Dick Vitale, although a little outlandish at times, is regarded by many as one of the greatest minds in all of college basketball. Earlier in the week, Vitale made some brash statements concerning the Drexel University men’s basketball team. The ESPN analyst noted that Drexel head coach James “Bruiser” Flint should seriously be considered as a top-10 candidate for NCAA Coach of the Year. In addition, Vitale tweeted that he had Drexel ranked in his top 25.
In reality, Drexel received 13 votes in the most recent AP Top-25 rankings, placing the Dragons just outside the top 25 at No. 30. Moreover, Drexel’s 78-61 victory over James Madison University Feb. 22, coupled with a George Mason University overtime loss, placed the Dragons alone at the top of the Colonial Athletic Association. Drexel has clinched the CAA regular-season title for the first time in school history while simultaneously living up to its preseason expectations.
The Dragons are guaranteed a postseason tournament, either NIT or NCAA — they would obviously prefer NCAA — but regardless, they will be portrayed on a national stage. Not only is this good for the University and its push to someday accommodate over 35,000 students, but it also gives a sense of pride to current students as well as alumni.
Drexel has continuously sold out the DAC for home games this season, and school spirit could not be higher. The DAC Pack is being considered for the Naismith Student Section of the Year Award, as the final eight will be released Feb. 25.
The point we are trying to make is that sometimes sports, specifically the national recognition of a university’s athletic program, can be an extremely useful (and free) word-of-mouth marketing tool — all you have to do is win basketball games.
The Dragons will be in Richmond, Va. March 2-5 for the CAA Tournament. They will have a first-round bye as the conference’s top team and will follow that up with a game against either JMU or UNC-Wilmington. If Drexel can win that game, then the semifinals and finally the championship game, they will accomplish something they haven’t done since 1996, when Malik Rose led the Dragons to the NCAA Tournament. Also, by winning the CAA championship, they will leave nothing to chance by earning an automatic bid.
Moral of the story: Having a recognized basketball team worthy of attention is extremely valuable for this University — perhaps even more than future construction plans, partnerships with philanthropic organizations and becoming more online friendly.
Sometimes it’s just nice for Drexel students to be able to talk to their friends from other schools and say, “Hey, I bet my team is better than yours.”