Thursday, March 02, 2017

This Week in Wrenball: CAA Tournament Preview.

We're kinda exasperated, too, Tony.
The 2017 CAA Men's Basketball Tournament begins tomorrow in Charleston, SC with the annual Pillow Fight Friday play-in games. Your William & Mary Tribe (16-13, 10-8 CAA) nailed down the 4th seed with a nerve-wracking 83-79 win over Towson last weekend. The winningest senior class in school history (all 318 years of it) takes on 5th-seeded Elon at 2:30 Saturday afternoon.

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.
Player B is Daniel Dixon this year. Nearly across the board, his senior year numbers are better than Thornton's. He's been a more efficient shooter, better from deep and from inside the arc. He's rebounded effectively, passed well, and been a better defender.

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.

37 comments:

Whitney said...

Happy Birthday to Dave, the Bubbles of GTB.

rob said...

birthday of dave! isn't it also birthday of kq?

zman said...

As in the guy on The Wire? Or Michael Jackson's chimp?

Also happy birthday to Dr. Seuss.

TR said...

When I say the name "Beauregard", as in "Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions", I find myself compelled to say it like Foghorn Leghorn. Am i alone in this?

TR said...

I forgot that his full first name is Jefferson. Even better.

rob said...

i believe that point has already been made on this website, tr.

Whitney said...

And we never repeat ourselves around here.

rob said...

excellent point. making things memorable through repetition since 2003.

Whitney said...

And we never repeat ourselves around here.

zman said...

Today's post was brought to you by GTB's Department of Redundancy Department.

Shlara said...

I feel like Northwestern is stealing all of the college hoops magic right now.
We need a miracle for the Wrens

Dave said...

i have the same birthday as dr. seuss? weird.

showed my students the community episode with omar as the bio teacher today. "basic lupine urology," if you haven't seen it, it's a good one.

Whitney said...

Shlara echoed my thoughts. We haven't squandered enough ink in these parts on the scheduled ascension of one of the Lowly Five.

Mind you, W&M will get some unwanted mentions from it this spring from mainstream media.

zman said...

Fake news.

TR said...

Lou Dobbs has found a way to turn the crazy up to 11. His comments may be more insane than his strawberry-tinged hair dye job.

zman said...

Mike Pence still uses AOL?

Danimal said...

Can't wait to meet up here shortly for our CAA Charleston summit. Where are you guys stayin? Chatter been soft. What up with that? I'm at Tommy Condon's btw...hopefully a few of you have made it. Told my wife this was a really big deal.

Jackpot Series said...

I find myself including Northwestern is usually obtaining the many college or university hoops secret at the moment.
We start to use a miracle with the Wrens.

rob said...

we really do

Danimal said...

Had a couple of cocktails last night here in the Bahamas. A large part of it spent chatting w/ a guy on the project here, an F&B guru, who as a young chap spent his time as first the Dead's personal chef and tour catering manager, then the Stones, Dylan, Van Halen, and U2. Good stories...asked him who the biggest asshole was expecting Eddie VH. Surprisingly it was Dylan. Cheap bastard too. Now you know.

rob said...

mini-summit with clarence and patton oswalt this evening. much excite.

zman said...

If you're at work and someone with whom you are barely passingly acquainted sees you at the coffee machine and asks "Hi, how are you?" and you're experiencing a C. diff flare-up, you should say "Fine, how are you?" not "Dude, let me tell you about my C. diff flare-up!" At least that's my view of things.

Whitney said...

Marls and I are joining the mini summit as well.

TR said...

Strong day at Okemo in VT w/ Team TR. Kids are solidly skiing and there is decent snow left, despite the warm weather.

Bad news - high temp for tomrrow is 9. Which is supposed to be at 4 PM. It will be 3 at 9 AM. And this is a "vacation".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x13Lw_9iuUY

Dave said...

we're going to okemo for spring break-- i am doubting there will be much snow left . . .

Dave said...

are you seeing patton oswalt or actually summiting with him?

rob said...

hi, gheorghies. sharing a bed with clarence and whitney, in case any of you ladies are into snoring.

Mark said...

The wife has a wedding shower for my future sister in law today. Taking all the kids with her. I'm going to a Belgian beer fest at the local brewpub and not feeling one bit of guilt about it.

Whitney said...

Had great fun with M/M Marls and Rob last night. Patton Oswalt is a true talent and perseveres through an unthinkable tragedy. As I mentioned in The Test, I'd definitely want him at my dinner table of all-time Tribe alums.

Shlara said...

Feinstein is the TV guy for the CAA tourney?
I'm going to have to watch the Tribe game on mute

mayhugh said...

I generally don't mind Feinstein but he was abysmal in the Delaware/UNCW game. The play by play guy is wearing a jacket shirt tie combo that does not match. Omar bringing it so far but they are so dependent on hot shooting because they do not much else above average.

mayhugh said...

Nice finish, that.

Shlara said...

why do they need to make everything so dramatic???

rob said...

good omar posted today. that'll do.

zman said...

Mike went to middle school and college with Bernie Sanders?!?

TR said...

The World Wide Web says Capel makes $525 K as an assistant at Duke. I have to think he's getting looks from a lot of big programs dangling seven-figure deals at him. He must think he has a shot at Coach K's gig. "Settling" for half a mil is curious for a guy his age.

Mark said...

Joel Berry can ball. Apopka.