Last season, Drexel finished with a 11-19 overall record. This gave them the fifth worst record in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).
However, even before the 2014-15 season began the Dragons were down two players due to injury and this may have decided their fate before the season opened up. The Dragons have had a history of injuries spanning over the past three seasons and this may be the reason for their constant disappointing finishes.
During the 2012-13 season, guard Chris Fouch was off to a hot start averaging 16.7 ppg and shooting 48% from deep in three games. However, it didn't last. His season was cut short after suffering a broken ankle. The Dragons would finish that year 13-18 overall. Fouch would return for the following season and average 18.3 ppg and 2 assists, leading Drexel to a 16-14 record in his final year.
The next season, guard Damion Lee, who was coming off of a fantastic season, tore his ACL against Arizona in the 2013 NIT Season Tip-Off. Lee missed the rest of the 2013-14 season due to the injury.
And then, before the 2014-15 season even started, projected starting guard Major Canady broke his ankle during a practice in late October. He would need season-ending surgery.
Wait, but there is more. Recent Drexel graduate Kazembe Abif also tore his ACL before the preseason even began last year. Abif has a history of injuries. He missed the final eight games of the 2013-14 season due to a hand injury and then the final six of the 2011-12 season with an illness. He has only played in 63 out of the possible 127 games over the past four seasons. Wow.
Although Abif has graduated, he has enrolled in graduate school at Drexel and will be back for the 2015-16 campaign. He will join Canady, who was able to redshirt his sophomore season because his injury occurred before the season started.
When Abif is healthy, he is one of Drexel’s best big men. The six-foot-seven forward averaged 7.2 ppg and 6.6 rpg during his junior season before he suffered the aforementioned hand injury. If Abif can stay healthy this year, he will be a force to be reckoned with and provide key veteran leadership for the team.
Canady entered the 2014-15 preseason coming off of a productive freshman season. He had played in all 30 games, starting in 14 of them, while averaging 2.7 ppg and 2.1 rpg. Since he was unable to play last season due to his injury, look for Canady to play with a flare, have a significant role in the backcourt, and to be a role model for the younger guards on the team.
Lee, on the other hand, will not be returning to Drexel for his last year of eligibility. He has decided to transfer to Louisville for his final collegiate season.
Canady will instead share the backcourt with Tavon Allen.
Allen played in all but one game last season, starting in 27 of them. He was second in scoring with 11.2 ppg and finished the season shooting 80% from the foul line, which was 9th best in the CAA. Allen, who can obviously score the ball, will complement Canady’s game as more of a distributor.
Furthermore, in light of the injuries, four players were able to get a chance to show what they could do.
Rising sophomore Rashann London, who started every game for the Dragons last year due to injuries, now has a year of experience under his belt and will look to build off a strong freshman season. He averaged 30.3 minutes per game along with 7 points per outing.
There is also Sammy Mojica, who progressed throughout his freshman season and averaged 6.3 ppg. Mojica, however, did miss the final three games of the season due to injury.
He was named as the team’s Most Improved Player by Drexel’s coaching staff. Mojica will continue to develop and get more playing time if he can stay healthy.
Not only did coach Flint find depth in the backcourt but as a result of Abif’s injury, sophomore forward Rodney Williams also stepped his game up. He averaged a strong 8.2 ppg and 7 rpg in Abif’s absence. But once again, Williams missed Drexel’s first eight conference games due to injury.
He will look to team up with Abif in the frontcourt and play more of a leadership role as he will be entering his junior season on a team that has six underclassmen.
Another forward that will vie for a starting spot in the frontcourt is rising junior Mohamed Bah. The big man started in all 30 games and shot a team best 54% from the floor. He has been Flint’s only consistently healthy big man. Bah averaged 3.9 ppg and 4.6 rpg. The man from Mali hopefully can progress this season with the help of Abif and Williams.
Drexel has shown in the past that when they are at full strength and healthy, they can be an above .500 team. The only problem with that is they haven’t been healthy over the past three seasons. If Drexel can find a way to keep their players healthy then they will have a chance to compete for the CAA title. If not, Drexel will continue to have a sub .500 record and be eliminated in the first round of the CAA tournament. For the sake of all Drexel faithful, let’s just hope the 2015-16 roster can play injury free.
Photo courtesy of Drexel.edu
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