Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Flying Dutchmen are Moore or less much better than two years ago

It took everything I had not to post the Badlands video "High Wire." (Google it everyone except Loyal Reader Matt!)

The Flying Dutchmen’s penchant for the dramatically narrow come-from-behind victory got me thinking about the 2008-09 team, which dodged disaster all the way to a 21-11 record that left me ranting and raving about how the school’s decision not to play in the CIT or CBI was the worst thing ever.

A quick rundown: These Dutchmen are 6-8 in games in which they trailed at the half and 3-8 when trailing with two minutes to play. They are 5-3 in games decided by five points or fewer or in overtime but have suffered five losses by at least 15 points. Overall, they have outscored the opposition by 17 points.

The 2008-09 Dutchmen were 9-9 when trailing at the half and 13-3 in games decided by five points or fewer or in overtime and incurred six losses by at least 15 points. They ended the season with a grand total of two more points than the opposition.

However, a closer look at the two seasons indicates this team’s high-wire act is more impressive and its winning record more sustainable. The current edition of the Dutchmen has won four games in which they have trailed by at least 10 points in the second half. Not only that, but the Dutchmen trailed Binghamton by 12 with 10:44 to play, James Madison by 11 with a little more than five minutes left and Northeastern by 14 with 9:26 to go.

Two years ago, the Dutchmen came back from just one double-digit second half deficit, and that was against Manhattan, which briefly held a 10-point lead with 19 minutes left. They trailed by between four and eight points against James Madison (twice), Delaware, Western Michigan, Northeastern, William & Mary, UNC Wilmington and Towson.

What’s the difference between now and then? A reliable starting lineup in general and Mike Moore in particular.

The 2008-09 Dutchmen fielded an eye-popping 11 different lineups that included 12 players—everyone on the roster except walk-on David Vallins. They also received just 47 double-digit scoring performances from players not named Charles Jenkins.

Cornelius Vines led the non-Jenkins Dutchmen with 17 such outings. Overall, the Dutchmen got 10 streaks of at least two straight games with 10 or more points from a total of five players (Vines four times with a long streak of four games, Nathaniel Lester three times with a long streak of three games and Greg Washington, Zygis Sestakos and Tony Dennison with one two-game streak apiece).

This year’s Dutchmen have also used just two starting lineups thus far comprising six players, and that change was necessitated by illness and injury to Dwan McMillan, who started the first 11 games before he was sidelined and replaced by Brad Kelleher.

The Dutchmen already have 47 double-digit outings from players other than Jenkins, including 20 from Moore. The Fordham transfer had 11 straight games with 10 or more points from Dec. 18 through Jan. 24 and other streaks of four, three and two such outings.

In addition, guess how many consecutive double-digit outings the Dutchmen have received from non-Jenkins players? That’s right: Ten from five. In addition to Moore, Washington has had three two-game streaks and Kelleher, McMillan and David Imes have had one apiece.

As true as it is that these Dutchmen are thin and don’t have much room for error, they have a much greater margin than two years ago as well as the type of cohesion and firepower that makes possible the type of big comebacks that they couldn’t mount in ’08-09. The ability of that team to win 21 games despite such an underwhelming statistical performance will go down not only as one of the great “how did that happen?” seasons in school history but also a testament to Tom Pecora’s coaching acumen. And the fact the Dutchmen are on their way to a third straight winning season, despite such noticeable leanness at the bookends, will go down as well as a testament to the greatness of Jenkins, which is something we’ll take the time to appreciate over the next few weeks.

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