What: Drexel Dragons (15-12, CAA: 7-7) versus College of Charleston Cougars (14-15, CAA: 6-8)
When: 7 p.m., Wednesday
Where: Daskalakis Athletic Center
By KEVIN ROSSI
The first time around wasn’t pretty. Well, really it wasn’t pretty for either Drexel or the College of Charleston, but the Cougars were the ones to come out victorious less than two weeks ago.
Drexel’s 46-47 loss to CofC hurt in a number of different ways. The Dragons had won three of their last four games heading in. They were held to their lowest point total of the season and were held to just 32 percent shooting. The loss seemed to halt Drexel’s momentum.
Head coach Bruiser Flint’s squad has been able to put the loss behind them, however. The Dragons have won two of their last three games, including a huge 69-65 win over their rivals and Colonial Athletic Association top-dog Delaware. The only loss in the three game stretch was a two-point defeat at the hands of James Madison, where the Dragons clearly forgot their A game yet still had a chance to win.
Although though the Dragons have put the CofC loss in their rearview mirror, Flint knows they still need to be at the top of their game to win their second straight and break the .500 mark in conference.
“I thought those guys really guarded us and frustrated our guards offensively,” Flint said on the weekly CAA coaches teleconference. “We need to do a better job offensively and being strong with it.”
He continued, “Hopefully we come out and have the same type of defensive effort that we had down there and make some shots at home.”
One thing that will be on Drexel’s side is the crowd. When the Dragons traveled to CofC earlier in the month, they were greeted by a fan “blackout” at TD Arena. The tables will be turned on Wednesday as Drexel looks to pack the Daskalakis Athletic Center for Senior Night.
The Dragons will be honoring six seniors on Wednesday night, including Frantz Massenat, Chris Fouch (second time), Dartaye Ruffin, Goran Pantovic, Stevan Manojlovic, and Jake Lerner. Fouch was honored last season, but a medical redshirt granted him an extra year of eligibility.
This senior class is still not done, though. They have a dream to fulfill and after their win over Delaware on Sunday, it’s a dream that looks more attainable than before. They want to win the CAA.
In 2011-12, these six seniors were so close, they could almost taste it. They finished as regular season champions with a 16-2 record, lost to VCU by one bucket in the conference championship game. When the NCAA tournament selection committee left them out of the field, they reached the quarterfinals of the NIT, where they were ousted by UMass by one basket. These six seniors have been so close.
This season, the conference is again open for the taking heading into tournament time. The Dragons will look to be the team to sneak in under the radar and make some noise.
And anything is possible with Massenat and Fouch on the floor together. By Flint’s calculations, they are two of the top guards in the conference and have shown more than enough to garner first team all-conference honors.
“I think Frantz and Chris’s stats speak for themselves,” Flint said. “I think in league play, they’re two of the top four scorers in the league. Frantz is second in the league in scoring, first in the league in assists, and his assist-to-turnover (ratio) is off the charts. He’s had a phenomenal year. Chris too. Especially with all of the things we’ve have to go through with all of our injuries, those two kept our heads above water and they’ve played at an unbelievable level.”
With the crowd behind them on Wednesday night at 7 p.m., the Dragons will look to make it two in a row when they take on the College of Charleston and build more momentum heading into the CAA tournament.
-Scouting Drexel: Last game: 69-65 win at Delaware. … 7-4 record at home this season. … Drexel will be honoring Frantz Massenat, Chris Fouch, Dartaye Ruffin, Goran Pantovic, Stevan Manojlovic, and Jake Lerner. … Fouch leads the team in scoring with 17.9 points per game. … Massenat is averaging 17.5 points and 4.9 assists per game, and he is five points away from becoming only the second player in Drexel history with 1,600 points and 500 assists. … Tavon Allen is coming off of a 25 point performance (10 for 17 shooting) in a win over Delaware. … Despite committing 13 turnovers against Delaware, the Dragons still only average 8.5 turnovers per game. … Drexel opponents are shooting only 31 percent from 3-point range this season. … Over the last six games, Drexel has held every opponent to under 40 percent shooting from the field.
-Scouting College of Charleston: Last game: 55-57 loss (OT) at UNC Wilmington. … Willis Hall averages a near double-double and leads the Cougars in scoring and rebounding with 12.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. … Anthony Stitt is the only other player on the team currently averaging double-digit points per game (10.1). … Adjehi Baru also averages a near double-double with 9.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. … College of Charleston is holding opponents to only 61.8 points per game, but the Cougars average only 63.0 points per game themselves. … The Cougars are averaging 13 turnovers per game. … Over one-third of the College of Charleston’s shots come from 3-point range (shooting 34 percent).
-Last Match-up: Willis Hall’s jumper with 3.8 seconds remaining lifted the College of Charleston to a 47-46 victory on a woeful shooting night for both sides less than two weeks ago.
-Prediction: The Dragons will feed off of the energy of the Senior Night crowd and the momentum from their recent win over Delaware to beat the Cougars.
-Sound Off: Who would you like to see Drexel play in the first round of the CAA tournament?
-Kevin Rossi covers Drexel basketball for Philahoops. Reach him by email at [email protected] and on Twitter @kevin_rossi. Leave your comments below.