Fall sports are coming to a close at Drake, and that means Drake’s men’s basketball team finally gets to take the court. After a trip to the March Madness Tournament and spending an offseason building a bright new roster of potential, the Drake men’s basketball team is ready to fill the Knapp Center for their season opener on Wednesday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m.
This year will be a new chapter for the Bulldogs in many ways, and seeing the talent of the team already during practice is sure to promise an exciting season to come. With the loss of Roman Penn, Drake’s assist record holder, D.J. Wilkins, the career leader in 3-point baskets and Garrett Sturtz, Drake’s all time best rebounder, the team has some big shoes that will need to be filled on the roster. However,with 10 new athletes being picked up this season, head coach Darian DeVries is extremely hopeful about the group’s potential.
“Seeing that we have a lot of new guys like we have and learning how to band together and what does that look like, you don’t really get to figure that out until you get to play some games, but from a chemistry standpoint, I think we have awesome chemistry,” DeVries said.
Similar to Coach DeVries, his son Tucker DeVries is optimistic about how the team will learn how to mesh together to create a tight-knit program that can make it to March Madness yet again.
“I feel great. I am super excited for what is to come this year. It is a new page in Drake basketball with ten new guys, and with that being something we have never really been accustomed to with also losing so many guys in the past years. We are really looking forward to seeing where this team can go this season,” Tucker DeVries said. “Certainly there is a learning curve to having 10 new guys. You have to learn what everybody can do and how we can all mesh and work together to try to win as many games as possible.”
Since the Bulldogs gained so many new faces this season, it has been a big adjustment for not only the returning players, but the new ones as well. In the mix of newcomers, Kyron Gibson from UT Arlington, Atin Wright from CSU Northridge, Carlos Rosario from Washington State and Ethan Roberts from Army West Point, are the veteran transfers brought over to help pave the way for the first-years as they too are finding their spot here in Des Moines.
The first-year class includes Kevin Overton, Colby Garland, Patrick Bath, Bennett Fried, Chico Johnson, Andrew Alia and Elijah Price have all joined the roster all the way from Long Beach, California, to Toledo, Ohio. Knowing that this is a completely different ballgame than high school for the new athletes, the transition from high school to Division I basketball has been nothing short of an amazing experience.
“This is a really different landscape, but I am excited to be here, and I am looking forward to the season. There is also definitely a standard here. We are here to win games and a conference and hopefully make it back to the [March Madness] tournament. We definitely have some big shoes to fill, but everyday we prepare for that and we are all locked in for that,” Price said.
There is no telling how this season will go, but coming off of a March Madness Tournament appearance and with more young talent than ever, there is no question that the Bulldogs will be a force to be reckoned with this season.
The Bulldogs first men’s basketball game is at home on Wednesday, November 8, at 7 p.m., against Lipscomb University.