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UCLA faces veteran Drexel team

November 08, 2013|By David Wharton
  • UCLA Coach Steve Alford speaks during a news conference on April 2.
UCLA Coach Steve Alford speaks during a news conference on April 2. (Damian Dovarganes / Associated…)

If there is a hint of mystery to UCLA's basketball opener against Drexel on Friday night, that's to be expected.

"Openers are always scary," Coach Steve Alford said. "It's scary for both sides because you truly don’t have an identity yet."

While the No. 22 Bruins have a new coach and a relatively young roster, Drexel arrives at Pauley Pavilion with an expected starting lineup that features a sixth-year senior, two normal seniors and two juniors.

The Dragons went 13-18 last season and have not reached the NCAA Tournament in any of Coach Bruiser Flint's 12 years at the Philadelphia school. Still, guards Chris Fouch, Frantz Massenat and Damion Lee can be effective at breaking down defenses off the dribble and Flint's teams are known for effort on defense.

"Bruiser's teams always play very physical," Alford said. "We’ve got to be cognizant of that."

Having grown up in New Jersey, UCLA sophomore Kyle Anderson faced a lot of the current Drexel players in youth tournaments and high school. He knows the guards, as well as forward Kazembe Abif.

"They're East Coast players who always have the attitude of being tough," Anderson said. "They're going to bring it."

Tipoff is scheduled for 9:06 p.m. and the game will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks. UCLA is expected to be without senior forward Travis Wear, who was still recovering from appendicitis.

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