After a 11-19 record and the loss of their best player, Damion Lee, the Dragons don’t look their strongest coming into the 2015-16 season. Head coach James “Bruiser” Flint enters his 15th season, which includes four Colonial Athletic Association Coach of the Year accolades and 7 winning seasons. With 325 career wins under his belt, coach Flint looks to add on to that mark during the 2015-16 campaign.
at Saint Joseph’s, November 13th, 2015
The first game for the Dragons is a gigantic test. Despite their down year, Saint Joseph’s comes back loaded with talent. The team includes potential NBA draft pick, DeAndre Bembry, and many strong role players. If Drexel could pull off a win at Hagan Arena to start off the season, it would be a huge confidence booster.
vs. Penn, December 22nd, 2015
Their last City 6 game will face Drexel up with their West Philly counterpart, Penn. The Dragons shouldn’t feel too overmatched and should expect to have a good chance at coming home with a win. Beating a solid Penn squad would be important prior to CAA conference play.
vs. James Madison, February 4th, 2016
James Madison looks to be strong this season, after a solid year in conference. If Drexel wants any part of the big dance, they will have to beat the good teams. With James Madison at home, this will be an interesting test and significant game if the Dragons are competing for the regular season championship by February 4th.
Projected Starting Lineup
G: Rashann London (Projected stats: 7 PPG, 2 APG)
G: Sammy Mojica (10 PPG, 2.5 RPG)
G/F: Tavon Allen (15 PPG, 4 RPG, )
F: Kazembe Abif (10 PPG, 6 RPG)
F: Rodney Williams (8 PPG, 8 RPG)
6th: Major Canady (5 PPG, 2 APG)
7th: Ahmad Fields (7 PPG, 2 RPG)
Rashann London was more than solid in his time running the point last season. After his success at Roman, London played more than 30 minutes per game to complement 7 points and 2 rebounds. He was a steady force and although he wasn’t flashy, he did a great job of manning the offense. With experience and only room to grow, expect London to run the offense again, with an even more increased role. 6-foot-3 guard Sammy Mojica was hot and cold last season, but caught on fire towards the end of the year. If he can build off of that late success, he is looking at becoming that scoring punch Drexel needs. Although he will have some competition for the spot, he has all of the tools necessary to seize the job. Tavon Allen, who will play many different positions this seasons, is going to be the Dragons’ best player. At 6-foot-7, 190 pounds, Allen is a force to be reckon with. Last year was a good learning experience for him. Although he was team’s second leading scorer, it was often compounded by inconsistent shooting. This year, Allen can’t have those 4-17 shooting nights. He will need to be efficient and score when needed.
Kazembe Abif is coming off of injury, but was more than successful during his 2013-14 stint. He averaged 7 points and 6 boards in 30 minutes of play. The New Jersey native plays bigger than his 6-foot-7 size and will hope to add stability in a shallow Drexel frontcourt. Rodney Williams rounds out the Dragons’ starting five. Last year, Williams was solid, averaging 8 points and 7 rebounds. On a smaller squad, he will need to be the main rebounder on the team. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he emerged as a leading scorer as well.
Off of the bench, Major Canady, who was up and down in his freshman season, returns from injury. Ahmad Fields, the big scoring guard from Utah, could possibly earn himself minutes in the starting lineup as the season moves on, but right now, Mojica and London look like they are better candidates. Malian native Mohammed Bah will compete for minutes in the frontcourt.
Head coach Bruiser Flint is met with a tough test: after an already disappoint 2014-15 season, the Dragons lost their best player, Damion Lee, this offseason. Now coach Flint needs to bring a struggling team to a CAA championship, without the player who has been their star. So what’s to expect from the injury prone, starless, and unproven team? Three players that will see major minutes for the Dragons are returning from a season off. Abif sat out last season with a knee injury. An ankle injury forced Canady to watch from the sideline as well, after a freshman year in which he started in 14 games. Fields will hit the hardwood after sitting out because of transfer rules. The expectations are not sky high for the team, even while returning much of their 2014-15 squad.
Expect the Dragons to play more efficiently offensively if they want any chance at March Madness. In 2014-15 stretch, they shot 39% from the field and only averaged 60 points per game. The Dragons are going to have to work harder to find better shots, especially without Damion Lee, who they often relied on too heavily to score. The expectation is that they can improve the offense behind senior Tavon Allen, who showed stretches of greatness.
In the CAA, James Madison and Hofstra look to be the favorites. The Dukes were 12-6 last season in conference play and return a large majority of their team. Hofstra could be the scarier team, as they bring back scoring superstars Juan’ya Green and Ameen Tanksley, who will provide fits for opposing teams. Northeastern, the 2014-15 CAA representative in the NCAA tournament, looks strong as well. Drexel is going to have a tough time working their way out of the conference, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they exceeded expectations. Middle of the pack seems reasonable for a relatively deep team with no superstar. The lack of scoring and a go-to guy might haunt them when they game is on the line and could prove to be a daunting Achilles’ heel.
Offense as a whole. The Dragons shot 39% last season, 334th in the nation. They also averaged 60 points per game. All of this was with their leading scorer Damion Lee, who has since bolted to Louisville. Drexel will need to have a new player step up to replace Lee and the scoring woes from the 2014-15 season. Tavon Allen, Sammy Mojica, and Ahmad Fields will be the prime candidates to do so.
-Drexel loses to Charleston in the quarterfinal of the CAA tournament