RICHMOND, Va. -- No doubt Bruiser Flint and the Drexel team will have plenty of sleepless nights thinking of the first half during Monday’s 59-56 loss to VCU in the Colonial Athletic Association championship game at the Richmond Coliseum.
From now until selection Sunday it will be debated whether the Dragons deserve an NCAA bid.
Those of us who have seen the Dragons have no doubt they should get in, but we are also not the ones juggling all the RPI and strength of schedules that the selection committee has to sort through.
As Flint often says Drexel passes the eye test.
Yet in the first half, the flunked the hoop test.
VCU jumped out to a 35-19 halftime lead and did the seemingly impossible – making the Dragons look almost slow by comparison.
The Rams were hurting Drexel with their full-court pressure. They had a great game plan – to take the ball out of point guard Frantz Massenat’s hands.
Massenat had two first half turnovers, but the rest of his teammates had 10.
For Drexel, the 12 first half turnovers was bad enough, but…
“They scored 16 points off those turnovers and that was the tough thing about that,” Flint said.
VCU couldn’t possibly keep up that frenetic pace for 40 minutes and the Rams did back off more in the second half.
“They weren’t making as many shots so you can’t press as much,” Flint said about the Rams in the second half.
Flint told his team at halftime they had to get tougher and the Dragons responded.
The game was in doubt until Massenat’s three-pointer bounced off the rim as time expired. It looked like it was going in and it would have capped a wild comeback for the Dragons. (Both Massenat and Flint thought the shot was going in and so did this observer, sitting a few feet away from where it was launched).
Despite the loss, Drexel showed plenty of heart, but the Dragons were done in by the first half deficit.
Here are the gruesome first half numbers.
Drexel shot 7-26 from the field and 1-5 from three-point range. The Dragons were 4 for 4 from the foul line, but the fact that they only attempted four free throws was another problem.
In addition, Drexel committed 12 of its18 turnovers and had four of its six shots blocked in the first half.
“We didn’t play our game,” Massenat said.
Even though VCU was the visiting team, this game, played about a mile from its campus was truly a home game.
The sellout crowd of 11,200 gave the Rams a true advantage, but Flint wasn’t blaming crowds.
He knew that VCU gave the fans a lot to cheer about by the way they pressured Drexel and the Dragons didn’t handle it well.
Afterwards, everybody from Flint, to VCU coach Shaka Smart to onlookers who regularly watch the CAA, said how Drexel deserves an NCAA bid.
So everybody was in agreement of that point, just as they were that had Drexel showed better in the first half, the Dragons wouldn’t even be having this conversation.