LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ -- Call it an early season wakeup call for Drexel.
The Dragons began their season with Tuesday’s 80-62 win at Rider in a game that began at 6 a.m. The early start was part of ESPN’s Tip-Off Marathon.
It was the opener for Drexel, while Rider, is now 0-3 after losing Friday at Robert Morris and Sunday at Pittsburgh.
To receive the exposure of playing on ESPN, schools such as Rider and Drexel have to make some sacrifices.
Still, after a first half in which both teams appeared a little bleary eyed and were tied 28-28 at intermission, Drexel kicked it in the final 20 minutes, outscoring the Broncs, 52-34.
Drexel coach Bruiser Flint didn’t want to blame the early start for his team’s sluggish first half, one in which the teams were tied 28-28.
Point guard Frantz Massenat and 6-5, 220-pound senior forward Samme Givens each scored a team-high 21 points, but 30 of them came in the second half, including 17 by Massenat.
Flint’s message at halftime was basic.
The team needed to kick the ball into Givens, who is a load inside. And Massenat had to seriously step it up.
Flint is constantly getting on Massenat to assume more control out there while running the offense.
“He has to be more directing out there and I get on him about it,” Flint said. “…I tell him it’s not like AAU where you throw it to guys and just say, OK, go ahead and play.”
Massenat obviously got the message.
“I was much more aggressive in the second half,” he said.
Givens is the only current Drexel player to have participated in three of these early morning games.
In 2008 Drexel defeated visiting Penn, 66-64 in a game that started at 10 a.m. The next year the dragons lost at Niagara in a game that began at 8 a.m.
One can see, the games are becoming earlier and earlier.
“Each time it has been earlier for me,” Givens said. “You have to make sure you are ready.”
Flint had the team practice at 5 a.m. on Sunday and Monday.
“The first day was not a good practice and he got on us,” Givens said. “The second time, we got used to it.”
Givens said the best part of the win was having the rest of the day off, but the Dragons won’t get too long to rest.
The team departs on Wednesday to the Virgin Islands for the Paradise Jam. Drexel’s first game is Friday against Norfolk State.
So the team will have an 8:30 a.m. practice on Wednesday before leaving. That will almost be like sleeping in compared to the Dragons opening game.