With Drexel returning all its players except valuable undersized center Samme Givens, Flint believes he has the talent, experience and chemistry for a run at the CAA title and the automatic NCAA berth. Junior guard Franz Massenat is the CAA preseason player of the year. Sophomore Damion Lee also is a first-team selection, marking the first time in Flint's 12 seasons as the Dragons coach that two Drexel players have been chosen preseason all-CAA first team.
"We know we won't be sneaking up on anybody," Flint said. "Everybody will give us their best shots. When you return a lot of players it always feels good, but you have to come back with the right attitude."
Massenat (13.7 points per game) and Lee (12.0) were Drexel's top two scorers last season. Chris Fouch (10.8) and Derrick Thomas (8.1) also were key contributors to the Dragons' balanced attack.
When Philly hoops experts talk about the best teams in the city this season, Drexel and Saint Joseph's are at the top of the list. They play Dec. 31 at Drexel.
"We've beaten Philly teams the last few years," Flint said. "When people ask me how we've done it, I say we've done it by playing teams like VCU, Old Dominion and George Mason in the CAA. At times, they've been better than Saint Joe's, Temple and La Salle."
VCU has packed its basketball gear and headed to the Atlantic 10. George Mason is picked third in the CAA preseason poll, ODU is fourth.
Slotted behind Drexel is Delaware, coached by Flint's longtime friend Monté Ross. Noting that Drexel and Delaware are one-two in the preseason predictions, Ross smiled and said, "Looks like the old America East."
Ross, a former Saint Joseph's assistant entering his seventh season at Delaware, believes his team and Drexel are similar.
"We have experience, talent, inside [players] and our guards are really good," Ross said.
Delaware also has two players on the six-player first team all-conference team: senior forward Jamelle Hagins and junior guard Devon Saddler.
Ross senses that Drexel's player can handle their favorite role. Referring to Flint, Ross said, "It comes from the top. Bru is used to being picked in a certain place [at or near first place]. Teams need leadership [from players] every single day because there are going to be lows."
Win 29 games and make some noise in the NIT and it's often difficult scheduling nonconference games. Combining the cozy seating capacity of 2,500 at the Daskalakis Athletic Center makes scheduling even more challenging.
Drexel, 15-1 at the DAK last season, has home games vs. Illinois State, from the Missouri Valley Conference, Rider and Davidson. The Dragons play at Kent State, Penn, Tennessee State, Princeton and Fairfield, plus the Anaheim (Calif.) Classic.
"I think our schedule is better than last year," Flint said. "Illinois State, Davidson and Princeton have a chance to be NCAA Tournament teams. Saint Joe's is an A-10 favorite. Sometimes teams you think are going to be good aren't good."
Delaware women No. 1
Delaware, led by senior All-America Elena Delle Donne, is the preseason CAA women's favorite. Delle Donne led the nation in scoring last season (28.1). Drexel is picked fourth. Delle Donne and Drexel senior Hollie Mershon, from Archbishop Carroll High, are first-team selections.
Contact Bill Fleischman at firstname.lastname@example.org.