July 6, 2020
In the tenth installment of our Memorable Moments series we look back at March xx when the Drexel Dragons women’s basketball team earned the #1 seed in the CAA Tournament. The team was preparing to take the court, and then, suddenly, the season was over.
It was March 12th just before noon, and the Dragons were ready to take the court in the CAA Tournament in Elon, NC. Drexel earned the top seed in the conference tournament by posting a 16 – 2 league record (23 – 7 overall). They tied with James Madison for the regular season title, but got the top seed on a tiebreaker. Winning the tournament would give them a bid to the NCAA Tournament, a team goal since the beginning of the year. There would be post-season play for the Dragons as the team earned at least qualification to the WNIT. Their eyes were on the prize.
Drexel was ready to face UNCW, then the team received word that the tournament was cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis. That was it. The season was over. The careers of Bailey Greenberg, Aubree Brown. Niki Metzel, and Ana Ferariu were over. A surreal ending.
“It is a different time,” said Amy Mallon at a news conference after she was named the new head coach. “At the end of our season, there was not a lot of closure. We got off the court, on the bus, came home, and have not seen each other.”
They were not the only squad to face the new reality. There are many, many similar stories. Locally, the Villanova men’s basketball team returned home from New York, literally. The Big East Tournament started and was at halftime of the first game of that day before being cancelled. Temple was in Fort Worth, Texas to play in the American men’s tournament. The Owls were told there would be no games, then returned a day later and found the Liacouras Center became a temporary hospital. The La Salle men’s team was scheduled to play its first game at the Atlantic 10 men’s tournament in Brooklyn that evening. That series of games were cancelled. The teams in the first game, VCU and UMass, were warming up for a noon tip when the news was broken. Both Penn’s men’s and women’s teams were scheduled to play in the Ivy League tournaments in Boston that upcoming weekend. They were cancelled earlier in the week. Then the league stopped all spring sports activities on March 11th.
But the lingering question for this team that we will never know the answer to is what could this team have accomplished?
There have been many changes since that day. Still, uncertainty lingers. Will there be a season? How different will it be? Coach Denise Dillon moved on to become the head coach of the women’s program at Villanova. Mallon moved up to become the head coach. The recollection of how the season ended will forever be in the memories of the players, coaches, staff, and the school.
Writtten By: Glenn Papazian