Dreher makes delayed debut in UC victory
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Among his many early-season priorities, University of Charleston coach Mark Downey must educate his nine new players in what he calls "sharing the ball.''
The educational process became a bit more involved on Saturday night with the debut of junior guard Robbie Dreher. The long-term prospects of Dreher's presence, however, look highly promising.
Two years ago, the 6-foot-4 Dreher led Division I Winthrop University in scoring and then set his sights on the more competitive challenges of playing at Marshall, but things didn't work out, triggering an onslaught of NCAA bureaucracy.
The organization finally declared him eligible this week, and he responded by contributing in his first appearance as a Golden Eagle, scoring 11 first-half points off the bench in UC's 90-70 victory over Ohio Valley at Eddie King Gym. A crowd of about 400 attended.
"He can be really good,'' said Downey. "He's explosive. He can really get to the basket, shoots it pretty well, rebounds it extremely well. He's a very good defender. He's got all the tools.''
He entered with 17:14 left in the first half and, on his first foray to the basket, promptly turned the ball over. Shortly thereafter, one of the Fighting Scots blocked his shot.
"He was a little nervous early,'' said Downey. "We tried to bring him along to get him going.''
He played 24 minutes in his debut, showing an aptitude for aggressive drives to the hoop, and finished with 11 points, but hit only 2 of 9 from the floor.
"I didn't do a real good job tonight,'' Dreher conceded.
His last 15 months have not been typical of most college students.
"He took full-time classes last year at Marshall University, but he took them from home,'' said Downey. "He was at home with his father, who had diabetes. He took nine classes [from home] to try to be eligible at Marshall this year, but Marshall didn't end up taking him. We appealed it because he was at home caring for his father, and [the NCAA] finally said OK.''
Dreher's choice of UC involved more than just playing ball and going to school.
"I wanted to win,'' he said. "It's not just about coming here and playing. If you check Coach Downey's resume, he's always been a winner, everywhere he's been. I want to win championships.''
The Golden Eagles (4-1 overall, 1-1 West Virginia Conference) built a 49-32 halftime lead and increased the advantage to 31 in the second half, but Downey found considerable fault with his team's play, especially in the game's latter stages.
"We weren't ready to play for some reason,'' said the UC coach. "We didn't share the ball the way I like to. We took bad shots.''
UC's Terrell Lipkins led the scoring with 22 points on 9 of 20 shooting, Xavier Humphrey added 13 points and Hayden Annett, who is 7 for 9 on 3-point attempts in the last two games, had 10 points.
Leading Ohio Valley (1-6, 0-3) were Ashton Brown with 25 points and Mustafa Hela with 12.
Reach Mike Whiteford at email@example.com.