Photo: Jordan Eggleston
The Bulldogs open their regular season on Saturday. They will take on William Jewell at 11 a.m. in the Knapp Center.
Opening up the season with a win will be pivotal, considering Drake will play its next five games on the road and won’t be back at home until Dec. 5.
“I think we need to continue to play together. It’s really important because it’s our opening game,” Phelps said. “It’s also important because it’s an 11 a.m. game. We have to continue to play together. We have to continue to cut down on the turnovers.”
The Bulldogs will look to take care of business before they hit a tough stretch of their non-conference schedule. Drake is slated to play Detroit on the road and will then travel to the DIRECTV Classic in Anaheim, Calif., where it will take on California and will also take on either Rice or Georgia Tech (depending on the tournament results).
“Everything is important, all the home games are important,” Phelps said. “Everything counts … It’s a tough schedule, every game’s precious.”
William Jewell competes in the Division II level and is part of the Great Lakes Valley Conference. They were picked to finish sixth in the West Division of the conference. Each division is comprised of eight teams.
This will be the second season in the GLVC for the Cardinals, who went 9-17 overall and 5-13 in the GLVC in their opening season.
Even though this is the Bulldogs’ season opener, the game is only an exhibition match in the Cardinals’ schedule.
The Cardinals’ two highest returning scorers are senior Craig Mattson and junior Devonte Bell. Mattson averaged 7.7 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, led the team in assists and started all 26 games for the Cardinals. Bell came off the bench to average 6.4 points and two rebounds per game.
Drake will hope to carry over the offensive momentum garnered on the team’s 101-80 exhibition win against Southwest Baptist on Nov. 3. The Bulldogs shot 59 percent from the floor and finished with 25 assists and shot 15 of 24 from three-point range.
The Bulldogs’ performance was highlighted by a 22-point outing by freshman Joey King and a terrific floor game from junior Richard Carter. The speedy point guard finished with 10 assists and zero turnovers.
After the game against Southwest Baptist, senior Ben Simons commented on their upcoming week.
“We have a really tough schedule this year. We have a lot of tough games at home, and on the road,” Simons said. “We do need to come out and take care of business next week. Hopefully we can come back and improve even on this week.”
Fifth-year senior Chris Hines is not expected to play after undergoing a scope in his knee on Oct. 30. The Bulldogs hope to have him ready to go against Detroit.
For now, Drake will hope its arsenal will be enough to be successful in its season opener.