As college basketball becomes more and more a big business, rivalries are becoming less and less relevant. Northeastern opened the season with BU, rather then playing during the height of play. The ivy League has not even began their full slate of games, yet Penn and Princeton are done for the year. With thanks to Rollie Massimino , the Big 5 no longer plays all their games at The Palestra. Having attended many of the neutral court wars, I assure you, there may be no better atmosphere in the world of sports than the Palestra when it was split in two, as each half roots their team on. The games were riveting. The atmosphere both insane and divine. I am happy that there is some excitement for Saturday’s Delaware/Drexel game. It is nice to see an old rivalry that still matters.
Former Delaware and now Notre Dame Coach Mike Brey was an assistant to Coach K. However, his Notre Dame teams did not become annual elite 8 threats they are today until he got rid of the simplistic Coach K game and put in his own offense. Longtime Brey assistant Martin Inglesby has brought his boss’ brand to Delaware. It involves a myriad of sets and intricate well timed screens and cuts to hopefully free up a three point shooter. A 35 second clock would help Delaware a ton, but the NCAA is trying to stop any more Cinderella stories, so you will see 24 seconds before a return to 35.
Unfortunately for Inglesby, his teams have been ravaged by injuries. This year one of his best players, Ryan Daly, transferred to St Joseph’s and the injury bug continued to bite. Ryan Allen did get healthy just before conference play began, which is fortunate. He is one of their key pieces.
Ingelsby has done an incredible job at Delaware. Last year with increasingly shrinking numbers, he coaxed unrelenting effort out of what he had, managing to win a few and keep most games close. If Daly had not transferred, they would have been an upper tier team. Without him, they lack the talent to execute a very intricate offense. After losing to one of the worst teams in the country Delaware State, Delaware began conference play by losing 91-46 to Hofstra.
Things looked bleak but they once again showed their resolve by shockingly winning in double OT at Northeastern! They were then handed a game by William and Mary and easily beat struggling Elon before they had an unexpectedly easy win at improved UNCW. A team that looked all done as conference season opened was now 4-1 in conference.
A loss to any angry College of Charleston team was expected as was the following win over a struggling James Madison. At 5-2 in conference things looked great, especially when they led a lower echelon Towson team by 18 in the first half. They went into the half ahead 37-22 but allowed Towson to dictate in the 2nd half and finally the Tigers grabbed the lead. Ryan Allen missed 2 foul shots with almost no time left and Delaware blew a huge game, losing for the 7th straight time to Towson.
Last year Delaware built a 16 point lead at home and held on. Game 2 will long be remembered as “The Comeback” as Delaware blew a 34 point lead at Drexel. The Dragons likely get Perry back for this one. He should be a big help as it seems Drexel struggles to guard Inglesby’s complex schemes.
Drexel comes in to this one off back to back come from behind wins over James Madison and Towson. They are 4 and 4 in Colonial, Delaware is 5 and 3. This rivalry game is of massive importance as a win for either team would massively improve their chances at avoiding the play in round. Lee seems questionable at best again for Drexel, but defense will matter more so that may be a plus for the Dragons.
Delaware will be a small favorite in this one (my number is 3 1/2). Delaware has three big things going for them: They achieved a big lead in both games last year, They are playing their best basketball of the year right now, and they are a shorthanded team that will have a full week of rest going into this one. I would expect that this time, a big lead will not be blown.
I hope the arena is full of fans from both schools. Rivalries are part of the charm and glory of college hoops. People should enjoy, until they like most things good, disappear under a wave of greed. The game figures close, but I think Drexel’s struggles to stop Delaware will cause their demise.
I hope all enjoy.
Delaware 78 Drexel 67