But there was a point last season where things looked like they were going to turn around. On Valentine’s Day 2015, the Dragons were 8-5 in the CAA and looked poised to make a run in the conference. Like inexperienced teams tend to do, they wilted down the stretch, finishing conference play at 9-9 and falling to the College of Charleston in the first round of the CAA tournament.
But enough about last year. Damion Lee is wearing red (representative of the Louisville Cardinals or Satan depending on your perspective) and this is a new team with a lot more experience than last year’s squad. Assuming health (knock on wood), a huge if based on recent history, this team could run as many as 11 deep. 9 of these players have played significant minutes over the last few seasons. That experience is very helpful over the course of a season. It seems likely that the “tricks” the coaching staff pulled at times last year (more out of necessity than anything) will no longer be a part of the gameplan. Gone should be the days of the four guard lineup and the occasional zone defense. Although only one freshman joins the team, the return of a few players and the arrival of a transfer will make this team look quite different than last year’s.
This year, the opposite seems to be the case. Returning from an ankle injury that cost him the entire season, Major Canady seems like the likely starter at the point. Freshman Terrell Allen provides some energy as a point guard and has been described as dynamic with the ball in his hands. While Allen will need to build his strength to shine at the collegiate level, simply not having to take on the role London did last season should benefit the team. This leaves London with the ability to spread his wings on offense with two other point guards on the roster. There have been indications that London will play off the ball at times this season which provides further depth for a team sorely lacking in that area a year ago.
While there does not appear to be a star at point guard a la Frantz Massenat, Canady, London, and Allen provide a good a mix of ball handling, defense, and driving ability to make this a much more solid position than it was last year.
Tavon Allen returns for his final year at Drexel at a crossroads. He showed promise during his freshman season, seemed to improve his sophomore year and inexplicably turned into a horrible offensive player last season. His scoring average went down (11.7 to 11.2) and his field goal percentage dropped to a horrid 31.5%. Allen altered his approach and stopped his famed ambidextrous shooting last season and the results were not good. It seemed he was pressing at times and trying to make plays happen when they just were not there. Allen seems to be a player who is at his best in a complementary role, having teammates set him up for success. He is very athletic and solid defensively. The hope now (and let’s be honest, the hope every year of his career!), is that he plays more within himself and makes the smart basketball play rather than try to put the team on his back as a volume shooter which never seemed to work.
Sammy Mojica returns to University City looking to capitalize on a freshman season that saw him make great strides during conference play before it was cut short by a knee injury. Mojica brings athleticism and an energy and tenacity to the team that has been missing in recent years. While he certainly stood out with his scoring jump and improved three point shooting during the latter half of the year, it was in other areas of the game where he provided an emotional lift. Making a steal, getting a key rebound, finding an open man for an assist, it seemed as if Sammy had at least one of each of those a game during his late season run. If he continues to provide that spark off the bench, he can be a real catalyst for this team.
Ahmad Fields is the mystery man on this Drexel team. 6’5”, long, and athletic, he finally steps onto the court after transferring from Utah last year. There have been whispers about how Fields can do almost anything he wants on the court. That sounds like a promising sign for a team that just lost its best player. If Fields plays as well as people say he can, he instantly raises not only the quality of the team, but also the excitement level surrounding it.
Kazembe Abif returns after missing last season with a torn ACL. Abif has been a hard luck player since he arrived on campus. Various freak injuries have cost him parts of every season thus far making it difficult to rely on his health for the long term. However, Abif has improved in each season jumping from 1.5 points per game and 1.2 rebounds per game as a freshman to 7.2 points and 6.6 rebounds as a junior. Abif also has a solid midrange jumper that stretches a defense more than the other forwards can. Based on his previous body of work and despite his absence from the team last season, it shouldn’t be long before Abif works his way back into the starting lineup if he isn’t already there.
Tyshawn Myles brings a wide frame to the court. He should see his minutes decrease this season with the return of Abif but he can still provide quality time and help out on the glass. He proved himself as a hustle player last season and at 6’8” 260 lbs., his presence on the court is definitely noticed.
Austin Williams began his freshman season with a lot of promise. He surprised in his collegiate debut against Colorado with 6 rebounds and 2 blocks before suffering an injury and missing most of out-of-conference play. Williams was a nominal starter while Rodney Williams dealt with an injury but played limited minutes and seemed to need more seasoning as he transitioned to the college level. However, he still averaged over 10.5 minutes per game and in a lost season, that experience should help him as he continues to develop.
Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Major Canady
G: Ahmad Fields
G: Tavon Allen
F: Rodney Williams
F: Kazembe Abif
G: Rahann London
G: Terrell Allen
G: Sammy Mojica
F: Mohamed Bah
F: Tyshawn Myles
F: Austin Williams