Story by Luke Nankivell
Photos by Joel Venzke
Drake leads the all-time series 7-0, but the two schools haven’t met since the 1979-80 season when they played in the season opener.
The Mavericks are 2-2 this season and score an average of 78.5 points per game.
The Bulldogs are off to a solid 2-1 start and are averaging 76 points per game.
Head coach Ray Giacoletti has made sure his team focuses on the present and doesn’t look too far into the future.
“It’s quite simple. We haven’t put any numbers or goals on this team,” Giacoletti said. “We just simply say, ‘Come and make the day the best you can make it.’”
Keeping that philosophy in mind, the Bulldogs are focused on playing together as a single, united force.
Carter is averaging 23 points per game after his impressive 38-point showing in the Bulldogs’ first game of the season. From three-point land, Carter, along wih redshirt junior guard Karl Madison, is shooting a team-high 50 percent.
“Being a senior, and a point guard as well, I just fit in the spot of being a leader,” Carter said. “I just try to make sure the other guys are doing what they’re supposed to do.”
Drake has played smart basketball in the first three games of the season, committing an average of just 11 turnovers per game.
“I don’t think it’s something that’s really coachable,” Giacoletti said. “We just try to make easy plays and not try to complicate the game.”
Another impressive aspect for the Bulldogs has been their rebounding game. They hold a nine-rebound advantage against opponents this season.
Ugbede has been a strong asset for the Bulldogs off the bench. In 22 minutes of action against St. Mary’s, Ugbede recorded a team-high six rebounds and 11 points, just one shy of his career-high.
“Coach already has a set plan on how to rotate us,” Ugbede said. “I’m ready for whenever Coach wants me in to do what I’ve got to do.”
The Bulldogs’ bench has been stable this season, with four bench players averaging at least 11 minutes of playing time.
“We have depth, and I think that’s crucial,” Giacoletti said. “There’s going to be times when we have an injury along the way, or someone’s simply playing better than someone else. That gives competition, and that’s how you get better every day.”
The loss at St. Mary’s was a tough one to swallow, but it showed positive aspects for Drake.
Down by 18 points at one point, the Bulldogs came within one of the Gaels, and only committed one turnover in the second half.
“Hopefully we gain some confidence and believe that this team does have a lot of growth in it,” Giacoletti said. “I think there’s a lot of guys, especially Karl (Madison) and Aaron (Hawley) who were out a year, that will get better as we go along.”
The Bulldogs tip off against Nebraska-Omaha at 1:00 p.m. following the groundbreaking of the new Drake basketball practice facility.