Ambitious Schedule Awaits Defending CAA Champion Drexel

(Guru's note: The first of three blogs for Saturday to separate content which do not relate to each other)

By Mel Greenberg

Defending Colonial Athletic Association champion Drexel released its women's schedule Thursday while the Guru was traveling. The biggest surprise is that the Dragons' announced slate is the first complete one in terms of dates among area schools. Of course, the other five D-1 area schools are at the mercy of the finishing touches of their respective conferences in the Atlantic 10, Big East and Ivy League.

Coach Denise Dillon had some dread of what lies ahead because her squad will  now be a top target, which is what happens when the only CAA member with a mascot breathing firepower actually begins to deliver heat.

Then again, Drexel's roster is led by the high-scoring senior Gabriella Marginean, the reigning CAA player of the year.

So that said, the Guru's hears you: "Cut to the chase. When do they play?"

The home-and-home games with CAA rival Delaware, featuring highly touted Blue Hens rookie Elena Delle Donne, will in Newark on Sunday, Jan. 17, and then at the Daskalakis Athletic Center on Sunday, Jan. 31.

Perhaps the two games can be built on a new theme reversing an old song , "Always on Sunday."

In fact, every Sunday appears to be a challenge once play gets under way.

Besides the Delaware matchups, there's much more like a visit to nationally-regarded Maryland, Sunday, Nov. 29 (see what the Guru means?), a visit from Penn State in the season opener Friday the 13 (lucky or unlucky), as well as game at Richmond, one of the top A-10 teams,  and a home game against La Salle and a visit to St. Joseph's in December.

Those that get confused between Penn State and Penn, don't. Right after the season opener, the Dragons head down the block to meet host the Quakers and new coach Mike McLaughlin on Sunday, Nov. 15. That's a game that has been played usually around the Christmas break in the past.

(Thanks to the alert reader who pointed out that the Penn-Drexel game is at the DAC, not the Palestra - J.T.)

Drexel will be in Villanova's holiday tournament Dec. 28-29, which means Dillon has a chance to go against her former coach Harry Perretta in public as opposed to those preseason private scrums under NCAA rules in recent seasons.

In the CAA world outside of the Delle Donne encounter , the Dragons get to the mean and nasty quick when James Madison opens the league slate here on Jan. 3. Drexel had to beat JMU on its court in March in the title game to advance to the NCAA tournament, which marked a first-ever win in Harrisonburg, Va., which, incidentally, where the CAA playoffs will be held again this season. Drexel can practice for that repeat experience when the Dragons return the home-and-home on Feb. 7.

The Duchesses are not the only CAA school targeting Drexel for revenge. There's Old Dominion, whose long postseason reign over the conference was ended by the Dragons in the semifinals, a first-ever loss for the Norfolk, Va., crew. The Dragons will visit ODU on Sun, Jan. 10. Speaking of the so-called day of rest, Virginia Commonwealth, the team the Dragons beat out in the regular season CAA, will visit here on Sunday, Nov. 24, while Drexel visits VCU on Feb. 14, yet another Sunday and Valentine's Day at that.

Here are the complete list of dates:

Fri. Nov, 13 vs. Penn State

Sun. Nov. 15 at vs. Penn

Fri. Nov. 20 at Richmond

Sun. Nov. 29 at Maryland

Wed. Dec. 2 vs. American

Sat. Dec. 5 vs. La Salle

Sun. Dec. 13 at St. Joseph's

Thu. Dec. 17 vs. Princeton

Mon. Dec. 21 vs. Bucknell

Mon-Tues. Dec. 28-29: Villanova tournament.

CAA Portion

Sun. Jan. 3 vs. James Madison

Thurs. Jan. 7 vs. William & Mary

Sun. Jan. 10 at Old Dominion

Sun. Jan. 14 at Hofstra

Sun. Jan. 17 at Delaware

Thurs. Jan. 21 vs. George Mason

Sun. 24  vs. Va. Commonwealth

Thurs. Jan. 28 at Northeastern

Sun. Jan. 31 vs. Delaware

Thurs. Feb. 4 at Towson

Sun. Feb. 7 at James Madison

Thurs. Feb. 11 vs. Northeastern

Sun. Feb. 14 at Va. Commonwealth

Thurs. Feb. 18 vs. Towson

Sun. Feb. 21 vs. Hofstra

Thurs. Feb. 25 at Georgia State

Sun Feb. 28 vs. N.C. Wilmington

Wed. Mar. 3 at William & Mary

Mar 10-13 CAA tournament at Harrisonburg, Va.

-- Mel