Men's Basketball Travels to Des Moines for Drake Hy-Vee Classic
Of the three other teams participating, two (Drake, Stephen F. Austin) made the postseason. Drake won 28 games and reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1971 and SFA won 26 and lost to eventual NIT runner up UMass in the first round.
“I think we just view it as a couple more non-conference games to try and get better,” said head coach Jeff Price. “It’s two more opportunities to help us get ready for conference play after Christmas.”
The Eagles (3-3) face the host Bulldogs Friday night at 7:30 p.m. CST and either Stephen F. Austin or North Dakota State Saturday at 5 p.m. CST.
Drake (7-2) is coming off a 66-63 win Tuesday over rival Iowa State, the Bulldogs’ ninth straight win over an in-state school.
“They are really experienced at the guard position,” said Price. “Josh Young is a really good guard and one of the best players we face this year. Everything seems to go through him when they really need a basket. Their interior guys can step out and shoot the basketball and they have good balance. You’ve got to be able to know all of their personnel and guard all of them.”
One of the Bulldogs’ biggest strengths lies in their ability to shoot the 3’. Drake ranks 11th in the nation with 9.8 3-pointers per game. The Eagles allow their opponents 6.8 3s per contest and a .369 percentage.
“They shoot it well but that stat is misleading because they really penetrate well and put it on the floor - that’s how they create 3-point shots for each other,” said Price. “It’s not only important to guard the 3-point line but it’s going to be really important to contain the basketball because they really put it on the floor and draw the defense in. They’re just a well-balanced team both in and out. They shoot it well, they have good experience at the guard position and they’re going to be awfully good on their floor.”
Defensively Drake is allowing 60.3 ppg, 1.7 more than Saturday’s opponent Samford.
“They both play a lot of zone,” said Price. “Samford’s more of a true match-up (zone team) and Drake plays a little bit of both. They play one defense and they play it really well. I’ll be surprised if we see anything different than zone. They’re going to make you shoot jump shots and you hope you can shoot the ball well.”
Hoping to penetrate that zone is senior Julian Allen who has reached double-figures in scoring in each of the last five games, the longest current streak on the team. He posted a team-high 12 points Saturday against Samford and is averaging 11.7 ppg this season.
“I’ve been really pleased with him,” said Price. “He’s been probably our most consistent player. He’s playing now like I thought he would, after a junior year where he was learning the system. I think he’s more comfortable now and it shows on the floor.”
Stephen F. Austin enters the weekend with a 4-2 record and winners of three straight games. Josh Alexander and Matt Kingsley average 16.7 and 16.3 points per game, respectively, which ranks fourth and fifth in the Southland Conference. Kingsley shot 15-for-16 from the field for 33 points Dec. 2 against Jackson State.
“They have two really good players in Alexander and Kingsley,” said Price. “Alexander is a very good shooter - he shoots the ball really well from the outside, and Kingsley is a solid post player and very good on the block. We have to be physically strong with him in the post.”
North Dakota State (4-2) returns all 10 players from last season and average 85.7 ppg, tied for eighth in the nation. Four players average double-digits, led by Ben Woodside’s 20.7 per game rate, tops in the Summit League.
“Their first four or five guys have played a lot together,” said Price. “They have just a couple of seniors and they have good experience. They play with a lot of physicality, especially inside. They’re big and strong and they play very hard. We will have to match their intensity.”
- Category: Men's Basketball
- Published on Thursday, 11 December 2008 00:04