Monday, January 3, 2011

Five halftime thoughts: Drexel

1.) Forgot to mention in my pregame thoughts the similarities between the opening games of the CAA schedule this year and last. The Dutchmen opened last year by hosting a surprise borderline Top 25 team in William & Mary before visiting George Mason. This year: Visit surprise borderline Top 25 team in Drexel, host George Mason. Last year’s team squandered a golden chance for a signature win by frittering away the lead in the last minute of the 48-47 loss to William & Mary and the inability to finish that off seemed to drag them down the rest of the month. So today’s real first thought is…

2.) Finish it and get that signature win. The Dutchmen have played very, very well in taking a 34-27 lead and avoiding the type of first half meltdown that has dogged them most of the year. This is the type of win that can set a tone for the season and inspire and lift a team to play beyond its talent level the rest of the way. To lead by seven at the half and lose would be heartbreaking. Finish it.

3.) Charles Jenkins has been as aggressive as advertised. According to my unofficial stats, he’s taken nine shots and gone to the free throw line four times on his way to scoring 12 points. He’s also got at least three assists and four rebounds, so he’s creating even when he’s not scoring. And now he’s in his time—the second half.

4.) The Dutchmen are outsized down low but have displayed impressive toughness despite some early foul trouble for Greg Washington (three), David Imes (two) and Stephen Nwaukoni (two) and have minimized the second chances for Drexel. And Paul Bilbo hit his first career basket, a gorgeous sky hook in the waning seconds, in relief of Washington. The effort overall has been immeasurably better than five nights ago against Iona.

5.) Yves Jules has been huge on defense in helping the Dutchmen limit Chris Fouch to just one basket. Jules is an underrated player whose absence the last two weeks has hurt. But Fouch and the Dragons, who are shooting around 30 percent, will get hot at some point. Can the Dutchmen survive the inevitable run?

5b.) Someone other than Jenkins will need to hit a big dagger shot. Mike Moore had a quiet first half. Expect a couple big baskets from him in the second half.

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