The final in-state game of the season takes place tonight in Cedar Falls when UNI hosts Drake. Both teams need a victory. After opening the Valley race 4-0 the Panthers have dropped four of their last five and stand 7-6 in conference play. Panther coach Ben Jacobson says they hit a good stretch of tough games and games on the road and everyone in the conference is pretty good.
Jacobson says a key for the Panthers is perimeter shooting to compliment the inside duo of Eric Coleman and Grant Stout. He says there are nights when they’ve shot well from the three-point line, and that forces other teams to make decisions on how to guard the inside. Jacobson says they have a harder time when they don’t shoot the three well.
Jacobson says despite their recent struggles the attitude has remained positive. He says this group has really worked hard and he hasn’t felt they’ve lost their passion for wanting to get better, even though they’ve been through a tough stretch.
After a 9-2 start Drake appeared headed to its first winning season since 1987 but that may not happen, now. The Bulldogs are just 3-10 in the Valley after close home losses to Missouri State and Creighton.
Drake coach Tom Davis says the young guys bounce back quickly, but it’s tougher on the coaches when they lost. Davis says their struggles are more about how good the league is than what the Bulldogs aren’t doing. He says it’s a senior dominated league with a lot of good players and coaches and good solid play throughout. Drake is 12-12 overall. UNI is 16-8.