For Drexel fans, the upcoming women’s basketball season will be one of transition. Head coach Denise Dillon returns with only two starters from last year’s campaign. The Dragons have lost 74 percent of their scoring due to the graduation of Taylor Wootton, Hollie Mershon, Renee Johnson-Allen and Nicki Jones.
But as in previous years, Dillon has done an excellent job bringing in new talent and developing players who are ready to step in and fill those holes. Drexel will be boosted this season by the arrival of three freshmen whom Dillon expects to contribute to this team.
Sarah Curran, who is expected to be in the starting lineup in the team’s opening game against the University of Toledo, is a multidimensional player who brings versatility to the Dragons. Along with Curran, freshman guards Alexis Smith, Florence Ouattara and Ashida Cooper are expected to provide a spark coming off the bench this upcoming season.
Throughout the practices and preseason, one of the players who has most impressed Dillon is sophomore point guard Meghan Creighton. “I would say Meghan has shown the greatest jump in her performance, and her mentality is what’s allowing her to do that,” Dillon said.
Creighton is Drexel’s leading returning scorer from last season, as she averaged 5.9 points per game and shot 37 percent from three-point range. She believes that her experiences last year as a freshman will help her greatly this upcoming season. Specifically, one of the ways she believes she can improve is through her shot selection.
“Last year I took a lot of threes and just gave the ball to different people on our team, but this year I realize I need to take shots on different places on the floor,” Creighton said about her improvements heading into the new season.
When Dillon asked Creighton why her mentality has changed, the point guard replied, “Because I had to; this team needed me to.” That’s the type of mentality that Dillon will have, not only in Creighton but also in any player who steps on the floor for the Dragons. Along with Creighton and Curran, the remaining three players of the starting five include sophomore guard Rachel Pearson, redshirt junior forward Jamila Thompson and senior forward Fiona Flanagan.
While Creighton has had an excellent preseason, the player to watch this upcoming season will be Flanagan. The senior averaged 5.4 points per game last season while shooting close to 40 percent from three-point range, but she will be asked to become more of a scoring threat. Flanagan has always been known for her outstanding defense, and Dillon said she expects an improved output on the offensive end, as Flanagan will now be one of the focal points on the Drexel offense.
Other returning talent includes seniors Abby Redick and Tory Thierolf, redshirt sophomore Jackie Schluth, and redshirt freshman Pandora Wilson. Aside from Wilson, all of these returning players have game experience and should provide quality depth for the Dragons this upcoming season.
Although they were picked to finish second in the Colonial Athletic Association, Dillon said she doesn’t put much stock in any preseason rankings or expectations. She ultimately knows that the women she has can accomplish whatever they want by buying into a system of hard work, great defense and teamwork. The Dragons’ transition into a new era begins Nov. 9 against Toledo in the first round of the Glass City Tournament.