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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