What: Drexel (9-13, 5-5 CAA) versus Old Dominion (2-20, 0-10 CAA)
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Daskalakis Athletic Center
Delaware, George Mason, and Northeastern. It was about as tough as a three game stretch will get this season in the Colonial Athletic Association especially considering the games against George Mason and Northeastern – the conference’s two best teams – were on the road.
In what could have been a defining stretch in their season, the Dragons, though resilient, came away winning only the middle of the three games.
“We played pretty tough against George Mason,” Drexel head coach Bruiser Flint said in the weekly CAA coaches teleconference on Tuesday. “Both games we guarded well, two tough road games.”
Luckily for Flint, he is still employed. Blaine Taylor, the Old Dominion coach who was in his 12th year with the team, was fired on Tuesday. Taylor had won the most games in Old Dominion history (239), led the school to three CAA conference championships, and 20-plus wins in seven of the last eight seasons. The press release from the school did not specify exactly why the coach had been let go.
“This decision is not based solely on wins and losses, but on a number of factors by which a head coach is evaluated,” a quote from Old Dominion’s Director of Athletics Dr. Wood Selig read. “At this point, in regard to our head men’s basketball coach, our student athletes need mentorship, leadership and guidance. Our fans and alumni need encouragement. Our administration needs confidence in our leadership.”
Maybe it was the 2-20 record. Maybe it was falling from the 29th ranked defense in the country a year ago to being ranked in the 300s this year. Maybe it was the bizarre radio interview Taylor had a couple of weeks ago as speculated by Deadspin. Maybe it is an addiction to alcohol that has crept back into the equation.
Associate head coach Jim Corrigan has been named the interim head coach and will make his head coaching debut against the Dragons at the DAC on Thursday night. The Monarchs are still searching for their first win in the CAA this season and their first win of 2013. Their last win came on Dec. 22 against, surprisingly, the University of Virginia who are a much stronger opponent out of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Could Old Dominion, in a rallying moment around their recently fired coach, catch Drexel looking ahead to James Madison and win? After all, the Monarchs are an easy team to look past at the moment because a 2-20 record does not look too quite so intimidating. Also, the Dragons may be licking their lips to finally get James Madison in the DAC on Sunday night after dropping a game earlier in the year to the Dukes.
Just as any coach would do, Flint was not ready to take Old Dominion lightly regardless of their record. According to Flint, the Monarchs are “always in the games.” He added, “They play hard, and they will be ready to play.”
If Drexel wants to avoid falling in this trap game, then they will need to be keen to not forget Flint’s wise words. In a way this may have been a trap season for the Dragons. With much of the media predicting Drexel to win the CAA and make the NCAA tournament with relative ease, the Dragons may have been caught looking past the regular season and ahead to their previously assumed postseason destiny.
Now Drexel turns their attention to avoiding yet another trap as they take on Old Dominion on Thursday night at the DAC.
-Scouting Drexel: RPI (As of Feb. 4): 0.4885, 186th. … Sophomore guard Damion Lee continues to lead the team and the City 6 in scoring averaging 18.2 points per game. … Drexel held Northeastern to under 60 points on Saturday and still lost dropping their record to 9-2 in such games. … The Dragons are only 2-6 at home at the DAC this season. … With Daryl McCoy leading the way, Drexel is outrebounding their opponents by an average of 4.2 rebounds per game. … Kaz Abif is likely to return after missing the last three games with an ankle injury.
-Scouting Old Dominion: RPI (As of Feb. 4): .39, 325th. … Deshawn Painter leads the Monarchs scoring at 11.9 points per game for an offense that has trouble scoring as seen by the 61.8 points per game average. … Old Dominion is 0-8 on the road this season. … The Monarchs shoot only 27.5-percent from behind the arc while their opponents are shooting 38.9-percent. … Old Dominion has not won in 2013; their last win was on Dec. 22 against Virginia. … Jim Corrigan will be coaching his first game as the interim head coach after the school fired long time coach Blaine Taylor on Tuesday.
-Sound Off: Will the Dragons get caught looking ahead to avenging their loss to JMU and lose to a 2-20 Old Dominion team in a trap game?