Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Five Good Questions with Sean Keeler about Drake Basketball

Today's Five Good Questions is with Sean Keeler of the Des Moines Register about Drake Basketball....Sean took a few minutes to respond about a nationally ranked Drake team that is 20-1 going into its game tonight against Illinois State.....the Bulldogs have an RPI rating of #8....

Q1. Many people in the country do not know about Drake basketball and their impressive record. Is this team for real? Why?
A. Real enough to win the Missouri Valley Conference, that’s for sure. This team shoots the 3-ball, defends, rebounds and closes games — tight games — as well as any I’ve seen in six years of covering this league. They’re doing it with seniors. They’re doing it with two former walk-ons in the starting lineup. They’re doing it with a first-year head coach. They’re doing it at a school where sports come a distant second to academic responsibilities. And they’re doing it in the best mid-major conference in the country. If there’s a better basketball story going than Drake right now, brother, I’d like to see it.

Q2. Who are some of the players that we should get familiar with?
A. + Adam Emmenecker, senior point guard, former walk-on. Only just put on scholarship before this season. He’s a 3.9 GPA student with four majors/concentrations, already has a job with a major Des Moines company (Principal) wrapped up for next year, and in his first year as a starter, he’s become the best point guard in the MVC not named Daniel Ruffin. I think even some of Adam’s coaches are surprised a little at how well he’s played. And more than a few MVC coaches think, if Drake hangs on to win this league, he’ll be the conference’s player of the year. This from a kid who had baseball scholarship offers from Boston College and Michigan out of high school in Saginaw, Mich., and elected to walk on at a little private school in Des Moines so he could play basketball, his first love, at a Division I level.

+ ‘Bucky’ Cox, junior power forward. If Adam isn’t the most valuable player on this team, then Bucky is. Another former walk-on, the 6-foot-8 Cox has built himself into the prototype MVC big man: Strong enough to clean up down low, versatile enough to pop out and knock down clutch 3-pointers. They use him everywhere on the floor — and he’s comfortable shooting from just about anywhere on the floor.

+ Josh Young, sophomore guard. The budding star, the team’s best long-range rhreat. Drake went 3-0 without the 6-1 Oklahoma native in the rotation, but they’re a much better team when he’s healthy. No fear. He’d shoot from mid-court if his coaches would let him.

+ Klayton Korver, senior forward. Two bad knees, one sweet shot, one incredible senior season. The little brother of NBA standout Kyle is the 6-6 heart of this team. He’s quicker than he looks defensively and has his older brother’s range. Always has a green light. And when he’s on, it’s a lot of fun to watch.

+ Leonard Houston, senior guard. The 6-3 Michigan native is Drake’s captain on the court, especially defensively. Good on-the-ball defender, quick hands. Clutch, too. His putback at Creighton last month forced overtime and his trey from the corner in the rematch iced the Bulldogs’ first sweep of their MVC rivals in more than a decade.

Q3. What area(s) must the team improve upon?
A. Getting to the paint. Like a lot of mid-majors, this is a perimeter-oriented team. When the shots are falling, they can blow you out of the gym. When they’re not, things tend to get bogged down a bit. Teams are going to start challenging Drake to beat their guys off the dribble and drive inside. Will the Bulldogs be able to take advantage? There’s a some good quickness here, but not a heck of a lot of size. They tend to live or die by the trey.

Q4. What kind of coach is Keno Davis? What can you tell us about him?
A. Reserved, smart, driven, and self-depreciating. Basically, he’s is father’s son. He learned a lot from watching his dad, Dr. Tom Davis, growing up. But you can also see some of the things he picked up as an assistant to Bruce Pearl, although I don’t expect him to come to a Drake women’s basketball game with his shirt off and his body painted blue.

Q5. Last question, how well do you think Drake can match-up with the "Dukes and Memphises" of the college basketball world?
A. Physically, not all that well – the size and depth differential would probably do them in against bigger, stronger teams from power conferences (Memphis, Kansas, UCLA, etc.). But if you try to get into a game of ‘H-O-R-S-E’ with this team, you’re going to lose. They’ve got four starters who are comfortable from the beyond the arc and a point guard who loves to drive and kick to any one of them. I don’t know how many of those battles the Bulldogs would win, but it would be an awful lot of fun watching them try.

Once again I would like to thank Sean for taking the time to get us up-to-date with the Drake Bulldogs....

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