For the second straight year the Dragons will start their season in a PAC-Choose Your Own Number gym. This time it'll be in the Coors Events Center in front of a sold out Drexel alumni reception (and others) against a Colorado Buffaloes team that had a brief visit to the dance last spring.
The numbers that jump off the page for both teams are the shooting numbers. Colorado did not shoot the rock well at all last year (eff fg% 48.3%) and lost Spencer Dinwiddle and his 41% shooting from deep to the NBA draft. On the flip side, even if Drexel had shot the ball well last year, the losses of Fouch and Massenat have left that cupboard bare. If that information doesn't make you cringe, Drexel is running out a freshman point guard in Rashann London who wasn't expecting to be the starter this year and CU is rolling out a point guard that besides being their weakest player, they don't really seem to want him to have the ball. If you're looking for offense, may I suggest you turn the channel.
Colorado is going to run an inside out gameplan all season long, with stud Junior forwards Josh Smith and Xavier Johnson willing to migrate out towards the three point stripe (Johnson might be Drexel's best three point shooter if he was wearing the other jersey tonight). Traditionally Bru's teams have struggled against this type of offense, but this might be a better year than some for the Dragons to face off against it. Not only do the Dragons have length across the floor, but they have much quicker, athletic big men than the McCoy/Ruffin/Givens group of the last few years. Smith and Johnson are the key to this game, they are sure to challenge Drexel's very young front court, and the DU staff will learn a lot about how their guys, especially the freshman, rise to that challenge.
While the front court battle is a strong CU advantage, if this game becomes a guards game DU could hang. While Askia Booker can get hot, his overall shooting numbers are quite weak and he's the guy that you want to make beat you. At the two CU has a 6'2" perimeter guy, Xavier Talton, who is an effective shooter but doesn't want to play inside the three point stripe and may struggle with DU's length at the 2. On the wing it's advantage Drexel, as Drexel's stud Damion lee matches up against sophomore Jaron Hopkins, who is coming off of a largely underwhelming freshman year.
Colorado's bench rolls much deeper than the Dragons, and the front court should be able to pound the Drexel youth movement, all of which spells problems for the Philadelphia squad. Foul trouble will be of massive concern, as Josh Scott can sink free throws with almost any guard in the country, and run through the lack of Drexel frontcourt depth while doing so. That is the scenario that the Dragons must avoid at all cost.
On the flip side, there's no better game to be a double digit underdog than the first game of the year. Neither team has seen game action yet and both coaches will be adjusting on the fly. Unexpected things happen. Also, don't forget the Dragons China trip which has given the team an opportunity to play together a bit and give the freshman some looks before the season started, which is a nice advantage going into tip-off. Drexel fans should hope for a let em play officiated rock fight, and if they get it then the game could be interesting.
Prediction: Colorado 64 - Drexel 53
Vegas Line: Colorado -14
** Be sure to follow on twitter as I'll have lineups and any possible injury news as soon as it is available at Coors. @DragonsSpeak
Notes From Alan "Boston" Dvorkis:
"Tad Boyle came over from No Colorado and has continued the resurgence started by Jeff Bdzelik, who I am sure wish he had never left. Boyle has upgraded the talent. He has many back from last years team that was devastated by an injury to their best player late last year. They need a new point guard. He says he may go by committee or he may start a freshman. Either way, it could be the only thing stopping them from another NCAA berth. A strange bit of scheduling for sure. Drexel will get in by winning the CAA tournament. It has been proven in the past. It is a battle of not being one of the so called power conferences. It is sad. It is what happens when big money matters more than the kids. So scheduling Colorado at Colorado is to me not a very smart way to begin the year. They are a top 25 team with or without a good point guard."