Freshman Samme Givens started his first game for Drexel in place of Kenny Tribbett on Thursday night against Niagara. Dragons coach Bruiser Flint said the 6-5 Givens started because Niagara plays four guards. Givens swept a season-high 12 rebounds. His eight points came at crucial times for the Dragons. Tribbett only played 3 minutes.
Senior Tramayne Hawthorne scored seven points for Drexel, but he continued his shooting woes: 3 of 10 from the field, 1 for 6 on threes. Hawthorne entered the game shooting 25 percent from the field and 19 percent on treys.
Last season, Hawthorne averaged 11.2 points as he shot 38 percent from the field and 35 percent on threes.
Reserve point guard Bobby Jordan, a senior from Roman Catholic High, is sidelined with a torn ligament in his right hand.
As Niagara's basketball team filed into Drexel's Daskalakis Athletic Center, coach Joe Mihalich held open the door to the building's entrance until everyone was inside. He said he performs the duty before every game. "I want to make sure they all get off the bus," he said, smiling.
The Niagara bus is rolling. The Purple Eagles, 8-2 after their 67-52 victory over Drexel, are off to their best start in Mihalich's 11 seasons as coach. Last season they were 19-10, 12-6 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Mihalich is a two-time MAAC Coach of the Year.
Last night was Niagara's third visit to Philly already this season. The Purple Eagles lost to Villanova by 15, then beat Monmouth and Hartford in the Philly Hoops Group. Overall, Mihalich has a 5-4 record coaching in Philly.
Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli arrived during the first half. His son Phil Jr., is a Niagara assistant. Phil Jr. played for the Hawks.
"Scouting the assistant coaches?" I asked Dad. He nodded and smiled.