Northern Iowa basketball coach Ben Jacobson had the same impression on Drexel that many of the Dragons opponents have.
After watching tape of the Dragons in preparation for Sunday’s 11 a.m. second round NIT game at Drexel, Jacobson said his initial concern is getting consistent offense against the Dragons, who are allowing 55.4 points per game.
“In looking at them, you realize how good they are defensively,” Jacobson said in a phone interview. “They just get at you and they are also a very tough rebounding team, so we will have plenty of challenges.”
Another challenge for the 20-13 Panthers is containing Dragons point guard Frantz Massenat, who had 18 points and 14 assists in an opening 81-56 NIT victory over the University of Central Florida.
“He is terrific,” Jacobson said. “When a guy can make the number of plays he does not only for himself but his team, then that makes him pretty unique.”
Jacobson went one step further in his praise of the sophomore point guard.
“There are not a lot of guys like that in college basketball and he is the one who really makes them go.”
The Panthers rely on a balanced offense, where there is only one double figure scorer. That is Anthony James, a junior guard who has been coming off the bench recently, and averages 12.7 points per game.
A player Drexel has to contain is 6-8 Seth Tuttle, the Rookie of the Year Conference USA, who is averaging 9.6 points and 5.5 rebounds. Tuttle had 23 points in the Panthers opening 67-65 NIT win at St. Joseph’s.
UNI has been in Philadelphia since Tuesday and Jacobson has enjoyed the extended stay. The team had off from practicing on Thursday and toured the Constitution Center.
“It’s been great spending time here,” Jacobson. “Most of all, we are happy that we are still playing.”
He also understands the challenge of having to beat a Drexel team that is 14-0 this season at home.
“Drexel is a high quality opponent,” Jacobson said. “We know we will have our hands full.”