STORY BY MICHAEL WENDLANDT
As the Drake Men’s Basketball season wraps up, there are five men who will soon be donning the Bulldogs uniform for the last time.
“I have a great amount of pride for these guys,” head coach Ray Giacoletti said. “They’ve been catalysts for this team, and I’ve never seen a team improve over two months as much as these guys have. It’s a testament to their attitude and work ethic.”
The players will each take something personal with them as they leave Drake. For Jordan Daniels, the camaraderie with his teammates feels most significant.
“I’m really going to miss spending time with these guys. We’ll still stay in contact, but the time we’ve had here is something I won’t forget,” Daniels said.
For Gary Ricks Jr. it is how his team has rallied in the face of adversity including several injuries and a coaching change.
“We’ve stayed together through everything that has happened here since I’ve been here,” Ricks said. “I’m extremely proud of that.”
Madison has been a key member of the team this season, starting as a point guard and using his work ethic and intelligence to control the offense and shut down the opponent defensively. His efforts have not gone unnoticed.
“I would hire him in a minute,” Giacoletti said. “He’s the one guy who will always talk in the huddles, give his observations. Simply put, he’s a leader.”
Each player has also developed on the court. Madison has become a true point guard and Ricks has become more of a vocal leader.
Daniels has been an explosive scorer while Caird has been clutch, playing his best on the biggest stages. But it’s been Trevor Berkeley who has made the biggest jump over his career.
“He’s come so far in his two years. He has stepped in, listened and worked, and has taken care of business,” Giacoletti said.
Each player has their memories, but Caird’s is clearly his game-winner on Feb. 4.
“On the court, I’ll remember that game-winner a couple of weeks ago against Southern Illinois,” Caird said. “That was an amazing moment.”
Ricks has set tangible goals for a future in sports even after his playing career concludes.
“I’m getting a degree in English, but I want to see if I can play professionally,” Ricks said. “But after that, I want to use my degree and be a sports writer.”
All five men hope that they have left behind a legacy for the future of Drake basketball as they leave the team to the underclassmen and newcomers.