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Bracy: Flint, Drexel should play at Palestra


By AARON BRACY

Philahoops Columnist

@Aaron_Bracy

You know what they say about life: Yeah, it can be unfair sometimes.

When it comes to nonconference scheduling, Drexel coach Bruiser Flint just doesn’t want to hear it.

In two separate interviews with Philahoops’ Kevin Rossi, Flint explained why Drexel consistently has come up short in scheduling strong nonconference games. It is a similar contention Flint has made to me in previous seasons: that until teams are willing to come to the DAC and play home-and-homes with Drexel, the Dragons won’t play.

Flint is making the mistake here.

Drexel should be playing Temple.

And probably La Salle.

And other programs from the Atlantic 10.

Maybe BCS schools won’t play them on any home court, but there are schools with good resumes that would give needed help to the Dragons’ strength of schedule if only Flint would relent and play the Dragons’ home game at the Palestra.

He won’t.

It’s why I was one of the few local voices who supported the Selection Committee’s decision to leave Drexel out of the NCAA tournament in 2012 despite a 29-7 record. It wasn’t a snub. The schedule wasn’t good enough.

And, barring a win over No. 4 Arizona on Wednesday, Flint and the Dragons will be in the same boat this season unless they win the CAA and earn the league’s automatic bid. Which is a shame because, like that 2011-12 team, this is a really good Drexel squad that would give teams fits in the Big Dance.

Flint told Rossi that his conversations about playing Philly schools stop when the locals ask for Drexel’s home game to be played at the Palestra. A Temple source confirmed with me Tuesday that the Owls would have agreed to a regular series with a Liacouras-Palestra swap. The Owls and Dragons last played in the 2007-08 season – though I’ve heard they’ve had some remarkable scrimmages.

Too bad for Philly fans.

My feeling is that by refusing to play Temple at the Palestra Flint is losing out on an excellent opportunity for a quality win over a nationally respected program – and even some needed RPI points with a loss – by holding the high ground on a principle that, when you think about it, makes little sense.

I love the DAC. It’s intimate, fun and the DAC Pack helps make it a rocking event – unless you’re an opponent. But it lacks most of the basic amenities you’d expect from a Division I arena. Plus, teams know how difficult it is to play there and coaches, who are always under stress to keep their jobs, understand that a win will be expected while a loss can be a program breaker when the reality is that the DAC is a very difficult place in which to win.

If it was a 10,000-seat arena with a little more breathing room and modern amenities, I think Flint would have a stronger argument. Even then, I think the Palestra would be acceptable for Drexel home games against higher-caliber programs. St. Joe’s, La Salle and Temple all have played home games at the Palestra. Why can’t it be good enough for Drexel?

So what if Temple, or anyone else, doesn’t want to play at the DAC. You know what I say? Play them at the Palestra and beat them. That would be good for Drexel, for Philadelphia college basketball and for Flint. It’s not like Drexel couldn’t get a strong turnout and create a home-court advantage somewhat similar to the DAC.

Hey, Flint has done wonders at Drexel. I doubt anyone could do better there, particularly with the schedule, the facilities and the challenges he faces.

And as much as I admire and understand his stance on principle, it doesn’t make sense to me.

It might not be fair that teams don’t want to play at the DAC.

But, yeah, life can be unfair sometimes.

-Aaron Bracy is the Philahoops.com founder and columnist. His City 6 rankings column appears on Mondays. Share your thoughts with Aaron at [email protected], @Aaron_Bracy on Twitter and/or in the comments section below.

Comments

  1. Phil Beck says

    One of the main ways this plan can be viewed as reasonable for not necessarily Bruiser but for Zilmer is if Penn leases the arena for a VERY low price.

  2. Dragon says

    Cmon Aaron, really? You say, “I was one of the few local voices who supported the Selection Committee’s decision to leave Drexel out of the NCAA tournament in 2012 despite a 29-7 record. It wasn’t a snub. The schedule wasn’t good enough.” If you saw that team play, you should’ve know they were tournament worthy. Your credibility takes a hit there, because I know you saw that team play.

    • Aaron Bracy says

      I saw that team play many times and think they were good enough to make the Sweet 16. But there is a formula to get into the tournament. It’s not just about how good you are, unfortunately. You need the resume. That’s the reality.

  3. LaSalle55 says

    Bruiser simply just doesn’t understand. Martelli is the outcast of the Big 5. Neither understand the historic nature and tradition of the Palestra. It shouldn’t matter what the cost is if Drexel athletics program was serious about their basketball program the way Bruiser is this wouldn’t be a problem. Bruiser should want to play at the Palestra, the DAC is awful. He should be pushing the school to do so instead he is on the wrong side. Drexel has the funds to pay to play at the Palestra. It comes down to that Martelli and Bruiser don’t understand what the palestra means to philly.

  4. saylor says

    “If it was a 10,000-seat arena with a little more breathing room and modern amenities, I think Flint would have a stronger argument. Even then, I think the Palestra would be acceptable for Drexel home games against higher-caliber programs. St. Joe’s, La Salle and Temple all have played home games at the Palestra. Why can’t it be good enough for Drexel?” If Drexel were to own a 10,000 seat arena with modern amenities, why do you find it acceptable for Drexel to then still play at the Palestra? For charity reasons? To honor the history of the Big 5 even though the Big 5 sticks there nose up at Drexel?

    On one hand you seem to justify your position that the Drexel issue of home and home’s are attributed to facilities and amenities and then you make a statement like this suggesting that even if they had the amenities, they should still consider playing at the Palestra. Why? Makes no sense. They aren’t in the Big 5 so why play by Big 5 rules? The economics of college basketball have changed and the only team that still plays Penn home/home with both games at the Palestra is SJU/Penn. Temple, Villanova and LaSalle require home games on their home court when playing Penn, as Kevin Rossi astutely noted. This is an opinion piece authored by a SJU alum with a clear bias. Pieces like this reinforce my position that if Bru doesn’t take this position, facilities or not, things will never change with the old Big 5 way of thinking. Time to take a stand and all Drexel can do is continue to work on scheduling, reinvest in the program and continue building one season at a time.

    Two years ago, Drexel had one of the finest basketball teams I’ve seen play in some time. Amazing how the RPI is so fundamentally flawed and still serves as the basis for what makes a quality team and who makes the tourney. The VCU program today is the same VCU program of two years ago except now VCU is in the A10 and the press fawns all over them, they get ranked and the bias of the RPI sets in. After VCU made their final 4 run, Drexel beats them in the regular season and then loses in the CAA championship by 1 point. If the press fawns all over VCU then the way they do today, Drexel is in.

    Bracy is just another writer in the way of Drexel building a program in our home city of Philadelphia.

  5. LaSalle55 says

    The only person in the way is not Aaron Bracy…He gave Drexel a chance simply by stating they have a chance against Arizona tonight but they don’t stand a chance. Your problem is Bruiser doesn’t focus his attention on the aspects of Drexel’s program that need it.

    VCU completely rebuilt their program in every aspects recruiting, facilities and the athletics department as a whole. It may hurt but Shaka is definitely better than Bruiser as a coach and all of the Big 5 coaches with maybe the exception of Dunphy maybe.

    Drexel would benefit from scheduling games against Temple, La Salle and Nova but chooses not to due to his stubborn principles. What is better than playing a top 50-100 team thats 20 minutes away. Martelli also is another coach who doesn’t understand how to schedule games.

  6. saylor says

    Who said only? Have you seen the Richmond Col? If this is about facilities, why does Penn play at Rider, a gym with 1500 seats? Shaka is a terrific coach and nobody’s comparing Bru to Shaka except you. You’re drifting from the point to defend your own.

    “Drexel would benefit from scheduling games against Temple, La Salle and Nova but chooses not to due to his stubborn principles.” I agree up to the point you add your own emotions by stating “stubborn principles”. Bru has valid points to take his positions and if you don’t agree with them, that’s fine but don’t be ignorant and call them stubborn.

    What is better than playing a top 50-100 team thats 20 minutes away. If teams didn’t want to play at LaSalle, would you feel the same way? LaSalle’s gym isn’t too much of an upgrade from Drexel, is it? People play there because of the legacy of the Big 5. Take that away the Big 5 and who plays at LaSalle in OOC?

    Martelli also is another coach who doesn’t understand how to schedule games. Martielli does a fine job at scheduling.

  7. saylor says

    This should remove any talk about facilities when it comes to teams not wanting to play at Drexel. Penn will play at Rider and at Marist (see links) but won’t play at Drexel; they will actually travel further to play at inferior gyms and teams. It’s certainly not attributed to facilities. The correct question for Bracy to ask Temple and Penn is not whether they’d be willing to play Drexel at the Palestra but why not at the DAC. If the answer is facilities, the answer needs to be challenged. Asking Temple if they’d be willing to play Drexel at the Palestra is nothing more than a question that helps support a predetermined story. #supportbru

    http://www.gobroncs.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=20200&ATCLID=205337332

    http://www.marist.edu/athletics/facilities.html

  8. says

    Saylor is spot on. While it’s disappointing to not play other teams in the city (especially Penn), I agree with Bruiser’s stance on this. There are plenty of good teams around the country for us to play in order to raise our profile and SOS rather than having to give in on this issue. I would rather go on the road to play UCLA in a one off game than have to play a road/neutral site set versus Temple. The Big 5 doesn’t have the same cache as it once did and games outside the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic area raise Drexel’s profile which will help recruiting.

  9. ComeOnDrexel says

    For Drexel to not play Penn at the Palestra because Penn refuses to cross the street is Bruiser biting his nose to spite his face. The Battle of 33rd Street allows Drexel to have half the house (more Drexel fans than can even attend the DAC) and it provides for a real Big 5 atmosphere. Why should Penn take a game two blocks away that will guarantee it only 50 tickets when playing the game at the Palestra denies NO Drexel fans? If Penn-St. Joe’s can play at the Palestra every year (and everyone who’s been to those games knows they’re not Penn home games), Drexel can play Penn there also. If Rider were across the street, Penn wouldn’t play in that bandbox either. And La Salle’s gym, thought nothing to write home about, still seats 1,500 more than the DAC.

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