For the second time this week, the Dragons will host a game against a team from a lessor conference with no basketball reputation that is actually pretty good. The Monmouth Hawks play their third game and third road game of the year at the DAC on Saturday. Monmouth began this season with a west coast swing that saw them beat a small, little known school called the University of California Los Angeles on UCLA's home floor. They followed that game up with a game against USC which was a bad spot for them, coming off of a big win, having been on the road for days, and all they did was put a 90 spot on USC in a losing effort. These guys can fill up the basket.
The matchup of the afternoon will be Terrell Allen vs 5'8" speedster/floor general/sharpshooter/guy who stirs the drink Justin Robinson, a junior three year starter for the Hawks. This will be Terrell's toughest test to date, by far, and it will give coaches and fans alike a big look into his defensive abilities.
The Hawks go deeper than just Robinson, with a team made up of 1 senior, 6 juniors, 2 sophomores and no freshman seeing minutes. The senior is 6'6" Deon Jones out of Wilmington, Delaware. He likes to go out to the perimeter and that should be encouraged, as his three point shot reminds many of the state of Delaware - it sucks. Jones pairs with 6'7" junior Collin Stewart to form an inside pairing that Drexel can beat, and needs to beat if they want to stay in this game. Rodney Williams and Kaz Abif, come on down, those two need to step up big on the offensive side today.
The last item to watch for is the officiating. Monmouth plays up tempo, there will be a lot of possessions and likely will be plenty of fouls. The Hawks are the better free throw shooting team (yeah, yeah, so is every other team in D-1, we know, also not true, there's about 40 teams worse thus far this season!) and as we learned last game, the Drexel frontcourt depth isn't really depth. A quick whistle in this game is a huge, humongous, advantage Monmouth.
In the bigger picture, this game is as big a red flag trap game as they come for the Hawks. Monmouth is just back from a very successful west coast swing and their next game is against a certain team full of Fighting Irishmen. It's very easy to take this Drexel team lightly when that's the case, and this DU team is talented enough to exploit that. At 0-2 and needing a win, this is a good spot for Drexel to show up in, despite missing Ahmad Fields. The line is Monmouth by 4, and in normal circumstances I'd agree with the Vegas money coming in on the Hawks, but given the situations both teams find themselves in, with the Dragons just much more desperate, I think they bring the fight, get out there on defense, get to the loose balls and get on the board today. I mean how many times ya gonna lose to a team named the Hawks?
Vegas Line: Monmouth -4
Prediction: Drexel 83, Monmouth 79
Alan Boston's Take:
Wow. Does Drexel ever catch a break? Last season they ended with a 6 man rotation. This year begins with projected starting point guard Major Canady being lost for the year. Elite transfer Ahmad Fields from Utah being unavailable. To top that all off, it seems as if Bruiser has lost his mind. Losing to High Point is no disgrace, but if Drexel hopes to contend, in what is shaping up to be a much tougher Colonial, than I anticipated, they have to be able to win home games vs teams similar to High Point.
Before the season started, Monmouth looked like a very winnable game. Now, with their impressive win over UCLA and then possibly even more impressive was 2 nights later, they quickly get down 15 to USC, but rally to get the lead by 1 before fading late. King Rice has done an excellent job in bringing Monmouth back to relevance. This is Coach Rice's 5th year. This is his best team. Drexel has the talent to win this game, but they will have to play their best. They also need a healthy Fields, if they want to win the Colonial. Even with him, it sadly looks like that will not happen. Even sadder to me, if they do not win or come close, that will likely be all for Bruiser.
I do think Drexel is all in, while Monmouth may level off a bit.
Drexel 72 Monmouth 71