The Dragons are tipping off their 2011-12 season later than most teams, but take that with a grain of salt because they are still starting extremely early — in the day, that is, 6 a.m. to be exact. So if you happen to be waking up for work or class and you turn on ESPN, just keep in mind that Drexel will be broadcasting live to a national audience.
“I’ve never [played that early] at all. I don’t even think I’ve ever practiced that early,” sophomore point guard Frantz Massenat said. “I think we’re going to be ready just because of the fact that it’s the first game of the tipoff, and we’re probably going to be a little bit more amped than we think we are.”
Their opponent for this matchup is the Rider Broncs as the Dragons travel to Lawrenceville, N.J. Nov. 15 for a 6 a.m. tipoff. This will be the fourth game in ESPN’s third annual Tip-Off Marathon. Both teams head into the nationally televised game as mid-major programs to watch.
“Actually [we will be thinking about the national audience], but then again it’s going to be so early, so we don’t know how many people are really going to watch,” Massenat said. “But I think before people go to work or school, a lot of people are going to look into it.”
According to head coach James “Bruiser” Flint, the Dragons have played the Broncs nine out of the last 10 years, and it is “always a tough game.” The Dragons took the win the last time they traveled over the bridge, but before that the two would go back and forth.
“They would win at home, then we would win at home,” Flint said. “They’re going to make it an unbelievable atmosphere — 6 a.m. and on national television. Also, it’s our first game, and this will be their third, actually.”
Starring for the Dragons will be their usual rotation of forwards senior Samme Givens, junior Daryl McCoy and sophomore Dartaye Ruffin, as well as guards junior Derrick Thomas and Massenat. Other Dragons that will make an appearance will be some of the younger perimeter players, who will have a number of chances to prove their worth while junior guard Chris Fouch rests his oft-injured knee.
For Rider, they will have the Dragons focused on their two top players. The first is senior forward Novar Gadson, who comes into the season as a First Team All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference pick. The second is a senior transfer guard from Virginia in Jeff Jones, who was chosen for the preseason Third Team All-MAAC.
“We’ve played against [Novar Gadson] for four years,” Flint said. “We know he’s a scorer, and he’s going to play power forward or small forward. They also have a kid that transferred from Virginia, Jeff Jones, who I think will be a really good player in the MAAC; he’s from the Philadelphia area.”
After the Dragons finish in Lawrenceville, they do not return to the DAC for their 2011-12 home-opener until Dec. 10 against Princeton, which is almost an entire month into the season.
“We’re always on the road. It was really unfortunate the way that [the schedule] broke out, but that’s the way it happens … [because of some of the things that happened with some things with the schedule, so] it is what it is,” Flint said. “It’s not the first time it’s happened, to be honest with you.”
According to Massenat, it is unfortunate, as Flint said, that they would be away from the DAC for so long. But the 6-foot, 4-inch point guard also said that once he and his teammates do make it to the DAC, they are going to be excited to say the least.