Hawks-Dragons gameday primer

On Wednesday evening, Saint Joseph's hosts City 6 brethren Drexel at Hagan Arena. The 4-4 Hawks, losers of two straight, host Bruiser Flint's 7-2 Dragons in what is a critical contest for both squads. Get a full breakdown inside.

St. Joe's comes into Wednesday night's game at 4-4, following back-to-back losses to Temple and Villanova. That loss to Villanova, a 98-68 home blowout, has had ten days to marinate with the coaches, players, and the fanbase. Tonight, they will look to get back on the winning track.

St. Joe's will likely start the same five they have all season long, in Chris Wilson, Langston Galloway, DeAndre Bembry, Ron Roberts, and Halil Kanacevic. Wilson has struggled in his last two outings, going just 3-10 from the floor (0-6 from three) against Temple and then 1-6 from the field against Nova in just 19 minutes of action. His play tonight will be a key component if the Hawks are to get back in the win column.

Drexel enters tonight at 7-2, with their two losses being at UCLA (72-67) and at Madison Square Garden against Arizona (66-62). They are currently riding a four-game winning streak, with back-to-back triple-overtime wins against Alabama and Cleveland State, followed by wins over Tennessee State and Davidson.

Bruiser Flint's squad is without stud junior shooting guard Damion Lee, who is out the remainder of the year with a torn ACL. That being said, they just got Seton Hall transfer Freddie Wilson into their lineup. He played his first game at Davidson, scoring 7 points and grabbing 5 rebounds in 23 minutes of action. The 6'3 scoring guard helps alleviate the loss of Lee to their backcourt. The Dragons' strong-suit, even without Lee, is unquestionably their backcourt, with Frantz Massenat and Chris Fouch. Fouch is a volume scorer, leading the Dragons in scoring at 19 points a game. In order to do so, Fouch jacks up 16 shots a contest. If he gets hot, however, he can be more than a handful. The Hawks will have their hands full with the 6'2 scorer. I would look for the Hawks to stick either Langston Galloway or DeAndre Bembry on Fouch, with my nod going to Galloway.

Massenat, a 6'4 point guard, is another guard that will give the Hawks all they can handle. At 6'4, Frantz has terrific size at the point guard spot, and is tough to contain off the dribble. A 40% three-point shooter, he has the ability to knock down threes if the defender backs away to play the drive. Although DeAndre Bembry plays on the wing for St. Joe's, I don't think it's out of the question that he sees significant time guarding Massenat tonight.

Drexel's only other double-digit scorer is 6'7 wing Tavon Allen. Allen had a 23-point outburst against Cleveland State, taking 21 shots to get there. Allen shoots 37% from the field and only 25% from three, but is athletic and gets to the rim. He could be a bit of a mis-match tonight depending on where the Hawks stick Bembry. Daryus Quarles is a player that could see some time on Allen.

On the inside, Drexel's bigs do what they're asked to do: rebound and defend. Dartaye Ruffin and Kazembe Abif are the two Dragons' two primary bigs, but freshman Rodney Williams also logs minutes. Ruffin checks in at 6'8 250-pounds and knows how to throw his weight around. He's an ideal match-up for Halil Kanacevic, provided Kanacevic can avoid early foul trouble. I am aware that saying that is sounding like a broken record at this point. Yes, I am.

Abif is a 6'7 210-pound power forward who will likely square off with Ron Roberts. Abif averages 7.6 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, but knows how to play, and turned in a terrific 15 point, 11 rebound game in Drexel's overtime win over Alabama.

To summarize, Drexel gets the nod in terms of advantage in the backcourt tonight with Fouch, Massenat, and Freddie Wilson. St. Joe's has the advantage on the wing with DeAndre Bembry and in the frontcourt with Roberts and Kanacevic, provided both remain out of foul trouble. They didn't against Villanova, and that's what stemmed the tide late in the first half of that game.

At 4-4, the Hawks have Drexel and then four winnable games before Atlantic 10 play opens with them traveling to UMass. A win tonight could help spur the Hawks into a winning streak that could change the mood around Hawk Hill. The Hawks appear to be 3-point favorites in tonight's game. Provided they play as inspired as I expect them to, I expect the Hawks to cover that line and improve to 5-4 this evening at Hagan Arena.

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