Massenat and Ruffin play key roles in Drexel win

Drexel guard Frantz Massenat. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)
Drexel guard Frantz Massenat. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)
Posted: November 21, 2013

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Tavon Allen deservedly earned the headlines Tuesday with 21 points in Drexel's 70-59 win over host Rutgers the NIT Season Tip-Off.

Teammate Damion Lee added 15 points and senior Chris Fouch scored all 10 of his points in the first seven minutes of the second half, including a four-point play when he was leveled while making a deep trey.

There are many reasons that coach Bruiser Flint's Dragons are headed to Madison Square Garden for next Wednesday's semifinal against the Arizona-Rhode Island winner.

But no one should forget two players who are the backbone of the program, senior point guard Frantz Massenat and 6-foot-8, 250-pound senior forward Dartaye Ruffin.

The two were the game's leaders in a most important statistic: minutes played.

On a night where Fouch and Lee were limited to 19 and 27 minutes, respectively, because of foul trouble, Massenat played 39 minutes and Ruffin 38.

Massenat had 12 points, a game-high seven assists and just two turnovers. Still, Flint, a former point guard who is rough on his field generals, says he needs more from Massenat.

"I am hard on my point guards and he shot 4 for 8 from the foul line and he has to do better than that," Flint said.

Massenat is the one player who means the most to this Drexel team. Rutgers tried to double-team him, but he stayed calm under pressure.

And the brief time he was out of the lineup, Rutgers pressed whoever had the ball. Drexel simply isn't as smooth when Massenat is out of the lineup.

Ruffin, on the other hand, is never going to be a major offensive player, but the key is converting chances he has near the basket. He scored six points, shooting 3 for 5 from the field, and also added nine rebounds and his usual strong interior defense.

"He is a senior and playing pretty tough defense and is one of the smarter guys and we need him out there," Flint said of Ruffin. "You see the difference with our interior defensive when he is out of the game, and we need him to stay in there."

The Dragons have better depth this year, especially with the return of Fouch from a broken ankle and the improvement of Allen.

For Drexel to keep improving and make an expected run at the Colonial Athletic Association title and automatic NCAA berth, Massenat and Ruffin will have to play extended minutes, just as they did against Rutgers.

Massenat no doubt will keep working on his free throws and Flint won't give him a break. But deep down, without his steady hand in operating the offense, there simply would be no trip to New York next week.