Drexel takes the less than two hour jaunt south to Maryland Baltimore County today. Last season, UMBC could not repeat their giant killer moment of two years ago. They did make the conference tournament final once again, unfortunately for the Retrievers, Vermont is loaded and nearly unbeatable in the American East. UMBC will at best be second fiddle again this year.
This should not take away from the incredible job Ryan Odom has done. Now in his fifth year, I am surprised he was not scooped up after their terrific showing in the NCAA. Odom’s teams have been fantastic defensively. Given the supposed allure of fast play (i do not believe it, like not at all), the major schools have shied away from Odom. That is a mistake. Anyone that watches this team play knows Odom is a terrific coach. It should not have taken a 16 seed over 1 seed upset of a worn out Virginia team for people to take notice.
The Retrievers have four starters back plus they got an immediate waiver for the excellent William and Mary transfer, LJ Owens (had double digit scoring in both of his games against Drexel last season). He will be a big help to this sometimes offensively challenged team.
The 2019-20 seasonr has begun poorly. There is reason. UMBC was down FIVE players – several of them starters – to start the year. They won at a very poor Florida Gulf Coast, then got waxed by LSU. A trip to Jamaica was a disaster as they could not deal with the Eastern Michigan zone and then lost to vastly improved Nichols State. The good news for them is that all players are now back except for projected starter, shooting guard R. J. Eytle-Rock. Improvement is imminent.
On the visiting bench, Drexel has the best team in Spiker’s tenure. If we want to keep it real, Spiker’s best team is not as good as the worst healthy team that Bruiser Flint had. For all those that thought he was antiquated or incompetent, I have other thoughts.
Drexel caught a break in their last game when Bryant played without their terrific point guard, nevertheless, this Drexel team has shown flashes of brilliance. Their young players figure to only get better. The top of the Colonial is the weakest it has ever been. If Drexel remains healthy and the youth does not get worn out, things could get very interesting for them come conference tournament time. You can all thank the AD at William and Mary for firing the great Tony Shaver. Had he stayed with the terrific transfers they had, William and Mary was a lock to win the Colonial and probably a game or 2 in the big dance. What a shame. I digress. W&M AD Samantha Huge’s stupidity leaves this league wide open. Why not a Drexel team that figures to only get better as the year goes on?
Giant killer UMBC has had a rough start, but with six days since their last game, they have now had plenty of practice with a healthy roster. This remains a fairly talented and extremely well coached team. Watch in particular their 5′ 2″ back up point guard Darnell Rogers. Yes, that is not a misprint. There figures to be very little home advantage in this contest. I feel UMBC, coming off of three straight losses and finally with time to practice with most of their players has a home run effort here. That should be good enough to get the win.
UMBC 66 Drexel 61