Wednesday night, the Drexel Dragons will take on a winless Lafayette Leopards basketball team that has won just 15 games since their 2013- 2015 campaign. Drexel won last year’s contest 74-70 away at Lafayette with Kurk Lee and Rodney Williams expectedly leading the way with 14 points each. That win improved Zach Spiker’s record against Fran O’Hanlon’s Leopards to 6 and 9.
Leopards to Watch
The Lafayette led by 6’8” senior forward Matt Klinewski, who has rounded out his shooting stroke. Klinewski has been a colid shooter since becoming a starter in the 2015-16 season, averaging at or over 50% in each of the last three seasons, but this year he has added range to his game. Averaging nearly four three-point attempts per game, Klinewski is shooting 66.7% from beyond the arc. Klinewski has 22 three-point attempts during his college career. 18 of those are during this season. The prototypical stretch 4 will present a coverage issue for the Dragons, and will demand the most out of freshman Jarvis Doles.
Klinewski is joined by one other double-digit scorer: freshman Alex Petrie who is averaging 13.6 PPG as the team’s first option off of the bench. Expect Petrie to have the green light every time he comes down the floor. His numbers are actually quite remarkable. He is averaging less than 20 minutes per game but he is taking 37.3% of his team’s shots, ranking him 7th in he nation. His turnover rate is also a very low 6.8%, presumably because he is just a catch and shoot player. Last time out in an 86-82 loss against Saint Peter’s, Petrie shot 7 of 10 from three with 25 points.
Beyond that is a team that long coach Fran O’Hanlon is not afraid to call on. The Leopards have nine players averaging more than 17 minutes/game. Overall though, they are having trouble finding the bottom of the twine this year. Lafayette is averaging just 66 points/game, ranking them 316th out of the 351 D1 teams. Interestingly though, their effective FG% (one of Ken Pomery’s “four factors”) is 84th in the nation. Beyond that, they are a high turnover, poor offensive rebounding team that does not get to the line much.
Injury woes for the Dragons
Drexel will be at risk of playing short yet again. It is already confirmed that Troy Harper will not be playing. The abbreviation “MRI” was mentioned with Miles Overton’s name last week as well, so don’t expect him. Sam Green appeared to suffer a lower leg injury in Saturday’s loss to NJIT. Doles started played just 12 minutes in Saturday’s contest, giving way to Alihan Demir who logged 34 minutes and just five points. Kurk Lee played just about from tipoff to the final horn, and Sammy Mojica sat for just one minute. The Dragons will need more from that pair who combined for a total of just 21 of Drexel’s abysmal 53 points. Drexel will have to improve on a forgettable 48% shooting from the charity stripe that resulted in the Dragons plummeting for a top 100 team to 214th in free-throw percentage.
Drexel has been a strong perimeter defending team with their opponents collecting just 31.6% of their points from deep. They will need to be ready for Lafayette’s perimeter game. Nearly 50% of Lafayette’s shots are from downtown. Beyond that, expect an up-tempo game with lots of end to end play. It will be a style of game that would have benefited Troy Harper, whether the referees were on his side or not.
While the Dragons have shown that they are capable of playing down to a lesser opponent’s level, the hope is that the Dragons come away from this one on top.
Drexel 70, Lafayette 62