STORY BY MIKE WENDLANDT
Basketball fever is about to hit the country with the season fast approaching.
Here at Drake, it began Tuesday with media day in the Knapp Center.
Addressing reporters for the first time this season, head coach Ray Giacoletti expressed optimism about his team in year two of his tenure.
“We’ve got a lot of good things going on. We have five seniors and five freshman on campus,” Giacoletti said.
For most coaches, going 16-16 is considered a letdown. For Drake, with a new coach, last season’s .500 record can be considered a success.
Giacoletti was happy to have such a successful first year as he pointed out that most coaches only win five or six games in their opening seasons.
Among the hot topics addressed was the personnel Drake will roll out on the Knapp Center floor come Nov. 3 when they open its season at home.
The Bulldogs feature seniors Karl Madison, Jordan Daniels, Gary Ricks Jr., Chris Caird and Trevor Berkeley. All of them stated their desire to lead this team, and each will be asked to shoulder a heavy load this year.
“We’ve spent 18 months building a relationship with our players and these guys can pass it on to the younger guys,” Giacoletti said during his press conference.
Of those guys, Giacoletti said Karl Madison is a guy to keep an especially close eye on. A fifth- year senior, and the only player remaining from his recruiting class at Drake, Karl is the closest to a true point guard the Bulldogs have.
“If coach wants me to pass first, I will be a passer first. If he needs me to take a scoring role, I’ll take that role,” Madison said during media day.
He spent the offseason working on his jump shot and working to create his own looks, and spent as much time in the gym as possible.
The progression of sophomore center Jacob Enevold Jensen will be another thing to look forward to as the season approaches.
The 6’11” Jensen played for Denmark’s national team over the summer and is looking to build on a promising freshman campaign in which he averaged five points and five rebounds.
“He’s made great strides in a short period of time, where he really believes that he’s going to be a really good player. He’s a huge foundational piece of this program,” Giacoletti said.
With Seth Van Deest graduated, it’s up to Jensen to step up as the man on the low block.
The other important note of the day was the progress made on the Shivers Basketball Practice Facility. Giacoletti said it has been a big piece to use along the recruiting trail.
Some of the new freshman stated that the basketball facility was a part of the reason they considered, and ultimately committed to Drake.
With the building nearing completion, Drake will finally have a facility that the teams can practice in at any time.
Drake begins practice next week and the season opens Nov. 3 when Coe College comes to the Knapp Center for the Bulldogs’ only exhibition game of the 2014-15 season.