The Dragons, who have struggled out of the gate in consecutive seasons, are now 0-6 and have a bunch of tough match-ups (La Salle, South Carolina, and Penn State) on the horizon. Drexel, once known for it's staunch defensive teams under coach Bruiser Flint, are currently positioned at 278th overall in the country in scoring defense (79.0 ppg). By comparison, Drexel is 249th overall in the country in scoring offense (70.4 ppg). The Dragons are averaging 25.4 fouls per game in the five games currently registered on the NCAA site. The 127 total fouls committed puts them in a tie for 299th overall. If you factor in all six games the team has played, they have committed an astounding 146 fouls which would place them at 338th overall in D1. There are only 346 teams. Last year, a year in which the team also struggled, Drexel committed about ten less fouls per game. The team has been unable to cope with the new defensive foul rule changes and it's killing them.
It doesn't end there. While Drexel is committing a ton more fouls this year, so are its opponents. Drexel is averaging 26 free throws per game this year compared to 17 last year. But the Dragons aren't making their opponents pay, shooting just 63% from the line. To this point, Drexel has left 58 points off the board by way of free throw misses. They actually improved their national standing in their final tournament loss today, increasing their overall ranking from 320th in the country to roughly 288th when the rankings are updated with Sunday's results. Progress.
Drexel is not just winless on the season, it's winless against a slate of teams that were very beatable. The team's first three games were not so easy on paper. Travelling to Hawk Hill, where Drexel fell behind early and nearly completed a crazy comeback victory, is never an easy task. High Point and Monmouth, despite a minimal amount of name recognition, are both teams that will likely be dancing in March. Monmouth has several BCS school upsets already on the young season. But this past week in Alaska, there wasn't a single team that the Dragons shouldn't have been favored against. The tournament had perhaps the weakest field of any of the in-season tournaments Drexel has participated in in recent memory. Finishing last is just unacceptable.
The Dragons opened up the tournament with a favorable matchup against UNC Asheville, a team that was 1-3 coming into the week. Drexel, to their credit, handled their opponent well in the first half, taking a four point lead into the break. And then the wheels fell off. The Dragons were outscored 51-28 in the second half where Asheville was propelled mostly by a ton of free throws (17 out of 23) and above average shooting from the floor (47%). Drexel was led by two of its young guards, with freshman Terrell Allen finishing with 19 points and sophomore Sammy Mojica finishing with 16. Tavon Allen, the team's senior leader, finished just 1-9 for four points from the field.
The loss set up a nothing-to-gain matchup against the D2 host in Alaska-Anchorage. To their credit, Anchorage has beaten a handful of D1 teams in recent years, mostly by hosting this tournament every year. But that really doesn't matter. Just because D2 teams beat D1 teams every year doesn't mean that Drexel needs to be that team. The only saving grace this year, as opposed to the U Sciences debacle last year, is that it occurred thousands of miles away and will hopefully get overlooked by people who assume A-A is a D1 school (note: they aren't). The Dragons topped their opponent in just about every single statistical category in the game, and still lost. Drexel shot 11-22 from the free throw line, including just 4-11 in the second half. It was once again their guards that led the way offensively with Mojica dropping in 20, Tavon Allen 16, and Rashann London 11. Even overlooking the free throw shooting woes, it's alarming that Drexel was unable to handle the easiest team on its schedule this season.
The second loss to a D2 team in consecutive years set up a contest between two winless teams when Drexel faced off against San Diego earlier Saturday. The Dragons struggled mightily from the floor all afternoon and were playing from behind for pretty much the entire game. When it was mercifully over, San Diego had held the Dragons to just 29% (seriously...) from the floor and from the three point line. Drexel did shoot 74% from the free throw line (20-27) but still made less free throws than their opponent (22-28). As with the two previous games, and the season as a whole, the offense was guard dominated. Mojica had 15 points (shooting 26%), London had 10, as did Tavon Allen (shooting 20%). The Drexel forwards combined for 15 points in 78 minutes of court time.
So what's ailing the Dragons? It's obviously a number of things. They need Ahmad Fields (out indefinitely with a knee injury) back as soon as possible to give them another viable scoring threat. Their five guards are currently their top five scorers. Rodney Williams currently leads the bigs in terms of scoring at 7.7 points per game. That's a half point per game shy of last season. Williams, who has proven himself to be the Dragons top two-way forward, has had a hard time staying on the court due to foul trouble. Rodney averaged thirty minutes a game last year, he's currently sitting at about nine less than that. Drexel needs him on the court and needs to get him the ball in the post. There are few, if any, opponents who have a big man who can consistently guard Williams. But to this point in the season, the combination of foul trouble and the lack of offensive attention has reduced his playmaking ability.
Tavon Allen, the team's senior leader, looked reallll good in team's home opening loss to High Point. Allen picked his spots and made his first six three point attempts. Collectively, Allen is shooting just 32.5% on the season. He's leading the team in scoring but has a worse shooting percentage than any player that has seen the court besides Austin Williams (who has taken just five shots). Allen, to his credit, is currently shooting at a higher percentage than last year when he shot 31.5% for the season. The Dragons as a whole are shooting 42% for the year, which is actually a several point improvement over last year. Their free throw percentage is a full 12% off of last year's mark. Drexel is averaging nine more points per game this year but surrendering twelve more to its opponents.
The Dragons will look to get their first win of the season when they travel to North Philly to take on La Salle in the city's worst basketball arena (don't even argue, that place is a joke). La Salle is currently 4-1 with wins against Towson, Lafayette, Rider, and Rowan. A win over Drexel might actually be their biggest win to date. On the horizon are games against South Carolina (6-0), Penn State (3-2), and Penn (4-1). As alluded to earlier, Drexel is going to have a tough time getting its first win before it takes on Iona (1-2) to round out the out of conference schedule if it doesn't begin to play better soon.