Zamarripa is a junior news-Internet and English double major and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
No matter what happens in St. Charles for the Bulldogs this weekend, Drake has already exceeded expectations.
It’s been a strange campaign for Drake. Injuries to starting forward Stephanie Running and freshman Symone Daniels really hurt their depth in the frontcourt. Along with that, the Bulldogs have undergone heavily unpublicized locker room issues.
Back in December, junior guard Kayla Person quit the team. Just two weeks ago, redshirt junior guard Brittnye McSparron also hung up her sneakers.
There’s something brewing in the women’s locker room but it would be unfair to guess what exactly.
Whatever it is, it has left the Bulldogs undermanned. Drake now features a nine-man squad and from those nine players, only seven of them are getting playing time.
Head Coach Amy Stephens has opted to not play senior Alex Montgomery and sophomore Alyssa Marschner. Montgomery has never seen much playing time, but she is certainly more than capable of filling in for valuable minutes at the three-spot.
The second decision is more confounding, considering that Marschner is a proven three-point shooter and could possibly play both guard positions because of her size.
So this is where Drake is at. For the last two to three weeks, they have been playing a seven-man rotation that features THREE freshman. That’s amazing. Now, what’s even more surprising about that, is that the team has not fallen apart.
The Bulldogs finished a respectable 9-9 in the MVC this season, good enough to tie for fifth in the conference. A series of tiebreakers pushed them back to the seventh slot of the conference tournament.
Drake has gotten it done on the defensive end all year, allowing just 60.6 points per game. On the other end, the Bulldogs are the second worst offensive team in the conference, averaging just 60.3 points per game.
This should not come as a surprise. Drake has no one who can create their own shot consistently and rely on senior Rachael Hackabrth on opening up the perimeter for shooters like freshman Kyndal Clark, redshirt freshman Carly Grenfell and senior Amber Wollschlager.
Hackbarth is having one of the best seasons in Valley history. She’s averaging 19.3 points and 11.7 rebounds per game. She makes everything go and opens up the perimeter.
Despite everything, somehow the Bulldogs have managed to have a decent campaign. Don’t forget this team played a tough non-conference schedule and took out squads such as Wisconsin and Saint Louis.
Now, they’ll head to the conference tournament to take on Evansville in the opening round. The Bulldogs should win that match and after that, Illinois State will be a battle. They beat Drake twice this year, although the Bulldogs lost in overtime at ISU in their first meeting of the year.
It’s been a strange year. Two players have quit, Stephens has relied heavily on freshmen and the Bulldogs can’t really score. But here they are at 9-9 in conference play.
Could Stephens make this her oddest and best coaching job yet?