Preview: Duke (3-0) vs. Drexel (3-0)

Duke continues the march towards an NIT Season Tip Off Championship tonight in Madison Square Garden against the 3-0 Drexel Dragons. TDD previews the match up and introduces the Dragons.


1/1 Duke (3-0) vs. Drexel (3-0)
New York, NY. – Madison Square Garden
7 p.m., ESPN2

Program Vitals
Conference: Colonial Athletic Association
Nickname: Dragons
Colors: Navy Blue & Gold
Head Coach: James "Bruiser" Flint (5th year)
Career Record at Drexel: 71-48
Last Year: 17-12 (12-6 CAA, First Round NIT)

Projected Starters: 
   Dominick Mejia (6-4, 200, Jr.)  - 16.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.7 apg
   Bashir Mason (6-0, 180, Jr.) – 15.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 6.3 apg
   Kenell Sanchez (6-5, 220, Sr.) – 10.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg
   Randy Oveneke (6-7, 220, So.) – 2.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg
   Frank Elegar  (6-8, 210, So.) – 10.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg

Key Reserves: 
   Chaz Crawford  (6-10, 230, Jr.) – 6.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg
   Randy Hampton  (6-4 205, So.) – 2.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg
   Tramayne Hawthorne  (6-0, 175, Fr.) – 4.0 ppg


Storylines:

New Dance Partners: Duke has never faced Drexel. However, the Blue Devils own a 37-3 all time mark against teams from the CAA.

Defensive Struggle Possible: Through three games the Dragons are holding their opponents to just 54 points per game while amassing a 3-0 record against Princeton, Rider, and Sam Houston State. Meanwhile the Blue Devils are holding opponents to 47.3 points per contest through the same three game stretch. Duke opponents have as many turnovers (57) as made field goals (57).

New Look Dragons: Head coach Bruiser Flint had no idea what to expect this season. Gone were four starters from last year's 17-12 team that made the NIT. However, through three early games the Dragons look just fine, advancing to Madison Square Garden for the NIT Season Tip Off Semifinals.

Unproven Frontcourt: The Dragons use a very young and inexperienced frontcourt with sophomores Randy Oveneke and Frank Elegar manning the starting roles. Last season Oveneke, a native of Belgium, played a significant role in the Dragons' last four games. Elegar earned just 70 total minutes of playing time a season ago. Junior Chaz Crawford is expected to eventually earn the starting job after starting 26 games a season ago and leading the Dragons in rebounding and blocked shots.

Experienced Backcourt: With such a young group in the frontcourt, Coach Flint will rely on a strong group of guards led by juniors Dominick Mejia began his college career at NC State before transferring. Last season, his first in the CAA, Mejia connected on 47 percent of his perimeter attempts. Lead guard Bashir Mason is considered one of the conference's top on the ball defenders, and was named CAA DPOY as a rookie. As a sophomore he again made the conference's all-defensive team. The downside for Mason is his offensive prowess. He shot just 32% from the field a season ago.

Young Guns: Kenny Tribbett, a 6-foot-9 blue collar rebounder, was rated in the top 150 overall prospects a year ago by Scout.com. Joining him are classmates Tramayne Hawthorne and Scott Rodgers.

Duke in MSG: The Blue Devils are 11-5 under Coach K at Madison Square Garden. Last year, Duke posted wins over Oklahoma (78-67) and St. John's (58-47) at MSG. Seven of the previous 10 contests have drawn at least 19,000 spectators.

Duke in the NIT: The Blue Devils improved to 16-2 all-time in the PNIT and advanced to the 2005 NIT Season Tip-Off semifinals with wins over Boston University and Seton Hall. Duke's 16 wins in the PNIT is the most by any school in the tournament's 21 year history.


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