Drexel Takes on UMBC Tomorrow, Show up. Be Loud.

I was listening to a college football podcast before the season began, and the host had a gambling “expert” on.

The expert said that the way oddsmakers factor in home field advantage varies. If a game is being played at Beaver Stadium in front of 110,000 fans, oddsmakers will certainly take that into consideration because they know crowd noise can affect the outcome of a game.

The expert mentioned that while getting in the players heads is a big part of it, a loud crowd, in a gamblers mind, can influence the way the officials make calls.

The point I'm getting at here is crowd noise and a raucous environment plays a huge role on the outcome of a game.

I wrote a few days ago that it would be a major boost for the Dragons if they could win both games against Loyola and UMBC. A victory over Loyola on Wednesday gives Drexel a great opportunity to be 6-4 and ride a 3-game win streak to Connecticut.

Tipoff for the game against UMBC is set for 12/8 at 2:00PM at The DAC.

UMBC is a very strong team who lived a real life fairy tale when they knocked off Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. They have every intention to make some magic happen this season.

They are going to win their share of games this season, but let’s do everything in our power to make sure they don’t get one on Saturday.

The DAC Pack has been great this year and I'm confident they will make the game 40 minutes of pure hell on the Retrievers. If you’re a current student reading this who hasn’t gone to a game yet or maybe hasn’t stood with the DAC Pack yet, please do so on Saturday. You’ll have fun. I swear.

Alumns, it’s a Saturday afternoon game, between two evenly matched teams, both of whom made history last season. If you want to get to the DAC for a game this year, this is a good one. Plus, one of our fellow alums planned out the perfect day for you right here, so take in the game and follow those guidelines for a great day.

Faculty and Staff, Drexel is running special ticket prices for you and your family for this game only. You are the leaders on the campus so please show some school spirit!

All of the information you need and how to purchase tickets can be found by clicking this link: I am a Dragon and I'm dedicated to being loud on Saturday.

Again, I’m nothing more than one of a group of fans who take Drexel basketball seriously and want to win games and have fun. I have no incentive to push Drexel hoops tickets other than I know The DAC can be the most difficult arena to play in in the entire country.

It has been a great season for the Dragons at The DAC so far this year as they stand at 4-1 at home. The environment has been fun, and continues to improve. Let’s come together Drexel community and make Saturday the best environment yet.

Drexel has Two Deceptively Huge Games Coming Up

Maybe it’s me, but I feel the next two games are of huge importance.

The Drexel Dragons will play their next two games at home, versus two teams from the Charm City, and they just might be the two most important games of the season.

Perhaps I am laying down a light dusting of hyperbole there, but in all seriousness, the outcome of the next two games could dictate the course of the rest of this season.

Drexel squares off against Loyola (3-5) on Wednesday night at 7:00PM at The DAC, and then on Saturday at 2:00PM they will welcome UMBC (5-4). These are two winnable games against decent opponents, and Drexel needs to win both.

Following these two games, Drexel travels to Connecticut to play Quinnipiac in the Air Force Reserve Hall of Fame Tip Off, and then they have to go to Storrs to play a very talented UConn team. When they get back from that, it’s Temple at the Palestra and then CAA play begins, so you can see why winning their next two games is so key.

Going to Connecticut at 6-4 will feel a whole lot better than 4-6 or even 5-5. A win against a still-building Quinnipiac team could then have Drexel going to Connecticut on a four-game winning streak. Perhaps a strong outing against UConn leads to a win over Temple and the Dragons enter CAA play oozing confidence.

It would be great to win every game, but I see the next two as hugely important.

Let’s take a look at the Loyola Greyhounds.

Drexel lost to Loyola by four points last season in Baltimore. Tramaine Isabell was injured and didn’t play, but the Dragons still had opportunities to win. Loyola’s first year head coach Tavaras Hardy has unleashed junior guard Andrew Kostecka who is averaging 19.1 points per game and has twice been named the Patriot League Player of the Week.

He joins Philly native Chuck Champion who is averaging 12.8 points per game to form a formidable duo. I sat behind Champions parents at the game in Baltimore last year, and there is no doubt he will have plenty of supporters in Philly.

The Greyhounds three wins didn’t exactly come against world beaters in Delaware State, Hampton and Mount St. Mary’s, and their losses, save for a 2 point defeat against Dartmouth, were all fairly lopsided.

More often than not, when the opponents talent level is on par with Drexel’s, Spiker usually gets a win. These two teams both have talent and room for improvement, but Drexel should be able to get this win at home.

Things could be slightly more dicey against UMBC.

Everyone remembers last year when UMBC knocked off the number one seeded Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but this team is much different. Still well Coached and talented, UMBC won four of their first five games this season before dropping three in a row to South Dakota, American and Northern Kentucky.

Joe Sherburne is leading the Terriers, averaging over 13 points per game, but coach Ryan Odom still needs to see more consistency out of Sherburne and the rest of his team.

UMBC caught lightning in a bottle last season, and they’re not great by any stretch of the imagination, but they are good, and the game will be tough.

Drexel was so streaky last season and it became infuriating. It felt like they would win one then lose the next three (it probably felt like that because it was happening) (Sorry, I’m watching the Eagles game as I write this). They had a five game losing streak followed by a four game winning streak at one point.

Winning winnable games at home is absolutely key for the Dragons to improve on their 13-20 mark from a season ago. Putting together a winning streak before CAA play will be huge.

With Kurk Lee still day-to-day battling a shoulder injury, and Zach Walton sidelined with a wrist injury, Coach Spiker will need big games out of Cam Wynter and Alihan Demir. Troy Harper is coming off a very good game against Robert Morris, and should be ready to go, especially facing off against one of his Philly hoops peers in Champion.

These two games at The DAC will be a turning point in the season, and the Dragons will try to make it a turn in the right direction.

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Drexel Falls to NJIT...but it's not all bad

Not all wins, or losses, are created equal.

If you’ve had the misfortune of sitting near me at a Drexel basketball game, you've probably heard me yell something to the effect of “what are we doing?”

This has become one of my go to phrases of frustration. I use it in many different scenarios, sometimes to express anger, sometimes to express confusion. Seven games into this season though, I haven’t been using it quite as much.

The Dragon are 3-4, but I’m really, really excited.

There was a point in the second half of the last evenings game versus NJIT where I said to myself this will be a 10-12 point loss where we’ll never get enough stops to cut into the lead. That happened plenty of times last season, and it happened against Bowling Green just a few days ago.

So, when NJIT took Drexel’s best shot in the first half before staging a run of their own, I didn’t see a path to Drexel winning the ball game.

NJIT is no slack. They are a really strong team with great athletes and a good in-game coach, Brian Kennedy.

Kennedy wasn’t going to let Trevor John get hot, and made it nearly impossible for him to get free for an open look. When Cam Wynter started penetrating the lane for an easy layup or an elbow-jumper, he collapsed the lane forcing Wynter to kick it out. With Wynter unable to score in the lane, the Dragons didn’t have a shot maker when they needed one most. But we’ll get there.

After giving up 45 points in the first half and going into the locker room down nine, the Dragons came out flat and couldn’t seem to get over that nine point hump.

In the first half, NJIT shot nearly 60% from the field, and it looked like they would continue at that clip. Then Drexel got a stop, and another, and another.

Then the DAC Pack happened.

The student turnout was great, with the student section nearly full. When it came to crunch time, most of the students were on their feet and joined in the chants. In college basketball, and especially at an intimate venue, the student section can make a massive difference.

Don’t get me wrong, Drexel turned up their defensive pressure and crashed the boards hard, out-rebounding the Highlanders by 17, but the DAC Pack made a huge difference.

NJIT had some misses where the ball was halfway down and then rimmed out. That happens when the release of the shot is off, maybe the player released too soon or held too long or wasn’t fully squared up, but whatever the reason, it’s more mental than physical and the student section should take great pride in effecting the game in that way.

When it came to the charity stripe, NJIT was only 57% when facing the Drexel Student Section. I certainly hope the DAC Pack keeps up their tireless efforts to get asses on bleachers, and if they do and the Drexel student section once again becomes one of the best in the country, this game will be looked at as a turning point.

The DAC Pack was great, but Drexel was still unable to pull out a victory. It felt like the score sat at 64-61 for an eternity. The Dragons kept getting stops, but didn’t have anyone to come through with a big bucket.

Kurk Lee’s injury loomed large. You may not think he is the best option to score in crunch time, but he would’ve been a calming presence when the Dragons needed one most, and I for one trust him with the game in the balance.

While close losses always sting, the Dragons never quit. That is one of the most impressive things about Zach Spiker, he will never let his team quit.

It’s certainly fair to be excited about the product on the court. Cam Wynter is going to have a monster career at Drexel, James Butler and Alihan Demir are proving to be a productive front court duo, and Trevor John has showed some flashes of a great shooter.

My excitement extends beyond the team, though. The atmosphere last night was a ton of fun and should be that way every game. As the team improves, which they will under Spiker, and the students become more engaged, Drexel basketball will become fun once again.

Last night was the first flash of light at the end of the tunnel for me, and my ever burning question of “what are we doing?” seems to have an answer for the first time in years.

WBB: New-Look Roster Looks to Continue Piling Up Wins at the DAC, starting Friday Against Quinnipiac

By Bill Torr

The DAC will play host to perhaps the best matchup anywhere in the country on Friday night when Drexel, the reigning CAA Regular Season Champions, will host a Quinnipiac team fresh off a MAAC championship and a trip into the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Both teams enter the season with lofty expectations. The Bobcats were selected to win their conference again and currently sit atop the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25. The Dragons were picked second in a stacked CAA and are currently ranked #15 in that same poll.

Quinnipiac won 28 games a season ago and went undefeated in league play. The Bobcats return three of their top five scorers from a season ago, including team leader forward Jen Fay (13.3 ppg). Much like Drexel, Quinnipiac utilizes a balanced offense that saw six different players average at least 8 ppg a year ago. In addition to Fay, the Bobcats return starters Aryn McClure (guard/forward, 12.2 ppg) and Paula Strautmane (forward, 9.4 ppg).

Drexel will need to replace 27 points per game from graduating seniors

Drexel will play its first regular season game without the services of three graduating seniors: Kelsi Lidge (11.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg), Sara Woods (9.4 ppg), and Megan Marecic (6.5 ppg). Along with a lot of experience and scoring, the Dragons will have approximately 80 minutes per game of playing time to fill without those players. The team is led by junior Bailey Greenberg (11.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg), a Preseason All-CAA First Team selection. Joining her in the frontcourt will be junior Niki Metzel (2.4 ppg, 2.3 rpg) who played in every contest last year. The Princeton native saw an increase in playing time last season and will likely see the largest increase in playing time of any returning player. Greenberg’s former teammate at Archbishop Wood Aubree Brown will start at the 3 for the Dragons as she did a year ago. Brown (9.8 ppg, 4.5 apg) was named a Preseason All-CAA Honorable Mention along with sophomore and reigning Rookie of the Year Hannah Nihill (6.3 ppg). Nihill has already displayed elite speed and defensive ability to go along with a blossoming offensive game.

The fifth starter for the Dragons seems to be up in the air currently, and which player lands there could very well change from game to game. In Drexel’s preseason opener last weekend against West Chester, freshman Keishana Washington (Dillon’s first Canadian recruit) got the nod. Drexel has a few other options to fill the shooting guard spot in the lineup including fellow freshman Maura Hendrixson and sophomore Kayla Bacon. Hendrixson showed a promising offensive skill set in the opener and seemed to be a bigger outside scoring threat than Washington or Bacon, at least in a very limited sample size.

Outlook Against Quinnipiac

Expect a barrage of deep balls on Friday night as Quinnipiac shot over 25 treys per game a year ago, Drexel averaged about 19. Both teams averaged about 12 turnovers per game and were able to force about 18. Beating Quinnipiac will be no easy feat for a Dragons team with some inexperience in the starting lineup, especially considering the Bobcats lost just one game last season to a non-Power 5 school. That only loss was to a Princeton team that walked through the Ivy League and played in the NCAA Tournament. The Dragons will need all the support they can get on Friday, and that support starts with you. Drexel went undefeated at home until the CAA championship game last season and they’ll look to do it again.

Notes from the Preseason

In the public’s first look of the new-look roster, the team cruised to an exhibition game victory over West Chester 67-39 on Saturday afternoon at the DAC. Bailey Greenberg, the Dragons leading scorer last season, picked up right where she left off, posting fifteen points in a dominant first half. The game was also a chance for Denise Dillon to give her newcomers some experience before the regular season kicks off. Maura Hendrixson, Kate Connolly, and Keishana Washington all made their Drexel debuts. Washington, Dillon’s first Canadian recruit, got the start at shooting guard.

Best Case, Worst Case, Most Likely Scenario for the 18-19 Season

There’s no doubt most of you have seen different publications and media outlets putting Drexel at the bottom of the CAA this season.

I for one, don’t think it’s as black and white. National outlets, and local ones who only care about Jay Wright’s suits really don’t know what they're talking about when they talk about Drexel basketball.

The lazy way out is to say “They lost their best player on a team that was bad, so they’ll be terrible,” but I don’t think that is necessarily the case.

Tramaine Isabell had no bigger fan than me last season, but the team sort of grew around his talents. While Isabell no doubt was responsible for some wins on the schedule, I’m not sure we were able to see the true Zach Spiker scheme.

This season will see more ball movement in an effort to get easy shots. The losses of Stretch Williams and Sammy Mojica are massive, but Drexel will have a much deeper bench than a year ago.

Could this season just be a total disaster from the start? Kurk Lee can’t regain his form, Drexel gives up too many points in the paint, the freshman are too fresh and the transfers don’t gel?

That’s certainly possible, which is why I’m including a worst case scenario, but I believe in Zach Spiker.

Best Case

I’m not going to predict an exact record, but the best case scenario would see the Dragons finishing 3 to 5 games over .500. This is the best case scenario, not my prediction keep in mind. It may also seem light that the best case would only see Drexel 3-5 games over .500, but I need to be realistic. The Dragons have lost 3 starters from last season, including, and I don’t care what anyone says, the best player in the CAA and arguably the best defensive player in the CAA.

You’re saying, “well, Joe, if they had all that talent, why didn’t they win more games?”

There a few reasons, the biggest one being depth. Remember, the Dragons were bit by the injury bug a few times last season which hurt them. Most of the starters were playing huge minutes, and didn’t have the legs to get stops late in games. This year, Drexel will be able to go 10 deep into their bench if need be.

As I alluded to in the intro, the team that takes the floor this season will not play like last year’s squad. Kurk Lee is running the point where he’s at his best. He will be counted on for scoring and facilitating, and most of the success of the season is on his shoulders. Lee is capable of averaging a double double this season with points and assists.

Last year, the team built their offense around Isabell and the perimeter defense suffered greatly with undersized guards on the court at the same time. Drexel added some length to their wings in Coletrane Washington and Zach Walton, and Cam Wynter also has the size to defend bigger opposing point guards.

I would imagine 5 games over .500 would see Coach Zach Spiker in the running for the CAA Coach of the Year award. I wrote last year on more than one occasion that I think he is a very good coach, and while he has a lot of new ingredients to mix into the stew, I believe he’s up for the task and has a group of players who are going to buy in.

Spiker doesn’t have the most talent in the conference that’s for sure, but there are pieces to the puzzle. He just may need to do some maneuvering to get them to fit.

Worst Case

This is where everything goes wrong.

If all of the new pieces are duds, if injuries hamper the Lee-Harper-Demir trio, and if Big Z incites crowd technicals by throwing streamers too quickly, the Dragons could regress.

The losses of Isabell, Williams and Mojica are absolutely huge, no one can deny that, and many people argue this is why the team will realize this worst case scenario. The cupboards have been replenished to some extent, but if the new players can’t fit in, or just aren’t as good as they need to be, it could be a disaster.

The key to my best case scenario is Drexel playing team basketball. If some pieces aren’t carrying their weight, Lee and Harper will begin to force things because they’ll feel they need to do more. Harper plays with incredible intensity, but if you see him trying to dribble though 3 guys in paint and throw up a shot hoping for a foul, you know we’re in trouble. The same goes for Lee. If he is firing up ill-advised shots, it will not be what Spiker wants to see.

Another factor that must be considered, and one that could lead to a dismal season, is interior defense. As the old expression goes, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone, and that could be the case with Austin Williams. Can the Doles, Demir, Perry combination protect the rim? That remains to be seen, but someone will need to step up to avoid defensive letdowns which will lead to losses. And as we know, those losses can pile up pretty quickly.

Most Likely Scenario

I think the most likely scenario for this team will combine elements from the best case and worst case, but not to the extreme.

This is basically a brand new team, so it’s very difficult to make any predictions, but when I look back over last season and see the games the Dragons should’ve won but couldn’t couldn’t close out late, and I think if they have more depth which equals fresher legs, I can turn those losses into wins.

There’s no reason we shouldn’t stomp Delaware and Towson both times we face them this season, and there is no reason we can’t beat Northeastern or Charleston at home once again. The out of conference schedule poses some challenges, but La Salle is beatable, as is Temple.

Last season, Drexel lost 5 of their final 6 games. I don’t see Spiker letting that happen again. The home overtime loss to Towson was crushing, and I don’t feel as though the team every really got over it. If they had won that game, I think they would have gone 3-3 in their last six, increasing their win total by 2 games.

That is what I think the outcome of this season will be. A 2-3 win improvement.

This is still not a Spiker team through and through, but we are getting closer to see what he can do with a group of his own players buying into to his system with a common goal. I feel some of the gains outweigh the losses, and the Dragons will look like a more cohesive unit this season. Let’s turn some of those late season losses to wins this year, and keep things moving in the right direction.

2018-2019 Drexel Men's Basketball Schedule Review: Non-Conference

Drexel @ Eastern Michigan - Friday, 11/9, 11:00AM

Start working on your sick voice to tell your boss you’re not coming in that day. Yes, an 11AM tipoff on a Friday is definitely strange, but that just makes the kick off to the season all the more exciting. EMU is one of the most talented teams in the MAC, and have every intention of dancing come March. Center James Thompson IV averaged 14 and 11 last season, and at 6’10 he will give Tim Perry Jr. and Alihan Demir all they can handle. The Eagles also return their leading scorer Elijah Minnie, but don’t be deceived by his name. The 6’9 combo forward can score in multiple ways and averaged 16.8ppg last season. This will be a serious challenge for the Dragons.

Drexel @ Rutgers - Sunday 11/11, 3:00PM

The Scarlet Knights are one of those teams that should be good, but can never seem to get their act together. Head Coach Steve Pikell has seen improvements from his team, especially on defense. They held opponents to 64.8 points per game last year, which was a leap forward. It will still be early in the season, and both teams will probably still look sloppy, but this one could be high scoring. Rutgers will have Quinnipiac transfer Peter Kiss who was brought in to provide offense, as well as freshman Ron Harper Jr. who lit it up in high school. Both teams will be breaking in plenty of new players, and it will be interesting to see which team gels more quickly.

Bryn Athyn @ Drexel - Wednesday 11/14, 7:00PM

I’m so tempted to just write “pass” here, but I actually have a story.

My cousin played ball for a small college in Jersey, and a few years ago they played at Bryn Athyn. I attended the game and remember two things from it. First, the officiating was, without question, the worst I have ever seen in my life. I will never see a more poorly officiated game. It was unreal. Second, after the game when my cousin came out of the locker room, the first thing he said to me was “my high school team would’ve beaten these guys.” So there you go, that’s Drexel’s home opener.

Drexel @ La Salle - Saturday 11/17, 4:00PM

We beat them at their place last year and we’ll do it again. Well, we’ll at least try to. The biggest difference is the upgrade in coach for the Explorers. Former Drexel guard Ashley Howard is now at the helm, and tasked with returning La Salle to the prominence they once saw. It won’t happen this season, as the Explorers lose last years best player B.J. Johnson. They also lose two other senior starters, but return guard Pookie Powell who can do some serious scoring. In the first Gold Game of the season, look for Drexel to score some points and take advantage of La Salle’s youth.

Boston University @ Drexel - Wednesday 11/21, 3:00PM

Boston U was a middle of the road team in the competitive Patriot League, finishing last season 15-16. That being said, they have been infused with new life. Texas Tech transfer Alex Vilarino will be looked at to provide solid D and scoring. Boston is a young squad, but talented. Much of their success this season will depend on how well freshman forward Jack Hemphill and freshman guard Garrett Pascoe develop. Coach Spiker is familiar with BU from his time coaching Army in the Patriot League.

Drexel @ Bowling Green - Sunday 11/25, 3:00PM

Bowling Green ruined Drexel’s home opener last season, and the Dragons will try to exact revenge. BGSU struggled mightily at the end of last year after getting off to a hot start. Coach Michael Huger is one of the better mid-major coaches out there, and won’t let their late season stumbles carry over. Kurk Lee had 11 points, and Troy Harper had 8 against Bowling Green last year. Both will need to step up for Drexel to avoid consecutive losses to the Falcons.

NJIT @ Drexel - Wednesday 11/28, 7:00PM

Drexel lost to NJIT by 12 last season in one of those head scratching games. Last year, Drexel matched NJIT from a talent standpoint for sure, but just never got it together. Anthony Tarke, who had 13 points and 7 boards in the game, has transferred to UTEP, so the Highlanders will look to 6’10 center Abdul Lewis to pick up the slack. There is no doubt that Drexel will be tested in the paint early in this one.

Robert Morris @ Drexel - Saturday 12/1, 2:00PM

The Dragons fell to Robert Morris by 14 points in Pittsburgh last season, but Dachon Burke who lit Drexel up for 25 has left RMU. That’s the good news. The bad news is they return NEC Freshman of the Year Koby Thomas, and will be bolstered by Akron transfer Josh Williams. The 6’2 guard is one of the top newcomers in the NEC. Drexel was led by Kurk Lee’s 15 points in the loss last season.

Loyola (MD) @ Drexel - Wednesday 12/5, 7:00PM

The Greyhounds escaped with a win in a hard fought game last season in Baltimore. Philly’s own Chuck Champion will lead Loyola who look to improve upon a 10 win season last year. The talented guard, who was 4-4 from three and had 21 in their meeting last year, will be joined by highly touted freshman Jaylin Andrews in the backcourt. Coach Tavaras Hardy is in his first season at Loyola, and while expectations may not be high this year, Loyola will give Drexel all they can handle.

UMBC @ Drexel - Saturday 12/8, 2:00PM

UMBC made headlines last year when they became the only 16 seed to defeat a 1 seed in the history of the NCAA Tournament. They defeated the University of Virginia by dismantling the typically stingy Cavaliers defense. UMBC graduated two stars from that team in Jarius Lyles and K.J. Maura, so, much of their success will depend on the play of forward Joe Sherburne. This should be a great game to attend at the DAC.

Drexel @ Quinnipiac - Sunday 12/16, 6:00PM

This good matchup is part of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off played at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. While this may not be the marquee game of the day, it sure will be an entertaining one to watch. Drexel narrowly defeated Baker Dunleavy’s squad last season at The DAC. The Bobcats will contend for the MAAC title this season, as they return wing Cameron Young who averaged 18.8 points per game last season. Dunleavy also landed New York’s Mr. Basketball in freshman Shavion Lewis. In a game that will have some degree of national attention, the Dragons will need to come ready to play against a Quinnipiac squad that will be much improved.

Drexel @ UConn - Tuesday 12/18, 7:00PM

In what is the marquee matchup on the schedule this season, Drexel will head to UConn to take on a rebuilding Huskies team. After catching lightning in a bottle and winning the national title in his first season, coach Kevin Ollie was never able to build upon that, and was replaced by Dan Hurley. UConn, despite having some rough seasons, has the talent one would expect from a program of their caliber. In the backcourt, Jalen Adams and Christian Vital have the potential to take over games, and that’s exactly what they’ll try to do. Drexel will need to play lockdown defense, and Kurk Lee will need to be at his best for the Dragons to compete in this one.

Temple “@” Drexel - Saturday 12/22, 1:00PM

This game is being played at The Palestra. On the Dragonscast episode with Coach Spiker, Spiker said Temple coach Fran Dunphy had some legitimate points as to why this game should be played at The Palestra instead of The DAC. I know we’re supposed to bow at the alter of Dunphy, but this is annoying. This would have been a great game to play at The DAC, especially for recruits to see the incredible environment The DAC can be. Instead, the baby gets his bottle. Drexel nearly beat Temple at their place last season, and standouts Quinton Rose and Shizz Alston will looks to dominate this game start to finish. This will be a battle between two good guards in Kurk Lee and Alston. I know Dunphy is well respected and a classy guy, but I want nothing more than to send him into retirement with an absolute ass-whooping. PLEASE COME OUT TO THIS GAME.

The Five Must See Games at The DAC this Season

Yes, there is some garbage on this schedule, but let’s take a look at some of the biggest home games for the Dragons this year.

If I had basketball fever and the only cure was watching Drexel play Bryn Athyn, I don’t know if I’d be able to do it.

Unfortunately for me, I have a much more serious and permanent disease, it’s called being a Drexel basketball fan, so I’ll be there when they play the D-III Bryn Athyn, and when they tangle with Robert Morris, and I’ll be there when we seek revenge against NJIT.

I hope you’ll join me for all of those games, but I can understand why you might not want to.

Having a non-D-I school on the schedule is bad enough, but having that game as the home opener is not going to entice many fans. Believe me when I tell you, the powers that be at Drexel understand this is not a good look. Winning games, playing exciting basketball, and getting fans in the seats will allow the Dragons to play a more interesting schedule in future years, but what we have is what we have.

So, let’s take a look at the Drexel home games you need to be at this season, and remember you can get your Drexel tickets here.

UMBC @ Drexel: Saturday, December 8, 2:00PM

The University of Maryland - Baltimore County became the first number 16 seed to defeat a number 1 seed in NCAA Tournament history last year when they beat Virginia in convincing fashion.

Virginia, a team know for stingy defense, couldn’t stop UMBC, and their on and off offense failed them. It was truly a perfect storm, but enough cannot be said about the Terriers of Baltimore County.

From that magical team a season ago, UMBC loses guards Jarius Lyles and K.J. Maura, but will still be one of the better teams in the America East.

6’6 forward Joe Sherburne will create problems for the Dragons as he shot it at 45% from three-point range last season. I’m very curious to see how Drexel goes about guarding him, but I think it could be an enticing matchup between Sherburne and Zach Walton.

Ricky Council II, a transfer from Providence who didn’t see much time for the Friars will be looked at to replace some of the production the Terriers lose at guard. Drexel struggled mightily with big guards last season, and at 6’5 Council could create some of the same issues.

UMBC still has some cache from their cinderella victory last season, but in a much more tangible sense, this is a good team and it will be a fantastic matchup and challenge for Drexel.

Temple “@” Drexel: Saturday, December 22, 1:00PM

I hope by now everyone has listened to the Spiker Cast episode of Dragonscast.

One of the most interesting exchanges for me came when Spiker said he would've liked the Temple game to be played at the DAC, but Temple head coach Fran Dunphy made some valid points as to why the game must be played at The Palestra.

Fran Dunphy is a classy guy, and Spiker has all the respect and admiration in the world for him, which is why there’s no sense in putting up a fight when Dunph wants the game at The Palestra.

It could be as simple as Dunphy, who is retiring after this season, wants to play as many games at The Palestra, where he patrolled the sidelines as Penn’s coach for many years, on his way out.

I DO NOT KNOW WHAT HIS VALID POINTS ARE TO HAVE THE GAME AT THE PALESTRA. I need to make that clear. If you do know, please tell me and make me look foolish, but without having any knowledge of the situation, indulge me while I rant here.

Drexel has very few opportunities to sell out The DAC. They have very few opportunities to get the student body riled up for a game. They have very few opportunities to beat a City 6 opponent on their home court. This would’ve been a great opportunity.

Drexel played Temple to the wire last season, nearly pulling off the upset at The Liacouras Center. I think the Dragons will play them tough again this season. A win at home, in front of a packed house at The DAC would be a huge boost for the program. Dunphy, who is Mr. Philly Hoops, is taking that opportunity away from Drexel.

Teams typically schedule home and home games, and it’s unfair that Drexel would have to play at Temple and not have the opportunity to get the Owls at The DAC the next year. Spiker said it was Dunphy who had the valid points, and until I heard that I had assumed it just had something to do with money. It probably still does, but it comes across as a classless move.

If you are a student, fan, alum, professor, campus police officer, parent of a student, friend of an alum, own a blue or gold shirt, I NEED you to show up at The Palestra for this one.

I’ll be damned if someone tries to steal a home game from us.

As for the game itself, Shizz Alston versus Kurk Lee is a matchup of two of the best guards in the city and I can't wait to see how that battle plays out.

UNC-Wilmington @ Drexel: Thursday, February 7, 7:00PM

Devontae Cacok is one of my favorite players to watch. Not just in the CAA but in the entire country.

Last year, the 6’7 Cacok led the nation in rebounding with 13.5 RPG. Two seasons ago, he led the country in field goal percentage (all he does is dunk). He is the rarest of rare players, but he’s my kind of player and my lord, does he create problems. He’s a unique combination of athleticism, grit and anticipation who can take over a game without scoring a point.

Keeping him off the glass is a fools errand. Protecting the rim against him is equally as challenging, but it’s players like Cacok who make basketball fun.

Alihan Demir and Tim Perry Jr. will need to be ready for war when they get on the court with Cacok, but luckily for the Dragons, the rest of UNCW is beatable.

There is no reason Drexel can’t win this game, I project UNCW as a middle of the pack team in the CAA. Even if the Dragons don’t win, I promise you, you will get your money’s worth just watching Devontae Cacok play. He’s one of the best mid-major players in the country, and he’ll be at Drexel for one night only.

College of Charleston @ Drexel: Saturday, February 9, 4:00PM

I was torn between putting the Charleston game or the Northeastern game on my list.

They are the top two teams in the CAA, and Drexel will play them both tough, especially at home.

It all comes down to the players who I think are most exciting, and Grant Riller and Jarrell Brantley of CofC are two of the most exciting players in the conference. Vasa Puscia is considered the top player in the CAA by many, but if I could take one player from the conference and put him on Drexel it would be Brantley.

Brantley can do everything you want on a basketball court. He can defend, rebound, drive the lane and shoot from the outside. Yet, when it’s all said and done, I think his counterpart, Grant Riller, will be the conference player of the year.

Riller is out of the shadow of the graduated Joe Chealey, although many would argue he emerged last season, a year in which he averaged over 13 points per game and was named the CAA Freshman of the Week four times. Riller really stood out in Charlestons close, first round NCAA Tournament loss to Auburn in which he scored 16 points.

Northeastern may be the preseason favorite, but for my money Charleston is the best team in the conference.

And last year Drexel beat them at The DAC and had them on the ropes in their second round CAA Tournament meeting.

Sidenote, Drexel played a bunch of extremely exciting, down-to-the-wire games at The DAC last season. Drexel beat Lafayette by 1, Quinnipiac by 1, Northeastern by 1, JMU by 2, and Delaware by 2, but we’ll get to that in a second. They also beat Charleston by 5 in overtime, lost to Towson in overtime by 2 points and lost to UNCW by a point in the last game of the season.

When you look it at like that, a Drexel season ticket is the most bang for your buck in all of college hoops.

Delaware @ Drexel: Saturday, February 23, 5:00PM

If you were not one of the 800 or so people who attended this game last year, you missed NCAA history.

Drexel came back from being down 53-19, and won 85-83 capping off the biggest comeback in NCAA History. That is a record that will most likely outlive me, and my kids as well. It was a rivalry game in its purest sense. I shouldn’t need to provide any motivation to get people to show up for this one.

If you don’t want to see this matchup you don’t like Drexel, basketball, or fun.

In Defense of Drexel Basketball, The Second Draft

The Triangle recently published a piece written and/or co-signed by former DAC Pack presidents who saw the DAC Pack through some of their strongest years. The article eloquently commented on the past success of Drexel basketball and the fan support that surrounded it. The piece ended with optimism, explaining how students and alums can #TakeBackTheDac and take Drexel basketball and the experience surrounding it back to it’s glory. The co-signers of the article welcomed a chance to meet with President Fry to discuss how to #TakeBackTheDac.

Instead of a sit-down, president Fry wrote a completely idiotic piece in response that basically highlighted the glimmers of hope seen last year. He literally said nothing even the most casual basketball fan wouldn’t know. He basically said it would be nice to have a good team, but he’s not going to take any action to see that happen.

Fry has absolutely no idea how knowledgeable Drexel basketball fans in this community are. He wrote the piece as if we’ve never been to a game or seen the team play. If you are reading this and your name isn't Eric Zillmer, I’m confident you could talk circles around Fry when it comes to Drexel basketball, which is why he would never want to open that dialogue.

I paid a lot of money to graduate from Drexel a wiser person than I was when I walked in. So it really pisses me off that Fry talks to me like I’m a moron.

I took the liberty of jotting down some notes for Fry to think about before he has his assistant type up another letter to the Drexel basketball community.

_________________________________________________________________________________

To the Editor (you’re terrified people actually care about this),

I appreciate the strong (wait, isn’t attendance horrible) support our men’s and women’s basketball programs have received from our alumni and students, and can assure everyone that no one wants to “Pack the DAC” (afraid to use a hashtag here, not presidential) more than me (lying).

In fact, the Daskalakis Athletic Center made history last season (the DAC made history and not the players? I’d take that as a slap in the face if I fought from 34 down) when the Drexel men’s basketball team mounted the greatest comeback in college hoops ever by beating the University of Delaware after trailing by 34 points (we know). The amazing comeback was the talk of ESPNSports IllustratedUSA Today and other national media. The men’s team also beat city-rival LaSalle University (they went 13-19 and fired their coach) (also, we know) last season and upset the University of Houston at the Paradise (Lynchburg, VA) Jam in 2017 (we know)

The DAC was rocking throughout last season when the Drexel women’s basketball team went undefeated at home, won the regular season Colonial Athletic Association title and hosted the tournament championship. Since Coach Denise Dillion took over in 2003 (long before me), the team has had 12 winning seasons and has been to the postseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament tournament (he definitely rushed through this letter to hit the squash courts) the last five years in a row (we know).

While some (lol) years the teams win more games than others, just as at other universities, my support for our basketball program has never wavered (how many games did you attend last season?). The same goes for Drexel trustees. 

Indeed, thanks to millions of dollars of University investment — and generous support by many donors — the DAC has been upgraded dramatically over the years to give our teams the best setting in which to succeed. The improvements include state-of-the art locker rooms, renovated offices, refurbished media room, VIP ($$$) suites and chair backs (plastic garbage) for fans. At the same time, attending basketball games at the DAC remains accessible and affordable (say you are a family of 4. 2 adults 2 children. Tickets alone, for those great chair backs, would run you $60. Before parking and food).

While it is always great to win, I am most proud of the fact that our basketball program — indeed, all our athletic teams (especially squash) — competes at the Division I level the right way. Our student-athletes are successful on the court and in the classroom. Our 10-year graduation rate of 91 percent exceeds the national average. (Schools with strong academics can have strong athletics as well)

I look forward to the upcoming season for our women’s and men’s teams (do you?). Coach Dillon has turned our women’s basketball team into a perennial conference powerhouse (we know) that is looking to return to the CAA championship and finish with a title this year.

The men’s team is coming off a summer exhibition trip to Australia (we know) as Coach Zach Spiker continues to build on his early success after coming here in 2016 from Army, where he tied for second with former Coach Bob Knight for the most wins at West Point and led the team to its first postseason since Mike Krzyzewski was the coach (we know) (good job checking out his bio on drexeldragons.com).

I appreciate the support of the DAC Pack (numbers dwindling) and all the fans who support men’s and women’s basketball (it certainly doesn’t feel that way).

John Fry

Spiker gets Extended

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. 

If Life Could Imitate Art

I have two loves, movies and pacing around my apartment muttering expletives about Drexel basketball.

This closest thing I have to merging those two loves is the incredible 1996 movie, nay, FILM "Eddie". 

In the movie, Whoopie Goldberg plays a beaten-down New York Knicks fan who by a series of unprecedented events is pulled out of the stands and is eventually named the head coach of the team. You may think that is an implausible premise, but I think it's how Zillmer became the AD at Drexel so...

"Eddie" is probably the best movie of Whoopi's career and the worst of Frank Langella's, but it does act out the dream of every beleagured sports fan who has ever said "I could do a better job than that guy."

For the record, I do not think I could do a better job than Zach Spiker. I think he is a good coach with good basketball instincts who is realizing how difficult it is going to be to win at Drexel. A good sign of this is when the vast majority of your recruiting class are JUCO transfers or guys who were lightly recruited out of high school, so they did a prep year, but then they were lightly recruited out of prep school too. 

Drexel needs to become a place that mid-tier high school recruits from the northeast want to come and play. It is up to Spiker to make that happen, and that starts on the court before it can happen in the prospects mothers living room. 

I digress, I will have plenty of opportunities to complain this season, but this post is not that. This is me acting out a real life "Eddie" scenario, we'll call it "Joey."

If I we're plucked from Section 8 at the DAC and asked to coach the team, I would get crazy trying out different lineups really quickly. In all seriousness, the only way Spiker could get fired after this season is if he sets fire to the squash courts on Drexel's campus, but anything short of that wouldn't do it. 

So, he's in a unique position to do some interesting things. 

The first thing I would try is putting Demir at the 5.

I'd play a lineup featuring Lee, Harper, Walton, Doles, and Demir on the court. The goal here is to outscore the opponent, and not worry about defense at all. So, Drexel basketball. 

Unless Tim Perry Jr. is just a shot blocking, rebounding stud, this team cannot protect the rim, nor can they out rebound anyone, so the goal is going to be long possessions and making shots. 

This lineup only works under the assumption that everyone is a capable three-point shooter, which if left open they can be. Demir has shown he can score from the block through a mix of force and finesse. The goal would be to work the ball around, milk the clock, get it down low and give Demir the option to kick or shoot from close range. 

I think my days of hoping Drexel locks down on defense under Spiker are over, so I am inclined to agree with his strategy to try and outscore every opponent. 

Once that lineup blows up in my face, though, I might try a slightly more defensive minded lineup. 

Lee, Walton, Washington, Demir and TPJR. 

Obviously, this group would give Drexel great length on the wings with the 6'6 Walton and 6'4 Washington. The inability of Drexel to defend the wings and opposing guards in general was glaring last year.

If Tim Perry Jr. is able to block shots and rebound (I understand how insane I must sound putting this kind of pressure on Perry, but he needs to step up in a big way), then I think this lineup could be formidable. Harper as the sixth man off the bench could kinda-sorta run the point if he can control the reckless abandon he plays with. 

The risk here is playing with a true freshman and two guys in Lee and Walton who are going to want the ball. Hopefully Lee's experience playing alongside Isabell last year has helped mature him to the point where he can be a facilitator as opposed to a shoot first player.

If those risks turn into failures, then things get really fun. It would be easy to give up on the Dragons at this point, but Eddie never gave up on the Knicks, so, here's plan c. 

Lee, John, Walton, Demir, Butler.

Transfer Trevor John as opposed to Harper and Washington only makes sense if his incredibly small three-point shooting sample size at Cal Poly can turn into consistency for Drexel. 

Bulter is a total and complete mystery to me. He hardly played at Navy, but averaged 27/game in high school. This tells me Butler probably played against inferior high school competition, but possesses an ability to score. 

This lineup would also let Demir stretch his legs and show off his range, but you're sacrificing anything even close to defense. 

The two constants are Lee and Demir because they are the two best players on this team. Harper is probably number three for me right now, but I love the idea of his energy off the bench. 

There are so many unknowns, and I mean literally unknown players who we haven't seen live yet, on this team that it could be a very fun season. Of course, unless Spiker finds the secret recipe, it will be a losing one. 

He is in a very unique position, and while last year featured plenty of iso-ball from a talented guard, this year could be closer to the offense Spiker draws up on his whiteboard. 

As I said, I have faith in Spiker, but if we see the same milquetoast lineup that struggles night in and night out, I may have to use a line Eddie used on the coach she replaced. 

"You gonna try something new tonight? Like trying to coach?"

What a film. 

 

 

What is going on?

Tramaine Isabell is gone, our recruiting is nonexhistent, and we had 13 donors. 

The first verse of that Pearl Jam song rings true for me today. "The waiting drove me mad..." 

Tramaine Isabell will graduate from Drexel this summer, and then be gone.

 

He tested the NBA draft waters, albeit a long shot, and now it appears he will be transferring to a school in a major conference where he can presumably raise his stock as a basketball player. 

Another year on his legs and another birthday behind him will certainly not inspire confidence in many NBA general managers, although perhaps he can parlay a stellar season into a G-League or two-way contract. I don't see that happening, and the most realistic scenario is Isabell goes overseas and earns a living as a professional hooper. 

I sincerely wish him all the best.

Isabell was the main facilitator for Drexel, and a top-3 player in the CAA last season. This year, it would've been hard to imagine anyone other than Tramaine taking home CAA Player of the Year honors. 

While it might not be a huge surprise Isabell is leaving, it was the agonizing period of not knowing what he'd do that was shaving years off of my life.

Everyone remembers Damion Lee, who left Drexel for Louisville to get on the radar of NBA scouts. Ultimately, Lee didn't have an opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament, where his stock really could've rose, because of then coach Rick Pitino and his staffers indiscretions and ensuing NCAA penalties. Lee did enough to earn a spot in the G-League, and when his name was called this season, he made the most of it for the Atlanta Hawks. 

This is a totally different scenario, but for a player like Isabell, playing games on national television, and in a perfect world, making it to the big dance where he'd be in front of millions of pairs of eyes is his best shot of becoming a professional basketball player at any level. 

Drexel doesn't offer that, and to be completely frank, the administration seems ok with it.

There was absolutely zero effort to get asses in the seats of the DAC last season by anyone except for the guys in this sites Slack channel, who aren't employed by the university. 

During Drexel's 24-hours of giving donation-a-roma, the only athletic program with the potential to seriously move the needle came up completely empty with 13 total donors. The Drexel Men's Basketball Twitter account sent three total Tweets to encourage donations. The majority of those 13 donations came from employees of the University. One generous alum donated enough to make it appear as though people actually cares about the program. 

If you are attempting to be any sort of legitimate Division I Men's Basketball program you need financial support above all else. 

I compare this Drexel basketball team to the Temple football teams of the mid-2000's. The school was unconcerned with football, the team unable to recruit, and the results were comically lopsided games. 

The University eventually took an interest in football, and now Temple is a competitor, routinely sending players to the NFL. They spent money to play at Lincoln Financial Field, upgrade their practice facilities and hire competent people to run the program.

You cannot build a program on junior college transfers, or any transfers for that matter. That is not a knock on Zach Walton or Troy Harper, I'm excited for these dudes because their responsibilities just increased ten-fold.

It should be sounding the alarms in the squash facility where Big Z and Fry are playing their favorite pastime that this staff has come up all but completely empty this recruiting season. Drexel's inability to recruit the Philadelphia region is a major concern. I'm happy Assistant Coach Fortier has these Pacific Northwest connections, but it is not sustainable. 

With Isabell, the Dragons could've made a little noise next year. Without him it will be difficult, but Kurk Lee should return to form and have a season more similar to his freshman campaign. 

It is the future of this team that seriously concerns me. There seem to be major recruiting issues, and building a winning team is more difficult than trying to jam mismatched pieces into a puzzle like a child. 

Zach Spiker better be insanely confident that Coletrane Washington and Tim Perry  will develop into sensational players and program cornerstones because his job depends on it. 

Well, it would depend on it if anyone gave a shit. 

 

 

A Glance Back and a Look Ahead

Turning the Page

One of my favorite movies of all time is John Huston's The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and while most people recall the 1949 film for the "we don't need no stinkin' badges" line, it's not the one that stuck with me. 

The movie is about American gold prospectors who head into the Sierra Madre Mountains to find treasure. Of course it's about much more than that, and spoiler alert, they don't strike it rich. When the men realize they are going home with nothing but the shirts on their backs, one character comes to a realization.

"You know," he says to his partner. "The worst ain't so bad when it finally happens, not half as bad as you'd figure it'd be before it happens."

 

This is pretty much how I feel about the way the Drexel season ended. 

Now that I've had a few months to sit back and reflect on the season, yes it still hurts and yes I thought we had the Charleston game for a fleeting moment, but it's not as bad as I figured it would've been.

All season long the Dragons battled injuries, groomed freshman, competed in flat out strange games and made history. The dialogue going on surrounding the team is awesome, and before I continue on with what I consider to be my first post of the new season, I will urge everyone again to join the Slack conversation which is linked atop this page. We need to continue to grow a strong fan base around this team. 

Now, here are a few offseason headlines worth taking a look at. 

1. Tramaine Isabell Declares for the NBA Draft

Isabell had a historic season which earned him plenty of ink in the Drexel record book. What's scary is he was injured and missed several games, and played much of the season while battling injuries, yet he was still a ferocious scorer and slick passer all year. 

To his own admission, Isabell doesn't pass the NBA "eye test". He's built like a brick shit house, but is smaller than what the NBA would look for in a one or two guard. 

The NBA draft is really based on projections, which is why the first 10 or so picks will be college freshman or 18 and 19-year old Europeans. Teams look for young players who they can mold into stars, so when they're 22 or 23 they can dominate. Isabell is already 22, so to NBA scouts, what you see is what you get. 

I don't doubt Isabell could come off the bench for an NBA team and score. He has a knack of getting to the rim and finishing, and that is something that cannot be taught. He also possesses a very high basketball IQ.

Isabell has a killer instinct that comes from within, but unfortunately many NBA scouts over look those types of attributes. They want young guys with size. 

Isabell did not hire an agent, so he can return to Drexel if he chooses to withdraw from the draft. 

I'm selfish so I want Isabell dominating the CAA next year. I want to get to watch him live and be amazed for one more year. He is worth the price of admission at the DAC, trust me. 

The other part of me really wants to see that guy realize a dream of playing basketball at the highest level. Certainly the odds are stacked against him, but Isabell is used to overcoming obstacles. 

My best guess is Isabell will be back at Drexel next season, which gives Drexel a chance to compete for a CAA Championship if a ton of other things fall into place. If he does feel comfortable enough to enter the draft and does not return, Drexel will have a massive void to fill. 

2. Zach Walton is a Dragon

Well, the last guy Drexel brought in from Washington panned out (see above), so Walton has some big expectations to meet. 

Walton is a 6'6 swingman from Morton, Washington, about 100 miles south of Seattle. He is coming to Drexel from Edmonds Community College in Washington and has two years of Eligibility remaining. 

In 2016-17 Walton only played in 5 games for Edmonds after suffering a knee injury which required surgery. Normally, this is a massive red flag, but he came back with a vengeance last season, averaging 20.8 points and 9.4 rebounds per game against JUCO competition. Nonetheless, there is reason to be excited for Walton. 

He shot 54.7% from the field, and seems to have an ever improving jump shot. A guy who can pull up and hit midrange jumpers on a consistent basis is something Drexel lacked last year. 

The obvious intangible Walton brings to the Dragons is his size. The Dragons were often undersized, and especially struggled with teams who had big guards so Walton can fill a much needed gap there. 

If all goes well in camp, I predict Walton will start alongside Lee and Isabell, and Troy Harper will come of the bench.

If you're interested in seeing Walton on the court, Edmonds CC posts full games online, like this one. You just better be really drunk or really bored to watch more than one of these gams. 

It looks like Zach Walton can step in and immediately contribute to the Dragons so I'm stoked for that. What I don't like is the fact the Drexel staff has struggled mightily to recruit in this region.

Coletrane Washington, a 5th year high school player from the Pittsburgh area is the only other recruit the Dragons have landed this offseason, and more likely than not, they will be brining in another transfer. 

Isabell and Walton coming from the Pacific Northwest has everything to do with Drexel assistant Paul Fortier having ties in that region. Fortier was a standout at the University of Washington. 

Drexel cannot expect to build a program if they are relying on JUCO players from 3,000 miles away and transfers. It's disconcerting they have not been able to establish any recruiting ties in Philadelphia, and have struggled so mightily recruiting this offseason. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to have Walton and Washington, but Drexel needs to become a player on the recruiting trail around these parts as well. 

3. The Man in the Middle

When Rodney Williams graduated and moved on to bigger and better things, Drexel fans had Austin Williams to hang their hats on. Now that Big Stretch is outta here, there is a big old question mark in the middle. 

Tadas Kararinas showed an effortless touch from beyond the arc, but struggled trying to defend the rim despite being 6'10. Unless Tadas makes insane improvements on the defensive end, he will not be a reliable center. 

Jarvis Doles isn't a center and has shown no desire to bang in the paint. He looks much more comfortable shooting corner 3's and running in the open floor than scoring on the low block. Doles could probably play a little center if Drexel is going with a small ball lineup, but he's better suited elsewhere. 

So we're left with some unknowns. 

Tim Perry Jr. is probably the best answer for a pure center. He is 6'10 and has long arms which should enable him to protect the rim. His motor was called into question in high school, and he carried the label of an underachiever. There is a possibility that Perry will step up for the Dragons and be a serviceable center who can score inside and defend the rim on the other end of the floor. 

That is probably the best case scenario, but in all honestly, right now we just don't know. 

James Butler, the Navy transfer who sat out last season will play power forward for the most part, and again, would only be used at the center position in a small ball lineup. Butler played very sparingly at Navy and transferred after only a few games. He did average 27.5 points per game in high school though, so he possesses some ability. 

When the dust settles some more this offseason, I will write a post about Drexel's depth this season which Butler will play a part of and which I think is very promising. 

The Top 10 Moments of the Regular Season

It was a very weird season.

Was it always pretty? Nope. Was it so insanely bizzare that looking back I still can't really wrap my head around it? Yup.

The regular season didn't end exactly how the Drexel Dragons had envisioned it, in fact, it was probably exactly how they didn't want to end the season, but that's all water under the bridge. This team needs to look forward to the CAA Tournament where, if they have shown anything this year, they can beat any team in that conference. 

While they focus on the real season, I'm going to take a look back at the regular season's most memorable moments. 

Number 10 - Alihan vs. Charleston

The home game at Charleston was such an odd game. Tramaine Isabell didn't have his best night, and coach Spikers motto of "Sometimes me, sometimes you, always us" rang true, and a fellow transfer had himself a game.

All season long, Alihan Demir has impressed me. He seems to have plenty of offensive skill, and often slows the game down when the opposition is going on a run. He will need to get faster to improve his defense and increase his rebounding numbers next year, but so far so good for Alihan.

When Charleston came to the DAC, the Dragons were coming off of back to back ass kickings, and while not fully realized at that point, Charleston clearly had some of the most talent in the CAA. Someone needed to step up, and Demir did. Kurk Lee came alive scoring 5 of his 22 points on the night in overtime, but it was Demir's toughness and 20 points in his coming out party that gave Drexel the edge. 

Number 9 - Coletrane Washington

The recruiting trail has been more painful for Drexel than the Oregon Trail was for me in 3rd grade computer class, and while no one died of dysentery, it hasn't been a smooth ride. The Dragons missed out on some targets, but it looks like they have hit on a 6'5 guard with an awesome name.

Coletrane Washington from Quaker Valley is the lone commitment Zach Spiker received this season, and he may be a steal. Washington was debating attending a 5th year prep school following high school, but opted to sign with the Dragons. 

Washington is 6'5, but can handle the ball thanks to playing point guard before he hit a growth spurt. As evidenced in his 10 three-pointer performance this season, he can really shoot the basketball. He has a smooth, fluid stroke, and can rise over the outstretched arm of a defender to get a shot off, but his release will need to be quicker to do the kind of scoring he's capable of. 

Drexel is small at the guard spot, and Washington can use his length to create problems for opponents on the defensive side of the ball. 

No, recruiting hasn't been stellar, but after Dragons fans see some highlights, like the ones below, they'll at least be happy with Coletrane Washington.

Number 8 - Lee's Three

It was another one of those nights at the DAC, well, pretty much like every night at the DAC where Drexel was in a tight game. What happened way too frequently this season, though, was the Dragons were often playing down to their competition, and this is what happened against a struggling Quinnipiac team. 

The Dragons led by one at the half, and Tramaine Isabell dropped 23 points, but Drexel could never pull away. In a surprising turn, Quinnipiac had a lead with 13 seconds remaining after a Rich Kelly free throw. 

There have been debates all season long about who should take the last shot in these situations. Down two with the ball at the end of regulation. Isabell? Lee? Mojica if he can get open? Run a play for an Austin Williams dunk? It usually ends up with whoever has the ball and this time it was Lee. 

And he delivered. It hasn't always been easy for Kurk Lee this season, but in this moment he was the man. 

Number 7 - Beating Houston

It really comes down to not quitting. Houston is an immensely talented team that can score the ball in basically every way, so for the Dragons to weather their mini runs and Rob Gray's 37 points, and never give up was hugely promising to see early in the season.

The Dragons won 84-80 thanks to some timely stops and scores, and Tramaine Isabell's 16 rebounds. 

It would've been a different story if Drexel used this win to go on a tear this season, but they didn't, so the real story is Isabell. He didn't play in the opener, and the only action he had came against D-387455 Arcadia, so Drexel fans still didn't know what we had exactly.

His 16 rebounds may have been considered a fluke at the time, but his nose for the ball and his scoring ability has continued since the Houston game, which really is the biggest takeaway from the upset.

That and every time Houston is discussed for tournament seeding, Drexel always falls under their "Bad Losses" category. Thanks for the ultimate backhanded compliment, Lunardi.

Number 6 - This Tweet

Look, the problem with attendance starts at the top. The University needs to make massive improvements to the in-game experience and work to establish a strong student and alum fan base for both the women's and men's programs. If that doesn't happen, I look forward to more Fake Zillmer Tweets. 

 

Number 5 - Stretch with a game-winning...block?

The guy is a rim protector of the highest order, and while every block impacts the game in some way, winning a game on a blocked shot is really amazing. 

First off, it takes a huge defensive lapse to allow a player to go the length of the court in six seconds for a layup in a two-point game, but that might just show you the confidence the Dragons have in Stretch to protect the hoop at all costs. 

Second, it takes some serious stones to contest that shot given the situation because a foul would be horrible in that case. 

Third, the skill and control it takes to block a shot in situation is not something everyone has. Stretch makes it look easy, but it certainly is not. 

The big guy has 82 blocked shots on the season, but that one may be the best of his career. 

Number 4 - Beating La Salle short-handed

Driving from the 'burbs to North Philly at rush hour on a weeknight can be difficult. 

What made my trip to Tom Gola Arena to see Drexel take on La Salle that night even more trecherous was the message on the Slack I received saying Tramaine Isabell wouldn't be playing due to an injury. 

At the time La Salle was playing very well, so the prospects didn't seem promising with Isabell. Without, the task became seemingly insurmountable. 

The Dragons got off to a great start shooting the lights out, and that never really stopped as Drexel shot 52.9 percent from the field and 61.5 percent from three. 

Kurk Lee and Sammy Mojica combined for 42 of Drexel's 72 points, and Tyshawn Myles gave some great high energy minutes defending and getting key stops on La Salle's B.J. Johnson. 

Always nice to get a City 6 win especially when you weren't expecting it. 

Number 3 - Sammy gets 1,000

Congrats to Sammy Mojica for recording his 1,000th point as a Drexel Dragon. This is an awesome honor for a player who has meant so much to the program. He has gone through coaching changes and tough times, but always plays hard and keeps his head up, so it's great to see him rewarded. 

 

Number 2 - #TheTramaineEvent

In the final week of the regular season, Tramaine Isabell averaged 29.5 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists per game. As if anyone didn't know he is the Player of the Year in the CAA, he wanted to make sure. The jury is still out, and haters will say he doesn't deserve it because Drexel isn't a dominant team in the conference, but if he doesn't win he will be robbed. 

He also made me his Twitter profile pic, but I swear, I'm not biased because of that. 

I cannot tell you how many times I sat at the DAC this season and just shook my head when he made a ridiculous play. The most off balanced, body contorting shots he made look effortless.

Drexel has had some really, really good players in the past, but Isabell's basketball talent is right up there with the greats. He is currently averaging over 21 points per game, and has a legitimate shot to break Michael Andersons record of 19.2 points per game if he keeps it up next season. The man can flat out score the basketball.

He is strong and quick, and one of the first things I ever wrote about him after watching a few YouTube clips was that he reminds me of Kyrie Irving finishing around the rim, and he hasn't disappointed. 

When we went into this season, all Dragons fans had to hang their hats on were those YouTube clips, some news stories and the comments made by former Drexel players who saw him play in practice that were made on this sites podcast. 

What they ended up getting was a prolific scorer with a driven personality and one of the best players to ever put on the blue and gold. Certainly you can tell me it's only been one season, but from a basketball talent standpoint he is right up there.

I cannot wait to continue watching this beast play.

Number 1 - The Comeback

It was an incredible come-from-behind win, so a group of fans decided to celebrate. What I didn't realize until I was on my second beer, was that it was the biggest comeback in the history of NCAA Men's Division I hoops.

My girlfriend got a text from her basketball-junkie brother that said it was the biggest comeback ever. He followed it up with a picture of a Tweet from someone I had never heard of. I told one of the hosts of Dragonscast, Leon, what had been relayed to me, and he seemed as surprised as I was. 

Soon, more and more media outlets had picked it up. When the big dawgs started Tweeting it, we knew it was real. 

I didn't even realize the lead had been as high as 34. I just watched in awe as Delaware drained open three after open three and Drexel turned the ball over on seemingly every other possession. By halftime I was emotionally exhausted, but it was dollar dog night, so I got in line with plenty of other people who decided the game was over. 

Then the second half began and Drexel hit a few shots, then a few more and the deficit was 20. Then a few more stops and the lead was 10, then some magical plays and Drexel had won the game. 

 

An insane comeback yes, but the biggest of all time? I was surprised to hear that.

What followed was a national media whirlwind with Zach Spiker taking advantage of the historic event to promote Drexel basketball. He was interviewed on ESPN and the comeback was the number 1 play on the Sportscenter Top 10 plays of the day. In particular they showed the play above. For the record, that's the best play of the year.

I was up basically all night when I got home from the game, consuming every piece of media I possibly could from the game. It was such an insane moment in Drexel basketball,and I'm still trying to take it all in. 

This will put the 2017-2018 Drexel Dragons in the record books, and it's obviously the best moment of the year. 

The Shirt: If you're reading this, you probably saw a picture of me wearing a shirt at the game versus UNCW that said "The Comeback" with the score 53-19 written on the front in blue ink, and the score 85-83 written across the top of the back. 

I was vocal in the Slack and on Twitter about how following a historic event, The Philadelphia Inquirer didn't devote anymore ink to it then they would've a normal game recap. I wanted something substantial on at least the sports page. Since the newspaper of record in Philadelphia took the approach of working against the Dragons, I took matters into my own hands.

As the Tweet from Josh Verlin of CoBL stated, I got the shirt at the King of Prussia mall and it took about 20 minutes to make all told. 

The store I went to was called Custom Creations, and they will basically screen-print anything on to anything. They only had white or grey shirts, so I decided to go simple, blue ink on a white shirt.

This could very well be a record that Drexel holds onto for a long time. It should be commemorated as such, and if my t-shirt and some Tweets helps do it then I'm happy. 

Josh approached me at a media timeout, asked me if he could grab a picture of the shirt. A few people at the game commented on it, a Drexel cheerleader stopped me in the hallway and asked for a picture, of course, she kept my face out of it, and I went home and tossed it in a pile of laundry.

The next day, Tramaine Isabell made it his profile picture.

I have no idea if any of the players saw it during the game, but Isabell, I think, saw it on Josh's page and ran with it. Tramaine seems to be a friendly guy, with a sense of humor. We've conversed on Twitter a few times, and gave each other shit when his Seahawks played my Eagles, but we haven't met in person. 

So, it's obviously a surprise and an honor and well worth the trip to the mall. I hope the shirt becomes a reminder to never ever quit, and Tramaine is epitome of that mentality, 

At the time I just wanted to have some fun and have something to commemorate the event, but now I really hope everyone in the Drexel basketball community see's it and remembers that the Dragons may be down, but never out. 

I especially hope that rings true as Drexel enters the CAA Tournament needing to win four straight games to be crowned champion and head to the big dance. 

It seems almost impossible, but stranger things have happened. 

 

The Greatest Comeback

Drexel was able to pull off the biggest comeback in NCAA Division I Men's Basketball history because they defended, made shots and forced turnovers in the second half versus Delaware. 

Of course, that's the simple answer, but when something so incredible happens, something that puts Drexel on the national radar for at least a night, one needs to dig deeper than the numbers.

Those numbers are remarkable though. In the first half, where Delaware was up 53-19 at one point, the Blue Hens shot 61.8 percent from the field and made 10 three-pointers, many uncontested. In the second half, Drexel ramped up their defense and held them to 37.9% from the field, and allowed only one three-pointer.

In the first half Drexel forced just two turnovers and committed eight. In the second half, they pressed the hell out of Delaware and forced eight turnovers while committing just two.

After shooting just 34.3 percent from the filed in the first, the Dragons lit it up at a clip of 56.8 percent while drilling seven three's.

Those are the stats that show you how Drexel was able to win the ballgame, but they won't tell you the story.

I mentioned the press that Drexel applied during the second half. Their quick guards wreaked havoc, and Coach Zach Spiker did an excellent job substituting so he always had enough fresh legs on the floor.  Delaware wasn't efficient or quick enough to create 2-on-1 opportunities that pressing often leads to. 

That was just one of the things that stood out from the job Spiker and his staff did. Whatever was said in that locker room at halftime should be bottled up and sold because his team came out focused in the second half. 

To comeback from 34 points down, the coach cannot make one misstep, and the players must execute with no margin for error.

That is what makes a comeback like this so remarkable, but when you look at the players who made it happen, it makes sense.

As a high school senior in Seattle, Tramaine Isabell put on a Washington State hat on signing day. When that didn't work out, it was off to Missouri and a situation in which his talent was undervalued and his coach was clueless. In his first season playing in games for the Dragons, Isabell is making the case for the CAA Player of the Year, and is obviously the best player in the conference. He's doing this on the other side of the country after facing immense adversity, but it's like he has said several times: "I'll never quit."

While Isabell was the star of the game, another transfer provided the toughness that is required to comeback. Troy Harper slapping the floor on defense got me right out of my seat. Harper talks about Philly toughness, and having competed in the Philadelphia Catholic League in high school, he certainly has that. After leaving his hometown to attend Campbell, Harper made the decision to come home, and the only word to use for his intensity in Philly. 

Austin Williams has spend much of his time at Drexel in the shadows of stellar big men, but this year he has emerged from the shadows to lead the CAA in blocked shots. Although he was in foul trouble early, Stretch was able to come up with two key blocks and make some phenomenal interior plays on defense.

Alihan Demir, from Turkey by way of a Wyoming juco has been a pleasant surprise this year, and while he didn't have his best offensive game of the season, he enabled Spiker to play a speedy, small ball lineup to force turnovers because he did a great job rotating with Stretch and not allowing the offense to get behind him. 

Kurk Lee has had a rocky year adapting to a brand new team around him, but he never hung his head and it was his defensive pressure that led to many of the key second half turnovers. The kid from Baltimore who's father was a standout at rival Towson has found a place in Philly, a city that knows big things come in small packages. 

Miles Overton was a standout high school player in Philadelphia, but couldn't get his footing at Wake Forest. His time at Drexel has been marred by injuries, but he stepped up in a big way last night, knocking down two big three's.

Then there is Sammy Mojica. While I was at the first Drexel-Delaware game at Delaware, a woman sitting next to me asked if Mojica was a senior. I told her yes, to which she replied "thank goodness, I'm tired of watching him make three's against us." Mojica was the second leading scorer with 16 points, nine of which came on three's, but his veteran savvy was key on getting necessary stops. Mojica has gone through a lot in his time at Drexel, new coaches and new teammates, and although he doesn't say much, Sammy leads by example. 

When you put all of the pieces together, transfers, adversity, under appreciation, injuries, changes, long roads, etc. you can see that if any team was going to come back in win after being down 34 points, it was these Dragons, a team full of players who have done nothing but fight and claw their whole careers.

I hope we have been standing too close to the picture to see the pieces fitting together, and I hope this win starts a run that leads to a CAA Championship. 

That is what I hope for, but what I know for certain is this team will never quit. 

The Drexel Basketball Drinking Game

Instead of analyzing, let's get drunk.

I said it in my last post. Drexel is just a below average team with some talent that doesn't play defense. 

I wasn't surprised that they lost to Charleston, Northeastern and Hofstra on the road, and I won't be surprised when they beat Delaware and UNCW at home in the final two games of the season. This is a fickle team who play up to competition at home, can't seem to win on the road, and win and lose in head scratching fashion. 

I just can't figure them out, so I'll spend my time giving you something more substantial. 

The Official Drexel Basketball Drinking Game. 

Whether you're watching Dragons.tv on your iPad, silently praying your CAA.tv app won't freeze up at a key time, or telling yourself no matter how bad it gets, you won't throw your phone at the wall while watching, the Drexel Drinking Game is sure to increase your enjoyment. And, if they lose, it won't be as bad.

 

The Rules

  1. If a player who was assumed to be playing is not dressed for any reason  - Finish Your Drink
  2. If Paul Fortier is wearing his forest green suit that makes him look like a Christmas tree - Take Three Sips
  3. If Zach Spiker is wearing a tie clip - Take Two Sips
  4. If the Dragons score first - Take One Sip.
  5. If the opponent scores first - Take Two Sips.
  6. Each time Stretch Williams Blocks a shot - Take One Sip (This should get you drunk)
  7. If Tramaine Isabell is fouled at the rim and it is not called -Take Two Sips (This might give you alcohol poisoning)
  8. Each Drexel Turnover - Take One Sip (This may kill you)
  9. If Sammy Mojica hits a corner three - Take One Sip
  10. If Sammy Mojica hits a three from anywhere but the corner - Take Two Sips
  11. For each time Rob Brooks mentions Rob Falcone - Drink Half of your Drink (Dragons.tv or radio broadcasts only)
  12. If an official tells Zach Spiker to move back into the coaches box - Take One Sip
  13. If Tramaine Isabell leads the team in rebounding at the end of the game - Take Three Sips
  14. Each time the opponent hits a three pointer - Take One Sip
  15. If the three pointer was uncontested - Take an additional sip
  16. If Zach Spiker is feverishly clapping and the team is down 10+ points - Take Three Sips
  17. If the opposition finishes the game with 90 or more points - Finish Your Drink
  18. If Tadas Kararinas hits a three - Take Three Sips
  19. If Austin Williams hit a three - Go to a beer store, buy a keg, get a friend, and proceed to do a keg stand until I say stop.
  20. For each time Troy Harper argues with an official - Take One Sip
  21. If Tramaine Isabell reaches 20 points - Take Two Sips
  22. If Tramaine Isabell reaches 30 points - Take Three Sips
  23. If Tramaine Isabell reaches 40 points - Finish your drink, get a fresh drink, and finish that
  24. If Kevin Doi enters the game - Finish Your Drink
  25. If Troy Harper throws one down - Take Two Sips
  26. For each Kurk Lee assist - Take One Sip
  27. If the Dragons miss a free throw - Take One Sip
  28. If an Opposing Player reaches 25+ points - Take Two Sips
  29. If Zach Spiker slaps the scorers table in anger - Take Three Sips
  30. If the Dragons Win - Finish You Drink
  31. If the Dragons Lose - Finish Your Drink
  32. If Eric Zillmer (the real Zillmer) Tweets something tone deaf following the game - Take Three Sips
  33. If Fake Zillmer Tweets something you thought was real Zillmer - Finish Your Drink

Ok, I think 33 rules for 33rd Street ought to do it. I'm sure I'm missing some great rules, so if you have anything to add hit me up on Twitter @magnificentball and we'll fine tune this thing until we're properly loaded to either celebrate wins or enjoy losses. 

Just a reminder, Thursday night at the DAC we have Delaware. Please, please, please show up if you can and be loud. If you can't, give this game a whirl and let me know how it goes. Of course, do so responsibly. 

 

Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself

Annnnnnnnd We’re Back

When the late author David Foster Wallace was being interviewed by David Lipsky for a Rolling Stone piece that eventually became a book, Wallace made the remark I’ve titled this piece with. Of course Lipsky titled his book with the same remark, which was then turned into a movie worth checking out, but anyway, I find it applicable here.  

I’m not going to get pretentious about Drexel basketball, but the past week has been one in which we’ve seen the Dragons become themselves. They’re a below average team with some talent, no depth, and a massive void where a defensive identity should be at this point in the season.

After winning four games in a row, and hoodwinking me something fierce, the Dragons had their hearts ripped out by Towson at the DAC, and then, still licking their literal and figurative wounds, they were hammered on the road at Charleston, despite doing their best to hang in. 

A Big Problem

If you needed any more proof that Austin Williams is one of the best defensive players in the CAA, just look what happened to Drexel when he limped off the floor, never to return, against Towson. 

Towson's Zane Martin and Mike Morsell put on a show, hitting some jumpers and the Tigers buried open looks from three to claw back into the game, but when you don't have a rim protector and rebounder of Williams' caliber back there, everything changes. 

Tyshawn Miles is a great team player and a high energy guy who can give you 8 to 10 minutes of defense and rebounding, but he can't be called on for more than that. 

Tadas Kararinas has shown some finesse on the offensive end, but his defense is still lacking. Yes, he's extremely raw, but I would've thought that with over half a seasons worth of practices and more game time than Coach Spiker would've ever wanted to give him, he would have shown some improvement on the defensive end. He still looks like a kid lost in a crowd searching for his mom when he's trying to protect the paint. 

Jarvis Doles basically showed that he has some range and that's about it this season. He can't be counted on to play much defense at this point, and he's seen his PT dwindle as the Dragons got healthy. 

I don't want to rip the freshmen too much, because they're just that. The coaching staff needs to help these guys improve, and I haven't seen that over the course of the season. 

The point is with Stretch out, you knew Charleston was going to be a bear of a game. 

He doesn't have a 7'9 wingspan like Mo Bamba, and he isn't imposingly tall, but Austin Williams blocks shots because he has incredible timing and body control, oh, and because his guards give him plenty of opportunities to get blocks. 

Lee, Isabell and Harper all need to improve their on ball defense. It's way too easy for the guards in the CAA, and there are a lot of good ones, to go right by them and get into the lane. 

Once the guard penetrates, Williams often slides up in the paint to contest a layup, and the guard will leave a drop pass for the man Williams left. If that doesn't happen, the guard will kick for a corner three, or just create enough space to pull up for a jay a la Zane Martin. 

I'm all for a decline in Williams block numbers if it means are guards are playing better defense around the perimeter. 

Stretch's injury doesn't appear to be a season-ender, but it's unclear if he will be available at Northeastern. 

If I Were the Coach

I would hold Williams out at Northeastern. The chances of the Dragons getting out of a play-in game at the CAA Tourney are slim, the Dragons are awful on the road, and Northeastern is very, very good, and will be very, very pissed after the way Drexel beat them at the DAC a few weeks back. 

This will be an epically difficult game for Drexel to win with or without Stretch, so if there is even an inkling that he is hobbled and not 100 percent ready to rock and roll, I'm keeping him in one of those nice grey sweatsuits. 

 

 

The Drexel Dragons are on a four game winning streak...woah.

I Just don't know anymore.

I wish I had something to offer other than a shrug, but I'm still drunk from the Birds Super Bowl win and trying to figure out how the same Drexel team that lost four consecutive games a month ago has somehow won four in a row is just beyond my comprehension. 

I really tried to figure out what this team did so differently. I am a firm believer that you win basketball games by playing defense, rebounding, and not turning the ball over. 

In their four consecutive wins, the Dragons averaged 12 turnovers per game, had nine more rebounds then their opponents over that four game span, and allowed 74.75 points per game. 

In their four game skid, the Dragons averaged 10 turnovers per game, were out rebounded by 34 (Towson out-rebounded them by 21) and allowed 84.5 points per game. 

The numbers show something, and as someone who doesn't really care about numbers, I can see that they tightened their defense and a huge part of that is simply not allowing two-shot possessions. 

I'm sure someone will crack an egg of stats on my head and show me how the four game losing streak and winning streak came down to one key stat or maybe they weren't that different at all, but I'm not as interested in numbers as I am by what I see, and what I see is a team that is just playing harder than their opponents. 

It would be easy to say Drexel got some fortunate calls or caught a lucky break here and there or their opponent just missed a ton of open looks, but that's basketball, and that shit happens when you play your ass off. 

Earlier this year Drexel beat some stiff competition and played some really good teams close, and it wasn't because Tramaine Isabell was hot or they got lucky, it's because they played tough, hard-nosed basketball, and that's how you create luck. 

Most will look at the Northeastern win, and say we got lucky. I sent this tweet out following that game, and I stand by it. 

You make your own luck, and if you want to talk about how this squad is catching breaks and getting lucky then you're doing a disservice to the team. 

Also, how has #TheTramaineEvent not caught on yet? It's the thing I'm most proud. Seriously. It's sad. I know. 

Winning Division I college basketball games is difficult, and you don't win four straight by getting lucky, and you don't lose four straight because of bad luck, but when you compete, good things will happen. 

Good things are starting to happen for the Dragons. 

Drexel takes on Towson tomorrow night at the DAC and then hits the road for three tough games. They haven't been good on the road, and I'll be watching those games with knots in my stomach, and not the garlicly kind, ok who am I kidding, they'll be in my stomach as well, but I have faith in the Dragons. I don't want to get ahead of myself to the road trip though. 

Now more than ever, show up.

The Towson game tomorrow night is the biggest of the year. Drexel is currently 5-7 in the CAA while Towson sits at 6-6, so you don't need to be a mathematics major at Drexel to know this game is meaningful. 

And if you are a numbers major, or any major for that matter, if you have a Drexel student ID, turn up for this game. The Dac Pack needs to be packed to rattle the Tigers, and me spewing vulgarities that would make Chris Rock blush at a 19-year-old kid is not gonna cut it. Show up, stand up and be loud. 

Drexel is also running plenty of promotions in conjunction with the Eagles parade, so if you wear Birds gear, you get in for free. If you're near the DAC and want to cheer on the Dragons or are just looking for a place to get out of the cold, it's going to be a pretty good game. 

If for some reason you're on this blog for my nonsense and haven't listened to the newest Dragonscast Podcast yet, I demand you do so now. The segment about the attendance issue at the DAC is some of the best stuff on that podcast thus far, Leon, Marshall, Bill and Nick really hit the nail on the head. 

While I'm just typing in a manic state with no direction whatsoever at this point, I'm going to reiterate something that someone said on the Slack a few days back. I forget who said it, so I apologize, but the in game stuff at the DAC has become rote. Tickets to Drexel games are way more expensive than they need to be, and we still don't have a video board...but for the money a person has to pay to bring their family, the entertainment needs to be better. 

Having the cheerleaders or dance team come out at every stoppage in play and then once a game have two kids dressed up like coffee cups dribble in between said cheerleaders and subsequently miss four layups is getting really, really old. 

I digress. 

Haircut Watch

I wrote a post a week or so ago about Tramaine Isabells haircut. That is how bad it was. I wrote that the haircut may have been that quirky, weird little thing that turns the season around for Drexel, and since that shape up, they have won four in a row. 

Now, it has been reported that there was some sort of team meeting that may have something to do with the winning streak. I like to believe it's 100% about the hair cut, but have it your way. 

The fact is the Dragons are playing team basketball, and whatever is going right will need to continue versus a Towson team who opened up a can of whoop ass on Drexel a few weeks back. The key will be rebounding the basketball. Stretch Williams and Tyshawn Miles need to stay in the game versus an extremely physical Towson team. 

Drexel will need to match their physicality, but play smart basketball, as Towson scored 30 points from the charity stripe in their first meeting. 

The football game last Sunday was all my heart can take, Drexel needn't turn Thursday nights contest into another one. 

Coach Spiker said the team slogan could be "Sometimes me. Sometimes you. Always us." That has rung true for many games this season, but in the Dragons victory over William & Mary, it was balanced scoring and 20 assists that propelled the Dragons. 

As was true in that game, the "Always Us" part of that mantra is the one that will need to ring true for Drexel to take down Towson. 

 

The Tramaine Event

Tramaine Isabell gets a hair cut and goes for 40

On the Wednesday before Drexel played Elon at home, in a game which they would go on to win 83-79, Tramaine Isabell posted the Drexel team photo to his Instagram account. 

He captioned the photo with "Nobody wins when the family feuds" and "NoMoreFro".

You can read into the feuding family part all you want, and I am sure, and I would honestly hope, tempers are flaring in that locker room. Of course, I have no idea what exactly Isabell was referring to, but when you're sitting at 7-14 and 1-7 in the conference, it is understandable that emotions would be running high. Ask anyone who has ever been in a losing locker room.

I would be concerned if these guys didn't care, and didn't get after each other, and didn't compete hard in practice. Good teams challenge each other, and up to a certain point that is healthy, expected and understandable. 

Again, I am just speculating and maybe he was just quoting a lyric from a song that I'm too dull to know, so instead of further speculating about the family feud part, I'm going to focus on the other part. 

As a Drexel fan, I really needed something to hang my hat on, pardon the pun, and Isabell getting shaped up may be just the thing. 

Basketball, and sports in general are weird. Sometimes the most trivial, minor happenings transform a team. 

Remember when Klay Thompson autographed that toaster and the Warriors went on a 31-2 run? Or how about in 1952 when two brothers in Detroit threw an octopus on the ice during the first playoff game for the Red Wings that season? The Wings then swept both series en route to the Stanley Cup.

Maybe Isabell shaving the afro is just the touch of weirdness this team needs. Or, maybe I still need something to hang my hat on.

The fact is, in the first game post-fro, Isabell went for 40 points to lead Drexel past Elon. 

He shot 14 of 23 and 7 of 11 from three. He also had 6 boards 3 assists 3 steals and only 1 turnover. In a game where Kurk Lee and Sammy Mojica both struggled to find their touch, Isabell came up big to lead Drexel to a much needed win. 

One of the things I love about Isabells game is how efficient he is scoring the ball. Before this last Elon game, he was averaging 18.5 points per game, and taking just over 13 shots. That being said, I want him to shoot the ball more. 

He is a smart player who has a great feel for the game, so he understands that he sometimes needs to be in takeover mode, and he was last night. 

Isabell is probably not going to be able to go 7-11 from three every night, but he was bombing them from NBA range and drilling them against Elon. I believe that Isabell is a confident player to begin with, but when any player sees a few shots fall, it's easier to pull the trigger on the next. 

Aside from getting the W, when a player does something exceptional, it doesn't go unnoticed. Isabell's big scoring night generated some buzz for Drexel which is always beneficial for fans, recruits and the school in general. 

Isabell will be dogged all day come Saturday when the Dragons take on the first place team in the CAA, Northeastern. Those guys don't want to get torched for 40 like Elon did, so expect Isabell to use his smarts and make things easier for his teammates. 

Of course, a player with Isabells talents might just find a way, and if he goes off again and the Dragons get another monster win, I'll be sitting outside the DAC with a pair of clippers willing to shave the heads of anyone who wants to get on board with the NoMoreFro movement. 

 

Where do we go from here?

If there is one stretch in the Drexel season that is absolutely imperative, it is the one the Dragons are in the middle of right now. 

Conference games versus Delaware, Hofstra, Towson and James Madison over a two week span are critical for several reasons.

First, Drexel had the opportunity to go 3-1 in this stretch by beating every team but the the exceptional Towson. This would've put the Dragons at 10-11 and 4-4 in the CAA, meaning there was a chance they could avoid the dreaded CAA Tournament play-in game. 

Secondly, following that 4 game stretch, the Dragons get Elon and Northeastern, two of the top teams in the CAA. 

I don't want to sound alarmist, but I believe I am being a realist when I say that in losing the first two games of this critical stretch, Drexel all but cemented their place in a CAA Tournament play-in game. In two winnable games at Delaware and at home versus Hofstra, horrendous defense and poor shot selection were Drexel's undoing. 

Now, Drexel sits at 1-5 in the CAA, and most likely will lose to Towson, and against bottom feeding JMU, nothing is certain. 

Having seen Drexel play against most of the teams in the CAA thus far, it doesn't appear this team can compete in this conference. 

Drexel doesn't have the size, interior quickness or intensity needed on defense. On offense, they look completely lost aside from the spurts of greatness from Tramaine Isabell. 

I have gone to bat for Zach Spiker, but he doesn't seem to be helping this team improve. Sure, injuries were tough, and they won some big games in spite of them. Against Delaware and Hofstra, Drexel found themselves in a hole and clawed their way back. These are signs that Spiker has managed games well and made necessary in-game adjustments. 

The knock is that his team has not gotten any better from game one to now. No matter the personnel on the court, the defense seems to be fighting against Spiker's scheme, or they're just totally inept, and the offense is just iso-ball where Lee dribbles around for 20 seconds and shoots, a reckless drive by Harper, a missed corner three from Mojica, a poor Austin Williams pass or an Alihan Demir forced shot in amongst larger defenders. 

The success for the Dragons usually comes in the form of a Tramaine Isabell drive, or him spotting an open shooter and firing a pass. Often times, his teammates aren't quite ready for the pass and it ends up being a turnover anyway. 

While we're on offense, I think it is time that Kurk Lee comes off the bench, and Isabell and Harper start together at guard.

Lee and Isabell just can't seem to click, and despite the affection Spiker has for Lee, he'd serve this team better coming off the bench to spell Isabell. Drexel's large point totals come against piss-poor defenses, and even with some impressive scoring games, they still don't crack the top 100 nationally in points per game. This minor change would have both players playing their natural position, and neither would end up matched up with a much larger guard. 

It's really the defense that needs to improve though, to give Drexel any sort of chance at salvaging the season. 

It's a shame Jarvis Doles and Tadas Kararinas have proven themselves useless, because interior defense is the biggest issue for the Dragons who allow 78.1 points per game which is good for 279th nationally. 

So, the defense is the larger of two problems which needs to be corrected immediately. 

The scheme changes depending on who the opposition is, but regardless of the type of zone or man defense they play, the Dragons just seem outmatched. 

Both Hofstra and Delaware losses can be attributed to the lack of interior defense. Austin Willams can alter shots, but if they're coming off the rim the Dragons are often out of position or missing box outs to get the rebound. It's incredibly frustrating as a fan, so I can't imagine how Spiker and Co. feel. 

If the opponent has a big man, Williams will try to stay home on him, so when a guard can penetrate and Williams slides over, a simple drop pass leads to a monster dunk. If Williams stays at home, Demir doesn't have the quickness to slide over, so you're just hoping for someone to block a shot in the trail. 

It's impossible to beat teams who get easy, high-percentage shots, as Drexel is proving. 

The coaching staff is paid to figure this shit out, and I'm pretty pissed off there has been a regression in not only their help defense, but the defense in general from the start of the season. Yes, I know Ty Myles isn't playing, but the problems go beyond the injury to a high energy, but ultimately mediocre player.  

If Drexel does appear to be defending the post, it's because their opponent is kicking out for open three's or to a wing with a clean path to the lane. 

There are definitely some games where a team is just "on" and consistently knocking down tough shots. That has not been the case for Drexel. The reason they fall behind and can never mount a full comeback is because even if shots start falling for the offense, the defense doesn't make enough stops. Therefore, if you go into a shooting slump, which a team like this is prone to do, you better have strong defense to stay close and turn stops into offense. 

Delaware shot 47.5% from the field, which is actually pretty good for Drexel, but it was one of those offensive slumps that buried the Dragons. 

Next up is Towson, a team that averages 76.3 points per game, and we have to play them at their place. Between 6'5 and 6'4 guards Mike Morsell and Zane Martin, Drexel will have their hands full.

This team can surprise, but I don't see how Drexel can compete if their defensive struggles persist.  

 

 

Fill The Moat on January 13th

There are stories from ancient history recounting the military tactic of building a moat around a castle to protect it from unwanted intruders. 

As if the deep, water filled trenches were not enough to keep intruders at bay, stories of fire breathing dragons being placed in the moats were circulated to ensure the enemies wouldn't dare attempt a crossing. 

When I started my blog, Magnificent Basketball, I used the imagery of the fire breathing creature, and even took a piece of the Drexel mascots name for my title. I just thought it was awesome to have such a badass mascot, but what I want to convey here, is the fact that we have a pretty badass fanbase and team as well. 

If you read Magnificent Basketball, then you know how fond I am of this group of guys and their leader. The Dragons are not a great team by any stretch of the imagination, but the players play extremely hard, and just about every game at the DAC so far this season has been at times excruciating, but always exciting. 

My plea to you, in simplest terms, is to Fill the Moat. 

We are the Dragons, and that court is our castle. We need to fill the moat surrounding our castle with fire breathing Dragons to ensure that no opponents have an easy time infiltrating our house.

I am pleading with all Dragons to help fill the moat surrounding Sam Cozen Court on January 13 at 4:00PM. This is going to be a huge game for current students to get rowdy for as it's their first game back from break. 

The Blue and Gold Club is hosting a pregame party in the Blue and Gold Room inside of the DAC for alumni to catch up with one another. This is set to begin at 3PM and you can RSVP here. Following the game, there has been talk of the party continuing at Landmark to watch the Eagles game. 

Of course, the January 13 game versus Hofstra is just the start of what we want to build. 

Who do I mean when I say "we"?

The quick version is still pretty long, but I'm going to tell it to you anyway. 

I started a blog and didn't think anyone would read it. An alum named Rob Falcone did, and invited me to a Slack group with about 15 Drexel basketball fanatics in it. 

In that group I met the gentlemen who run this website and the podcast that started it. We decided to team up to put our content in one spot, making it easy for fans to get a dose of Drexel hoops without having to scour the internet. 

The aforementioned Rob has since rebuilt the Blue and Gold Club newsletter, and the Drexel basketball community is fortunate for it. I encourage you to sign up to receive the e-newsletter here

The reason I tell you this is because there is a whole community of Drexel basketball fans that you can be a part of. Four months ago I had no idea this community existed, and now I'm trying to do my Dragonly duty and help to fill the moat. 

CAA play is underway, the Dragons have the opportunity to make some noise, and I want my fellow alums to join me in at the Dac on January 13. There are still tickets available, and when you go to www.drexeltickets.com to purchase them, be sure to use the promo code BLUEANDGOLD and get 10% off your purchase. 

At the top of this page there is a link to our Slack channel so feel free to join and share your thoughts on Drexel basketball. 

This is goin to be an awesome day and a great start to what we hope to build. I know there is a fanbase of Drexel alums out there who will join me on Saturday to fill the moat and protect what's ours. I can't wait to see everyone there.