Drexel sat alone in last place in the CAA following a two-point road loss to James Madison on Jan. 20. The Dragons, 1-7 in the conference and 7-14 overall, had lost five games in a row and 10 of their last 12.
Three weeks later they're riding a four-game winning streak, chasing a first-round bye in the CAA Tournament and playing more "connected" basketball, says head coach Zach Spiker.
After the James Madison loss, Drexel ranked dead last in the CAA through eight league games in more than a dozen key areas, including scoring defense (86.5 points per game), three-point shooting (30.7 percent), field-goal defense (49.5 percent) and rebounding margin (minus-7.4) They were also eighth in assists per game (11.9) and seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.10).
They've improved their scoring defense by nearly four points (82.6) and three-point shooting by nearly four percentage points (34.6). Opponents' field-goal percentage is down to 48.2 and rebounding margin has improved (minus-3.8), as have their assists (12.7) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.13)
"It's, 'Hey man this isn't how we want to be. It's not what we're about. We're capable of being better.' " Spiker recalled of conversations when they were 1-6. "We talk about things as a program and I know this group takes pride in it. We've just played at a much more connected level in the last five games."
Despite the outcome, Spiker, who's in his second season as head coach, includes the James Madison loss in their turnaround, partly because two days earlier, the Dragons were throttled by Towson, 90-68. The 22-point margin tied their second-worst conference loss in the last three years. Drexel won their final two of January and first two games of February, including Saturday's 12-point road win at William & Mary, who was tied for first place.
"As the calendar turns to February, you always want your leadership to play with urgency and maybe even communicate with more urgency," Spiker added. So I would credit all of our players.
"I can't point to . . at this time at this day this player talked to that player. I just think its been a gradual commitment to getting better and making progress."
That gradual commitment has Drexel four wins shy of their combined total (15) from the last two years. And winning four of their final six games would give the Dragons their first above-.500 CAA record in six years.
"There’s no magic formula," says Spiker.