The Bulldogs finished last in the conference in scoring defense, allowing 67.7 points per game. They also allowed opponents to shoot 45 percent from the field, a tremendously high shooting percentage (good for second worst in the conference). On the bright side, Drake did top the conference in 3-point field percentage defense.
Drake consistently lacked an interior rebounding presence in the middle. Injuries to redshirt junior Jordan Clarke and junior Seth VanDeest did not help the cause either. The Bulldogs surrendered a conference-worst 35.6 rebounds per game and were also last in rebounding margin at -5.5 rebounds per game. The team was also last in the Missouri Valley Conference in offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. Unless the team improves significantly on the glass, it’s hard to predict Drake making any kind of run.
Winning outside of the Knapp Center proved almost impossible for the Bulldogs last season, as they finished 2-10 on the road for the year. Achieving at least a .500 mark outside of the Knapp will be key if the Bulldogs want to make the jump into the MVC elite.
The art of penetration
Something that plagued the Bulldogs last season was their inability to get into the lane and breakdown defenses. The responsibility will fall on senior Kurt Alexander and redshirt freshman Karl Madison to generate drive-and-kick opportunities for knockdown shooters like junior Ben Simons. Getting in the lane opens up the game for everyone, and the Bulldogs have not been able to consistently generate open buckets.
Injuries, injuries and more injuries
The Bulldogs need to stay healthy, something they have not been able to do in the last couple of years. Frank Wiseler quit the team due to injuries. VanDeest has been plagued by injuries his entire Drake career. Redshirt sophomore David Smith and redshirt junior Cory Parker have already missed time this year. Redshirt junior Jordan Clarke is coming off an elbow injury from last season. Everyone needs to be healthy for Drake to have a shot.