I have a problem where I don't think before I react. This can be good and bad. I've found out that my gut reaction is usually correct, but for the times it's wrong and I fire off a Tweet or shout an opinion or write a blog post, that's when it gets me in trouble.
This probably won't be one of those times, because when I heard that Zach Spiker would sign an extension as the head coach of the Drexel Dragons, I had no immediate reaction.
The news was broken to me via the Dragonscast Slack channel which I encourage everyone to join, you can do this at the top of the page, and when I read it nothing immediately shot into my brain. I would've probably reacted the same was if the post read that Spiker had resigned.
I didn't go back and look at Spiker's record, because I know it's bad, and I also know it isn't reflective of his basketball IQ or his coaching ability. I did think about his recruits, and while I'm not ecstatic, and there are no surprising or impressive signings, yet, I will wait to see how the Kararinas' and the Doles' and the Washington's and the Wynter's of the world pan out. It's the players he brought in and what he does with them that will determine my opinion of Zach Spiker the coach and will ultimately determine his future in the profession.
I like Zach Spiker the person and I think he represents the University very well, but in interviews he has a way of coming across sincere and enlightened without really giving any information.
Because I don't have a formed opinion of Coach Spiker yet, I decided I'd go back a few years to when he signed his first contract. In this April 4, 2016 interview on Philly Sports Talk, Sam Donnellon asked Spiker a question regarding recruiting and Spiker responded by saying each school has a unique niche, and he found that at Army. I can't imagine he has found it at Drexel.
Highschool recruits who needed a prep year and transfers from 3000 miles away cannot be what Drexel's niche is. Do I know what it is? I do not, but what I do know is that 18-year-old kids aren't thinking about their academics or a co-op. They want to go to college to have fun, and if they're athletes, they want to play in front of a packed house.
Sure, transfers are a big part of college hoops, but without an established pipeline it is impossible to have any sustained success. The clock on ticking on Spiker to find this niche.
In his introductory remarks, Spiker talked about the family atmosphere at Drexel, and he lists it as a major reason he and his family decided to come to Philadelphia.
Before I started the old Magnificent Basketball blog, the only Drexel family I felt a part of was the one created by the guys who started the Dragonscast Podcast and this website. When listening to that inspired me to do some Drexel basketball writing of my own, it was another Drexel alum who invited me into the Slack and this great, great community and resource.
As far as the family vibe coming from the University that Spiker spoke of, I haven't felt it nor have I seen it. Walking onto the court in front of a sea of empty seats most nights must be like a punch in the gut to Coach Spiker.
Weak promotions, expensive tickets and an apathetic student body has led to dismal attendance at The DAC during Spiker's tenure, and that is ultimately what needs to change.
A contract extension will enable Spiker to live comfortably, but does it mean the University is behind him and will offer him the support he needs? I hope so. I hope there is an initiative to get asses in seats and I hope more donors are inclined to throw some money at the program and I hope the University takes a serious interest in building a winning men's basketball team.
It's not easy and as good of a basketball coach as Zack Spiker may be, it takes so much more than that to have sustained success as a program. This is where the athletic director and his officers need to step up and reignite the Dragon community.
Zach Spiker could be the coach of this team for 50 years and never have a winning season if the University doesn't take his role, his team, and the program seriously.