The entire country got its first extended look at the Drexel Dragons this past weekend in the DirecTV Classic. They hoped to see a team poised to contend for the CAA Championship, but instead saw a group trying to overcome the loss of its leading scorer that’s also struggling to pull out the close games it won last year. The Dragons dropped two of their three games in the tournament this past weekend in Anaheim.
This was Drexel’s first three games without Chris Fouch, the senior who suffered a season-ending injury on November 17th against Penn. Fouch had been the team’s leading scorer at 16.7 points per game, despite starting only one game. When healthy, he is without a doubt one of the CAA’s best players and a huge key to Drexel’s success.
After losses to St. Mary’s and Xavier, Drexel ended the tournament with a 55-47 win on Sunday against Rice to finish for a seventh-place finish in the eight-team tournament. In its first game without Fouch, Drexel was also without the services of sophomore Damion Lee. It’s understandable to lose to a quality program like St. Mary’s, even more so considering the Dragons were without their top two scorers.
Despite the obvious disappointments surrounding their early season struggles, the results aren’t all bad for the Dragons. We are beginning to understand how the Dragons can fill the void left behind by the ace sixth-man Fouch.
Tavon Allen has really helped to pick up the scoring slack in Fouch’s absence. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise – Allen was part of Drexel’s talented 2011 recruiting class, but was forced to redshirt because of a preseason injury. With a postgraduate and a redshirt year under his belt, Allen is not your typical college freshman.
Allen made his collegiate debut in the Penn game, and he’s averaged 12 points per game, shooting a hot 53.7% from the field. His athleticism and versatility really bring an added dimension to the Dragons’ offense. An ambidextrous shooter, Allen is the Dragons best bet to become the third weapon on offense behind Frantz Massenat and Damion Lee.
Sophomore Aquil Younger has also seen more minutes as a guard off the bench, but he hasn’t made much of his increased opportunities. Drexel will really need him to step up moving forward.
Despite the 2-5 record, all of Drexel’s games have been decided by 12 points or less. The game against Xavier on Saturday may be the most telling of this team moving forward. The Dragons played a hard-fought game against a young but talented Xavier team in a 69-65 loss. A costly error on an inbounds play killed their chances late. Drexel finally limited its turnovers, played smart basketball, and showed that they compete and play good defense. If everyone settles into their new roles and Younger to steps up, Drexel can get back to being the team we all expected.