Sunday, April 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Drexel needs a thermostat

The Dragons shot 33.3 percent from the field in the first half and 68.2 percent from the field in the second half in a 61-54 loss to Cornell at the DAC.

Drexel needs a thermostat

Game 10: Vermont 82, Toledo 49 (remember the name Marques Blakely come March)
Game 11: Cornell 61, Drexel 54

We've all seen our share of games that coaches or reporters describe as being "a tale of two halves."

Since I like to keep my trips to the cliché well limited to one per blog post, I'll describe Drexel's performance today against Cornell as "inconsistent."

The Dragons shot 33.3 percent from the field in the first half, making 7 of 21 field goals, and were down 15-1 with 12:46 left in the half. Jamie Harris hit their first field goal at the 12:13 mark.

But in the second half, Drexel shot 68.2 percent from the field: 15-for-22. After trailing 30-19 at halftime, they came all the way back to take a 54-52 lead with 2:05 left in the game on a jumper by Derrick Thomas.

Cornell responded, though. Sophomore guard Chris Wrobleski responded to Thomas' jumper with a big three, and Samme Givens committed an offensive foul to give the Big Red the ball back.

Cornell's seven-foot center, Jeff Foote, hit a layup, and after Gerald Colds missed a three, and bench player Jon Jaques scored his only two points of the game from the free throw line with 21 seconds left. Jamie Harris coughed the ball up ont he ensuing possession, and two free throws from Ryan Wittman finished the job with 15 seconds left.

Bruiser Flint said afterwards that "we got ahead of ourselves" in the first half.

"In the second half, we just made them guard us," he added. "We came out, we ran offense. That's the bottom line - look, make some passes, come off [screens], this is what you look for."

Flint praised the senior-laden Big Red for not panicking down the stretch.

"You see when your team is experienced, what happens," he said. "They made big plays when they needed to, they stayed within themselves. Whereas I start the game and all my guys are running, going crazy trying to go to the basket, trying to do things they can't do."

If things were complicated for the Dragons on offense, their defensive strategy was pretty simple.

"I didn't care if they got layups - I didn't think they could make enough of them," Flint said. "I didn't want them to make three-point shots, because that's how they beat you."

Flint admitted that Foote had a lot to do with that.

"We actually said, if Foote gets 30, that's okay," Flint said. "I thought they did a good job of guarding him late in the game and making him take some tough shots."

I asked Flint how Cornell, which has won the last two Ivy League titles and is the overwhelming favorite to make it three straight this year, stacks up against the better Penn teams he's faced.

"They're not as athletic as those guys," Flint said of Cornell. "Penn always had two or three guys who athletically were just - and that's why they dominated. They don't have an Archibong or an Onyekwe, or a Michael Jordan. They're a good team, but athletically, Penn was just a little bit better."

Flint continued.

"What [the Big Red] do, they do well," he said. "They run their offense, they shoot the hell out of the ball, they make good passes. They're a good team in that respect."

I also asked Cornell coach Steve Donahue how far he thinks his team can go this year, even though he's been downplaying the Big Red's talent every chance he gets.

"For us to win the Ivy League, we have to be the most improved team in our league, if not the country," Donahue said. "We can get a whole lot better. We're winning, in my mind, not playing really well."

And this team already won at Alabama and Massachusetts.

But back to Drexel, because I left this game thinking a lot more about them than Cornell. The question is, and has been, and probably will remain: how good would the Dragons be if they could score consistently in both halves?

Granted, we might not find out in the Dragons' next game: at Villanova on Wednesday.

"Yep, how about that?" Flint quipped.

"And I know what Jay's saying: Last time they came up here, they won," Flint said. "So you know he's probably screaming at them more than I scream at my guys, because he can't be letting that happen again."

Uh, no. But I'll be at the Pavilion to see whether the Dragons can at least make life difficult for the Wildcats.

Your thoughts?



Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
About this blog
Soft Pretzel Logic is Philly.com's college sports blog, with a primary focus on the University of Pennsylvania. You'll also see coverage of the Big 5, other major college sports events in the region, and the annual Penn Relays track and field meet.

Reach Jonathan at jtannenwald@phillynews.com or 215-854-2330.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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