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Drexel 77 Fairfield 69.

Box Score

Postgame audio - Coach Sydney Johnson:

Stuck on the baseline between Bruiser Flint’s sideline acrobatics (does he kick a foot in the air on every jump shot by the opposition?) and a diminutive man with a bullhorn repeating “defensedefensedefensedefensedefense” for the entirety of each possession by the visiting team, I took in Fairfield’s trip to Drexel tonight.

Sydney Johnson’s new team is - not unlike Princeton in 2011-12 - very much a work in progress. There are moments where everything coalesces terrifically – such as a 17-9 run to open the game wherein the ball was shared nicely and a desperate 13-1 three minute stretch at the end of regulation to almost stun the Dragons – but the Stags can’t seem to sustain complete performances from tip to horn.

After taking an eight point lead six minutes in, Fairfield missed seven shots, had four turnovers and was whistled for one technical foul as the red-tied and red-faced Johnson argued the way the game was being called over a 8:03 span as Drexel ran off 18 straight.

The Stags have a number of very nice players. The wide-shouldered guard Rakim Sanders offers a beautiful jumper and a pro frame but can dominate (13 first half points) as easily as he can vanish (1-4 from the floor after intermission) into the background. A three point shot by Sanders drew Fairfield within 38-33 at the break.

Center Ryan Olander is able to mix a post game with a shooting touch behind the arc better than a 7’0” player traditionally can. Olander scored the Stags' first 10 points of the second half but as he did a five point deficit increased to seven.

Trailing 57-51 on Sanders’ lone field goal of the second stanza, Drexel went on a 12-2 run to regain complete control.

A three pointer from the rapid Derek Needham drifiting to his left with :53 remaining actually pulled Fairfield within four but a lefty drive by Frantz Massenat and his subsequent steal of Needham looking to shoot snuffed the comeback’s remaining embers. Needham was the Stags' high man, scoring 12 of his 18 in the vesper half.

Few squads would have been able to stop Drexel’s Samme Givens on Wednesday. Givens recorded a career high 31 points on 13-16 shooting and added a game best nine rebounds.

Starting with their 64-60 victory over Princeton on the 10th, the Dragons have won five in a row this month.

Steven Postrel said,

December 29, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

Fairfield's performance this season undermines the hype about how "loaded" they were with talent, one of the supposed explanations for SJ's move. They're a solid team, but not obviously head-and-shoulders above the talent level of Princeton (much less this year's Harvard team). An NCAA berth for them looks like far from a sure thing.

Maybe it really was about comfort with the Fairfield administration's philosophy and a big raise.

Jon Solomon said,

December 29, 2011 @ 7:42 pm

I think there's also something to it being more difficult for an outside coach to come into a new program than anyone ever anticipates.

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