The two teams at the bottom of the Colonial Athletic Association meet for the second – but potentially not the final – time this season in Philadelphia tonight.
Louis Rowe is in year two as head coach of his alma mater. He is rebuilding in a proper manner. He has two freshman in his starting lineup. With the return of Joey McLean from injury, Freshman Zach Jacobs now barely gets on the floor. However, the bench besides McLean remains all freshman, with Dwight Wilson and Greg Jones seeing the minutes. The team has improved as the year has gone on which is most important in a rebuild. The future looks good in Harrisonburg.
Less than two weeks ago JMU won a riveting battle against Drexel. In a game where, unbelievably, neither team ever led by more than five, James Madison eked out a 75-73 win. Joey McLean did not play in that one. Matt Lewis, a strong looking Freshman had his way with the Drexel defense. Unable to stop his drives, Lewis scored 20 points. He was 11-13 from the free throw line. In his final drive, he hit the go ahead lay up with 26 seconds left on the clock. Ballgame.
James Madison began conference play by losing their first six. In two of the six losses they gave away late leads and eventually lost in overtime. Rowe, like many coaches, had better learn that when you are ahead by three with less than seven seconds to go in the game, you foul. It is difficult to lose from there. They were able to reverse their fortunes by outscoring Elon 13-3 to end regulation, including a late 3 to tie, before they won in overtime. The Drexel win came next. They have since lost back to back games that went to the wire, at UNCW and at College of Charleston.
Drexel goes for 3 straight wins tonight. Obviously, a healthy Tramaine Isabell is crucial for this teams success. However, in the come back win over Northeastern, they forced the Huskies into a 5-18 night from three point land. In modern hoops, that will win you games. Drexel’s defense took a huge step up in that win.
Tonight is a different animal. They will need to get a body in front of JMU’s drives to the basket. This is young Duke teams third straight road game. Drexel has had time to get over their big win and re-focus. Tonight’s game could be deemed important as they will be underdogs in their next five contest. They need to show that they can come back strong after a big win. They must also show that they will continue to improve defensively.
I do not think that Drexel can lose both at home and away to a program that is in a almost similar place as they are Drexel, once again, may catch a team not at their best. They must take advantage. I think they will.
Drexel 78 James Madison 69