Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to the 2015-2016 Dragons Speak coverage of Drexel Basketball and year 15 of the Bruiser Flint era. This year we'll enjoy the usual jokes that a team picked eighth brings to the table, consider season slogans* and enjoy raising pints up and down the east coast with the Friends of the Blog. But behind the fun there will be there will be plenty of business to attend to.
The biggest business decision coming up for Athletics is the one that is a buzz across college athletics: Cost of Attendance Stipends. Using a round number, a COA Stipend would be roughly $3,000 a player. Apply that to 13 players each on the men's and women's basketball teams (equality remaining a focus at DU Athletics) and that comes to $78,000 a year to pay to realistically attempt to compete at the Division I level in basketball. That may sound do-able, but remember that when President Fry came to Drexel he gave Bru an almost $100,000 pay raise. And then there's the other side of the coin: Return on Investment.
Currently Drexel is still benefiting financially from VCU's 2011 Final Four run. That money runs out after next season and in case one hasn't noticed, the CAA has not experienced many similar runs since that time. The money that DU had been pulling in from the conference is about to drop significantly, which is in line with the conferences play and Drexel's own play (the more successful the program is, the bigger slice of the pie the CAA gives of it's tournament income). In 2012 when Bru was getting paid, the school brought in over $225,000 from the CAA for hoops. It won't be anything close to that in two years, and don't expect a paycut for Bru if he's still here at that time which means the school will have to find well beyond $78,000 to pay for current program cost and a COA stipend. That obviously leads to the question of a coach making almost half a million dollars relative to his return on investment for the school, something else that will certainly be a storyline this year. For now, we hope for some after midnight TV exposure for diehards, degenerates and third shifters when the team travels to Alaska and a tournament berth that would alleviate so many of these concerns.
And that segways nicely into the on the court discussion. The team was picked eighth. They weren't good last year and they lost their best player. They were first in the conference in turnover percentage, handled the ball very well in conference play with a point guard that really struggled to shoot the ball. This year Bru decided to take the point guard that accomplished that, Rashann London, off the ball and make him a shooter - an interesting decision, although somewhere Gerald Colds is nodding in approval.
Nonetheless, there is hope. While the lone senior last year was little used until necessary Freddie Wilson, this year the team will be seeing plenty of minutes from two fifth year seniors, Kazembe Abif and Tavon Allen. The team has an exciting prospect at the point in Terrell Allen and he is the only freshman likely to see significant minutes, a stark contrast to last year when the Dragons ran four froshes on the floor at times. The front court alone now features five players with experience: Abif, Juniors Rodney Williams and Mohammed Bah, and Sophomores Austin Williams and Tyshawn Miles. That's a frontcourt with options to go twin towers with the Williams', go athletic with Abif and Bah or hammer the offensive glass with Abif and Miles. That flexibility is a game planners dream.
On the outside, a team that was struggling to find a point guard last year suddenly has three options. The preseason performances of Terrell Allen and Major Canady seem to project a minutes cut for Rashann London. Fans and staff alike are excited to see electric Utah transfer Ahmad Fields at the two, and Tavon Allen will take his usual spot at the three, where he almost has to improve offensively, if just by blind luck. Meanwhile off the bench they'll have the aforementioned London and fan favorite Sammy Mojica, who would have earned a starting job at many CAA programs after last seasons performance. With five guards at three spots, the theme of depth and flexibility continues. An experienced nine man rotation in this version of the CAA was picked eighth? That's as much a joke as picking Damion Lee to the All-CAA Defensive team.
While we still need to wait and see where the points are coming from (keep this challenging goal in mind: 25 ppg from the front court) after Lee's abrupt departure, the defense should be much improved. Any coach will tell you, especially when in man to man, when one man isn't handling their business defensively, the impact to the defense as a whole is exponential. Damion Lee was that broken link, and throwing freshmen out all last year along with the infamous four guard only added to those challenges. The defense finished the year last year ranked 216th in defensive efficiency, good for the worst finish since Bruiser's first year at DU. That. Will. Not. Happen. Again.
So please ignore the preseason rankings, ignore the usual suspects from other Philly schools who make jokes about University of Sciences and ignore how depressed and unmotivated this fanbase was at the end of last season. It's a new year and there's plenty of reasons for excitement. There's even exciting news here at Dragons Speak where for the first time since these pages began in 2013 you won't just need to read things from one mans perspective. Entering this season a handful of other fans have offered to step up and contribute their voices as well. I'm extremely excited for the addition and for the more rounded approach and thoughts that will be available here to further represent our fanbase. Come back on Thursday to see the beginning of this movement as contributor Eric Resnick has an excellent piece previewing the out of conference schedule for the season.
Welcome to 2015-16 Drexel Men's Basketball. It's time to get excited.
*Slogan ideas considered: "Drexel Basketball: Better than you Think!', "Live from The World's Most Famous Arena That Uses a Fire Exit as a Main Entrance" or personal favorite: "We Have Point Guards Now!" Feel free to add yours in the comments.