RICHMOND, Va. – We understand that coaches often throw bouquets toward their opponents this time of year, but what Virginia Commonwealth coach Shaka Smart said of Drexel was of particular interest.
It was shortly after VCU had defeated George Mason, 74-64 to earn a berth in Monday's Colonial Athletic Association final against Drexel that Smart talked about the Dragons smothering defense of a year ago and then about this season.
To put this in context, Smart’s team advanced to the Final Four last year.
“I thought last year we played in the NCAA tournament and against high majors and everybody kept saying that Purdue is the best defensive team in the country and Florida State was the best defensive team in the country,” Smart said.
Then he dropped the bombshell.
“I thought Drexel last year was the toughest team to score on of any of the teams we played,” said Smart, whose team dropped a 64-58 decision at Drexel in their only meeting this season.
And Smart doesn’t think that coach Bruiser Flint’s Dragons are any easier to score on this season.
“Obviously Bruiser’s teams certainly have something in common with each other,” Smart said. “This year’s team is even tougher and more physical than last year’s team was.”
Of course VCU can run up and down the floor with anybody. The fact that the Rams made 11 of 25 three-point attempts against George Mason, will surely extend that physical Drexel defense.