▪ Drake’s plan resembles Gonzaga. Coach Ray Giacoletti, a former assistant at Gonzaga, is surrounding European big men with three-point shooters. While the Bulldogs are a long way from duplicating Gonzaga’s success, playing them comes with danger.
My guess is they’re going to get hot two or three times, especially at home, and spoil the day for an upper-level MVC team. With three shooters the caliber of Reed Timmer, Kale Abrahamson and Graham Woodard, defenses must be locked in.
Drake is shooting 50.6 percent from three-point range in its wins. It’s shooting 39.1 percent in its losses.
All three will be back next season, so Drake’s development depends on junior center Jacob Enevold and freshman Dominik Olejniczak making strides.
WSU fans should remember what Enevold can do when he’s allowed to crash the boards unchecked. Last season at Drake — a game Shaq Morris didn’t play — he grabbed five offensive rebounds and 15 total and scored 12 points.
▪ According to kenpom.com, Drake ranks No. 255 nationally by allowing teams to shoot 52 percent effective field goal percentage (adjusting for the worth of a three) and No. 311 for forcing turnovers. Teams are basically running what they want and getting what they want on offense against the Bulldogs.
Drake’s past three opponents committed eight or fewer turnovers.
▪ Drake’s best win is over Western Kentucky (No. 99 in the RPI), 81-79 in the Gulf Coast Challenge in Florida. Abrahamson scored 41 points, making 13 of 23 shots and all 11 of his foul shots.
WSU and Drake share a common opponent in Iowa. The Bulldogs lost to Iowa 70-64. They out-rebounded the Hawkeyes 39-31.
▪ WSU will have center Bush Wamukota, back from a one-game suspension, today. He could be helpful against Drake’s big men. Guard Ty Taylor, who missed the Nevada game with a shoulder injury, is also back.
Around the MVC:
Southern Illinois (12-2) picked up the most significant win of opening night. The Salukis won 72-62 at Loyola to improve to 5-0 on the road. Winning on the road is tough, even against a soft schedule, so that game nudges the evidence closer to showing SIU is an upper-level MVC team.
It’s equally bad for the Ramblers, who started the season with high expectations. Dropping home games is a good way to play on Thursday.
SIU plays Northern Iowa on Saturday at SIU Arena and coach Barry Hinson started pumping up his crowd after Wednesday’s game.
“We can’t beat Northern Iowa without a crowd,” Hinson said in a news release. “We need our sixth man. I think there’s a buzz in Carbondale now. I think everybody has been sitting on their hands and saying, ‘OK — 11-2, that’s nice, that’s good, but they still haven’t won a road game in conference.’ Now we have. Now they can come see us.”