Hawks-Dragons Preview

At 4 o'clock on New Year's Eve, Saint Joseph's will make the short commute from City Avenue to the campus of Drexel University for an afternoon tip. The Hawks are coming off a 96-91 home win over Iona while the Dragons are also coming in off a win. Drexel defeated a talented Davidson squad last time out.

St. Joe's enters Monday's game at 6-4 while the Dragons, who like St. Joe's had lofty preseason expectations, are 4-7. Neither team has played up to expectations, so Monday's contest is of great importance for both teams as conference play draws near.

Drexel's four wins this year come against some of the country's finest academic institutions, in the form of Penn, Rice, Princeton, and Davidson. The Hawks and Dragons have one common opponent to date, the Stags of Fairfield. Both teams fell to the Stags, Drexel on the road by 11 and St. Joe's at home by 3.

The Dragons go seven or eight deep in their rotation. The loss of senior guard Chris Fouch was a devastating one for the Dragons, who are without him for the remainder of the year. With Fouch out for the year, the Dragons place most of their offensive responsibility in the hands of guards Frantz Massenat and Damion Lee.

Lee turned in a brilliant performance last time out against Davidson, pouring in 26 points, corralling 11 rebounds, and dishing out 4 assists. On the year, Lee, a 6'6 sophomore from Baltimore, is averaging 18.6 points per. He is a capable three-point shooter at right around 33%.

Joining Damion Lee in the backcourt is New Jersey native Frantz Massenat, a 6'4 junior point guard. On the year, Frantz is averaging 13.3 points and 4.5 assists per game. Frantz does a nice job getting himself to the free-throw line. In fact, he took 16 free throws in an overtime loss to Illinois State, a game where he compiled 18 points and 9 assists.

The Dragons have very good size in the backcourt, but are missing the interior play of graduated forward Samme Givens. The Dragons have bulk inside in the form of 6'8 250-pound junior Dartaye Ruffin and 6'9 280-pound Daryl McCoy. The two combine for nearly 15 rebounds a game.

With Drexel's bulk inside, the most significant news on the Saint Joseph's side of things entering the game is the return of junior forward Halil Kanacevic. Kanacevic is coming off a two-game suspension for his behavior during the Hawks loss at Villanova. With Halil out the past two games, the Hawks struggled on the boards. This is an area where his size will really help out the Hawks as they look to build on Friday night's home win against Iona.

A year ago, the Hawks used the athleticism of their frontline to defeat Drexel 62-49 at home. Led by C.J. Aiken's nine blocks, the Hawks swatted away 16 Drexel shots and placed four scorers in double-figures.

Monday's game promises to be closer, with it being an away game for the Hawks. The early line out of Las Vegas has the Hawks as two-point favorites in this one. In order for the Hawks to get some momentum moving forward, and escape the DAC with a win, they will need the backcourt of Tay Jones and Langston Galloway to play nearly as well as they did in the win over Iona.

St. Joe's has a clear advantage athletically in the frontcourt in this one, but will need to do a much better job rebounding the ball than they did against Iona. The insertion of Halil Kanacevic back into the lineup should help them there.

Phil Martelli got solid minutes out of Daryus Quarles and Papa Ndao against Iona. The Hawks played without the services of freshman forward Isaiah Miles, who was nursing an ankle injury. Those three, plus Chris Wilson, are critical off the bench for the Hawks.

96 points will not be needed to win this one. In fact, this game is much more likely to be played in the 60's. If the Hawks defend the three, keep McCoy and Ruffin off the offensive glass, and get timely three-point shooting from Galloway and Jones, this is a game the Hawks should win.

At 6-4, this is a game that St. Joe's really needs to grind out in order to get back on the right track. Hawk Hill Hardwood will have all your post-game coverage as the Hawks look to improve to 7-4 tomorrow.

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