I do try to keep this blog concentrated on the Drexel Basketball product on the floor, but in a week without basketball, sometimes we walk away from the mainstream for a minute.
Fellow self proclaimed "Masshole", and Drexel student @That_Couch_Kid asked me "what do you guys do? Live tweet every debilitating loss?" on twitter this morning. That question was the bright spot in what has been a bleak Philadelphia morning so I decided to run with it during this hoopsless week that we are in the midst of.
Originally this site was started because the CAAZone was going down the tubes, literally, and figuratively. I love college basketball and the Dragons in particular and The Zone had been the place where I met people with similar interest, exchanged ideas and learned quite a bit over the years. It was at one time a community that was full of vibrant, outspoken opinions on a thriving and up and coming program in a thriving up and coming conference. For every Richmond loss there was a car load of zoners who showed up to Bashir Mason's buzzerbeater at VCU, were there to help hand Louisville their first loss at the Yum! Center, witnessed a win over the SEC at Madison Square Garden, and enjoyed the 19 game winning streak of 2012. Being there for the letdowns is what makes those (and many other) sweet moments just so sweet. And as with anything, having a community to celebrate with is a lot more fun than celebrating alone.
So DragonsSpeak was created initially so that I could continue sharing my thoughts and (hopefully) informed opinions with other people with similar interest, because while the conference and the CAAZone may have gotten somewhat stale, on gameday Drexel Basketball is still a lot of fun. And much as I found people through the zone, I've found people through DS that have made me a smarter individual as well. Alan Boston is brilliant and I'm thrilled when we disagree because I am about to learn something. I received an email (still working on it, I promise) that resembled War and Peace from @MedicSBK, who is now talking about getting season tickets next year. I desperately want to bring back that old Zone community because at its most basic level a University should be about the free flowing exchange of ideas. Schools are built on debate, hypothesis' and attempting to prove them, and so are the great sports discussions that lead to great sports fan bases. So we should encourage this, and all viewpoints. We should even encourage those words that come out in a moment of anger after a loss to a D-II team. As a supporter of Drexel Athletics, I hope to continue to encourage that here (and it's why I encourage use of the comment fields and always try to answer and respond to comments there, on twitter or email). More open commentary means more fans and more fans just makes it more fun for all of us (and more cash for Athletics).
That last paragraph leads me to the third piece of the puzzle. There are a lot of potential fans and a lot of potential thoughts to be heard and if you work at the DAC, most of what you hear will be yourself. Take a look at the staff directory, or better yet, keep it to the highest paid staff in the building, the Men's Basketball program:
James Flint - Head Men's Basketball Coach
Mike Connors - Associate Basketball Coach - On the same staff as Bru for 22 years
Matt Collier - Assistant Men's Basketball Coach - Bru's Team Manager at UMass
Bobby Jordan - Assistant Men's Basketball Coach - Played for Bru at Drexel
Winston Smith - Coordinator of Basketball Operations - Played for Bru at UMass
Kennell Sanchez - Operations Assistant - Played for Bru at Drexel
College sports are by their nature incestuous, and rarely do guys fall far from the coaching tree, but which one of those guys brings the fresh cutting edge idea to Bru? Who says "Bru, you're wrong?" when most of those guys have never been in another system? And what is true on this staff is just as true at the top level of the DAC.
The problem with an echo chamber is that eventually one believes oneself to be always right, or believe there is no other way. It's important to hear the other opinion. It's absolutely critical to learning, and to improving and evolving. Giving every possible benefit of the doubt, this Athletic Department is "resistant" to outside opinions. That's not going to change but if this blog encourages conversation, and even just a few of your voices get heard, at least another position will be out there and be known. That's important. And as a supporter, I want them to hear all of the sides, I want them to continue to evolve and learn just as badly as I want myself to. Especially because their track record at the top level stinks:
--The flagship Basketball Program is 0-15 in their goal of winning their conference while Eric Zillmer has been Athletic Director
-- Average Kenpom rating in Bru's first four years when he was using another coaches recruits: 127 Average Kenpom rating since that time (excluding this season): 127
The argument that Drexel needs Bru to pull in better recruits is flawed, his recruits have played no better than Seymour's and Bruiser has been recruiting with a stronger conference affiliation and an improved DAC.
--In the Zillmer/Flint era there have been 407 games played. The DAC holds about 2500 fans. Even if the Dragons had zero fans when Bru set foot on campus, all the staff needed to do was make 7 new fans each game in order to be selling out the DAC now.
Last year the DAC averaged 1880 paid tickets per game, showing that not only have they not gotten those 7 more fans per game, basketball game attendance growth is below the level of campus growth. The Athletics marketing plan is performing at a negative rate!
Not striving to obtain outside views is bad. Not striving to obtain other viewpoints when your current strategy hasn't been working for more than a decade is much worse. I support this program, and I want it to succeed. So I write here, and hope you continue to read and write here as well, in hope that even one person inside the DAC will see that there is another viewpoint out there, voiced by people who want to help. It's a University, learning is the goal, and we should be hoping that every possible voice and opinion is part of that conversation. It makes us all better. And that is the very long answer to a very short question, @That_Couch_Kid.