In the end, what spoiled the Dragons' chances of getting into the field of 65 was their fourth-place finish in the conference after going 13-5. Drexel settled for its fourth NIT appearance in five years, and went down in the first round by seven points against North Carolina State.
"You win 23 and you can't complain," Flint said yesterday during the conference's media day at the downtown ESPN Zone. "We won more conference games than we ever had. But it was very disappointing that we beat some very good teams on their courts and we were passed over."
Drexel will open Nov. 9 at Penn, where the Dragons fell to 2-1 last season with a 68-49 loss. They soon started a 10-game winning streak, however, which was sandwiched by overtime losses at Rider and at home to Hofstra.
This season, Drexel was picked to finish fourth again in the 12-team conference. George Mason was the choice to win the title. The Patriots, who finished 18-15 overall and 9-9 in the conference, have excited coach Jim Larranaga.
"We have a veteran team with all five starters back, and nine of our top 10 scorers," he said. "So we expect a lot from these guys."
The conference team that rose above all others in 2006-07 was Virginia Commonwealth, whose first-year coach, Anthony Grant, showed the Rams how to set a school record of 28 victories, including an upset of Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
The Rams, who had only seven losses overall, claimed the conference's regular-season and tournament titles.
"Last year was last year," said Grant, who left Billy Donovan's side at Florida to take over the Rams. "This is a brand-new year. We're just going to do the best we can."
Old Dominion (24-9), which earned a spot in the NCCA tournament and gave the conference two teams in the event for the second straight year, was picked to finish third in the league behind George Mason and Virginia Commonwealth.
Meanwhile, Delaware was picked 10th after enduring a 5-26 season in coach Monté Ross' first year. The Blue Hens saw injuries, defections and academic casualties shrink their roster to six scholarship players and a walk-on by the end of the season.
"I have a full complement of players, and that's what I'm looking forward to the most," said Ross, a native of Philadelphia who worked under Phil Martelli at St. Joseph's for 10 years.
While Drexel's early schedule is not as daunting this season, little has changed for Flint and his players.
"We have to keep it up," Flint said. "We have to try to win some games, and hopefully we can get in the NCAA tournament this time."
Contact staff writer Kevin Tatum at 215-854-2583 or firstname.lastname@example.org.