Gabriela Marginean averaged 20.6 points and 7.6 rebounds at Drexel, good enough to land atop the list as the Dragons' and the Colonial Athletic Association's all-time leading scorer in men's and women's basketball, with 2,581 points.
She also left Drexel as the top scorer in Philadelphia women's basketball history. Now that she has graduated, playing professionally in Romania, few know what to expect from the Drexel women's basketball team. But the Dragons do.
Led by junior Kamile Nacickaite, they won their first five games, good for the best start in school history, before losing their first game Saturday, to Virginia.
"I'm sure [people are surprised]; we had a lot of uncertainty coming into the season," coach Denise Dillon said. "Obviously, you had some major shoes to fill with Gabi graduating, but we talked to the girls since last postseason, continuing to remind them of just the collective contribution we needed from everyone."
Drexel has received consistent scoring from throughout its lineup, with at least two or three players in double figures every game. Nacickaite has been a constant in that category and was named CAA Player of the Week this week.
The 5-11 guard from Lithuania leads the Dragons in scoring and rebounding with 18.0 and 6.5 per game, respectively, although she credits her teammates for her success, saying that she wouldn't have earned CAA honors without them.
Dillon said Nacickaite would have made the all-rookie team as a freshman if not for a foot injury, but she took it in stride and continued to develop her game.
"Kamile's doing a great job, and we talked to her about the development each and every year," Dillon said. "I always say moving into their junior year is the biggest year; now they understand everything we're teaching, they understand what our system is, what our philosophy is, and then they become a little more confident in what they're doing as a player, and she's doing just that."
Joining senior captain Jasmina Rosseel to fill more important roles are sophomores Taylor Wootton and Hollie Mershon. Wootton is Drexel's only new starter this season, while Mershon provides a spark off the bench.
But beyond her top six players, Dillon thinks that everyone on this team has a role to play, and that the outstanding play among reserves is why the Dragons are so successful.
"We're playing a lot of people; they're understanding our philosophy of everyone has to be a threat, everyone has to be an option, and as long as they're willing to play defense they'll see themselves on the court," Dillon said.
Dillon, who is entering her eighth season as Drexel coach, won't look too far ahead, with the team only six games into the season and conference play not beginning until Jan. 2.
"I'm pleased with the way we have started, but we understand it's a long season, and you can't count what's going to happen in conference play with the start of your season," Dillon said. "You have to make sure the girls stay fresh, mentally and physically.
"If they let up for a second, teams are going to take advantage, and we know that. Right now, yes, we're in a good position, but December is a tough month." *