Freshman guard Kaza Keane looks to lead the Redbirds to victory tonight at Drexel. (Photo by B Corbin/WJBC)
By Bryan Bloodworth
NORMAL - Illinois State basketball coach Dan Muller liked what he saw in Monday's 100-72 victory over California-Santa Barbara at Redbird Arena.
Tonight, the first-year coach takes the Redbirds on the road to Philadelphia for a non-conferernce game against Drexel. Game time is 6 o'clock with the pre-game show at 5. Both can be heard on WJBC 1230 AM, wjbc.com and the Country Financial Illinois State Redbird Radio Network.
"Every game on the road is hard," said Muller. "Drexeel is a well-coached, experienced, tough and physical team. They are not complicated. They don’t switch their defenses up. They basically play man-to-man and they guard well.
"They don’t press. They're good on offense and they’ve got a really good set of guards, who are very high potential scoring guards. They only play seven guys, so they're not real deep, but those seven are really good."
The Dragons, who are picked to defend their Colonial Athletic Association championship, return four starters from last year's team that advanced to the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament. That team also set a school record with 29 wins.
Drexel, which is coached by veteran James "Bruiser" Flint, opened this season with a somewhat surprising 66-62 overtime loss at Kent State six days ago. Chris Fouch led the Dragons with 24 points. Other top players for the Dragons are Frantz Massenat and Damion Lee.
Muller was obviously pleased with his team's performance in the season opener.
"I thought we played very unselfishly," he said. "I thought we played with a sense of urgency and a high level of intensity, especially to start the game. I thought everybody who played did good things."
The Redbirds were led by Jackie Carmichael's career-high 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to record his 22nd career double-double. Tyler Brown added 22 points.
Since joining the Division I ranks, ISU is 15-27 in road openers and has won just two of its last 12.
This is the first meeting between the schools and Drexel will return the trip to ISU next year.
Bryan Bloodworth can be reached at email@example.com