The season hasn’t gone as the Drexel Dragons would have hoped for, as key injuries for a team that didn’t have the deepest rotation to begin with erased their hopes of repeating as CAA regular season champions.
But in a league like the CAA a tough season can be turned around in the conference tournament, and that will be the goal for Bruiser Flint’s team when they arrive in Richmond next weekend. Drexel (12-17, 8-9) hung on to win at Old Dominion on Thursday night, 81-77, with sophomore guard Damion Lee scoring a career-high 34 points and grabbing ten rebounds to lead the way.
Unfortunately for the Monarchs (4-25, 1-17) they won’t be able to play in next week’s CAA tournament, as a conference bylaw prohibits a school leaving the conference (ODU is moving to Conference USA as their football program makes the move to the FBS level) from competing in the conference tournament.
ODU plays its final basketball game as a CAA member on Saturday afternoon at regular season champion Northeastern, and the end can’t come soon enough for the Monarchs. Blaine Taylor was relieved of his duties as head coach a couple weeks ago, and the four wins are the fewest in a season since the 1943-44 campaign.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.