It has been quite the start for second year coach Jared Grasso as he attempts to bring Iona ball to sleepy Smithfield, Rhode Island. Year two of his tenure could not have started much worse. During the summer returning and well regarded point guard, Joe Kasperzyk, was dismissed from the program. Luckily they had excellent Ikenna Ndugba return from injury to man the point. Nevertheless, the season did not begin well.
Ndugba was used to the controlled offense of the retired Tim O’Shea. Grasso, like his ex-boss, Tim Cluess, likes to play fast, very fast. It took a bit for Ndugba to be comfortable. His uncertainty led to a slow start int he game against Brown. Bryant began down 17-4 but came roaring back to just miss getting a win, losing 73-71.
Like Drexel, the Bulldogs went to Rutgers and threw a scare into the heavily favored home team, losing again 73-71. Since then, Bryant has won three in a row, hanging on versus Cornell 82-81, then taking to the road and dismantling both St. Peters and Niagara. Bryant jumped out to big leads in both and were never threatened.
Bryant’s freshman have been impressive, most notably Charles Pride, who has moved into the starting lineup. Also, Benson Lin started the first game and has been an excellent contributor off the bench since. Bryant has done most of their play this year without projected starters, Juan Cardenas and Sebastian Townes. Townes returned to play five minutes versus Niagara, and should see more time during tonight’s contest in Philadelphia.
It did not take Grasso long to bring some talent to Bryant. He now has more players to fit his style. The results, thus far, have been spectacular.
On the home bench, Drexel will be happy to say good bye to Nacogodoches. The Dragons found out rather quickly why Stephen F. Austin has dominated the Southland as they were quickly blitzed by the Lumberjacks. Zach Spiker and Company will be happy to see Philadelphia again after that 0-2 road trip. They may not be happy to see this opponent.
Drexel’s turnover issues had better get corrected or there could be another blow out in the cards. I know Spiker likes to play at a quick clip but I’m not sure that is a good recipe against Bryant. With Bryant improved and healthier and Drexel struggling to play error free, trouble could be lurking in West Philly.
Still, Drexel is a better program and there is a chance that Bryant puts in a bit of a clunker. If Bryant shows up ready to play and executes, Drexel will need some home cooking. I still believe the Dragons get the job done.
Drexel 86 Bryant 83