Photo: File Photo
The Drake men’s basketball team took their talents to New Zealand and Australia to take on professional teams in preseason exhibition games. The 10-day trip wrapped up last Saturday. The Bulldogs went 1-3, with the lone victory coming against the Frankston Bears, a 59-57 triumph in Melbourne, Australia.
“The trip was a lot of fun with the whole team,” senior point guard Frank Wiseler said. “I hope it will help us. We got the opportunity to play extra games that other teams don’t have.”
On Aug. 10, Drake departed Des Moines and arrived in Auckland, New Zealand, on Aug. 12. The Bulldogs first game was the next day against the New Zealand Breakers. The team spent the morning touring the city and the Auckland War Memorial Museum before taking the court. After redshirt sophomore David Smith sank a free throw to tie the game at 67, the Breakers knocked down a last-second shot to edge Drake.
Drake then travelled to Melbourne for its next two games. On Aug. 15, the Bulldogs lost 84-78 to the Kilsyth Cobras. Drake nearly pulled out the victory, despite Kilsyth shooting 71 percent from the field in the second half. The next night sophomore guard Rayvonte Rice scored with 10 seconds left to push the Bulldogs past Frankston.
Drake spent the next two days enjoying Sydney, Australia, and then battled the Sydney Kings last Friday in the team’s final game of the trip. The Kings proved to be too much for the Bulldogs, dealing Drake a 95-62 loss.
“The competition was a lot tougher than we thought it would be,” Wiseler said. “They were professional players and older, so they know how to play.”
Rice led the Bulldogs by averaging 20.5 points and 5.0 rebounds in the four games. Junior Ben Simons impressed thecoaching staff as the only other Bulldog to average double-figures in points (17.5 per game).
Redshirt freshman Jeremy Jeffers also turned some heads. He averaged 9.5 points and 2.5 rebounds per game during the tour.
Most of Drake’s roster was present for the trip, including the team’s lone scholarship freshman player, Judd Welfringer. One notable absentee was senior Kraidon Woods. It was Welfringer’s first appearance for the Bulldogs. Jeffers and fellow redshirt freshman Karl Madison also made their first appearances for Drake.
“I think Judd (Welfringer) handled it well,” Wiseler said. “When he was on the court he played very tough.”
The Bulldogs participated in plenty of team-building activities, sight-seeing tours and other cultural experiences. Wiseler said the trip was an unbelievable experience and was happy to have spent it with his teammates. Still, he said there is plenty of work to do before the season starts.
“There are a lot of things we need to improve,” Wiseler said. “That’s the reason we did this, to improve. We have to go the gym and keep working.”
2011 Pre-Season Tour
Drake vs. New Zealand
Drake vs. Kilsyth Cobras
Drake vs. Frankston Bears
Drake vs. Sydney Kings