Niagara heads to Philly in a slightly different place than Drexel. Patrick Beilien, who yes, is a famous son, but one who – not surprisingly- like dad was successful and moving up the ranks is not with his team. Unfortunately, Patrick has left due to “personal issues” and we have a change in leadership. Ex Dukie, Greg Paulus was quickly named interim then hired as head coach.
More change happened when Paulus trotted out a four-guard lineup in their exhibition win over Roberts Wesleyan. Sophomore shooting guard Raheem Solomon led the Purple Eagles with 14 points. Coming off the bench, sophomore and George Washington transfer Shandon Brown finished at plus 16 during his 21 minutes on the floor. Brown came over with Paulus from GW. I would expect him to start, sooner rather than later. The Purple Eagles point guard will be the only senior on the roster, James Towns, who is a solid stabilizing force for the young team.
On the home bench, Drexel was mega impressive in loss to Temple. I was most impressed that they took a very solid team to the wire, in spite of having a poor night shooting: the Dragons were 6-30 from deep and 34.8% over all. Drexel fans can also feel good about Drexel outrebounding a long Temple team, 46-39. Last years revelation Cam Wynter, once again had a monster game. Former starting point guard Kurk Lee did not.
The great news for Drexel fans is that Coach Zach Spiker looks to have found some terrific young talent. Spiker chose to start a pair of mates. Canadian Matey Juric and Hungarian, Mate Okros both cracked the starting five. They both looked terrific, even if the box score wasn’t kind to Okros. Okros’ fellow frosh, T. J. Bickerstaff had 16 points and 7 rebounds in 27 minutes off the bench. Spiker used 11 men, and that was with Tim Perry Jr in street clothes and unavailable! The future FINALLY looks bright for Drexel basketball.
In tonight’s contest, Niagara brings a young team south, but this team struggled a bit before putting away Roberts Wesleyan in their opener. Although I like four guard line ups and this roster certainly screams that is the way to go, it is still a late change from the more traditional two guard line up that Beilein uses. Niagara also lacks talent.
This Drexel team has a huge upside. They are more athletic and with that they defended and rebounded better than prior Spiker teams. One would expect them to only get better as the year goes on.
Thanks to the moronic A.D. at William and Mary who very strangely fired the great Tony Shaver, there is no easy choice in the Colonial this year. I think Drexel grabs a top four seed in the Colonial tournament. However, that is getting ahead of ourselves. As for tonight, Niagara comes to town with an ex-Duke player leading a not so talented group. Neither is a formula for success. Drexel’s talent should overwhelm.
Drexel 90 Niagara 63