Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
Three Drexel guards–Freddie Wilson, Tavon Allen and Rashann London–played all 40 minutes against Delaware on Thursday night.
That’s because they’re the only three healthy guards on Bruiser Flint‘s roster.
That’s the new reality for Flint, whose already-shorthanded squad was devastated over the last four days with the news that redshirt junior Damion Lee (broken hand) and freshman Sammy Mojica(knee) would miss the last few games of the season, making them the fourth and fifth players that Flint has lost for the year.
“It’s just been one of those years,” Flint said. “I just want us to just keep fighting, that’s all you can ask for. It is what it is.”
Without Lee, the fourth-leading scorer in the nation before his injury against Northeastern last Saturday, Drexel struggled mightily on the offensive end in a 58-44 loss to rival Delaware on Thursday night.
“We understand the circumstances that Drexel was under in terms of having two of their best players out of the game, and that obviously played a big role in the way that we wanted to play and the way that we played,” Delaware coach Monté Ross. “I thought they did get worn down a little bit, just the sheer numbers that they weren’t going to be able to keep up.”
The Dragons (10-18, 8-9 CAA) were just 30.3 percent (20-of-66) from the floor, including a 3-of-18 (16.7 percent) mark from 3-point range, as they desperately missed Lee’s 21.4 points per contest.
While Wilson (12 points) and London (11) broke double figures, they did so on a combined 10-of-37 from the floor. Only sophomore forward Mohamed Bah (5-of-7, 11 points) had anything close to a efficient night on the offensive end.
“My thing was let’s come in, let’s do what we need to do and see if we can win this game, try to play a certain way,” Flint said. “I told those guys they would probably have to play the whole game. What are you going to say? I wish I had a magic wand to make guys do whatever they can.”
Delaware senior guard Kyle Anderson led the way for the Blue Hens with 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting, while redshirt sophomore forward Maurice Jeffers added 10 and nine rebounds.
It’s been a remarkable string of injuries for Flint and the Dragons this season, who lost starting power forward Kazembe Abif (ACL) back in the spring and then had probable starting point guard Major Canady break his ankle during a preseason practice.
A few weeks back, graduate student forward Sooren Derboghosian was ruled out for the rest of the year with a knee injury; he missed Drexel’s senior night celebrations against Delaware as he was recovering from surgery the day before.
All of those injuries were bad enough, but the loss of Lee ruined whatever hopes Drexel had of a miracle run in Baltimore next weekend in the CAA Tournament. The loss of Mojica, who’d been having a solid freshman year (6.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg), left Flint as thin as could be in the backcourt.
Drexel’s dealt with injury woes in the last few years, with Lee missing most of the 2013-14 season due to a torn ACL and Chris Fouch missing all but two games of the 2012-13 year thanks to a broken ankle, along with various other injuries from up and down the roster.
How bad can it get? Mojica’s knee injury came because he slipped on a wet spot in practice. That’s how bad Drexel’s luck has been.
“This year’s been absolutely, positively ridiculous,” Flint said. “You say to yourself, ‘what’s going to happen next?’”
While Flint and company might just be waiting for the season to end, Delaware (10-18, 8-9 CAA) is headed in the opposite direction, with a team chock full of freshman and sophomores winners of three of their last four games and playing some solid basketball heading into March.
Though Monté Ross‘ contract situation is still a huge question mark looming over the program, the win moved the Blue Hens into the No. 6 seed in the CAA and out of a potential first-round conference tournament game.
After an 0-10 start to the season, Delaware’s put together a respectable second half of the year and has a chance to make some noise in Baltimore next weekend.
“Those freshmen, those sophomores that we had this year, they were experiencing some things that they never had experienced,” Ross said. “We intentionally made the schedule very tough, and we wanted to make sure that they didn’t break, they didn’t crack, and they didn’t.
“And we told them if they didn’t, once we get into league play, we’ll be able to do some things and beat some people and we just have to stay with it, and I give them credit because they stayed with it.”
Drexel’s season will only last two or three more games, with the regular-season finale at William & Mary on Saturday before the CAA Tournament begins on Friday.