To say the least, it has been a disappointing season for the Drexel Dragons. It began in the offseason, when star shooting guard Damion Lee said that he would exhaust his last year of eligibility away from Philadelphia. That was followed up by a mere two player recruiting class and it wasn’t much later that the season began, only to hear a major part of the team, Major Canady, would be out for the year. In the meantime, Ahmad Fields has struggled with injuries, only playing 3 games, while starting forward Rodney Williams has been additionally hampered by an ankle injury for multiple outings.
So, at 3-18 overall and 1-9 in the conference, where does Drexel basketball go now?
There is no way they can theoretically make the NCAA tournament, without obviously, winning their own conference tournament. This would mean having to beat the likes of 16-6 James Madison or a star studded Hofstra squad. It will be no easy task.
Coming into the conference tournament that will decide their fate, Drexel will look to find some traction. Although their record may say otherwise, the Dragons have actually been in many close games, as 13 out of their 18 losses have been decided by less than 10 points. This is not a pushover Drexel team. Against a top ranked (and then undefeated) South Carolina team, Drexel trailed only by 4 at halftime. A game later, they took the Big 10’s Penn State to the wire and even led at halftime by 7, nearly pulling off the upset. It wasn’t much later that they lost to a now 16-6 Hofstra squad twice by only 8 and 6 points.
Before the team enters the tournament, it would be great for them to not only get some wins under their belt, but to get some confidence by pulling off some of these close contests. Despite the common thought that they may be playing for moral victories, this is not true. They are playing for the chance to win the conference tournament. This starts with winning the close ones.
In order to do this they not only have to finish games better, but start off better as well. In 9 of their 13 losses by less than 10 points, they have been trailing at halftime. These self dug holes have put a lot of pressure on the squad to make major strides in the second half. As a result, the team has been unable to climb their way back to wins. Drexel needs to find a guy they can get consistent production from to provide sparks at the beginning of games. Forward Rodney Williams has shown he can score and control the boards, but needs to be more forceful. Senior Tavon Allen, who is hard to stop when he is on, needs to be on more often. Sophomore Rashann London needs to show he can be relied on to score and that he won’t disappear. They will need streaky guard Sammy Mojica to show he can consistently be a three point threat.
However, these improvements do not need to happen over night. As a team who cannot make March Madness without winning the conference tournament, they need to slowly begin making the right improvements heading into the postseason. Getting some wins under their belt, especially ones in crunch time, would give them some momentum and confidence going into the CAA postseason.
And although many may believe that this is a lost season for the Dragons, that is not necessarily true. As a team that only has three seniors, many of the young guys could use this time to grow and gain experience.
Against the top three teams (Hofstra, UNC Wilmington, Towson) in the conference, the Dragons are 0-6. But, five of those six losses have been by 12 or less points. They’ve been able to play with every team in the league, but they haven’t be able to put together two consistent halves of solid basketball. If the Dragons can find a way to play a complete game, they will be a team to watch out for in the conference tournament. The season is not over. The Dragons still have a lot to play for.
Photo: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
-Drexel loses to Charleston in the quarterfinal of the CAA tournament