As noted in the title, this will be a two part update with the second part rolling out tomorrow. The reason for this is in the interest in brevity on the part of the articles as well as the importance of this game. I felt that after this win a review was needed on both the micro (in game) and macro (seasonal) level.
Final: Drexel 85, Alabama 83 @ Madison Square Garden
Players of the Game: Kazembe Abif and Bennett Resnick
Key to the game: Free Throw Shooting
Next Game: Wed, December 4 vs Cleveland St @ The DAC (Home Opener)
The Dragons walked into a potential letdown game situation on the day after Thanksgiving after blowing a 19 point lead to one of the top games in the country two days earlier. They were playing a mid pack SEC team, they were without possibly their most talented player, and Frantz Massenat sat for almost a third of the game in foul trouble. In a game that made Bobby Knight go "Wow", Drexel had an eight man rotation, and four players fouled out. One man played 46 minutes -- off the bench.
And they won.
And none of that was the weirdest thing that happened.
The Dragons won three game for two reasons:
1) They played a 2-3 zone that was the same zone you see on the courts in west philly when guys don't feel like running
2) They hit their free throws
3) No injuries occurred when Bruiser Flint told his team that they were going zone. Great job by the trainer preventing head explosions
Drexel's seemingly panicked zone call may have both cost them the lead and won them the game. After the Z was relatively effective in the first half Alabama quickly shot Drexel out of it in the opening minutes of the second half as the Tide went on a seemingly effortless 10-4 run to open the half. A 10-4 run during which no fouls were committed by DU guards. In this war of attrition style game, already down Damion Lee, Bruiser Flint had to trade points for bodies, and with a first half lead he decided to Riverboat Ron it up.
Debating whether or not the zone worked is a futile exercise but the fact that Bruiser was willing to do it is both notable and laudable. This is for a future blog post, but Bru has recruited a team that is at the next level from Drexel teams past. They have talent, experience, size and ability that is superior to all other Flint teams, and if they are going to fully realize what they can do, Bruiser will need to raise his game to another level as well. The fact that he was willing to leave his comfort zone to try and give this team a better chance to win, whether or not it worked, hopefully is a signal of whats to come.
Kazembe Abif is the on the court Player of the Game. While his boxing out is not about to be put on an instruction video, he did a decent job on Jacobs during the times that he had to pick him up in OT. More to the point, he had 8 offensive boards, shot 90% from the line and was able to keep himself in the game for 46 minutes, the longest amount of court time for any big man on either team.
The Drexel Dragons crawled to victory at MSG through 95 minutes of intense big conference competition that they couldn't have imagined, or maybe just didn't want to. 95 minutes, almost two and a half full games.
One win. A win unlike any others. What does it mean? That's for part two.