One more win erases Drexel's tourney doubts

One more win erases Drexel's tourney doubts
March 5, 2012, 1:31 am
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RICHMOND, Va. -- Has Drexel done enough to earn an NCAA at-large bid?

We can discuss it non-stop. Speculate all night. Study the brackets, the conference tournaments, the upsets, the RPI. Whos in? Whos out? Has Drexel done enough? What does Joe Lunardi say?

Or we can just ignore it.

Like Drexel.

Theyve got other things on their mind.

Like winning one more game in the CAA tournament and taking the entire matter out of the NCAA selection committees hands.

Drexel improved to 27-5 Sunday with a 68-51 dismantling of Old Dominion in the Colonial Athletic Conference tournament semifinals at Richmond Coliseum (see story). The win was Drexels 19th in a row, the seventh-longest winning streak ever by a Philly Division I school

With a win on Monday evening over host school Virginia Commonwealth, which also has 27 wins, Drexel will win the CAA tournament and receive an automatic bid.

With a loss? Well, coach Bruiser Flint just shrugs.

I dont worry about it, Flint said. Weve been on a nice little run, lets keep it going. I dont talk about it to my team about it, to my staff, I dont talk about it at all. Its a waste of time.

Since the NCAA expanded the field to 64 teams in 1985, only one team has won 27 games and not gotten an invitation. That was 28-6 Coastal Carolina two years ago.

Those who believe Drexel wont get in without winning the CAA tournament point to Drexels RPI of 74 and modest schedule of strength -- 264th-toughest of 344 Division I teams.

Those who believe Drexel has already done enough to earn an at-large spot point to the Dragons national ranking (27th in the ESPNUSA Today Coaches Poll), wins over 27-win VCU, 24-win George Mason, 22-win Cleveland State, 20-win Old Dominion and 18-win Princeton. And to the fact that theyre just a really, really good basketball team that hasnt lost in three months.

Drexel has the nations second-longest winning streak at 19 games going into Monday nights showdown with VCU.

Flint said that five years ago, after Drexel won 23 games but lost to VCU in the CAA semifinals, Drexel held a big NCAA selection party on campus, with media, fans, players and coaches watching the bracket unfold on a big TV screen.

That didnt go so well. Drexel didnt get in. Nine days later, the Dragons lost to North Carolina State in the first round of the NIT.

He hasnt forgotten that.

In 07, we had a huge letdown, he said. Everybody at the place, all the cameras, boom, we didnt get called. So just handle your business, thats the easiest way to do it.

To Flints credit, his young team -- Samme Givens is the only senior -- hasnt let the distraction of a possible first NCAA tournament bid in 16 years affect its play.

The Dragons just keep winning. And nothing bothers them.

One of the things about this team, I think our focus has been good all year, Flint said. Whats in front of you. Not whats three steps ahead of you or three steps behind you. Whats in front of you.

Sophomore guard Frantz Massenat was asked several times after Sundays win whether Drexel has done enough to earn a bid. Each time, he turned the question around.

Its not about getting an at-large bid. Win Monday and eliminate the question.

He said he and his teammates dont even talk about it.

We just talk about winning, he said. Winning it all. If we win this whole thing, we dont have to worry about if were going to get in or be out. Everybody wants to decide their own fate. Weve been winning a lot. We just want to keep winning. If we keep winning, they cant keep us out.
E-mail Reuben Frank at rfrank@comcastsportnet.com

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