Jamming a bunch of items that have been on my plate onto one post:
--Following up on the last post, runners in the Boston Marathon raised 25.7 million dollars for charity this year. The legacies of Krystle Campbell, Martin Richard, Lingzi Lu and Officer Sean Collier will continue in athletic opportunities for youth, on family dinner tables, and medical research labs throughout New England and the rest of the world. Their lives mattered, thousands stepped up to ensure that they did, and no compliment is higher than that.
-- The Drexel Lacrosse run is worth a post on here but for a lot of reasons it didn't happen. It wasn't for lack of storylines, being the first DU Lax team to make the dance, having to play on the Richmond-like "neutral" fields at Penn and Delaware, and 3 goals in 11 seconds are just a few. The most meaningful storyline for this Drexel fan was the first round game against Penn. Drexel was an underdog, it was their first time in the dance and it was on the road, but much more importantly, it was an NCAA sanctioned event. This game put the Dragons in the rare position of as equal footing as the NCAA could make it. Penn usually objects to playing DU on a level playing field, as evidenced by their basketball teams refusal to play home and homes amongst other things. When the Dragons get that opportunity, no matter the sport, they need to put Penn Athletics right where they belong, on the bottom of the West Philadelphia sporting hierarchy. The lacrosse team did that and did it with class and vengeance, so give those kids and coaches a hat tip, they done good.
--At a season ticket holder meeting on Thursday night (well chronicled at this link by the Blue and Gold Club) Dr. Zilmer released some scheduling highlights for the 14-15 Mens Basketball season. Among the highlights were opening the season at Colorado, the Charleston Classic on the weekend before Thanksgiving, a game against Penn State at the PPL Center in Allentown, and very impressive home games against La Salle, Southern Miss and St. Joe's (Bru candidly noted that the La Salle game is largely because the La Salle coaching staff thinks the Dragons will be down this year). Expect St. Francis (PA) and Buffalo for true road games as well.
The Charleston Classic field is a bit of a mixed bag, Buffalo, St. Joe's and Southern Miss should be down, La Salle wasn't that great last year even with Garland and Duren and St. Francis is who we thought they are, but Colorado and Penn State should be strong contenders and the Dragons may get PSU twice, both times on a neutral court. If the Drexel staff thinks more of this team than La Salle's does, then look for another buy game in there to firm up the strength of schedule. Given the unpleasant results of last season and the staff being on the brink of a lame duck season, you might more expect some cupcakes to fill out the final two games in the early season agenda.
--The roster is firming up, without a lot of drama as to who will be in the starting 5 (There might be competition for Bah's spot, but that's about all that can change -- barring injury):
PG: Major Canady
G: Damion Lee
G Tavon Allen
F Mohamed Bah
F Rodney Williams
Making the assumption that Freddie Wilson's inconstancy precludes him from making the starting point guard spot a competition, the team will look for him to be a solid 6th man and backup at all three guard spots. Those six are the only returning players, and will ensure that Bru's normally short rotations remain in place. No longer do you need to worry about Bru starting the wrong guys, he has no other choices this year. It also means that in the event of injury (beyond Kaz's) there won't be the depth of the last two years to turn to.
-- Four freshman are already signed, guards Rashann London and Sammy Mojica and forwards Tyshawn Myles and Austin Williams. I expect Rodney's former AAU roommate Austin (unrelated) to be the third guy on the big man depth chart, but with no big man older than a sophomore expect foul trouble to insist that all four forwards get minutes.
Rashann London is a Philly kid that chose Drexel over Delaware after receiving offers from both, and we expect decision making skills like that to really help the shooter on campus, but expect more from Sammy Mojica, who is smooth with the ball in his hands and is reported to be quick defensively. With four guards in front of those two on the chart, expect neither to get too many minutes unless they go above and beyond to earn it.
With Ahmad Fields sitting out a year as he transfers in from Utah, one available scholarship remains and the DU coaches are saying that they want to fill it. Recent history trying to fill scholarships this late in the year makes that a little dubious, and with only player due to come off the rolls at the end of the season (Freddie Wilson) saving the scholarship for next year and making 2015 a two man class may also be an appealing option for Bru and Co.
Coming up on the site, some additional thoughts to close out this past season, and then the beginning of looking towards next season. One thing that struck me at the season ticket holder meeting last week was that after the "Phase 1" DAC improvements (locker rooms, team areas etc) that none of the projected "Phase 2" improvements seemed to benefit the home teams competitiveness. I believe that investing in winning will return more for each dollar than any other investment that the Department can make. When asked, Dr. Zilmer stated that the coaches had everything they wanted at this time, but I encourage others to followup and see what fans and stakeholders can do to help this program compete. I'll be following up on that myself and hopefully there will be something in this space in the weeks to come. Winning will get the DAC air conditioning. Winning will get the DAC bathrooms. The program is entering its 19th season since their last dance. This needs to be their first, last and only priority with the resources available.