Five reasons why the men will not win the MVC this season
Five Reasons Why Drake Men’s Basketball Won’t Win the MVC
1. Strong opposition
With two Missouri Valley Conference teams in the NCAA Tournament last year, the MVC was well represented, but the conference might be even better this season. With a young Wichita State team and an experienced Creighton team led by Doug McDermott, the competition will be fierce. Throw in a rapidly improving Evansville team, a UNI team seeking to return to the MVC elite and an Illinois State squad looking to build off from last season’s success. Quite simply, stiff competition might prevent Drake from a successful season.
2. (Lack of) size
Redshirt senior Jordan Clarke is a ferocious defender, but one has to wonder if his shoulder will hold up. The same goes for redshirt junior Seth VanDeest who missed all of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery. No other Bulldog on the roster is a proven interior player. If Clarke and VanDeest get bit by injuries, we will find out if guys like freshmen Robert Puleikis and Joey King are up to the task.
3 . Outside shooting
The Bulldogs were an average three-point shooting team last season, finishing fifth in three-point field goal makes and sixth in three-point field goal percentage. Senior Ben Simons is a proven commodity as a shooter (42.5 percent last year), and redshirt sophomore Jeremy Jeffers is a capable shooter, but the Bulldogs will need their transfers (fifth-year senior Chris Hines and juniors Richard Carter and Gary Ricks, Jr.) to contribute immediately from beyond the arc. Three of the four MVC tournament semi-finalists finished in the top four in three-point field goal makes. To win in the MVC, you have to make three-pointers.
4. Offseason turnover
It was a tumultuous offseason for the Bulldogs as they lost their leading scorer (Rayvonte Rice transferred to Illinois) and their top bench player (senior Kurt Alexander). In addition to that, David Smith and Judd Welfringer transferred as well, and Aaron Hawley is no longer with the Bulldogs. Drake did haul in three transfers and five freshmen, but all the new faces could take a while to adjust to the team.
5. Road woes
If Drake wants to finish in the top three of the MVC, they have to find a way to win on the road. The Bulldogs went an abysmal 3-10 on the road last season. Under head coach Mark Phelps, Drake is a whopping 13-35 on road games. The Bulldogs need to find a way to improve away from the Knapp Center.