Quarterfinal worthy of a title game headlines the Anaheim Classic
The Anaheim Classic was one of many in-season tournaments to announce its pairings on Thursday, and the event has provided a quarterfinal match-up that’s worthy of a final.
That would be Drexel, who returns the majority of last year’s CAA regular season champion squad, taking on reigning WCC champion Saint Mary’s.
Here’s the slate of games and a quick breakdown of the bracket.
Anaheim Classic schedule (all times Eastern)
2 PM Pacific vs. Xavier (ESPNU)
4:30 PM Drexel vs. Saint Mary’s (ESPN2)
9 PM Rice vs. Georgia Tech (ESPNU)
11:30 PM Drake vs. California (ESPN2)
3:30 PM Semifinal #1 (ESPN2)
6 PM Consolation #1 (ESPNU)
9:30 PM Consolation #2 (ESPNU)
Midnight Semifinal #2 (ESPN2)
1:30 PM 5th place game (ESPNU)
4 PM 7th place game (ESPN3)
6:30 pm 3rd place game (ESPNU)
9 PM Championship game (ESPN2)
Best quarterfinal: Drexel vs. Saint Mary’s
Rob Jones is the biggest off-season loss for the Gaels, but Randy Bennett’s back court should rank among the best out west with Matthew Dellavedova, Jorden Page and Stephen Holt all returning to Moraga.
As for Drexel their lone personnel loss from last season’s team was forward Samme Givens, and in guards Chris Fouch, Damion Lee and Frantz Massenat they have one of the best perimeter rotations around.
How well the front court players, such as Saint Mary’s Brad Waldow and Drexel’s Darryl McCoy, play could ultimately determine the outcome but the guard play makes for must-see TV.
Best individual match-up (that we know we’ll see): Dellavedova vs. Massenat
Dellavedova had the higher scoring average last season but Massenat is more than capable of putting up points. The only shame about this match-up (and the game) is that it has to happen in a quarterfinal.
Dellavedova’s field goal percentage (44.6%) was slightly higher than Massenat’s (42.9%) and he did average more than six assists per game, but the Drexel floor general had the higher three-point percentage (45%) of the two.
Best individual match-up (that we hope to see): Allen Crabbe (California) vs. Damion Lee (Drexel)
Crabbe is one of the nation’s best perimeter shooters, but in Lee he would go up against a player with the talent needed to one day win CAA Player of the Year honors.
Half of Crabbe’s shots last season were three-pointers, and while his versatility may be a bit underrated (5.7 rpg, 2.1 apg) this is the year in which Crabbe will need to be even more assertive offensively.
Lee was essentially a “jack of all trades” guy as a freshman, averaging 12.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. And even with the presence of Fouch and Massenat, Lee is capable of doing even more for Bruiser Flint’s team this season.
Really think the winner of the Drexel/Saint Mary’s tilt goes on to win the title, but they won’t lack for challengers either. Xavier, now led by Dezmine Wells, adds a highly touted recruiting class led by point guard Semaj Christion and Cal has the tandem of Crabbe and Justin Cobbs to contend with.
Georgia Tech will have Kentucky transfer Stacey Poole after he sat out last season, but keep an eye on Rice. Seniors Arsalan Kazemi and Tamir Jackson are experienced leaders, and in Kazemi they’ve got one of the better front court players who wasn’t on the major networks every week.
In the end the pick is Drexel due to the amount of experience they return both on the perimeter and inside, which should help them navigate the graduation of Givens.