The Bulldogs entered their home opener against the Lipscomb Bisons with a chip on their shoulder — this was their first season game since their heartbreaking March Madness loss to the Miami Hurricanes earlier this year. Fans piled in, filling the Knapp Center with white and blue for their Bulldogs.
With so many new faces and new roles being carved out on the court after the loss of three key senior players this past offseason, Drake is looking to flesh the roster out and continue their success for years to come.
Here are three takeaways from the opener.
- DeVries: He is Him
Tucker DeVries is a great talent, leading the team in scoring last year while also earning the Larry Bird Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year. He opened the season against Lipscomb with a vengeance, ending the game with 36 points, five rebounds and six assists. He was everywhere on the floor, making impacts beyond just the scoring column.
Last year, DeVries was being set up by the all-time Drake assist leader Roman Penn. With Penn departing the team this past offseason, his absence in the opener would create an intriguing situation for DeVries. Fans were excited to see how his points were going to come in the opener.
DeVries was a calm presence for the crowd, with Lipscomb combating with a barrage of 3-pointers.
After the game, DeVries spoke on his focus in the weight room and how it will fill his game out more to score on all three levels.
“Getting a little quicker, stronger [is] probably the biggest thing. That can really translate to the skill level on the court when you’re moving at a faster pace and a lot stronger than some of the other good guys,” DeVries said.
With that increased strength and speed, it became evident how much faster moving with the ball DeVries has become whenever he worked off of a Darnell Brodie pick and roll or came off a pindown in the opener. These plays opened up many opportunities for DeVries to get into the mid-range instead of settling for threes.
- The New Guys Stepped Up
Drake basketball has had major success during Darian DeVries’ tenure as head coach. This off season, Coach DeVries had no plans in slowing down. He and the rest of the scouting department ended up bringing ten new faces into the fold.
Former three-star recruit guard Kevin Overton looked like a man amongst boys when attacking Lipscomb in the paint, and his versatility on the defensive end gave Coach DeVries the ability to throw different lineups onto the court. Another player with an impressive debut outing was guard Atin Wright, the transfer from CSUN finishing second in team scoring with 15 points on the night. This team has major upside with so many new pieces.
Wright could be an early pick for MVC Newcomer of the Year.
“All the news guys can contribute one way or another,” said assistant coach Thomas Ostrom.
- Conor Enright: Does It All
The redshirt sophomore is poised to have a breakout season. While he clocked in 13 points to contribute to the win, what he does that doesn’t always show up on the stat sheet is what makes him such an impressive player.
Taking charges and directing the offense while also helping shut down Lipscomb to only seven field goals in the second half are just some of those unrecorded impacts.
He also had an insane layup that cracked the SportsCenter Top 10 plays of the week, ranking number three on the list.
The Bulldog’s next game is on Nov. 19 at 10 a.m. against the Oakland Grizzlies in Georgetown for the Cayman Islands Classic.