College hoops season, starts bright and early, too early, with a “Philly, non big 5 game”. Drexel heads north to take on Temple, in what truly is a new beginning for the Owls. Long time Coach Fran Dunphy had no problem maintaining the program’s excellence after he took over from the legendary John Chaney. Can coach in waiting, Aaron Mckie do the same? I am not so sure.
Where Dunphy had tons of success at Penn, Mckie has only been an assistant in waiting. It has also been hinted that a change in style is forthcoming. With new coach, new system and the loss of a fantastic point guard, Shizz Alston. The Owls do return three starters, but I would expect a struggle to start with all the newness lurking.
On the other bench, in his fourth year at Drexel, Zach Spiker, has all “his” players. It would behoove him to put a bit better product on the floor. With two players returning from injury and two other starters, also returning (although not necessarily starting) I would expect this to be his best Drexel team yet. I love the idea of putting both Lee and Wynter on the floor at times to act as duo point guards. Mate Juric could also be used in this capacity, giving the team depth with three ballhandlers, any two of which can pair up at any one time. This is a successful formula that is underused in the college game.
Lasrt year, Wynter was a revelation, and with the freedom allotted him by having another point guard on the floor, I would expect him to be even better. A healthy Zach Walton is also important for Drexel to make a run. He is good in all phases of the game, even defense, an anomaly on this team. Navy transfer James Butler had a break out season last year. His scoring and rebounding are vital but again, his defense needs to improve. If something holds Drexel back, it will likely be defense. The twin point guards will be able to push the pace as Spiker likes, however when conference time comes and the half court becomes more relevant, defense and three point shooting will need to be solid. Those are the two areas to keep the closest eye on when watching Drexel early in the year. If those things are there, Drexel could even hope to make a run at the title, in a very down Colonial Conference.
The first game of the year is often more a reflection of the programs continuity. Drexel has many players returning and a system in place. Temple has enough returnees but with Alston and Dunphy no longer there, one wonders if the rock solid program, can continue its lofty heights? Drexel is on their way up. Sadly, there is a chance Temple is headed the other way.
Drexel 84 Temple 81