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Surprise! Not many people were expecting Duke to play Bruiser Flint's Drexel,
but there they are. The idea apparently was for a sort-of Duke-on-Duke
clash with Quin Snyder and Mizzou meeting Coach K and Duke in the Garden.
Didn't happen, of course, as Sam Houston State, it's fair to say, shocked Mizzou.
So as things happen, it's the Drexel Dragons, whose fans shouted "we
want Duke" after beating Sam Houston.
Wish granted, fellas.
We'll confess we don't know a whole lot about Drexel, but they are 3-0 for
the first and off to their best start since 1997-98.
The Dragons play in the Colonial, which is not a great conference, but one
which John Feinstein said he admired a great deal specifically because they
aren't as caught up in the big-time of college athletics as a lot of people are.
Drexel got here by beating Princeton, which is not always an easy task, and
outrebounding the Tigers 46-17. However, they only shot 37% against
They beat Sam Houston by taking the ball away and hitting their shots, and
then forced Rider to cough it up 24 times en route to a victory.
Drexel is led by someone many Duke fans may not remember, Dominic Mejia, who
began his college career at N.C. State before leaving. He didn't play a
lot at State but the 6-4 guard may be Drexel's best player, which says something
about the different levels.
Bashir Mason, 6-0, has also had his moments this season. An excellent
defender, he has scored well too. If Meija is not their best player, it's
probably Mason, who was the CAA Defensive Player Of The Year.
The Dragons also start 6-5 Kenell Sanchez, 6-7 Randy Oveneke, and 6-8 Frank
Clearly Drexel will be at a size disadvantage, and chances are Princeton, Sam
Houston State, and Rider haven't played the kind of defense Duke is likely to
throw at them. Nor have they seen the likes of Shelden Williams.
You never know, though. We didn't expect much of a game from Boston
University, frankly, and they were superb. And despite his fall from
grace at UMass, Bruiser Flint is a solid coach, and he'll have his team as ready
as they can possibly be.
If Duke wins, the reward will be a matchup with either UCLA,
which is improving rapidly under Ben Howland, or Memphis, which always has great
talent no matter who is coaching.