William and Mary in 2015 & 2016.
Old Dominion in 2013.
Senior Night games are hard for teams. In today’s era with more and more transfers and less and less four year players, maybe some of the shine has worn off, but that final home game of a college players career was, and is, very clearly an emotional night for the player. So underdog Drexel teams were able to crush the senior nights of three good teams in four years at the end of the Flint era.
The most recent and relevant example of this phenomenon occurred hours before the tip off at the DAC, when 9th placed Elon went into Towson and spanked them, to the tune of a 86-66 road victory on the Tiger’s Senior Day. That result clinched the Dragons a first round bye in the CAA Tournament for the first time in the Spiker era. It also became the first finish above ninth in four years, a clear sign of progress for the program. And for those who don’t think collegiate players scoreboard watch, I’ll leave you with Eric Carter’s words to me just minutes after his Blue Hens went down at the DAC: “Did William and Mary win?”
And so this heavily injured Dragons team came out on senior night, on short rest, with little to play for (the team would finish with the 5th or 6th seed regardless of the finish) against a top 100 in the country Northeastern team that seems to be playing their best basketball of the season as we enter March. The outcome was wildly predictable.
With the exception of a flourish going into halftime that included a half court Coletrane Washington bucket at the buzzer to close the game to four points, Northeastern controlled from start to finish, and cruised to a 90-66 victory. The extremely efficient Huskies, now fifth in the country in effective field goal percentage, ran through the Drexel defense without much trouble. Northeastern shot an effective field goal percentage of 60% for the game, only turned the ball over four times, and out-rebounded the Dragons, who largely rested big man James Butler (18 minutes played). It was a clinic.
There were a couple of other newsworthy tidbits from the game: CAA Commissioner Joe D’Antonio was in the house, and had the opportunity to see a CAA Saturday Officiating crew in action. While the game was never in doubt, the clown show that is Tony Crisp, Nathaniel Hall and Anthony Burris rolled through town. Two of those officials, Crisp and Hall, were last seen by Drexel working the blowout loss at Towson in a game where Zach Spiker was very critical of the officiating. That those two were paired up again and working another Drexel game while being paired up was foreboding. And it went about as well as anyone would expect.
Usually levelheaded Trevor John and Coach Spiker both picked up technical’s during the game for voicing their opinions on the officiating. Coach Spiker was actually seen speaking (perhaps venting) directly to the commissioner during the game about the officiating. In the postgame, the Coach found himself hard on himself: “I think i was out of character today… I got frustrated quickly and it carried over to our team… When I get going that way, our players have a little more leeway and freedom to react. We have to project more strength, and that starts with me.”
There were some bright spots for the Dragons. James Butler did get a bit of a break. Trevor John shot 3-6 from deep, and has hit at 46% or better in three of his last four games going into the tournament. Cam Wynter got a rest, by way of only playing 37 minutes instead of the usual 40 (we jest), and while going up against Vasa Pusica, scored 19 points, had 8 assists and not one turnover. Kevin Doi got on the scoresheet on his senior night, the attendance was listed at 1,348 and felt like it, the DAC had a strong showing, as did the DAC Pack, to send the team off to Charleston. And a severely injured, picked ninth in the CAA team, finished the season in sixth place.
“7-11 in our league… disappointing.” Said Coach Spiker in the postgame. Asked to followup, he stated “I am [disappointed]. Being honest, and transparent, I’m frustrated because nine of those games were within two possessions. So you go back and play those possessions through, it frustrates you. I don’t put a lot of stock in preseason polls…” On the other hand, when asked about the teams sixth place finish, he stated ” I do think we earned the sixth seed. We did enough to be in that position. The last two years we’ve played in the play-in round. This year we did enough to not do that.”
Jarvis Doles was a late scratch for this game, seemingly due to illness. He was with the team doctor during the post game press conference. If there is more news on this during the week, we will have it here. Going into the conference tournament, one assumes anyone who can walk will suit up.
Drexel alum Damion Lee was on the sidelines for this game, and was seen speaking to many throughout the contest. He then went and scored 12 points for the Golden State Warriors against the 76ers Saturday evening. He took postgame press questions sporting a Drexel hoodie.
There will be plenty of Conference Tournament coverage on these pages this week. Additionally, check back this (Monday) afternoon where Scott Kier will have a special article on a special Drexel player.