Right after St. Joseph's had taken out his Dragons, Drexel coach Bruiser Flint leaned in to the Hawk who had caused so much destruction.
"As a proud alumnus of St. Joe's - you've got to play like that against other teams, not just me," the onetime Hawks point guard told Halil Kanacevic after Wednesday's 75-55 St. Joe's victory at Hagan Arena.
Flint added, for emphasis, "I'm dead serious."
"That's exactly what he said," confirmed Kanacevic, who scored 27 points on 12-of-13 shooting. The senior forward even put back in his miss, one of his 14 rebounds.
"Halil was the way he had practiced and the way he talked," said Hawks coach Phil Martelli after his team broke a two-game losing streak to city rivals. "He was really emphatic with his teammates about getting your heads up, moving on to the next challenge. He's now a college graduate. He finished all his course work yesterday."
Early, this looked like another bad night for the Hawks. In the first half, St. Joe's (5-4) missed all seven three-pointers, finally made its first three throw on the seventh and last try of the half, and had 10 turnovers. The only offense came from Kanacevic inside as Drexel (7-3) forged a nine-point lead. Tavon Allen (20 points) was a particularly hard matchup for the Hawks.
The Dragons took a four-point edge into halftime after missing the front end of a pair of one-and-ones. Then the lid came off the basket for St. Joe's after the break.
At one point, St. Joe's had made 17 of 28 shots in the second half, including 5 of 8 three-pointers. By the time the Hawks pulled out to a 70-49 lead, Drexel had made just a couple of shots from farther than five feet for the game, and no shots from beyond 19 feet, 9 inches.
Afterward, Kanacevic still sounded ticked about how St. Joe's had started, coming off a second-half debacle against Villanova.
"After that game that we had, after 11 days off, you shouldn't have a hard time coming out and wanting to play hard," Kanacevic said, crediting his coach for getting in the players' ears at halftime. "It's a testament of who you are and what type of character you have. Are you going to drop it? We have 22 games left. What are you going to do?"
For Drexel, it was a disheartening performance for a team that had stayed with top-ranked Arizona and UCLA and beaten Alabama, and doesn't have any other games against city teams.
"They played with way more fire than we did," Flint said.
Kanacevic led that parade, and found it led to the rim.
"He just moved us around," Drexel's coach said.