|We're kinda exasperated, too, Tony.|
Let's dispense with the obvious. I don't have the first clue what to expect from this W&M team. They beat every team in the conference at least once, and lost to everyone except Delaware. They ran then-unbeaten-in-league-play UNC Wilmington out of the gym in Williamsburg, winning by 18. They topped Elon at home, too. The Wrens also got ripped by 24 in Wilmington, and lost on the road against a dreadful JMU team and a lousy Drexel squad.
The Tribe can win this tournament. There's an equal chance that they lose to Elon.
I've been wandering through a thicket of statistics to see if I can figure out a key to W&M's success, and I'm struggling to come up with anything concrete, other than a fairly obvious correlation between shooting percentage and victories. When they shoot well, they win. When they don't they usually lose. The Tribe's not gonna create a bunch of extra possessions via turnovers and offensive rebounds, so they need to make their shots. Rocket surgery, it ain't.
While I was engrossed in hoops stats, I did find something that amazed me. Check out this comparison (click on the table to enlarge it):
Player A is Marcus Thornton during his senior season in 2014-15. The consensus CAA Player of the Year and unquestioned greatest to ever wear a W&M basketball uniform was incredibly productive, for sure.
|We'd take another game like this one.|
Color me bumfuzzled.
You could argue that Thornton had greater responsibility, initiating the offense while being the unquestioned focus of opponents' defensive game plans. And you might note that Dixon has the luxury of a pass-first point guard in David Cohn to get him looks and carry the primary ball-handling load. You'd be right in both cases. But as good a season as I know Dixon's had (he's scored in double figures in 22 straight games, dropping 30 or more five times - the most for a Wren since Adam Hess did the same in 2003-2004), I had no idea he was scoring at such an elite level.
Dixon's numbers get even better in CAA play, where he's shooting 60% from two, 40.7% from three, and a league-best 86.7% from the line. He's averaged 29.5 points per game in his last four, getting stronger down the stretch. He pulls down nearly six boards a contest in league play, and drops almost three assists a game. He's a no-brainer first-team All-CAA selection who'll get some POY votes. Considering where he came from the first time we wrote about him (in a cameo performance in the greatest basketball story ever told), Dixon's step up has been the story of the season.
As good as he's been, he's going to need help in Charleston. Omar Prewitt's senior year has been as strange as Dixon's has been sublime. Prewitt's scoring and efficiency numbers have declined across the board, and his three-point and free throw percentages are the worst of his career. He looked lost at the line late in the Towson game, short-arming a pair of crunch time freebies. He's capable of dropping 30 or completely disappearing - he did each of those things in the season's final five games.
The Tribe's two-headed post has stepped up of late, with both junior Jack Whitman and freshman Nathan Knight recording big games in the season's final stages. Cohn's been a solid and reliable triggerman. Greg Malinowski's been less consistent than Wrenville would like, but he's capable of getting really hot from deep. All of those guys need to deliver to keep the impossible dream alive, but we need the Omar that showed up in the epic Hofstra semifinal in 2015 to have more than a slim chance.
It ain't Baltimore any longer, but it may be our last time to type it. Omar need to be comin', or the forces of good can't hold this corner.