Why the will win:
1. A new era
The Jennie Baranczyk era has the Bulldogs excited and ready to build off on last season’s improbable run to the MVC Championship. Baranczyk’s hire has given the program a ‘shot in the arm’ and the first-year coach has her players believing that they can win, even without Rachael Hackbarth. With a nearly identical team from the team that finished second last season, the Bulldogs are looking to surprise people again.
2. Kyndal Clark 2.0
Sophomore Kyndal Clark had a sensational freshman campaign, finishing second on the team in points per game at 9.8 and often being counted on to take the final shot for the Bulldogs. Learning how to run the point is the toughest task in basketball and a season of experience will make Clark even more dangerous.
3. Anyone can win
After their tournament run as a No. 7 seed last season, Drake is living proof that the MVC is up for grabs. Conference champion Creighton will have a strong season with the return of Carli Tritz, but Drake proved that it can compete with the likes of Wichita State, Missouri State and Northern Iowa. As long as you get to the tournament peaking at the right time, anything can happen.
Drake finished third in the conference in scoring defense, and three-point field goal defense allowing a meager 59.9 points per game. It’s no secret that defense has been the staple of Drake’s success in the last few years and with junior Morgan Reid anchoring the defense, the Bulldogs should have another stout defense this season.
5. New kids on the block
The Bulldogs boast a strong freshmen class that should contribute right away. After lacking reliable ball-handlers last season, Drake is hoping freshmen Dilonna Johnson and will help Clark shoulder some of the load at the point. Not only that, freshmen Alexis Eckles and Ashley Bartow bring athleticism and size to the wings, something the Bulldogs also lacked last season.