Throughout their non-conference schedule the Drexel Dragons have wildly underachieved, but the start of conference play means a fresh start for coach Bruiser Flint’s squad.
Drexel (5-8, 1-0 CAA) will play its second Colonial Athletic Association game against the Towson Tigers Saturday at the Daskalakis Athletic Center.
If Drexel wants to get back on track, the Dragons will need junior guard Frantz Massenat to pick up his game. Through 13 games this season Massenat is averaging 13.7 points and 4.4 assists per game. Massenat has struggled from behind the three-point arc this season, though, shooting just 32 percent on the season.
Drexel’s leader on the offensive side of the ball this year has been sophomore guard Damion Lee. Lee, the reigning CAA freshman of the year, comes into the contest averaging a team-high 18.5 points per game; the 6-foot-6 sophomore also averages 4.4 rebounds per game.
Another key for the Dragons against Towson will be redshirt freshman Tavon Allen. Allen comes into the game shooting 46 percent from behind the three-point arc, which could prove to be an x-factor as Towson doesn’t have a player that shoots better than 36 percent from three-point range.
Towson (6-8) is led by 6-fot-8 junior forward Jerrelle Benimon, who comes into the contest averaging a double-double with 16.4 points and 11.4 rebounds per contest. Benimon has already dominated one Big 5 team this year; on Dec. 12 against Temple the junior went for 30 points and 18 rebounds in a losing effort.
The hardest part about stopping Benimon is how many minutes he plays compared to other big men; Benimon averages 35.1 minutes per game and plays hard every second he’s on the floor. In his monster game against Temple he didn’t leave the floor, playing 40 minutes of basketball. Drexel will need big defensive performances from 6-foot-9 senior Daryl McCoy as well as 6-foot-8 junior Dartaye Ruffin if it wants to keep the Towson big man in check.
Behind Benimon, the Tigers don’t have a player who averages double-figures; junior forward Marcus Damas is close though, averaging 9.7 points per game. Damas has been inconsistent shooting the ball this season, shooting just 38 percent from the floor; but the 6-foot-7 junior has broken out and led the Tigers in scoring on two separate occasions.
Last year when Drexel’s bubble burst it was as an at-large team; this year Flint’s squad has one option to go dancing: win the conference. And with conference play starting, it’s a perfect time for Massenat and the Dragons to get back on track.
Side Note: One thing that Towson won’t be shocked by is an away atmosphere. Out of the 14 games Towson has played this year nine of them have been on the road, they’ve played both Georgetown and Temple to close contests on the road.