For the second consecutive year, the Drexel University men’s basketball team has been projected to win the Colonial Athletic Association regular-season title. The selection was made by coaches, media relations directors and media members at the CAA basketball preseason Media Day Oct. 16 in Arlington, Va. In addition, two Dragons were given personal honors.
Following the Dragons in the preseason poll was the University of Delaware, George Mason University, Old Dominion University and Northeastern University. The teams ranked No. 6 through 11 were James Madison University, Hofstra University, Georgia State University, The College of William & Mary, Towson University and the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
Junior point guard Frantz Massenat has also been selected as the CAA preseason player of the year. In his sophomore season, Massenat led the Dragons in average points per game with 13.7, three-point shooting percent with .450, and 173 total assists — over 100 more than anyone else on the team. Massenat finished second in last year’s player of the year voting behind Ryan Pearson of George Mason.
“I was really excited to hear [it],” Massenat said. “It just shows that a lot of hard work will pay off. Everything I’ve really been working for since high school is starting to come together.”
When asked if he was disappointed about finishing second in the voting last year, Massenat said he would use it as motivation this year.
“I was a little disappointed. All of it is motivation to work harder and harder to make sure I get it this year,” he said.
Finally, sophomore guard Damion Lee was selected to the preseason First Team All-CAA. As a freshman, Lee broke out during the Dragons’ run in the CAA Tournament. His most notable performance was in the CAA Finals, where he dropped 20 points in Drexel’s loss to Virginia Commonwealth University.
Last season, the Dragons won their first CAA regular-season title with a record of 29-7, the most wins in school history. The Dragons also held a 19-game winning streak, the second-longest in the country. But the regular-season title wasn’t enough for the Dragons to reach their full potential. They failed to win the CAA Tournament, dashing their hopes to make it to the NCAA Tournament. Instead they participated in the National Invitation Tournament and ultimately lost in the quarterfinals against the University of Massachusetts.
In his 11th year with the Dragons, head coach James “Bruiser” Flint has never made it to the NCAA Tournament. Last year was the second time that he’s missed the tournament after a largely successful season, the first being in 2007.
“It’s tough to swallow because I [knew] we were good enough to get in the tournament and win some games,” Flint said. “I was prepared for it, and I talked to the [team] about that when we lost in the [CAA] championship.”
Drexel is returning all but one player this season, and with the departure of VCU from the CAA, the Dragons could be the top dogs in the league. But even so, Massenat isn’t ready to crown his team as league champions just yet.
“There are still other really powerful teams in the conference,” Massenat said. “You really can’t judge it like, just because they left we’re definitely going to win it. Other teams got better as well.”
The new class of seniors bring plenty of experience. Chris Fouch, Derrick Thomas and Daryl McCoy have been starters since they were freshmen, and Flint knows it’s their time to shine.
“I have guys that have been around, I have the seniors, they get it,” Flint said. “They understand what’s ahead. They’ve been through it, so those guys should be ready to step up a little bit.”
Fouch is arguably the best sixth man in the CAA, while McCoy is known around the league as a force in the frontcourt. McCoy’s aggressive style makes him perfect to be a starter this year.
As was the case last year, a CAA title won’t be enough for the team to reach its ultimate goal. The Dragons will have to win the CAA Tournament to get an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Dragons begin their season Nov. 9 at Kent State University.