Photo: Carter Oswood
Make no mistake, senior Rachael Hackbarth is one of the most dominating players in the Missouri Valley Conference. Coming off a season that saw her average 14.6 points per game and 8.1 rebounds per game, a healthy Hackbarth is looking to have an even bigger year. She will garner double-teams and triple-teams at times, freeing up her teammates to knock down open looks. If she stays out of foul trouble, she’s an imposing defender as well. Hackbarth has the ability to carry this team.
The Bulldogs have one of the deepest teams in the MVC. Along with Hackbarth, Drake will most likely start sharpshooting senior Amber Wollschlager and junior forward Steph Running. At the guard position, redshirt junior Brittnye McSparron is finally back at the point and junior Kayla Person will make the move to the two spot. Off the bench, the Bulldogs can play around with their matchups. They might throw in sophomore defensive standout Morgan Reid or look for some scoring punch from sophomore Alyssa Marschner or redshirt freshman Carly Grenfell. And don’t forget about freshman Symone Daniels; she’s ready to contribute. This team has plenty of options.
Seniors and juniors
As opposed to other Drake squads in recent years, the Bulldogs have three seniors and three juniors anchoring a squad that already had a pair of sophomores asked to contribute right away last season. Thefreshman class is looking ready to contribute as well. Leadership should not be a problem for Drake this season.
The Bulldogs take good shots
If there’s something that head coach Amy Stephens should feel confident about, it should be her team’s shot selection. The Bulldogs were second in the MVC last season in field goal percentage at 42.5 percent. With Hackbarth back and the additions of outside threats such as Daniels and freshman Kyndal Clark, the Bulldogs might be even more dangerous when they spread the floor.
Talk to anyone in the Bulldog locker room. The word on the street is that this is as cohesive as a unit as there has ever been in recent years. Listen to the optimism of Stephens’ interviews. They might just have the right mix of experience, youth and toughness to do it.