By Kevin Rossi
What: Drexel Dragons (12-17, 8-9 CAA) versus UNC-Wilmington Seahawks (10-19, 5-12 CAA)
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Daskalakis Athletic Center
Saturday is one of those days that can only be explained as bittersweet. Coaches are excited to send the products of their systems out into the real world, but they dread to see their beloved seniors go. Saturday is Senior Night at the DAC and three of Drexel’s most successful men’s basketball players will be honored.
Daryl McCoy came to Drexel from Hartford Public High School (CT) and made his presence immediately felt as a freshman during the 2009-10 season, appearing in all 32 of the team’s games and starting in 28 of them.
“I’ve matured a lot,” McCoy said reminiscing on his time as a Dragon. “From my freshman year to now, I’d say I’ve changed a lot.”
With his name getting called on Senior Night on Saturday, McCoy will make his 119th start. Even with so many starts under his belt, McCoy could not pinpoint a favorite moment at Drexel.
“I’ve loved every minute of it since I got here,” said the 6-foot-9, 280 pound senior.
Maybe he is deferring his choice of his favorite moment until after the CAA tournament. After all, this team still has some hope for winning it all.
“There’s gonna be less teams so there’s less games we have to play to win it,” McCoy said. “We’re just trying to get on the same page going into the tournament because we could win it.”
The last bit – “we could win it” – sort of hung there in the air for second. It hung there just like any one of those 835 rebounds that McCoy has brought down in his career, good for sixth in school history.
After a second, McCoy brought it down and said with a reassuring nod, “We still feel like we can win it.”
Derrick Thomas is another senior to be honored on Saturday and he was an early contributor to the Dragons’ lineup just like McCoy. Saturday will be Thomas’ 120th start in the Drexel blue and gold, a feat that Bruiser Flint spoke highly of in Tuesday’s CAA coach’s teleconference.
“Derrick has been the kid who’s started pretty much from day one,” Flint said. “Those have been the guys (McCoy and Thomas) who have played on some pretty good teams, so I think that speaks volumes to them.”
Just as McCoy has been the rock on the inside of defense, Thomas has been the man on the perimeter for the Dragons. Night in and night out, Thomas has been tasked with shutting down the opponent’s premiere perimeter player. More times than not, he has done it.
That is not to say he has not been solid on offense either. With a string of solid scoring games in the CAA tournament and possibly beyond, Thomas could take his 929 career points over the milestone 1000 point mark.
It has been a career that could potentially launch a professional career overseas. “I still want to continue you to play,” said the senior Communications major from New York, adding with a sly smile but declining to elaborate, “I’ve got something up my sleeve as far as my major is concerned.”
Chris Fouch is the final senior that will be honored on Saturday night, but he is in a perplexing situation. His future in college hoops rests in the hands of the NCAA.
Fouch entered the season healthy and, as always, ready to fire away from the outside. He was 21st on the school’s career scoring list and tied for seventh on Drexel’s career three-pointer list. Fouch came out hot too, averaging 16.7 points per game shooting a scorching 48-percent from downtown. That was only through three games though.
In the team’s annual “Battle of 33rd Street” rivalry with neighbor Penn, Fouch went down early in the second half. On a fastbreak, he caught the ball for a layup, but his momentum carried him deep under the basket where he stepped on a reporter. He stayed down. Drexel fans in attendance at the Palestra held their breath. Helped to the sideline in excruciating pain, everyone feared the worse. Despite the fears, the worst came. Fouch’s senior year ended short on a broken ankle.
With a career already marred by constant injury, the news was especially devastating for Fouch. Currently sitting at 20th on the career scoring list, the fifth year senior from New York awaits word from the NCAA whether he will be granted a sixth year of eligibility. The ruling is not expected until after season’s end.
Although the three seniors will be honored on Saturday, it is not time to adjust to life without them just yet. There is still Saturday’s game against UNC-Wilmington, and there is still the CAA tournament.
Drexel is coming off of a win against Old Dominion on Thursday, and McCoy said it is important for the Dragons to win on Saturday to build some momentum going into the tournament.
“We want everybody to have this feeling like, ‘Alright let’s keep this run going,’” McCoy said.
If everyone picks up on the senior’s confidence, the Dragons could be celebrating more than just three brilliant careers.
-Scouting Drexel: RPI (as of Feb. 24): 0.4751, 207th. … With his career-high 34 point performance against Old Dominion, Damion Lee raised his team leading scoring average to 17.6 points per game. … Frantz Massenat is averaging 14.8 points and 4.3 assists per game from the point. … Drexel is coming off of their highest scoring output of the season in regulation with 81 points against Old Dominion. … Drexel was hot from the outside on Thursday night shooting 14-for-24 from deep which was aided by Lee’s 7-for-9 performance.
-Scouting UNCW: RPI (as of Feb. 27): 0.419, 302nd. … Senior Keith Rendleman is the go-to guy for the Seahawks averaging 16.8 points on 53-percent shooting and 10.5 rebounds per game. … Tanner Milson leads UNC-Wilmington’s three-point attack knocking down 38-percent of his shots from downtown. … UNC-Wilmington’s play on the defensive end has been porous, allowing 70.7 points per game. … Sloppy offense has led to 14.5 turnovers per game.
-CAA Tournament: Can Drexel still win the CAA tournament?
-Bracketology: What seed do you think Drexel would get in the NCAA tournament if they won the CAA tournament?