Monday, November 24, 2014

News and Notes: Monday Edition

Below, news and notes...

  • On Drexel and the Dragons' win over Cornell, SB Nation writes:
Drexel won. That in itself is news, because there was no reason that the Dragons should have had any business winning this game against Cornell given how the first half went.
Well, there is one reason they should have won, and that reason is named Damion Lee, who put the Dragons on his back in the second half to lead them from a nine-point halftime deficit to a 61-59 win over the Big Red.
But even that seems improbable. At one point, Drexel was 3-for-21 from the floor. That includes all shooters, even Lee. Drexel had to shoot 44 percent for the remainder of the game just to get to the ugly 33.9 percent shooting percentage that they finished with. No, it was not pretty.
Had this been anyone but Cornell, a team in the bottom 50 in the country, this game was over at halftime. The deficit isn't just nine points, it is more like 20, or what would seem like 100 given the shooting woes of the Dragons.
This is not the players' fault, at least not on a larger scale. This is a failure to build a team that can withstand injuries such as the Dragons have seen over the last few seasons. This is a failure to prevent those injuries because no team should be as jinxed as the one in West Philly.
Drexel was missing Major Canady (out for the year) and Kazembe Abif (out indefinitely). Given the roster, they can live without Canady, but Abif was going to be a big part of the limited success that was expected from the Dragons. The depth in the front court isn't there to live without a player like Abif for extended periods.
Which is why every Drexel fan gasped when Tavon Allen was sitting on the bench for the second half Sunday. Allen had hit his head on the court and was being held out as a precaution. Add that as another reason why the Dragons should never have been in the game, because he could have started to find the basket in the second half.
So when you have a team playing with just eight men against what seemed like a never-ending stream of fresh Cornell legs, you don't expect much.
Except if one of those players is Damion Lee. Lee went off for 28 points on 9 of 24 shooting, and seemed intent on not leaving Charleston without a win to Drexel's credit. Rodney Williams helped out inside with 14 rebounds, maybe the single highlight for a big man on the roster given that he was seemingly not available on offense despite playing 39 minutes.
That, right there. That is the problem with Drexel. Despite a wealth of guard talent walking through the door, or small forward talent like the Dragons had in Samme Givens during that one magical season, there has been no impact 4 or 5 on the floor in a decade. Maybe the best they have had was Frank Elegar, maybe. But even that is going back seven years.
You aren't going to build a team that can compete in Division 1 without a player who can bang inside, or change games because of his physical presence. That is why Drexel was dominant with Malik Rose in the middle. Yes, he was an NBA talent, but you could get by with less in the CAA.
Philadelphia sits within two hours of New York, Newark, Baltimore, and Washington D.C. There is no reason that a pair of solid, high ceiling mid-major power forwards can't be found in those five cities. Yes, there is competition for that kind of player. Yet to not land even one of those guys in a decade? That doesn't make any sense.
Drexel should be an attractive place to play for them. The Dragons have had a run of great point guards who could distribute the ball when needed. They play in a league that has long been on the verge of multiple bids in the NCAA Tournament. No, the facilities aren't great, but the competition isn't doing so much better that other factors couldn't outweigh the lack of a great gym.
If the Dragons can't find that, they are going to continue to struggle to grind out wins when the shooting isn't spectacular. They are going to have to rely on stellar performances like they have had from Lee in the last two games.
But there isn't going to be a player who hits eight 3-pointers in a game all the time. There isn't going to be a guy who is willing to give 150 percent of what he should in order to win. Lee is special. You aren't going to see that too often.
Drexel needs to start stacking the deck in its favor, and it needs to start figuring out why its players continue to fall victim to injuries year after year. The conditioning staff needs to get together and come up with a better plan. Or else Bruiser Flint needs to get a new conditioning staff before someone in charge starts looking for a new Bruiser Flint.
Yes, Drexel beat Cornell on Sunday. The Dragons finished 7th in Charleston, after just barely missing against USC (and blowing a lead that should have been solid in the 2nd half).
But there is not a lot to cheer about for the boys in blue, not by a long shot.
  • The Ivy League announced its weekly awards and Devin Cherry was named to the honor roll:
Devin Cherry, Cornell (Sr., G - Meridian, Miss.)  
21 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists vs. Colgate
8 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals vs. South Carolina
11 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists vs. Penn State
11 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals vs. Drexel

Week 1, 11/17/14-Shonn Miller, Cornell
Week 2 11/24/14-Justin Sears, Yale  

Week 1, 11/17/14-Antonio Woods, Penn
Week 2, 11/24/14-Mike Auger, Penn
Here’s the week that was for Ivy hoops, featuring updated power rankings and thoughts on Cornell’s advances and blown chances, Princeton’s shocking defeat against a team still getting used to Division I and much more...

FACEPALM OF THE WEEK – Let’s get this straight – Cornell should have beaten Penn State Friday night. With Penn State trailing 71-70 with 4.7 seconds remaining, a Nittany Lion called for a timeout that the team didn’t have. That’s a technical foul that would have pretty much guaranteed the Big Red the victory.
Thing is, Cornell looked like it had a victory in hand anyway. The only reason Penn State was in position to call a timeout was that the Big Red simply blew it. All Cornell had to do was inbound the ball, get fouled and hold onto the win. Instead, Shonn Miller lobbed his inbound pass across halfcourt essentially to two Penn State defenders, giving the Nittany Lions a chance to win that they made good on. Ugh...

[Power Rankings]
5. Cornell – Down 23-6 to Colgate, Cornell came back in grand fashion to win. Most importantly, it did so while not completely relying on Shonn Miller. Instead, Devin Cherry gave a career performance of 21 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals. Cornell couldn’t beat South Carolina in Charleston two days later, but that’s a very tall order anyway. As mentioned earlier, the Big Red should have beaten Penn State and the fact that they had four players in double figures is very encouraging.
But then Cornell blew a 14-point lead in a loss to Drexel, and now we have a trend of the Big Red blowing leads after the team blew a 17-point lead earlier this season. This is not the Shonn Miller show by any stretch, but the Big Red have to start finishing games or else this will become a season full of choke jobs.
  • Black Shoes Diaries writes, "..Drexel (who could be the RPI killer we assumed Cornell would be. But that's a ways away from mattering)."
  • Real GM notes on the Charleston Classic:
We saw in this tournament exactly why Big Ten teams are going to hate their trips to Happy Valley this year. If the Nittany Lions are down eight with four minutes left, they actually like their chances of winning the game. Penn St. was in this situation a lot last year, and with a veteran squad they completely believe they can out-execute in the late-game situation. They nailed the comeback against Charlotte but lost in double OT. They nailed the comeback against Cornell and won. And they even survived against USC (though the comeback happened earlier in that game).
Penn St. probably isn’t very good. A good team would fend off Charlotte, Cornell, and USC a little earlier. But the Nittany Lions won’t be down 15 at home very often. And if the score is close, it doesn’t hurt to give DJ Newbill the ball and hope.
Miami FL rolled and won this tournament easily, crushing Drexel, Akron, and Charlotte.

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