Monday, February 26, 2018

UNCW Seahawks 83 at Drexel Dragons 82 (NCAA Basketball, CAA) - February 24, 2018

Having seen all of the college basketball arenas in the New York area, I am turning my attention to other nearby locales, with Philadelphia the most obvious. There are six Division I hoops schools based there: St. Joseph's, La Salle, Temple, Villanova, Penn, and Drexel. I have seen games at the first three, so an ideal situation would be seeing two of the other three on the same day. This season Villanova is playing at the Wells Fargo Center as their regular home court is being renovated and that is not quite worth the trip, so I scoured the schedule for a Penn/Drexel doubleheader. This is doubly convenient as the two schools are just 10 minutes apart, the two closest NCAA hoops venues in the country. This past Saturday afforded such an opportunity, so I grabbed a Megabus down to Philly. Their stop next to the 30th Street station is just a short walk from both schools as well, making this a very easy trip indeed.

The first game was a 4 p.m. start at Drexel, which is the only school not part of the Big 5. They play out of Daskalakis Athletic Center, just north of Market Street at 34th. In fact, you should enter through a door on Market Street (right next to Landmark Americana, a bar worthy of a visit if you like cheap beer) rather than walk around to the main entrance, pictured above.

That's because there are a few things to see in the hallway leading to the main entrance, including a staircase schedule (above) and the Drexel Hall of Fame (below).

You will also pass one of many dragons scattered throughout the building.

When you get to the main entrance, the box office is to the right. Tickets are $20 on game day, and there is usually only a crowd of about 1,000 so freebies are tough to come by. I bought one near center court, with the view shown below. As you can see, the gym is quite small and there are no bad seats on the sidelines, though those on the very end are just benches, while chairbacks are available elsewhere.

Both end zones are student sections (the students call themselves the DAC Pack), though anyone can sit in the upper rows, as they aren't very crowded. There is also a VIP section and Presidents Suite for season-ticket holders; I happened to sit next to that and enjoyed the extremely passionate Drexel fan who criticized the officials using their first names. That is knowing the game!

Take a bit of time to walk around behind the seating area to find surprises like: another dragon!

And look, another one! I find it interesting that on the floor, the dragon breathes fire to the right, but here to the left. Nice to see both political persuasions included!

The venue was opened in 1975 and still looks quite new, partially due to renovations carried out between 2010-16. The team has made the tournament four times in the interim, securing one win in 1996, defeating Memphis before falling to eventual runner-up Syracuse. I do like how they signify that win with a star. The two retired numbers on the left belong to Michael Anderson (blocked by the speaker) and Malik Rose, while those on the right are for Barbara Yost and Gabriela Mărginean.

This is quite a simple venue for basketball, though the entire complex does have a lot more to see. The US Open Squash tournament has been held here every year since 2011 for example.

Philadelphia is a great college hoops town and although the DAC is not as impressive as some of the other local gyms, it is still a nice place to visit.

The Game

UNC Wilmington were the visitors and both teams were 6-11. This should have been a meaningless game, but the CAA tournament gives a bye to the top 6 teams, so the winner of this one would likely get that bye. If you haven't understood the stupidity of having conference tournaments involving every team in the conference, the fact that a 7-11 team gets a bye should enlighten you.

Drexel completed the largest comeback in NCAA Division I history on Thursday, defeating Delaware 85-83 after being behind 53-19, so when they fell behind 20-7, nobody was much worried. Sure enough, the Dragons came back and took their first lead of the game early in the second half at 43-42. From there on in, the advantage changed hands 8 times and with 1:10 left, Drexel was up 80-76. But a trey from Ty Taylor II (TT2 no doubt) followed by 2 FTs from TT2 gave the Seahawks the one-point edge. On Drexel's next possession, Tramaine Isabell was fouled and drained his two shots to again give the Dragons the slimmest of leads with just 19 seconds remaining. UNCW went right up the floor and Jordan Talley managed to sink a jumper with 8 ticks on the clock to make it 83-82. Drexel did not call a timeout and raced down the floor, but a layup from Kurk Lee did not fall and Austin Williams failed to tip home the rebound as UNCW got the coveted bye with the road win.

This was a highly entertaining game with a lot of fast breaks and only 31 fouls. It only took about 1:40, giving me plenty of time to wander over to the Palestra for the nightcap at 7. More on that in the next post.


Drexel finished in a four-way tie for 7th in the 10-team conference at 6-12, and was given the 8th seed in the tournament. They'll take on James Madison for the right to play top seed College of Charleston while UNCW gets Hofstra.



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