in charge of keeping shlara away from sharp objects?

Shlara said...

I hate the Ravens

Mark said...

Will Hill starting for the Ravens is an amazing example of the power of talent. He's fucked up so many times but he's so damn gifted.

Danimal said...

Stuart Scott dead. Damn.

Shlara said...

Guys, I'm so sad about Stuart Scott--he was SUCH an inspiration for us cancer fighters. This totally sucks.

TR said...

Wow. I heard Steve Levy on the sideline last night, saying he was in for Stuart Scott. Made me wonder how he was doing.

His ESPYs speech last year, to his two young daughters in the crowd, was amazing.

TR said...

Have they mentioned Stu on the ESPN pre-game at all? Is that something they will do closer to 1?

Shlara said...

I think I mentioned this before---Stu & I had a nice little twitter exchange about watching FNL during cancer treatments.

I dunno how he stayed so positive and determined throughout his whole fight--I was completely convinced he was going to beat it. This is a tough one to accept.

mayhugh said...

ESPN's website has a good in-depth article. A really touching tribute.

rob said...

fuck you, cancer

Danimal said...

Tr....they did a big piece on him when pre game came on. And then each of the guys spoke about him. Was sad. Keyshawn was very choked up. And then I turned it over to nfl network when that was finished to see if they were going to do anything. Rich Eisen opened up his segment with it... also very choked up as Scott was his first Sportscenter partner. Was dusty all over the place this morning.

T.J. said...

The Eisen clip is definitely a tearjerker.

Mark said...

Damn.

zman said...

The Scott article on ESPN.com was great. Actually, I should say it's dope. Scott was the first guy I can recall on mainstream TV making PE, Wu and other hiphop references and acting like everyone was in on the joke. It was a fresh breath of cultural literacy in what was previously a staid and whitebread medium. I'll miss him.

rob said...

hearing john skipper say 'booyah' and 'cool as the other side of the pillow' in his genteel north carolina accent was a testament to how scott changed television. thought it was telling that change was the theme of that espn reminiscence - which was so well done. i hadn't seen his espy speech before. got a lot dusty in here when he called his daughter up to the stage.

zman said...

Lucks TD pass was preposterous.

rob said...

that tribe win yesterday was the largest caa win in school history. who wants to get irrationally exuberant with me?

Danimal said...

Crickets

rob said...

it was a test, danimal. they all passed.

Danimal said...

I told my wife pre kickoff that I felt a huge pull to bet is on the lions at +6 to cover and to win. Did neither. Hopefully I was way off. Let's sit back and watch shall we?

Danimal said...

And right on time....Golden Taint....

Danimal said...

What a great porn title, or name. Or both. Golden Taint in......Golden Taint. You people disgust me.

Danimal said...

On Golden Taint?

TR said...

Let's be clear, Danimal. There is "Everybody Loves Reamin'" and "Honey I Blew Everyone" on one level, and then every other porn title on a lower level.

mayhugh said...

I'm watching on delay and about 2/3 through the 2nd quarter, but Dallas OL looks flabbergasted at the notion that Detroit would be bringing more than 4 men on the rush. Corner blitz? What's that?

Clarence said...

Dallas looks poised to come back and win. May Tony Romi cement his legacy with a momentous screw-up.

Clarence said...

Romi? Really, Autocorrect?

zman said...

Suh is a bad bad man.

mayhugh said...

JumboTron turns into "Jumbo Ron" on autocorrect.

What the hell is Romo doing in the backfield on those two plays? His kicker bailed him out but Romo literally ran backwards into Suh on the third down.

Clarence said...

My name is Suh! How do you do?

zman said...

Kickin and a gougin in the mud and the blood and the beer.

Clarence said...

Nice Dallas home cookin'.

rob said...

that was skettttchhhhy

Clarence said...

Makeup call forthcoming, I hope. This is crap.

zman said...

This is like an immovable object vs an irresistible force. Stafford' ineptitude on the raod against good teams vs Romo's ineptitude in the playoffs. I'd say it's like van der Waal's forces colliding but I've done that schtick already.

rob said...

neat

zman said...

Is that Chris Christie?

Donna said...

My husband just said that, too.
This sucks!! We hate Dallas.
Happy New Year, btw!!
We enjoyed Corolla Beach/OBX after all the craziness of holidays with extended family and church - yay!
And Florida State lost. Bonus!!
Happy 2015!

Danimal said...

Christie was in the suite last week or the week before also. Yes, it was Chris Christie.

zman said...

I guess he's positioning himself as a cowboy fan to get votes in Texas?