When the College of Charleston Cougars moved from the Southern Conference into the Colonial Athletic Association this season, the CAA's all-time leader in assists, Doug Wojcik returned to the conferece. Wojick, now the head coach of the Cougars, dished 714 assists in his career at Navy, mostly feeding some guy named David Robinson.
This season, while he guided the Cougars to a 6-10 inaugural season in the Colonial, Wojcik's team competed against another one of the conference's greatest set-up men in Drexel senior point guard Frantz Massenat. Heading into this weekend's CAA Tounrament, Massenat ranks 9th all-time in career assists in CAA history, sitting just 11 shy of Drew Williamson who ran the point at Old Dominion from 2004-07.
"I think he's terrific. He can obviously run a team, he's got great size and he scores in a lot of ways," Wojick said of Massenat during Tuesday's CAA Teleconference. "I will tell you, there's quite a few of those guys in the league and he'd be right up there with them. I think he's a multi-dimensional, multi-skilled player that has great size and athleticism and then the fact that he's left-handed also helps him. I've been very impressed with him. I'd put Massenat right there as far as guys I'm impressed with that have complete games and what they do for their team."
Massenat also ranks third in active CAA scoring leaders at 1,627 points, behind only Delaware's Devon Saddler and his teammate Chris Fouch. Drexel hasn't yet reached the NCAA Tournament in Massenat's years in Philadelphia — the team hasn't made it to the Big Dance since 1996. However, Massenat has been one of the most well-rounded players in Drexel's history, serving as a stable point guard for all four years while the injury bug crept up and bit countless teammates.
Mid-Major Madness caught up with Massenat after the Dragons fell to Northeastern last Saturday to close out his final regular season in college. The 1st Team All-CAA candidate talked about his growth this season and Drexel's chances at making the Tournament in the latest edition of the CAA Q+A.
Mid-Major Madness: Last year, you were named preseason Player of the Year, Drexel was predicted to win the CAA title and it was all about "the year of the Dragon." The team didn't meet those expectations. With that, what mindset did you have coming into this season, being a little bit of an underdog?
Frantz Massenat: Well, we were still picked second, right? With the year we had last year, we didn't even think we'd get picked second, you know? We just came in this year trying to be better than we was last year, worked harder because we felt as though we needed to.
MMM: Playing at Madison Square Garden the team looked like you could have been one of the best in the conference. But then Damion Lee goes down with a torn ACL. What was going through your mind at that point?
FM: Somebody else is going to have to step up. Every year it seems like somebody big goes down. It's kinda like ‘not again,' but it happens.
MMM: You haven't stepped up and filled his spot necessarily, but you've had by far your best season across the board — points, rebounds and assists. What does it mean to finish your career so strongly? Did you work specifically on becoming such a balanced player?
FM: I just worked on being a better player than I was last year. Last year I had to be a scorer, I'm used to being a point guard pass-first. Coming into this year knowing I had to put all that together, I just had a different mindset.
MMM: What did you work on specifically?
FM: Definitely my leadership skills and just being a consistent scorer. When we play, when we workout, just making sure I'm consistently making shots.
MMM: Have you added any moves to be able to score more efficiently? I noticed you've been incorporating a lot of hesitation dribbles.
FM: Oh nah, just a little bit more dribble pull-ups and the step-back. That's pretty much it. Just adding more threats to my drive. A lot of guys try to limit me from driving to the rim, so it helps to be able to pull-up right in front of them.
MMM: That rotating three-guard dribble handoff you guys run in a lot of half-court sets, that probably helps put you in position to make those moves?
FM: It does a little bit. It forces switches, some defenders get confused and it just opens lanes as well. We're always on the attack.
MMM: With the way the tiebreakers worked out, you're matched up again against Northeastern in the opening round of this weekend's CAA Tournament. What's the matchup like going against their long guards?
FM: They're taller so they're able to get up at the top when you shoot and protect the basket. A lot of guards you can finish over when you're at the basket but guys like that you really have to mix it up to score over bigger guys.
MMM: That ballots are being submitted this week, make your case to be on the 1st Team All-CAA.
FM: [Laughs] I don't know what to really say except that my play proved it.
MMM: What about your play?
FM: Being an exciting player, bringing it in the conference and all year round. We had injuries and I stepped up. If it works out for me, it works out for me. If not, I can't do anything about it.
MMM: You don't have a 50-foot half-court bomb this year to help make that case.
FM: [Laughs] No, none of that. But, I like the way we were as a team this year, even though a lot of guys went down. We always stood by each other, I liked the way we played as a team.
MMM: With that in mind, how far do you think you can go in this conference tournament?
FM: I think we can win the whole thing, honestly. We always lose games at the end of games, as long as we focus in towards the end of every game, we can do it.
MMM: Yea, that's kind of been a knock on your team over the years, staying composed in the final minutes. How can you change that?
FM: We just have to get over the hump — make better plays late in the game, finish strong. That's just mental. It's all mental.