In a city jammed with terrific basketball teams and historic programs, college No. 6 is making a case for itself as every bit as talented and every bit as dangerous as the long-time members of the Big 5.
Welcome to Drexel, which has quietly won 14 of its last 15 games and improved to 16-5 Wednesday night with a 68-46 dismantling at the Daskalakis Center of a very good Georgia State team that arrived at 34th and Market with a 14-5 record.
You cant blame Drexel coach Bruiser Flint if hes got a little bit of a complex about the way his team is perceived.
In a city where Temple, La Salle, St. Joes, Penn and Villanova are a combined 62-39, Drexel has lost once since the first week of December.
I think were the best team in Philly, Flint said after Drexel won its eighth straight game. I think we can beat anybody in the city, and Im not just saying that. I think we can do it.
And honestly? If you ask them guys? I think without hesitation theyll say (the same thing). I think we can beat all those teams. I think weve proven it. When we have good teams, we can beat teams in the city. I think thats been proven.
Drexel lost its only game this year against a Big 5 school -- by 13 to St. Joes in November. But the Dragons were banged up early in the year and still finding their way.
Over the past six years, Drexel is 9-5 against Big 5 schools, including wins over Villanova, Temple and St. Joes in 2007.
Right now? Flint will put his group against anybody in the city.
I get the whole Drexel-Philly thing, said Flint, the former St. Joes star now in his 11th year at Drexel. Weve always got to make everybody believe, because nobody thinks we should be as good as the other teams in the city.
I get that. But I get (mad) because I dont think people have been watching. Because our conference is just as good as the Atlantic 10. And in order for us to be a good team in the (Colonial Athletic Association), then we should be able to beat the other teams in the city.
And thats the thing that probably (ticks) me off more than anything else. OK? How can you look at us and say they were picked to win their conference, and theyre doing well, and theyre (considered inferior to) teams that are picked in the middle of the pack in their conference. So thats the thing for me. What are you looking at?
And we havent just started. Weve actually been pretty good against the city teams the last five or six years against them. But you know. Its just fuel for the fire a little bit. I like that. And I respect all the Philly schools. You know that. theyve got great coaches, got great players, but I get it.
Drexel wins with tremendous defense and balanced offense. Georgia State ran off to a 14-8 lead Wednesday before Drexel held them to just four baskets over the next 20 minutes. From a 25-22 lead with 4 12 minutes left in the first half, Drexel went on a 26-5 run over the next 12 minutes to turn a close game into a laugher.
They were doing a lot of talking before the game, sophomore guard Frantz Massenat said. At halftime, we got together and said, OK, this ends now. ... From the start, we wanted to blow them out.
Drexel improved to 8-2 in the CAA -- one game behind a George Mason team the Dragons have already beaten -- and Georgia State dropped to 6-4 in the conference and 14-7 overall. The final score was a 38-point turnaround from States 14-point win over Drexel in Atlanta on Jan. 2 -- Drexels only loss in the last seven weeks.
The 22-point loss was Georgia States worst since a 28-point loss to Virginia Commonwealth (69-41) late in the 2008-2009 season.
Drexel beat us in every phase of the game, coach Ron Hunter said. They were just a better ballclub than us tonight. We beat em at our place with defense, but our defense didnt show up tonight.
The Panthers made just 17 of 51 shots and were 2-for-11 from three-point range against the best three-point defense in Division 1. They missed their first 10 shots of the second half and didnt score from the floor until 9:38 was left in the game.
This was a pretty good team Drexel demolished. The Panthers had won 14 of their last 17.
Not Wednesday night.
Theyve been playing so well and winning a lot of games, Massenat said. For us to show we can beat them the way we did tonight, I think we did make a statement.
Chris Fouch led Drexels typically balanced attack with 15 points; Massenat added 13 points, six assists and three steals; Samme Givens contributed 12 points, 10 boards and three blocks and Dartaye Ruffin came off the bench to add nine points and eight rebounds.
Georgia States five starters made just five of 32 shots. Reserve Jihad Ali led the Panthers with 17 points.
Next up for Drexel is Delaware, which beat the Dragons by 11 in Newark back in early December.
Weve played well, Flint said. We have. Weve been playing good defense, weve got a balanced team. We got big guys, we got guards. Now, weve got to keep it up.
E-mail Reuben Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org