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Bulldogs need more than a new name

Column by Taylor Soule, sports editor

Soule is a sophomore news-internet and writing double major and can be reached at tdsportsed@gmail.com

Taylor Soule-w200-h200A sole doubt swirls across campus, across Des Moines and across Iowa. Who?

Who will lead Drake men’s basketball?

That doubt tows more doubt. How many players will transfer?

Freshman guard Micah Mason already announced plans to transfer. Mason led Drake from the arc on 40-of-79 shooting en route to a .506 percentage. He finished the regular season ranked fourth in Division I in three-point percentage.

When will Drake — and the Knapp Center — return to the buzz of the 2007-08 season, a season that saw the Bulldogs earn a coveted NCAA berth?

A buzz echoed from the Knapp Center on March 14, as media personnel leaned in to hear the news. As camera shutters snapped ceaselessly, ready to capture the mood and the buzz in a sole shot.

Then, the news from Drake Athletic Director Sandy Hatfield Clubb.

“Following a comprehensive review of the Drake men’s basketball program, the university has made the decision to not retain head coach Mark Phelps,” Hatfield Clubb said.

Phelps recorded a 77-86 overall record and 37-53 Missouri Valley Conference record over five seasons at the Bulldogs’ helm.

sandyconf-w2000-h2000Pens scratched across paper and keys clicked with every word. Old doubts ushered new doubts.

Could Drake afford to hire the right coach?

“Absolutely,” Hatfield Clubb said.

Are Iowa ties a must in Phelps’ replacement?

“That’s always a factor that we look for,” Hatfield Clubb said.

Hatfield Clubb vowed to hire a coach loyal to high academic standards and player development. A leader who understands the demands of a Division I head coach.

Her pledge hardly eased the minds of a campus and a fan base hungry for a repeat, or even a glimmer, of the magical 2007-08 season, though. As doubts eclipsed the walls of the Knapp Center to encompass Drake, Des Moines and even the state, a sole doubt still lingered. Who?

Who will reverse a trend of average seasons? The 2012-13 season owned a blend of highs and lows. The Bulldogs opened Missouri Valley Conference play 0-4, then won two straight.

Drake shocked eventual NCAA Championship participant and then-No. 17 Creighton at the Knapp Center on Jan. 23, 74-69. A game later, Drake posted a shaky performance at Missouri State to lose 78-72.

Drake beat Indiana State in a 74-71 overtime thriller on Feb. 2. A game later, the Bulldogs squandered a 17-point lead to fall 94-86 to Illinois State.

Though the 2012-13 season rests in the past, Drake ushers a new season, a season to draw the best to Des Moines. A season to assess the program and develop new goals under a new leader. Hatfield Clubb warned that March Madness could delay the replacement process, though.

“That creates interesting challenges relative to availability,” Hatfield Clubb said.

To quiet the buzz and erase the doubts, Drake needs more than a new name, though. Drake needs a new buzz, a buzz that resembles, even vaguely, the 2007-08 season. A buzz that binds campus, Des Moines and Iowa in Bulldog pride, a buzz that has the state eager, once more, to support Drake men’s basketball.



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1 Comment

  1. Dave Cunningham March 28, 2013

    I am so excited!

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