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.