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Drake basketball programs receive makeover

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In less than a year, the men’s and women’s basketball programs at Drake have taken a drastic turn. The men’s basketball program will have three players transfer, including sophomore Rayvonte Rice. In addition to that, Associate Director of Athletics Heather Weems accepted a position elsewhere and assistant coach Mike Gibson has bolted from the program. The women’s basketball program dealt with two projected starters quitting the team mid-season. Playing with only nine available players, the Bulldogs made an improbable run to the Missouri Valley Conference championship. Yet, just 15 days later, head coach Amy Stephens resigned after arguably her best coaching job ever. The basketball programs have undergone an unprecedented series of departures and transfers from coaches and players that have left both of Drake’s programs in disarray. For one, the men will field virtually an entire new roster. Meanwhile, the women will have to adapt to an entire new regime. Not only will both squads struggle to stay relevant in the MVC, but the question remains: what exactly has caused this unexpected exodus? Something is brewing in the Knapp Center.

Men’s basketball

August 29
What happened: Sophomore Rayvonte Rice and senior Kurt Alexander are arrested for stealing $50 worth of socks from a Scheels Sporting Goods store in Jordan Creek Town Center in West Des Moines. Both players are suspended for the season’s first two games.

September 14
What happened: Senior Frank Wiseler announces his departure from the men’s basketball program. Wiseler cites injuries as the reason for his decision to quit the team.

March 2
What happened: Drake loses to Creighton 68-61 in the Missouri Valley Conference quarterfinals, marking the fourth time in as many tries that head coach Mark Phelps failed to get past the quarterfinals. The Bulldogs had defeated Bradley in the play-in game to reach the quarterfinals.

March 11
What happened: Bulldogs receive an invite to participate in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. The Bulldogs lost in the second round to Rice. Drake had defeated North Dakota in the first round. The loss marked the last game for redshirt senior Kraidon Woods, senior Kurt Alexander and redshirt juniors Cory Parker and Greg Whitaker.

March 27
What happened: Freshman Judd Welfringer and redshirt sophomore David Smith are granted their releases from Drake.

April 5
What happened: Sophomore guard Rayvonte Rice is granted his release from the Drake program and plans on transferring. Rumors have linked Rice to Xavier, Virginia, Kansas State and Illinois.

April 6
What happened: Associate Director of Athletics Heather Weems accepts the position of Director of Athletics at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota.

April 18
What happened: Assistant coach Mike Gibson leaves Drake to pursue busines career. Director of basketball operations Jamelle McMillan also resigned to pursue other opportunities.

Women’s basketball

December 2011
What happened: Junior Kayla Person quits the team shortly after the Bulldogs’ loss to Iowa State on Nov. 15. Person, who was projected to start for Drake this season, played only eight minutes in the loss to ISU. Person transferred from Drake after the fall semester.

Late Feburary 2012
What happened: Redshirt junior Brittnye McSparron quits the team. After starting 22 of the team’s first 25 games of the season, McSparron does not suit up for the Bulldogs’ match on the road against Bradley on Feb. 24. With only two games remaining on the regular season, McSparron quits the team.

March 8-March 11
What happened: After playing with only nine active players (sporting a seven-man rotation featuring three freshmen), the Bulldogs make an unlikely run to the Missouri Valley Conference championship. As the seventh seed, Drake defeated Evansville, Illinois State and Wichita State, before falling to Creighton.

March 15
What happened: The Bulldogs fall to South Dakota 61- 53 in the first round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament, ending the Bulldogs’ postseason dreams. Seniors Alex Montgomery, Amber Wollschlager and AP All-American honorable mention Rachael Hackbarth play their last game as Bulldogs.

March 26
What happened: Athletic Director Sandy Hatfield Clubb announces the resignation of head coach Amy Stephens. Stephens’ resignation came just two weeks after the Bulldogs had reached the MVC championship.

March 27
What happened: Following the departure of head coach Amy Stephens, the entire women’s basketball staff is let go.

April 17
What happened: Athletic Director Sandy Hatfield Clubb announces Jennie Lillis Baranczyk as the new head coach of the women’s basketball program.

April 19
What happened: Allison Pohlman is re-hired as assistant coach for the Bulldogs. Pohlman had been let go after Stephens’ resignation.

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