With 2015-16 as my guide, I planned not to make any lofty pronouncements about the Tribe's outlook this season. Given their performance in the non-conference portion of their schedule, my superstition enables my prescience.
Nobody expected the Tribe to beat Louisville or Duke (though they played both tough, particularly the latter). A rising Rhode Island squad was a tough road beat, too. But dropping consecutive contests to Central Michigan and Hampton, even if both were away from the Kap, rankles at the same time as it instructs. This team is, as the saying goes, what its record says it is.
That record says that it's 6-5 after a convincing 65-54 road win at Old Dominion last night. The victory in Norfolk was W&M's first away win of the season. They still haven't lost at home. Daniel Dixon scored a career-best 36 points, while no other Wren tallied more than 6. It was a weird game from a weird team.
(Historical side note: Dixon's 36 set a new record for points scored by a player at ODU's Ted Constant Center. Scott Smith, a good but not great center from my time in Williamsburg, still owns the EagleBank Arena, nee Patriot Center, scoring record. He dropped 39 on George Mason in their building in 1990.)
I do believe that'll be this year's story. Tony Shaver's got a weird group. They're capable of scoring in bunches, averaging 81.0 points per game. And they'll give up a whole lot, as well (opponents are getting 72.1 ppg against the Tribe). More oddly, though, is the manner in which they're accruing their offense. In their first five games, five different players led the team in scoring. All told, through 11 contests, seven different guys have topped the team in points. Eight different dudes have led in rebounding, now that we're looking for oddities.
On the one hand, that bespeaks balance. After Dixon's 14.2 ppg, and fellow senior Omar Prewitt's 13.8, there are six guys averaging between 5.8 and 10.8 points per contest. Eight players average 2.8 or more boards, led by Jack Whitman's 6.0 per game. Any given night, a lot of Tribesman are capable of stepping up.
That balance also papers over some inconsistency, though. Despite their team-leading scoring output, both Dixon and Prewitt have inexplicable lapses in performance. Each senior has had a game this season where he scored zero points. Prewitt's scored five or fewer three times. Prewitt sat out a big part of the game against Milligan because he'd violated team rules. Senior leadership that's inconsistent could be a giant red flag.
We thought last year's team was going to the NCAA Tournament, and in Terry Tarpey and Sean Sheldon, it had terrific and visible leadership. This year's team probably isn't, and doesn't (at least not in the same way). But lightning finds its way into bottles.
And we've definitively proven that we know fuck all, so let's roll the balls out and see what happens. CAA play starts tomorrow at Northeastern. Let's go Wrens.