As the annual collegiate basketball coaching carousel begins, names are being thrown around aimlessly and rumors about impending job moves are circulating.
But Drexel University is putting an end to a rumor about its highly successful men's basketball coach, James "Bruiser" Flint. The Tribune has learned that the university and Flint have agreed to a five-year contract extension. The deal was formally announced on Monday, March 26, though details were not immediately known.
“This is where I want to be,” said Flint, who won his record-tying fourth Colonial Athletic Association Coach of the Year Award after guiding the Dragons to a 29-7 campaign in 2011-12. “We're building something here and I'm just happy to be a part of it.”
Flint and Philadelphia go together like pretzels and water ice. Separately, they are good. Together, they are awesome.
He's a hometown boy who has grown up to be an example for many youngsters to imitate. He starred at Episcopal Academy and later at Saint Joseph's University. He paid his dues, eventually becoming a head coach at the University of Massachusetts before moving on to Drexel.
This season, the Dragons were a hot topic in college basketball for not making the 68-team NCAA tournament field. Drexel lost to Virginia Commonwealth University in the CAA tournament championship game. The loss, which ended the Dragons' school record 19-game winning streak, put Drexel's post-season hopes into the hands of the NCAA tournament committee.
Not a good idea.
The committee didn't think much of the Dragons' non-conference schedule. And as a result, Drexel found itself NIT bound. The Dragons' season ended last week with a 72-70 loss to UMass in the NIT quarterfinals.
"We had a good season," said Flint, whose Dragons were fifth in the country in scoring defense at 55.7 points per game. "You never want to lose that last game. I've gotten over the disappointment of not being in the NCAA tournament and we played well in the NIT. They said our strength of schedule worked against us and we're addressing that. We played and beat the teams that were on our schedule. I guess that wasn't good enough for some but we're looking at ways of improving the caliber of teams that we play."
As for the Dragons leaving the CAA, anything is possible. However, Drexel Athletic Director Dr. Eric Zillmer said he's pleased with Flint and the program being in the CAA.
"We think a lot of (Flint)," Zillmer said. "He's family and has conducted himself as a coach, a person, and a family man extremely well. We had a great season and a lot of the credit should go to him and the fine young men that he coached.
"I see what is going on with teams moving around. You can't help but notice it. I can't say what will happen in the future but we're fine where we are right now."
Flint has talent returning. The NCAA snub and the decent NIT run has made the Drexel program more visible. Flint can see the difference on the recruiting trail.
"It helps when people know about your program, no question about it," Flint said. "We're talking to some kids now and it's good to see that they are interested."
Drexel had only one senior, Samme Givens. A 6-5 forward, Givens averaged 11.4 points and 8.0 rebounds. Flint has a budding star in CAA Rookie of the Year Damion Lee. A 6-6 forward, Lee averaged 12.7 points. Junior guard Chris Fouch averaged 10.5 points.
Sophomore guard Frantz Massenat was a first team all CAA selection who averaged 13.5 points and paced the league in three-point percentage, hitting .466 of his attempts. Massenat, who tied a school record with 34 consecutive free throws, was also third in the CAA with 4.5 assists per game.
Flint's team also gets it done in the classroom. The CAA named Jake Lerner and Stevan Manojlovic Honorable Mention All-Academic selections. Both are sophomores.
"I've been blessed in so many ways," Flint said. "I have the support of the administration and a loving family. I have a great group of players to coach. I have a great coaching staff. I feel I'm in a great situation. I know there is a business side to (coaching) but I'm happy. I'm where I want to be."