By 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.
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.