Just a two-star prospect out of six-time national champion DeMatha Catholic High School in Maryland, freshman Terrell Allen is now a principal factor for Drexel. An opening day starter for the Dragons in their contest against St. Joe’s, Allen went 7-13 from the floor, scoring 18 points and led the team with 4 steals in 36 minutes of play. His performance opened eyes from the Colonial Athletic Association and he was awarded CAA Rookie of the Week. In the hard fought battle with the Hawks, Allen’s offense propelled a bit of a comeback for Drexel, but unfortunately, they couldn’t get it done at Hagan Arena.
In his next five games, he additionally started at the guard position for the Dragons. While the stat sheet may not show the production of fellow standout underclassmen, Ben Simmons or Grayson Allen, Terrell Allen’s play on the court speaks volumes. His passing ability is second to none and he is great team player.
The Empire’s staff writer Benjamin Simon noted in a recruiting profile of Allen that his “strong decision making and maturity rubs off on his fellow teammates. This can be demonstrated by his scoring during his junior season, in which he averaged less than 8 points per game.” He also wrote, “[Terrell Allen] did this for the betterment of the team, by not forcing shots and only taking the best available ones.” Part of the successful evolution in that area of his playing style from high school to college may have to do with head coach Bruiser Flint’s practices. Many drills and scrimmages focus on making the extra pass or finding the open man by working the ball around. It also may have to do with Allen’s generally high basketball IQ and although it is difficult to come up with concrete criteria for that category, the confidence and intelligent moves he makes allows one to surmise such an instance.
One telling stat, though, is that Allen is tied for the most minutes played of anyone through their first couple games with 197 logged so far. It shows the faith that the DU coaching staff has in this young man. Their expectations are high as well. Other parts of Allen’s game that could bode well for his future are his consistency in free throw shooting, where he stands fourth on the team in FT%, and assists, which he leads the team with 26. Any coach loves, to borrow from the old Jesuit mantra, a “man for others” on the court and a reliable shooter from the stripe for when it gets down to crunch time.
If this season continues to go as well as it has so far for Allen, next season could be eye-opening not just in the conference, but possibly nationally. Although the season is still young, it is senior guard Tavon Allen’s final year. With the leading scorer’s spot empty for the next few years, don’t immediately look for Terrell Allen to just be the “go-to scorer,” but to be the focal point of the offense.
It can be predicted that the stat sheet will go up in scoring as well, but he isn’t a score-first type of player by nature, so assume that will not be his persona on the court. This way he can play a true point guard and still be able to develop as a sophomore and in the years to come. All of the positive characteristics that Terrell Allen already has in his reputare, only adds to the potential and high ceiling he holds.
Drexel has a bit of a way’s ahead of them before the season is up, with intriguing nonconference matchups like a trip to Columbia to play the Gamecocks on the 15th of December, or the December 19th matchup against Penn State at the Palestra. They should be interesting tests for the young guard from Maryland. But rightly so, many fans have asked who will be the next star once Tavon Allen graduates, and that title could very well be spelled T-E-R-R-E-L-L instead of T-A-V-O-N quite soon.
Photo: Courtesy of Drexeldragons.com
St. Joe’s and Drexel got their season underway this past Friday at Hagan Arena in Philadelphia, PA.
Freshman Pierfrancesco “Checco” Oliva started the game for the Hawks, which was a surprise for many because Martelli has not been known to start freshman in the past. Furthermore, grad student Papa Ndao did not dress for the game due to a finger injury, which will sideline him for about two weeks.
Drexel head coach Bruiser Flint also made an intriguing change to his starting lineup, when fifth- year senior guard Tavon Allen was not named in the starting five for the Dragons. It was later reported that Allen did not start due to fatigue from preseason play.
This gave freshman Terrell Allen the opportunity to be the primary ball handler for Flint’s team and he took full advantage of it. Allen’s ability to dribble the ball from basket to basket at top speed is incredible and should mix well with Tavon Allen, when he returns to the starting lineup.
Terrell Allen, just like Checco, started in his collegiate debut and played all but four minutes for the Dragons. This shows Flint’s confidence in the young guard and who could blame him. Allen scored 18 points, dished out 4 assists, collected 4 steals, grabbed 2 offensive rebounds, and only turned over the ball once. What a first regular season college basketball game.
This is not say that Checco did not have a good performance of his own. He not only scored 12 points for the Hawks but recorded 4 assists, 3 blocks, and 4 rebounds in 25 minutes. Not to mention the clutch three pointer he hit with less than three minutes remaining in the second half to extend St. Joseph’s lead to 12. Cheeco had an all around game and confirmed Martelli’s decision to start him.
The Hawks started fast out the gates to take a commanding lead for the first 10 minutes of the game but Drexel began to make a comeback towards the end of the first half when coach Martelli began to rotate his lineup.
The comeback was partly due to the early foul trouble of senior guard Aaron Brown and the needed rest for standout forward DeAndre Bembry. In total, Martelli used an uncommon 12 players in the first half of the game.
It is early in the season so Martelli may be experimenting with certain player combinations but it is very unlikely that this trend will continue. Look for Martelli to tighten his rotation as the season progress.
Additionally, the referees blew their whistles more often than not during this contest, which led to coach Flint receiving a technical foul and both teams shooting a combined 43 free throws in the first half. This is bound to happen early on in the season as teams are still getting back to game form.
The constant foul calling led to 11 of Bembry’s 23 points coming from the foul line. This trend would continue as both teams combined for 67 total free throws.
After two ill-advised decisions by sophomore guard Shavar Newkirk at the beginning of the second half, Martelli called on freshman Lamarr “Fresh” Kimble to take his place. Kimble, who just like Terrell Allen and Checco, made his debut and stabilized the backcourt for the Hawks during his time on the floor.
Kimble did not fill the stat sheet like his two freshman counterparts did but gave Martelli 17 solid minutes off the bench. Newkirk and Kimble will continue to split time at point guard for the Hawks but don’t be surprised if Kimble is starting sooner rather than later, especially if Newkirk continues his inconsistency to make the right decision.
Although Tavon Allen did not start the second half on the court, he made up for it, scoring 16 of his 20 points off the bench in the second period and had 2 assists to go along with it. If Tavon Allen was fatigued from the preseason he did not show it, going 3-of-6 from the three point line and 5-for-5 from the charity stripe.
The Dragons also received a quality performance from Philly native Rashann London, who scored 11 points, in addition to 4 rebounds and 2 assists in 30 minutes. Now that Damion Lee is gone, Drexel will have to replace his production and London showed that he has the ability to take up some of the slack with the help of Tavon and Terrell Allen, among others.
The Hawks never really put this game away however, letting Drexel hang around until the end. Lackluster free throw shooting and rebounding from the Hawks kept Drexel in the game but with veteran leadership from Brown, who finished the game with 15 points, senior Isaiah Miles, who tallied a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Bembry, the Hawks were able to sneak out of Hagan Arena with a win.
Martelli and his team must continue to work on rebounding on both ends of the floor and foul shooting if they want to finish the season in the top half of the A-10 conference standings. If they don’t, it’s going to be a long heart wrenching season.
Flint will make sure that Drexel’s defense is sound but will have to continue to find players that will replace the offensive production left by Damion Lee. Guards Tavon Allen, Terrell Allen, and Rashann London are potential candidates and they showed why Friday night. However, the real question is, can they get more offensive production from their big men? The Drexel faithful will just have to wait and see.
One thing is for sure though. St. Joe’s and Drexel still have a lot of work to do but both teams have freshman who can play with the best of them and have bright futures ahead.
Photo courtesy of USA TODAY
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