Well, they finally did it. On Friday, November 29 the year 2013, the Drexel Dragons will play an Anthony Grant team on a neutral court outside of Richmond. Take that Berto!
See if this sounds familiar: A fast paced defense first team that is full of guys who can score from anywhere from the floor.
There are differences though, the ghost of Jesse Pellot-Rosa isn't walking (on) through that door, Nick Jacobs, while skilled on the offensive end isn't a poor man's Larry Sanders, he's a broke college student's Larry Sanders. Jacobs will never be the defender that Sanders was, and the outside shooting won't match those old VCU teams, but the athleticism of this Bama team is much better than those VCU teams and the half court D far superior than then Grant's teams past that relied on turnovers for defensive stops.
The big question in the Drexel huddle is how they can replace a stud, and their most talented player in Damion Lee?
The big question in the Drexel huddle is how they can replace a defensive liability who has shot 27% from deep and hasn't recorded an offensive rebound this season?
Both versions of that question are correct. Lee's talent is undeniable, but lets not confuse him with the reason why Drexel has competed so well thus far this year, as he's struggled early and seems to have let those struggles get to his head at times. The faster he heals the faster that he can get through that and become the star that all Drexel fans are well aware that he is.
What the loss of Lee does mean to the Dragons is the loss of their best player at getting to the rim at a time where they desperately need someone to carry that torch. It also takes away a strength of Drexel, guard depth, at a time when foul issues are at an all time high. Tavon Allen can come into the lineup and quickly take care of the first problem if he shows a willingness to take some contact. As for depth? Expect to see a little more Major Cannady and a lot more Allen, Fouch and Massenat. The rotation will get tight and all three guards will be asked for 34+ minutes a game. I expect some 40 minute marathons for guys who stay out of foul trouble. This is a rotation that can absolutely be successful, even against top tier schools like Bama.
For this game, Dartaye Ruffin should be able to neutralize Nick Jacobs better than the Duke forwards who were stuck in foul trouble (Hairston was limited to 20 minutes). Frantz will be dedicated to star Tide senior Trevor Releford and if he can make that a wash Drexel will be in good shape. Abif would really help with the matchups down low, but the freshman proved their worth on the boards against a much better Arizona frontcourt. There should be concern about a letdown after the Arizona game, but not if these players see the opportunity that in front of them.
The Dragons finally have Anthony Grant on a true neutral court. They can prove they belong in the discussion with the teams of the power conferences come March. Not having Lee isn't a time for excuses, it's a time to send a message. If Drexel can beat a power conference contender without Lee, imagine what they can do with him.
This years Drexel team needs to prove to their fans and more importantly themselves that they aren't about moral victories, they're in it for the outright victory. This game is a Black Friday gift-wrapped chance to send that message.
Prediction: Drexel 68 - 61
Vegas Line: Alabama -3