James Flint

The dreaded injury bug has placed Drexel in a precarious position

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Entering the 2012-13 season many felt that the Drexel Dragons, who missed the NCAA tournament despite winning 27 regular season games and the CAA regular season title, would be the team most likely to win the conference thanks in large part to the return of guards Frantz Massenat, Chris Fouch and Damion Lee.

Four games into the season, Bruiser Flint’s squad is 1-3 and two of the three aforementioned guards have missed significant playing time due to injury.

With Fouch done for the season with a fractured ankle and Lee sidelined with a neck injury, Drexel is on a search for answers with a consolation bracket match-up with Xavier at the DirecTV Classic on their plate.

Fouch and Lee certainly were missed on Thursday, as Saint Mary’s Matthew Dellavedova made ten of his 16 shots from the field on the way to a game-high 32 points. Flint’s teams will always work hard on the defensive end of the floor, but it’s difficult to slow down one of the country’s best guards when you’re shorthanded.

He had 32 points today and he made huge plays when they needed him. When they needed buckets he made it, three point plays, three pointers, got guys the ball when they needed it, so he is a tough kid to play against,” Flint said following the 76-64 defeat. “I think he makes the other kids on the team better and that causes a problem right there.

“We didn’t do anything to slow him down. Like I said, I thought at times we didn’t do our job in the heat of the game, being in certain places doing certain things and he is good enough to make a play when they needed it.”

Of course the loss of Fouch and Lee has opened the door for others to step up and redshirt freshman Tavon Allen has taken advantage, averaging 15.5 points and 2.5 steals per contest in the two games he’s played.

But with three players averaging at least 35.5 minutes per game (Massenat is averaging 39.2 mpg, which ranks third the country) the one thing Drexel could not afford at this point in the season was to have two of their key players go down.

The lessons that players such as Allen and Kazembe Abif will learn with increased playing time may benefit Drexel down the line, and the Dragons. But for them to have to learn those lessons in this manner is anything but ideal.

Drexel was a team some felt had a chance to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament this season. But while the goal of getting to the Big Dance remains on the table, injuries left the Dragons shorthanded entering a weekend in which they could have made a statement.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.