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Tribe proving skeptics wrong page 2
CAA notes


Date published: 1/10/2007

continued

Drexel is riding a 10-game win streak, its longest since 1996-97. Hofstra has won five straight and 11 of its last 12.

"It's always tough to go down to Drexel and win," Hofstra coach Tom Pecora said. "Look at the schedule they've played and the wins they've accumulated, and that really shows you the quality of their team."

The Dragons stumbled twice early, losing to Rider and Penn. Since then, they've gone on the road and beaten Syracuse, Villanova, Saint Joseph's and Temple--a surge that had them sitting at CAA-best No. 19 in the most recent RPI rankings.

But Drexel coach Bruiser Flint believes this week will tell a lot about his team's championship potential, with just one day off between games against Hofstra and Old Dominion.

"We know it's going to be a tough challenge this week," he said. "In college basketball, if you have good guard play you have a chance to be a good team. Both of them have that."

Interested spectator

With less than 48 hours to prepare for William & Mary after his team's victory over Northeastern, VCU coach Anthony Grant took some scouting material home with him Monday night.

Understandably, however, Grant found himself unable to devote full attention to the Tribe.

Grant watched with keen interest as Florida's football team pummeled Ohio State 41-14 to win its second national championship. In the process, Florida became the first Division I-A school to hold both the men's basketball and football titles at the same time.

Before replacing Jeff Capel at VCU, Grant was an assistant at Florida for 10 years, where he helped Billy Donovan guide the Gators to their first-ever national hoops title in April.

"I have a lot of pride from being affiliated with that school for 10 years," Grant said.

Patriot games

George Mason's lineup has been an almost daily experiment, as Larranaga continues to seek the right combination of players to complement mainstays Will Thomas and Folarin Campbell.

Following back-to-back losses to William & Mary and Old Dominion, Larranaga greeted UNC-Wilmington on Monday night with a starting five never before seen in Fairfax.

Gabe Norwood, John Vaughan and Louis Birdsong went to the bench. Jordan Carter and Dre Smith started at the guard spots and Chris Fleming made his first career start at power forward.

Fleming, an Osbourn Park graduate who's played just 16 minutes all season, responded by hitting four of five shots and scoring a career-high eight points.

Now Larranaga has to wonder if Fleming can do it again. Mason (7-7, 1-3) has suffered all season from inconsistent play at power forward, as neither Jesus Urbina, transfer Darryl Monroe or promising freshman Birdsong has done enough to lock up the starting job.

"We have to find the right matchups and find some consistency," said Larranaga, whose team has yet to win two straight games this season. "We've asked Folarin Campbell and Will Thomas to do too much. We need other guys to step up."

To reach JIM McCONNELL: 540/374-5444
Email: jmcconnell@freelancestar.com


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