Dick Jerardi of the Daily News talks about Temple's clash with Syracuse at Madison Square Garden, Kansas' trip to Ohio State and Jabari Parker's decision to attend Duke in a video chat with Cinesport's Noah Coslov.
Video: Drexel could miss the NCAA Tournament despite an excellent run, and Penn was unable to claim a share of the Ivy League title. The Daily News' Dick Jerardi discusses the year in Philly college hoops and addresses the national scene.
We’ve been playing pretty well as of late. After losing three straight close games to start the year, we are now even at 5-5. Last week we got a big win against Northeastern in our conference opener. Last year they scored at the buzzer to beat us, but this year we were able to come away with a two-point win. On Sunday, our defense played well again as we set the school record by allowing only nine points in the first half in our win against St. Francis. Samme Givens had one of his best games ever with 24 points and 16 boards to lead us to the win.
Now that finals are past us, we are getting ready for a tough week ahead. For the first time since I took over at Drexel, we are heading to the West Coast. We play Cal State Northridge, one of the top teams year in and year out in the Big West, on Friday night. It will be a challenge with the long flight, the time change and for some of our guys it will be their first time ever in California. Our guys have to realize that it’s all right to have fun while we are out there, but that this is a business trip and we are going out there to win a basketball game.
After the Northridge game we are getting on a plane and flying to Kentucky. On Monday night, we face Cal and the Wildcats, who are ranked third in the country. Everyone knows how talented John Wall, Patrick Patterson and the rest of that team is. I just want our guys to not be star struck by those guys and realize that a few teams have almost knocked them off this year. Playing in Rupp Arena should be a great experience for our guys and we’ll give it our best shot and see what happens.
We’re in the homestretch with only two games remaining on our schedule. On Wednesday, Northeastern comes to the DAC in a real pivotal game for both teams. Northeastern has had a real good year and are a game in front of us, tied for second in the CAA. It should be a tough battle, just like it was in Boston a few weeks ago when we came from behind to beat the Huskies.
This will be an emotional game as well since it is senior night. It will be the last time our fans get to see Scott Rodgers, Tramayne Hawthorne, Bobby Jordan and Chris Mohl play in the DAC. Those guys have done a great job this season of staying focused and playing hard every day in practice.
One thing about Senior Night is that you remember how fast time goes by. You remember their first days as freshman and how far they have come. Scott has been one of the most improved players in the CAA and is a legitimate candidate for All-Conference honors. Tra has had some big games this year and will finish his career among Drexel’s all-time leaders in both steals and three-pointers. Bobby and Chris have both played a big role as practice players for us.
Since returning home we have continued to play well. We started the week with a good win against Delaware. Our bench came through for us as Leon Spencer, Tramayne Hawthorne and Samme Givens all gave us important minutes in the game. Samme scored 19 points and Leon had 11 as we were able to get some scoring inside. Their play over the last few weeks has been a plus for us. Tramayne has brought energy and leadership off the bench. He’s not scoring as much as he has in the past, but he is making contributions that don’t always show up in the box score.
We had one of the best crowds of the year against William & Mary for homecoming. Our defense did a nice job guarding a team that can be difficult to defend. We had a balanced scoring attack and Jamie Harris, our point guard, continued to play well. Jamie has done a nice job on controlling the game and making open shots.
We’re halfway through our conference schedule and are 6-3 after starting off 1-3, so I’ve been happy with the way we have been playing. Hopefully we can keep it up as we look try to move up the conference standings.
Our team has played much better the last week or so. We rebounded well from the loss to VCU and picked up a pair of conference wins. Last weekend we went down to Georgia and defeated Georgia State on their home court. It was a good win for us in many ways. It proved to our guys that we are capable of winning tough, physical games on the road. We also won the game without Scott Rodgers, our leading scorer, who had a death in his family. It was a great team effort and although we were shorthanded, every player stepped up.
We returned home for the first time since Dec. 18 and had our best overall game of the year against Hofstra. It was our best effort from beginning to end. We really executed offensively and continued playing well defensively. We got a key contribution from Kenny Tribbett early, which got us off to a good start. Leon played well off the bench and Scott played one of his best games since arriving on campus. It’s always good to get sweeps in the league and Hofstra has always been a tough opponent, and we have played some tough games with them over the years.
Then we headed down to UNCW, one of the toughest places for us to play since we joined the CAA, and won behind a career-high 21 points by Leon Spencer.
Freshman Samme Givens started his first game for Drexel in place of Kenny Tribbett on Thursday night against Niagara. Dragons coach Bruiser Flint said the 6-5 Givens started because Niagara plays four guards. Givens swept a season-high 12 rebounds. His eight points came at crucial times for the Dragons. Tribbett only played 3 minutes.
Senior Tramayne Hawthorne scored seven points for Drexel, but he continued his shooting woes: 3 of 10 from the field, 1 for 6 on threes. Hawthorne entered the game shooting 25 percent from the field and 19 percent on treys.
Last season, Hawthorne averaged 11.2 points as he shot 38 percent from the field and 35 percent on threes.
Last weekend we played at Fairfield, one of the best teams in the MAAC, and lost a close game. Our guys battled hard and took care of the ball, but we just couldn’t make a shot when we needed one. We had 22 offensive rebounds and only five turnovers, but if you shoot 32 percent you’re not going to beat too many people. That is something we need to work on as the season progresses.
We’ve got a pretty tough stretch ahead of us over the next two weeks. It seems like we went for months without playing and now we are looking at playing three games in a five-day stretch against some pretty good teams. It starts off on Thursday when Niagara comes to the DAC. They just won at South Florida and we know this will be a hard-fought game.
The next morning we practice and drive up to Bucknell where we play on Saturday. Bucknell has played a lot of close games and beat Old Dominion earlier in the season in Lewisburg. As soon as we finish there, we hop on a plane and head to Memphis to face Coach Cal and his Tigers. I don’t have to tell you how good they have been over the years. This will be the first time I have coached against Cal, so it will give people something to talk about. I just want to make sure our guys don’t play like we did at Georgetown and play to a level that I think we can. But we have to shoot it better.
Even though the Palestra is just a four-block walk from the Daskalakis Athletic Center, visiting California State Northridge did not visit the hoops shrine during its two-day stay in Philadelphia. Coaches of several other Drexel opponents who travelled a distance have made the visit because they wanted their players to have a Palestra "experience" even if they didn't play there.
When Drexel eventually moves to the nearby National Guard armory as its new hoops home, the armory will have a mini-Palestra appearance. The armory will seat about 5,000 for basketball.
Most of Northridge's players are from California. But the team that is based 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles also has players from New Jersey (Irvington), Alabama, Arizona, New Mexico and Nanaimo, British Columbia.