Mike Litos, the Dean of CAA Basketball wrote a good article, as usual, last Friday about Drexel, entitled "There is Nothing Wrong About Drexel". If you couldn't guess from the title, Litos breaks down some Ken Pomeroy statistics and correctly surmises the following;
"Take a look at how good Drexel’s defense has been, and how bad it’s offense has been. In the past seven seasons, only once has the offense finished better than 208th nationally, and only once has the defense finished worse than 92nd. All you need to see is the Christmastime look of the chart."And he's exactly right, when you look at the aforementioned statistics, this is how Drexel plays. Really tough defense and ugly offense. Bruiser Flint's teams specialize in physical play both on the offensive and defensive ends.
But when I looked at the "Christmastime" statistics for Drexel, I noticed one area of concern. If you look at that linked chart graphic and take a look at Pomeroy's FTR ratio for the Dragons, which stands for Free throw Attempts to Field Goal Attempts Ratio. Drexel's is 26.0, which is 319th in the country. When Drexel had been successful, like last season when they won 21 games or in the 2006-07 season, when they won 23 games (and had a legitimate beef for being snubbed from the NCAA Tournament) or 2004-05, when they were 17-12, their FTR ratios were much better.
In fact, here are Drexel's FTRs for the past several seasons, where they ranked in the country in that category and their overall record.
2010-11 - 40.3 - 105 21-10
2009-10 - 36.1 - 215 16-16
2008-09 - 39.9 - 99 15-14
2007-08 - 37.5 - 140 12-20
2006-07 - 44.9 - 21 23-9
2005-06 - 33.8 - 228 15-16
2004-05 - 41.9 - 47 17-12
Notice that when their FTR was above 40, those were also Drexel's three best seasons under Bruiser since the 2004-05 season. Yes, everyone knows that Bruiser's teams are excellent defensively and are also offensively challenged. But the FTRs clearly show that Bruiser's teams are most successful when they get to the line. Also since 2005-06, with the exception of the 2008-09 season, the Dragons have always finished in the top half in the CAA in free throw attempts (in 2006-07, Drexel was second to VCU in free throw attempts with 724).
Now I noted this to Litos in the comments field of his Friday article, also noting that Drexel was dead last in the CAA going into Saturday's action in free throw attempts per game, with fourteen per game. He responded that he agreed with me about the FT rate. However, he noted that " But Drexel has also been a terrible FT percentage team (which I certainly agree with). It isn’t like they get a disparate number of points via the free throw."
But I responded by saying that when you get to the line a significant amount of times, even if you are not the best free throw shooting team, you will still get your share of free throws. For example, let's say you shoot 61.6% from the line, which Drexel did last season. If you get to the line ten more times than your opponent in a game, you will get six more points as a result. When you play close games like the Dragons seemingly do, every little bit counts.
So that gave me an idea. I reviewed Drexel's wins from last season where the margin of victory was seven points or less. Thirteen of the Dragons' twenty one wins fit that category. In eight of those thirteen wins, Drexel had more free throw attempts and free throws made than their opponents. And in each case, it was significantly more free throw attempts than the opposing team.
|Opponent||Date||# of FTA More than Opponent||# of FTM More than Opponent||Margin of Victory|
|St Francis PA||12/18/10||22||12||4|
|William and Mary||2/12/11||8||2||2|
In all eight of those games, Drexel had at least more than eight free throw attempts than their opponent. And in each of those games, the margin of victory was due to the free throws made margin Drexel had over their opponent. Simply put, Drexel won all eight of those games due to the charity stripe.
This past Saturday, Drexel won at home, 54-50 over Princeton. In Saturday's game, the Tigers had more field goals than the Dragons, 22-20. The Tigers and Dragons each had the same number of three pointers, four. What was the difference? The foul line. Princeton was 12 of 15 from the line, while Drexel was 20 of 24 from the line. The Dragons had eight more free throws than the Tigers and they won only by four points. Again, the charity stripe won the game for the Drexel. Mike Litos even acknowledged this in his article from today (and yes Mike, Massenat, Fouch and Lee were huge).
Now I agree with Mike that Drexel needs to shoot better from the perimeter and Chris Fouch and Damion Lee combined to shoot 11 of 23 from the field against Princeton, so that's a good start. But for a team that for the most part doesn't shoot well from the field, getting to the line much more often than their opponent can be a definite factor. It certainly was last season for Drexel in about forty percent of their wins on the season. Unless they start shooting the ball better from the field, it may need to be as well this season for the Dragons.