Final Score: James Madison 70, Drexel 64
Drexel Players of the Game: Rodney Williams, Elgin Ford Jr, John Moran, Mohamed Bah, and Major Canady
Key to the Game: The gas pedal is the one on the right
Next Game: Saturday February 25 at the College of Charleston
With last place in the CAA and an appearance on Pillow Fight Friday next week almost guaranteed, the Drexel Dragons played their last home game of the season against the Dukes of James Madison. The game on the court was not a pretty one to say the least. Since it was senior night, the team’s five recognized players started the game. While John Moran has seen a considerable amount of playing time this year, fellow walk-on Elgin Ford has not. Ford got his chance to start tonight, and his coach feverishly cheered him on from the sideline as the senior covered JMU’s Joey McLean at the top of the key. Ford would be subbed out after just two minutes on the court, but he gave it his all in his time on the court.
Joining Ford in the senior night honors were team managers Talia Epsten and Hayley McKnight. While they often put in almost as many hours as their on-the-court counterparts, the team managers are often the unsung heroes not nearly getting the credit that they are due. Mohamed Bah, John Moran, Major Canady and Rodney Williams were also honored for their on the court accomplishments. Most of them had their families in attendance, but Canady’s parents were not able to make the game. He was joined on the court by former Drexel assistant coach Matt Collier. While he was honored tonight, it should be noted that Canady still has a year of eligibility left. Zach Spiker stated in the press conference after the game that they would be evaluating his future during the off-season.
“You can’t help but respect and admire (Major Canady),” Spiker said, “I’m not a doctor, but he’s putting himself in jeopardy every time he goes out there by not having the surgery (on his knee).” The coach went on to say that he wanted Major to have his senior day experience no matter what, and that he was very proud of him. Canady will graduate later this year with a double major. He overcame an injury-plagued career after what was a promising freshman campaign to be an involved member in Zach Spiker’s first year as head coach. He has a lot to be proud of and nothing to prove to anyone.
With Kari Jonsson and Miles Overton already sidelined with injuries, John Moran had started to see more playing time almost out of necessity. A few weeks ago against Delaware, it was noted that Moran appeared to have injured his shoulder at some point during the game. After playing just 11 minutes, Moran was forced from the game after appearing to have aggravated the injury. He would not return and would spend most of the rest of his night on the sideline with ice on his shoulder.
This opened the door for freshman Sam Green who saw 18 minutes of time on the floor and scored just 3 points on 1 of 6 shooting. Spiker’s rotation was much different from what had been previously experienced with Austin Williams seeing just 19 minutes of playing time and not attempting a shot. Mo Bah picked up most of Austin’s forefitted minutes on the heels of what many see as the best performance of his career against Elon on Saturday. He could not recreate that magic though, as he finished his last game at the DAC with a respectable 5 points and 9 rebounds in 28 minutes on the court.
Down the stretch the Dragons lacked the sense of urgency that they needed to pull the game back into reach. With less than three minutes to go, the team trailed by just 5 points. Their possessions seemed to drag on just a little too long, and on defense, after their press was broken, they allowed JMU to take off a little too much time off the clock.
Ultimately, Drexel would come up short on Thursday as they were bested by JMU 70-64. Their record dropped to 9-20 on the season and 5-8 at the DAC. In short, this was yet another game that this team could have and probably should have won. Their record does not reflect their ability or the progress that this team has shown on the floor. Although he might disagree, this 9-20 season is not a bad jumping off point for Zach Spiker in his first year as Drexel’s head coach.
Spiker was not the only one winning over Drexel fans this season though. Kruk Lee has put on an impressive display in his freshman campaign. Unbeknownst to many, Kurk Lee has been quietly chasing a couple of long standing Drexel records. Coming into Thursday night’s game, he had already eclipsed Michael Anderson’s school record of 138 assists by a freshman. Lee finished the game with a total of 150 assists for the season. He needs just seven more to tie Clarence Armstrong for the tenth most assists in a season by a Dragon.
Anderson, whose Jersey hangs in the rafters of the DAC, was a standout four year guard for the Dragons who until a few years ago was tied for the record in triple-doubles in a single season, holds many Drexel records, and is best known as the school’s leading scorer with 2,208 points. In second place in school history in points is John Rankin who scored 2,111 points in his four years with Drexel. In the 1985-86 season, Rankin set a school record with 466 points by a freshman.
After Thursday’s 18 point performance, Lee’s 452 points leave him just 14 points shy of Rankin’s record. That’s not a bad season for a freshman point guard who was signed late in the year who some might consider to be a little undersized. This is something that the Always a Dragon team will be keeping an eye on during Saturday’s game against the College of Charleston.
The Drexel Dragons wrap up their 2016-2017 regular season campaign on Saturday, and then they will be heading back to Charleston, South Carolina the following Friday for the Colonial Athletic Conference. Dan Crain will be there for the weekend bringing all the highlights to you here at Always a Dragon.