Mid-Major Monday: Drake

Team: Drake Bulldogs

Conference: Missouri Valley

Current Record: 10-0

Coach: Darian DeVries

Coach Profile: DeVries spent nearly two decades on the Creighton coaching staff. Two years ago, DeVries got his first head coaching gig with the Bulldogs. He’s won at least 20 games in both seasons, and he won a Missouri Valley regular season title in his first year. The Bulldogs finished in eighth place in the regular season last season, but did upset top-seeded Northern Iowa in the conference tournament.

What Makes Them Special?

The Bulldogs can flat out shoot the ball. They are currently second among all division 1 teams having played at least 5 games in 3-Point shooting percentage (43%). Oh and the only team ahead of them is the undefeated and number 2 ranked team in the country: Baylor.

The offense starts with arguably the best point guard in The Valley in Roman Penn. Penn’s currently averaging 11.7 pts and 6.1 assists per game and shooting 44% (8-for-18) from downtown.

The biggest bright spot for the Bulldogs so far has been DJ Wilkins. He was known as more of a versatile scoring option coming into the season. But right now, he’s on fire. Averaging 12.2 points per game and shooting a scorching 53.8% (28-for-52) from three!

A few other players to highlight here. Jonah Jackson- a straight shooter who didn’t attempt a single 2-pointer last year and he’s only attempted one 2-pointer this year (40 of 41 shots have been 3’s). He’s currently shooting 45% from behind-the-arc (18-for-40). Tremell Murphy is a 6’6 forward who can stretch the floor for the Bulldogs. He’s made 14 threes so far this year at a 41.2% clip. ShanQuan Hemphill is the Bulldogs leading scorer and their main inside option. He’s very good around the basket, but at only 6’6, he is a bit undersized. That’s where they can turn to 6’10 Darnell Brodie to provide much needed size and and rebounding (he is the Bulldogs leading rebounder at 6.1 per game).

The Bulldogs play a fairly slow and controlled pace (82nd slowest in the country), but they have really efficient possessions resulting in a lot of threes. They are currently 7th in the country (among teams with at least 5 games played) in points per possession (behind just Liberty, Gonzaga, Loyola (IL), Baylor and Coastal Carolina).

The 10-0 start is great, but the competition has not been the best. The Kansas State win got my attention, but it was the first game of the season against a team that had an incredibly tough time having any real practices with all their COVID issues.

Drake has been hot so far, but they can be beaten inside- they haven’t faced a top level big-man yet or a team with real length that can get out on the shooters. They’ll get tested now that conference play is ramping up. The Missouri Valley is stacked this year! Northern Iowa and Loyola (IL) come in as the favorites, but Missouri State and Southern Illinois still boast undefeated records and Bradley was seconds away from knocking off a ranked Missouri team last week!

My take on Drake so far is that they’ve got my attention, but I’m not sold yet. A 10-0 start is enough for me to take a closer look. I’ll be really interested in their next six games after they play Indiana State today. Southern Illinois (2 games), Loyola (2 games) and Missouri State (2 games). These games will show us who the Drake Bulldogs really are.

Drake Bulldogs 2020-21 Player Stats

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