St. Joe's-Drexel Preview

On Monday night, two City 6 teams looking for their first wins of the young season will meet at the DAC. St. Joe’s and Drexel will square off at 7 o’clock, with both teams looking to bounce back from tough season-opening losses. Inside, Hawk Hill Hardwood has a full preview.

St. Joe’s dropped their season opener Friday night to Fairleigh Dickinson in excruciating fashion. The Hawks held a 5-point lead with under a minute to go, but saw it slip away from FDU guard Mustafaa Jones nailed a step-back three with 3.3 ticks left. The 58-57 loss was certainly a tough pill to swallow for the team, the coaches, and the fanbase. They have an opportunity Monday night, at Drexel, to get back on track.

Drexel played their season opener at the Coors Event Center at the University of Colorado. The Dragons played Colorado tough for a half, only trailing 33-29 twenty minutes in. In the second half, however, the Buffaloes pulled away, led by Josh Scott’s 21 points. Drexel dropped their home opener 65-48.

A common denominator on Friday night could possibly rear its ugly head on Monday as well. Both the Dragons and Hawks appear to be teams that will struggle on the offensive side of things this year. Drexel scored only 48 points, shooting 29% from the field, and just 7-29 (24%) from three. St. Joe’s wasn’t much better, scoring 57 points on 40% shooting from the field, going 5-20 (25%) from three.

If St. Joe’s is going to get the best of Drexel Monday night, they are going to need a much better outing from sophomore swingman DeAndre Bembry. Bembry, a 1st-team All-Atlantic 10 nomination, went just 3-10 from the field against FDU and finished with 8 points. The Hawks will also look for more out of freshman shooting guard James Demery. Demery played just 10 minutes against FDU. Look for that to change Monday night, and for him to bounce back after a very pedestrian collegiate debut. If he doesn't, look for Aaron Brown to see extended minutes. Brown was terrific on Friday night, scoring all nine of his points in the second half and really impacting the game on both ends. The 6'5 West Virginia transfer really impressed on Friday, and he will not be remotely intimidated at any point this season on the road.

Drexel will be starting Roman Catholic (PA) graduate Rashann London, a true freshman, at the point guard position Monday night. This offseason, the Dragons lost point guard Major Canady to a season-ending injury. That injury propelled London into the starting lineup. Chris Wilson, the St. Joe’s co-captain and three-year starter, could have a big game matched up with London.

Drexel’s two biggest offensive threats are starting shooting guard Damion Lee and reserve Tavon Allen, a 6’7 swingman. When those two are in the game together, look for St. Joe’s to likely stick James Demery on Lee and DeAndre Bembry on Allen. This will be a significant test for Demery, as Damion Lee is about as good a shooting guard as St. Joe’s will see this year. Lee tore his ACL in Drexel’s close loss to Arizona early on last season, forcing him to miss the rest of the year. As a freshman, Lee averaged just over 17 points a game. If St. Joe’s can contain him, they will be in a great position to walk out of the DAC with a win.

Last year, when the Hawks and Dragons met at Hagan Arena, Drexel’s starting frontcourt was Dartaye Ruffin and Kazembe Abif and St. Joe’s starting frontcourt was Ron Roberts and Halil Kanacevic. All four of those players have since graduated and both teams will start four new players in the frontcourt. Drexel sophomore Rodney Williams had a strong freshman campaign in the CAA and will do battle with St. Joe’s junior power forward Isaiah Miles in the post. Miles is coming off his first career double-double. In the loss to FDU, Miles had 12 points and 14 rebounds. Drexel’s 6’9 center Mohamed Bah and St. Joe’s 6’8 center Javon Baumann will also square off down low. Those two match-ups will be critical, as rebounding will be a factor in this one.

It is still so early in the 2014-2015 season, with only one game in the books. However, this is an important one for the Hawks, coming off their surprising home loss. St. Joe’s plays at Drexel Monday, then the Hawks fly to Washington on Tuesday in preparation for Wednesday night’s game at nationally-ranked Gonzaga. Given how difficult that game Wednesday against Mark Few’s squad will be, it makes Monday’s game at Drexel that much more pivotal.

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