By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If you read a recap of a Drexel game this season, you’ll probably learn a lot about the Dragons talented backcourt. Guards Frantz Massenat, Chris Fouch and Tavon Allen provide most of the scoring and grab most of the headlines.
However, another key to this team’s success quietly patrols the low post – senior forward Dartaye Ruffin.
“I think I’m playing all right,” Ruffin told KYW Newsradio after Sunday’s win over St. Francis (PA). “I do what’s asked of me and then when there’s times where they need me to make a play, I’m always there to make a play for the guys. I’m just happy, honestly. I’m just going to do whatever it takes to win.”
And most nights that involves the 6’8″ Ruffin hitting the glass and defending.
“I get the opportunity to guard the best big man on the floor every night,” Ruffin says. “I look at it as a goal to keep him under his average, or slow him down just enough so we can get a W.”
Hear Matt’s full interview with Dartaye Ruffin…
Ruffin leads the team in rebounding, pulling down 8.2 a game. He is currently 13th on Drexel’s all-time rebounding list and is on track to finish her career in the top-ten. While his number isn’t called often on offense, Ruffin has cashed in when he’s gotten his chances. He is shooting 64% from the field. He also has developed into a leader here as a senior, mentoring the young Drexel frontcourt players. After Sunday’s game, freshman forward Rodney Williams specifically credited Ruffin with helping him develop his game
“I look out for my other bigs,” Ruffin says. “I just try to give them confidence when they are feeling down about certain things. We are young (in the front court). So like Rod, in certain situations he might need a little bit of help, and I’m just there to tell him what to do and how to get through it.”
Ruffin also does a lot of things that don’t show up in the boxscore. Against St. Francis, he dove for a loose ball in a scrum that ended up saving a possession for the Dragons. He also helped keep a couple of other possessions alive by punching free rebounds for teammates.
“Those are big energy plays,” Ruffin says. “Diving for a loose ball, keeping an offensive possession alive. Those are great energy boosters for the team. Those are the type of things that we need to be successful and those are the types of things that I’m willing to do for us to be successful.”
One thing Ruffin has yet to do. Play in the NCAA Tournament. He was a part of that 29-win team that got shut out of the dance two seasons ago and he is eager to finally get a taste of it.
“It’s a huge goal of mine,” Ruffin says. Two years ago we should’ve been there. It’s my last year. I’ve got to get there. It’s definitely something I’ve got to cross off before I’m done.”
Ruffin and the Dragons will look to take another step in that direction when they return to the court on Saturday to host Buffalo at the DAC at 2 p.m.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.