It will be nearly impossible to duplicate last year’s stunning success but the Drake basketball team hopes to prove it was not a one hit wonder. The Bulldogs finished 28-5 and won the Missouri Valley regular season and conference crowns and Mark Phelps readies for his first season at the helm after Keno Davis departed for Providence.
Phelps says the good part of the season is that it gives the returners confidence as confidence comes from successfull repetition. He says you have to have that confidence to know how to perform at a high level.
The cupboard is certainly not bare. Two all Valley standouts return, including junior guard Josh Young and senior forward Bucky Cox. Phelps becomes the first Drake coach in decades to have a high level of expectation in his first season on the job.
Phelps says he doesn’t feel pressure to replicate last year, but he does feel a sense of urgency to give the team their best possible chance to reach their potential. He says they have a strong sense of urgency about everything they do.
Among the key losses from a year ago is point guard Adam Emmenecker, who went from part time player to the Valley player of the year in his senior season. Phelps says,"I don’t think anybody goes into a phone booth and becomes Adam Emmenecker." He says Emmenecker was just a great teammate that did a lot of things to make others better.
Cox says despite the success of last season the Bulldogs remain highly motivated. Cox says it was a one-time thing and they want to establish Drake as a consistent winner. Cox says the entire program is much more confident. He says they see that they can get where they want to go, as past Drake teams couldn’t do that.
Young says the Bulldogs have high expectations for this season as they all enjoy winning and that’s what they strive for. Young says they will have to push themselves hard to reach those goals.
Young says because of last season the Drake program is viewed differently. He says it allowed them to get respect around the country, which makes it hard for them to sneak up on people. Drake opens exhibition play at home on November first against Truman State.