Delaware Tops Drexel to Stay Alive in Colonial Race

Jamelle Hagins has a thing for blocking things coming at the rim. - Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

Drexel fans should be upset about the loss to Delaware on Thursday night. But the reasons extend beyond a missed goaltending call at the buzzer.

Everyone is waiting on the referee screw job comments. Come on, admit it.

We shouldn't mention karma, because there is no karma in basketball, but maybe this is karma for the comments made about Wichita State's win Sunday night. Of course the basketball gods would take it out on Drexel. Of course they would.

Drexel fans have a lot to be mad about from the loss at Delaware on Thursday night. The Dragons dropped another heartbreaker 73-71, in double OT, this one to the hated rivals down the road. This win, which could have basically ended Delaware's slim title hopes in the conference, would have at least given something for the Dragon faithful to hang their hat on.

And the easiest person to blame would be the referee who missed the goaltend at the end of the second overtime. It would have forced a third extra period, and Drexel would have been without its best three big men, but at least the game would have continued.

Blaming the refs is the easy part. But there have been enough bad calls this season, to teams all around the country, to know that one call at the end of the game wasn't what cost you the game. If only it were that simple.

Instead Drexel fans should be incensed at the play of its big men, a sore spot all season long for the Dragons. Thursday night, it was again their inability to guard anyone without fouling them that came back to bite the Dragons on the tail.

Consider that Goran Pantovic, who plays an average of 10 minutes per game, had to play 31 inside for Drexel. And he would have played more if he hadn't fouled out himself, the third big man to take an early shower for the Dragons.

You can't win when your starting forwards combine for barely more than 40 minutes of play and you have to fill a total of 100 from those two spots. This should come as no shock to Drexel fans though. They lived through this last season from both Dartaye Ruffin and Daryl McCoy. Samme Givens was no saint either in the block, but at least he drew as many as he gave away.

Ruffin and McCoy don't scare anyone. They aren't being stopped by opponent fouls. They are non-factors.

This is a problem, and a big reason why Drexel has been such a disappointment this season (not to mention the injury to Chris Fouch, the extended time without Damion Lee. Oh, the list goes on and on).

Fans need to redirect some ire their direction.

And then while they are at it, just pan toward the front of the bench, and the man who seems to never sit down, Bruiser Flint.

Here is a question for Drexel fans: is Bruiser getting it done sitting in the main chair? Last season was an anomaly compared to what came during the rest of his stint as head coach. And even that was derailed because Drexel didn't schedule hard enough to turn 25 regular season wins, or 27 wins and a three-point loss to a strong Virginia Commonwealth team in the conference final, into an NCAA Tournament berth.

That is a failure, and it stems from the coaching box.

That is in the past though; this is about Thursday.

This was the 27th game of the regular season for the Dragons. They have the ball down one point with 25 seconds remaining in the second overtime, and Frantz Massenat is still on the floor. So is Lee, so is Derrick Thomas. In other words, you have all the weapons you need, or could rightfully use in this situation.

And what are they doing? Standing around.

Massenat stood at the elbow, two feet from Flint, and spent 10 seconds playing happy feet with his defender. Meanwhile, no one on the Drexel team moved.

No one!

This is a team that needs to be moving the ball and the rest of the team to generate its offense and make the defense work. You have pushed them for almost 50 minutes at this point, and they have tired legs.

And Drexel wastes 10 seconds before Bruiser calls a timeout.

After 27 games, do the Dragons not know what they should be doing with the ball in this situation? What could you possibly be telling them in the huddle that you couldn't have told Massenat as he stood next to you? Have we not learned how wacky inbounds play can be this season (just ask Indiana, or hey, how about Delaware themselves?). And if you are going to call the timeout anyway, at least do it with more time on the clock so you potentially can get two looks at the basket, not just one.

Instead, 40 percent of the remaining time was wasted, and Drexel had a hard time inbounding the ball. It had to be chased into the backcourt, recovered under duress, and then shuttled to Lee who lets off a three that actually wasn't a bad look.

It wasn't the best look he could have had, but it wasn't terrible. It is entirely possible that he would have had a much better shot had Drexel ran its offense for the previous 20 seconds.

A better shot and there is no reason to talk about the refs at the end. There is Hail Mary pass and drive by Massenat through the lane. There is no chance for the zebras to miss the call on Jamelle Hagins.

But you don't get that by wasting the time, and the opportunities you have, and that is a failure in coaching.

There should still be credit given to Devon Saddler, who scored 31 points, or Hagins or had 14 points and 18 rebounds against the soft interior of the Dragons. They earned this win.

No one will remember that. They will focus on the no-call at the end, and that is too bad for the Blue Hens. Because Drexel fans should be worried about a lot more than the referees.

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