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.