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Men's Basketball Team Prepares For MVC Tournament

Courtesy: Drake Athletics
         
Release: March 03, 2010
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#8 Seed Drake (13-18, 7-11 MVC)
vs. #9 Seed Southern Illinois (15-14, 6-12 MVC)
6:05 p.m., Thursday, March 4, 2010
Scottrade Center, St. Louis, Mo.


THE SETTING: It’s a brand new season for Drake and Southern Illinois which have encountered their share of heartbreaking losses in the Missouri Valley Conference when the 34th annual State MVC Tournament gets underway Thursday. The winner will play No. 1 seed Northern Iowa in a 12:05 p.m. quarterfinal round game Friday.
   
Drake swept the 2009-10 season series against the Salukis with a 70-65 victory in Carbondale, Ill., Jan. 9 and a 79-72 triumph in Des Moines Feb. 16.
   
This marks the fifth time the teams have faced one another in the MVC Tournament with the Salukis winning three times in the quarterfinal round in 1987 (74-70), 1995 (85-65) and 2007 (71-59). Drake’s lone MVC Tournament win against the Salukis occurred in the quarterfinal round in the 1978  tournament when the then No. 9 seed Bulldogs upset No. 2 seed Southern Illinois, 75-59.
 
DRAKE IN MVC TOURNAMENT:
The Bulldogs own a 4-5 record in the opening round of the MVC Tournament. Drake beat Evansville 101-96, in overtime during its last winning appearance in the opening round of the MVC Tournament in 2007.
   
Drake owns an 0-6 record as the No. 8 seed in the MVC Tournament, dropping games in 1984, 1994, 1996, 2003, 2006 and 2009. The No. 8 seeds have posted a cumulative MVC Tournament record of 4-31, including a 4-19 mark in games played in St. Louis.

2009 MVC TOURNAMENT RECAP:
Indiana State relied on torrid free throw shooting down the stretch, making 10 of 14 shots in the last 84 seconds to hold off Drake, 62-55, in the opening round of the 2009 State Farm MVC Tournament. Trailing at one point, 44-23, Drake made a furious rally to pull within 52-51 with 1:32 left following a layup by senior forward Jonathan Cox.
   
Cox, playing in his school-record 128th career game, closed out the regular season with a season-high 27 points, including a career-best 10 baskets.
   
The Bulldogs dug themselves in a hole after suffering through an 8:39 scoring drought in the middle of the game, watching an 18-15 lead with 8:57 left in the first half evaporate into a 37-20 deficit. Indiana State answered with a 7-1 run, keyed by five points from forward Jay Tunnell, to build the lead to 44-23 with 15:38 remaining. But Cox led the Bulldogs on a 28-8 run in the next 14:06, scoring 18 points, including three three-point baskets, during the surge.

THE SERIES
: Southern Illinois has won 19 of the last 23 meetings to own a 51-23 series lead. But the Bulldogs have won four of the last five games including its last two trips to Carbondale.

2009-10 SERIES RECAP: Drake 79, Southern Illinois 72 (Feb. 16, 2010, Des Moines, Iowa)  Junior guard Ryan Wedel had 17 points, including six free throws in the final 48 seconds, as Drake snapped a four-game losing streak with a 79-72 victory.
   
There were eight ties and nine lead changes in the game. Four players scored in double figures for Drake.
   
But it was the return of senior point guard Craig Stanley that keyed the Bulldog victory. Stanley, who had missed the past nine games after undergoing surgery on his wrist, scored nine points - all in the second half - as the Bulldogs earned their first victory in 11 outings when trailing at halftime this season.
   
Stanley scored nine points in the last 11 minutes 23 seconds of the game while grabbing three rebounds. He penetrated the paint for two layups in a 34-second span midway through the second half.
   
Josh Young’s lone three-point basket of the game - from the top of the key - turned a 60-59 deficit into a 62-60 lead with 4:29 left that Drake never relinquished.
   
Then Stanley grabbed a rebound off a Southern Illinois missed shot and threw a pass to Wedel who drilled a three-point basket, extending the Bulldog lead to 65-60 with 3:36 left.
   
After a layup by center Seth VanDeest gave Drake a 67-62 advantage, the Bulldogs would not score another basket, relying on torrid free throw shooting in the final 1:44 when they  made 12 of 14 free throws to close out the game.
   
The game featured a matchup between two of the MVC’s most promising freshman post players in VanDeest and Gene Teague from Southern Illinois.
   
Teague scored a career-high 18 points, while enjoying his second double-double with 11 rebounds. VanDeest scored 14 points, including eight in the second half.
   
Drake finished the game making a season-high 31 of 41 free throws.
   
Young finished with 13 points, while collecting a season-high eight rebounds along with three assists. Senior forward Adam Templeton added 11 points, while tying a career high with two blocked shots for the Bulldogs.
   
Southern Illinois committed 16 turnovers with Drake capitalizing by scoring 15 points off those miscues.
   
 Drake 70, Southern Illinois 65 (Jan. 9, 2010 Carbondale, Ill.)
Ryan Wedel’s  22 foot jumper from the left wing with 37.2 seconds left proved to be the difference as Drake snapped a six-game losing streak with a come-from behind victory.
   
After a three-point basket at the top of the key by Kevin Dillard gave the Salukis a 65-62 lead with 1:19 left, the Bulldogs scored the game’s last eight points. It marked the first time Drake has ever won back-to-back games in Carbondale in the series between the schools that dates back to 1976.
   
Drake’s Adam Templeton scored a career-high 22 points, including 14 in the second half. But it was the rebounding effort of Templeton, who snared 13 boards, which made the difference. He     had six offensive rebounds.
   
The Bulldogs outrebounded Southern Illinois, 18-9, in the second half, scoring 10 second-chance points.
   
After freshman center Seth VanDeest sank the first of two free throws to pull Drake to within 65-63 with 59 seconds left, Templeton grabbed the second missed shot, setting up Wedel’s heroics.
   
Phelps called a time out, diagramming the game winning shot in which Wedel took a pass from sophomore guard Frank Wiseler to give Drake a 66-65 lead.
       
Tony Freeman missed a three-point shot on Southern Illinois’ ensuing possession. Justin Bocot grabbed the rebound but called a time out when the Salukis didn’t have any left, resulting in a technical foul.
   
Wedel made both free throws on the technical foul with 17.1 seconds left to push Drake’s lead to 68-65.
   
Templeton then sealed the victory by hitting two free throws with three seconds left after he was fouled on a defensive rebound.
   
Wedel, held scoreless in the first half, finished with 14 points, making all six free throw attempts. Senior guard Josh Young added 11 points for Drake. Wiseler added eight points and three assists. During a 4 minute 15-second stretch ending the first half and opening the second half, Templeton scored nine of Drake’s 11 points.

SENIOR SALUTE: Seniors Bill Eaddy, Craig Stanley, Adam Templeton and Josh Young are winding down their collegiate basketball careers. The group has combined to play in 329 games during their careers.
   
Young, who will be playing in his 126th game, has set two school career records in the last three weeks in scoring (1,766 points) and three-point baskets (252), while approaching the Drake mark for career free throws made needing four.
   
Eaddy and Young were members of the 2007-08 Drake team which swept the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season and tournament titles en route to playing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1971.
   
Templeton, who ranks 12th on the Drake career three-point basket list (90), leads the MVC in three-point field goal percentage (.458) and ranks second in the MVC in rebounding (7.4 avg.).
   
Eaddy made his first college start against Evansville Saturday after coming off the bench in the previous 85 games. Stanley made just his fourth start of the season against Evansville Saturday although he started in 30 games last year.

20 WINS VS. HEARTREAK HOTEL
: Drake could have easily entered the MVC Tournament with 20 victories for just the sixth time in school history.
   
Drake’s heartbreaking loss at the buzzer to Evansville (66-63) in its home finale last Saturday, marked the eighth game decided by four or less points that the Bulldogs had lost this season.  Four of those setbacks occurred in the MVC including three decided in the last two seconds. Drake fell at Bradley 67-65 on a rebound basket with 1.8 seconds and dropped a 71-68 decision at Illinois State after missing a free throw that would have tied the game at 69-69 with 1.1 seconds left.

VANDEEST TARGETING RECORDS: Center Seth VanDeest is approaching his second Drake single-season freshman record. He already owns the yearling mark for blocked shots at 44 and tied the single-season mark for free throws made (78) with Melvin Mathis (1982-83) after making four free throws against Evansville last Saturday. VanDeest ranks third on the Drake single season freshman charts in scoring (271) and rebounding (130). 

SENIORS FINISHING STRONG: Josh Young and Adam Templeton are closing their college careers on high notes. Templeton, who ranks third in the MVC in rebounding, grabbed 10 rebounds against Missouri State and Evansville last week, reaching double figures in that category for the eighth time this season.
   
Young scored in double figures for the 16th straight game and 25th this season when he had 16 against Evansville. Young has 97 double-figure scoring games in his career, including 22 with 20 or more points.

Young, who led the MVC in scoring as a sophomore, is closing out his career with a bang.  No player in the league can match Young’s scoring numbers over the last 11 games where he is averaging 17.8 points. He also has enjoyed six 20-plus scoring games over the last 11 contests - the most of any player in the MVC during that stretch.
   
Young also has averaged 4.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists during that 11-game stretch, while scoring 22 at Illinois State, 21 at Indiana State and 20 in home games against Wichita State and Creighton along with 20 at Cal State Northridge and Missouri State. He tallied 19 points at Bradley and 18 at Evansville and as well as against Illinois State.

MVC POST-SEASON HONORS:  Josh Young earned first team All-Missouri Valley Conference playing honors in voting conducted by the league’s media, coaches and sports information directors, while finishing sixth in the MVC Player of the Year voting.
   
Adam Templeton earned honorable mention all-playing honors. Junior transfer guard Ryan Wedel was named to the MVC All-Newcomer team, while center Seth VanDeest was named to the MVC All-Freshman team. Templeton also was named to the MVC Most Improved team and earned first-team All-MVC Scholar-Athlete honors. Wedel earned second team All-MVC Scholar Athlete accolades.
   
Young finished third in voting for 2008 MVC Player of the Year en route to earning first-team all-MVC honors. He ranked third in the MVC in scoring (14.6) this season and was eighth in assist/turnover ratio (1.6).   
   
Templeton leads the MVC in three-point field goal percentage (.458) and defensive rebounding (5.7 avg.), while ranking third overall in rebounding (7.4 avg.).   

TRIPLE YOUR PLEASURE: According to the latest NCAA statistics, Drake is the only school in the MVC to rank in the top 12 in three team categories: turnovers per game (10.0 avg.), fourth; free throw percentage (.760), seventh; and three-point field goals per game (8.6 avg.), 12th.

THE COACH: Mark Phelps was named Drake’s 25th head basketball coach, April 21, 2008. He owns a 30-34 record in two years with the Bulldogs. Phelps served as associate head coach at Arizona State for two seasons. The Virginia Beach, Va., native had served on the coaching staff at North Carolina State under head coach Herb Sendek from 1996-2006 before joining Sendek at Arizona State in 2006.
   
He was part of Sendek’s staff that led North Carolina State to a 53-39 record (.576) in the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season and tournament play in the final five seasons in Raleigh, N.C. The Wolfpack tied for the second most wins in the ACC from 2001-2002 through the 2005-06 season. He joined the North Carolina State staff in 1996, serving as director of basketball operations before becoming assistant coach in 2000. He was promoted to recruiting coordinator, director of scouting and assistant coach with the Wolfpack in 2005.
   
Phelps posted a 148-53 record (.736 winning percentage) in six years as a high school head coach in Virginia. He was head coach at Atlantic Shores Christian High School in Chesapeake,  Va.,  where he compiled a 44-12 record. The 1996 Old Dominion graduate also coached four
years at Rock Church Academy, constructing a 104-41 record while leading teams to three straight Metro Conference championships.    
   
3-POINT ATTACK:
  Drake leads the MVC in three-point baskets, while ranking seventh in the NCAA, averaging 8.6 treys per game. The Bulldogs have made 10 or more treys in 10 games so far, including a season-high 15 at Indiana State, followed by 14 against South Dakota and Missouri State. Drake hit 13 treys in the opener against IUPUI and at Austin Peay and had 12 at Cal State Northridge. Drake drilled 11 treys against Iowa and San Diego State, and 10 at Evansville and against Iowa State. Last year Drake reached double figures in three-point shooting in only seven games.
   
Drake made 11 three-point baskets in the first half against South Dakota which were the second highest in one half by a Bulldog team in school history. Drake hit 12 treys in the second half against Wichita State Jan. 11, 2001.
   
The Bulldogs have made 268 three-point baskets, which ranks second on the single-season school charts - 42 shy of the school mark of 310 set in 2007-08. Drake is the only team in the MVC that has four players who have made 30 or more treys: Ryan Wedel 59, Adam Templeton 55, Josh Young 50 and Ben Simons 35. Simons ended a shooting slump, in which he had shot just 21 percent in his previous 16 games, by making a career-high five treys against Indiana State

TWO DOWN, ONE TO GO FOR YOUNG: Senior guard Josh Young, who will be starting in his 105th game Thursday, set his second Drake career record in a week when he made a season-high four three-point baskets at Indiana State Feb. 13 to set the school record for three-point baskets which he has improved to 252.  On Feb. 6 Young became Drake’s career scoring leader after collecting a season-high 22 points at Illinois State and has scored 1,766 points in his career.   Young also is the 11th player in school history to make 500 field goals. Young needs to make four free throws to become the Drake career leader in that category at 440.
   
HEAD OF THE CLASS
: Drake has more first-year players (11) on its roster than any team in the MVC. Newcomers are contributing 57.3 percent (38.7 points) of Drake’s scoring. Five newcomers are averaging at least 12 minutes of playing time. Freshman Seth VanDeest has started all 31 games at center, while freshmen Ben Simons and Aaron Hawley have shared starting duties in 15 games at small forward.

STANLEY REJOINS TEAM:  Senior point guard Craig Stanley rejoined the team Feb. 15 after being sidelined while recovering from surgery to his wrist on Jan. 15 and is averaging 8.0 points in his four games played since returning.
   
He keyed the Bulldogs’ 79-72 home victory against Southern Illinois by scoring nine points in the last 11 minutes 23 seconds of the game while grabbing three rebounds. He penetrated the paint for two layups in a 34-second span midway through the second half.
   
Josh Young’s lone three-point basket of the game - from the top of the key - turned a 60-59 deficit into a 62-60 lead with 4:29 left that Drake never relinquished. Then Stanley grabbed a rebound off a Southern Illinois missed shot and threw a pass to Wedel who drilled a three-point basket extending the Bulldog lead to 65-60 with 3:36 left.
   
He had nine points and four assists at Cal State Northridge followed by eight points at Missouri State and six against Evansville. Stanley initially injured the wrist at Wichita State Jan. 1 and aggravated the wrist against Missouri State Jan. 12, forcing him to miss nine games.
       
Stanley was making strides after two off-season surgeries to his knee. He had started three straight games before the injury, matching a season high with six assists in his last outing against Missouri State. He ranked second in the MVC in free throw shooting at 88.4 percent (38-43), while leading the team with 43 assists. He was averaging 6.2 points with a season high of 15 points at Creighton, while netting 13 against South Dakota and San Diego State.

TRENDS: Did you know Drake’s Josh Young has gone to the free throw line 80 times in the last 13 games? While he might be more known for his scoring, Young has collected 60 rebounds in his last 13 games, including a season-high eight rebounds in back-to-back games against Southern Illinois and Cal State Northridge.
-Freshman center Seth VanDeest shot a team high 54.5 percent from the floor in Drake’s 16 home games.
-Junior Ryan Wedel averaged 13.5 points, including 2.8 three-point baskets in his last four home games.
-Freshman Ben Simons is averaging 10.0 points in his last three road games, while shooting 66.6  percent (8-12) from three-point range.
-Freshman Aaron Hawley is averaging 4.8 points - on five treys - in 5 minutes 30 seconds of playing time in each of the last four games.
-Sophomore Frank Wiseler shot 57.2 percent from the floor (12-21) in his last four home games, including a sizzling 77.8 percent (7-9) from three-point range.

CENTER OF ATTENTION:  Drake center Seth VanDeest is among the top freshman frontliners in the MVC, leading the league in blocked shots with 44, while ranking seventh in field goal percentage (.495).
   
For the second time in three weeks VanDeest was named the Missouri Valley Conference Newcomer of the Week. The 6-foot 10-inch VanDeest earned the honor Feb. 22 after averaging 13.5 points, while shooting 62.5 percent from the floor (10-16) to lead Drake to victories past Southern Illinois (79-72) and Cal State Northridge (90-80) last week.
   
He came up big in the second half of each game, scoring eight points in the second half vs. Southern Illinois and nine in the second half at Cal State Northridge.
       
He was named the MVC Newcomer of the Week Feb. 1 after averaging 13.5 points and 3.0 blocked shots while shooting 61.5 percent (8-13) from the floor and 100 percent from the free throw line, making all 11 attempts in games against league leader Northern Iowa and Creighton.
   
VanDeest held his own in back-to-back games against two of the league’s top post players, blocking two shots against UNI’s seven-foot center Jordan Eglseder in the opening three minutes of a Jan. 27 game, while blocking another shot in the rematch in Des Moines.
   
He outplayed Creighton’s Kenny Lawson Jr. by scoring 20 points (6-of-9 shooting, 8-for-8 free throw line) and tying a career-high with four blocked shots. VanDeest held Lawson to seven points in just 18 minutes. VanDeest also had four rejections at Wichita State and Evansville. He scored a career-high 21 points against Binghamton and had a career-high nine rebounds vs. Bradley. He was named to the Drake Hy-Vee Classic and Drake Invitational All-Tournament teams.
    
POSITIVE THOUGHTS ON TURNOVERS
: Drake is doing an excellent job of taking care of the basketball while being efficient on the offensive end. Drake ranks among the nation’s leaders in fewest turnovers committed per game. Drake ranks third, averaging 10.0 turnovers.
   
Drake has equaled or had more assists than turnovers in 20 games, including 19 of its last 26.  Josh Young has 82 assists to 52 turnovers, while Frank Wiseler has 74 assists to 48 turnovers. Craig Stanley has 55 assists to 40 turnovers. Ben Simons has 24 assists to 19 turnovers, while Ryan Wedel has 50 assists to 38 turnovers.

CHARITY TOSSES: Drake ranks seventh nationally in free throw percentage, firing at a 76.1 percent clip (418-549). Six players are shooting 73 percent or better from the free throw line, led by Ben Simons at 87 percent (20-23), followed by Ryan Wedel at 85.7 percent (54-63), Craig Stanley, hitting at 83.6 (51-61), Adam Templeton 75 percent (42-56), Frank Wiseler 74.3 (26-35) and Josh Young 74.3 percent (110-148).

FREE THROW RECORD:
Drake is on course to set a school single-season free throw percentage mark. The Bulldogs enter the MVC Tournament, ranked eighth nationally hitting 76.1 percent at the charity line with the school mark .762 set in 2000-01.

VALUABLE COMMODITIES: Newcomers Ryan Wedel and Frank Wiseler have proved to be welcome additions to Drake’s backcourt. Wedel, a junior transfer from  Arkansas State, ranks second in the MVC in steals (50-1.7 avg.) and ninth in the MVC in three-point baskets with 59 for a 1.9 avg. Wedel, who has enjoyed three 20-plus scoring games, ranks second on the team with an 10.9 scoring average. Wiseler, a sophomore point guard who has been a member of the Luxembourg National Team, has a 1.5 assist-to-turnover ratio and ranks second on the team in assists at 74.
   
Wiseler was MVC Newcomer of the Week honors Jan. 24 in helping Drake post victories against Evansville and Wichita State

TEMPLETON NAMED TO ACADEMIC TEAM: Senior forward Adam Templeton was named to the first team Academic All-District VII university division basketball team presented by ESPN The Magazine as selected by CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America).
   
Templeton owns a 3.30 grade-point average majoring in business management. District VII consists of schools from the states of Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. Candidates must own a minimum 3.30 grade point average.
   
Templeton is one of the most versatile players in the MVC, leading the league in three-point field goal percentage (.458) while ranking third in rebounding with a 7.4 average. He has nearly doubled his scoring output from last season, averaging 10.0 points, compared to 5.5 in 2008-09.

YOUNG AMONG 10 FINALISTS FOR SENIOR CLASS AWARD: Drake’s Josh Young is one of 10 student-athletes who were selected as finalists for the 2009-10 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award in basketball. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – classroom, character, community and competition.
   
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School™, the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. The finalists were chosen by a media committee from the list of 30 men’s candidates who were announced in October.
   
.Lowe’s will announce the Senior CLASS Award winners during the 2010 NCAA Men’s Final Fours in early April.
   
Young maintains a 3.15 grade-point average, majoring in marketing and management. The other finalists are: Matt Bouldin, Gonzaga ; Da’Sean Butler, West Virginia; Marquis Hall, Lehigh; Luke Harangody, Notre Dame; Damion James, Texas; Adam Koch, Northern Iowa; Chris Kramer; Raymar Morgan, Michigan State; and Jon Scheyer, Duke. These 10 names on the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award basketball ballot for a nationwide vote that  concludes March 22.
   
Fan balloting is available on the award’s official Web site, http://www.seniorCLASSaward.com, as well as through text messaging. Fans can text MBBALL to 74567 to vote for the men’s finalists. These votes will be combined with votes from coaches and media to determine the winner of the award.

COAST-TO-COAST: Drake’s BracketBusters trip to southern California capped off a nonconference schedule in which the Bulldogs have logged 6,843 miles playing on both coasts of the United States. Earlier, Drake played in the three-game Glenn Wilkes Classic in Daytona Beach, Fla., Nov. 20-22 and also traveled to Clarksville, Tenn. (Austin Peay).
   
It also marked the fourth time in the last five years, Drake has played a game in California, including a BracketBusters game at UC Irvine in 2006.

BRACKETBUSTERS HISTORY: Drake improved its record to 6-1 since the inception of the BracketBusters in 2004,  including a 3-1 mark on the road with victories at Akron (82-78, overtime) in 2004 and then No. 8 Butler (74-71) in 2008, while suffering a 70-67 loss at UC Irvine in 2006. The Matadors were the third Big West Conference opponent Drake has played in the BracketBusters series. Besides UC Irvine, Drake earned a 73-57 home victory past San Jose State in 2005.
   
WISELER RISES TO OCCASION
: While senior point guard Craig Stanley became sidelined for nine games after undergoing surgery to his wrist, sophomore Frank Wiseler made his presence known at point guard while helping lead Drake to four victories.
   
Wiseler was named the Missouri Valley Conference Newcomer of the Week Jan. 24 after averaging 10.5 points, 7.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds in two Drake victories, while shooting 50 percent from the floor (6-12) including 50 percent from three-point range (3-6).
   
Wiseler scored a career-high 12 points while not committing a turnover in 34 minutes in a 72-65 win at Evansville. He then tied both an MVC season high and Drake Knapp Center record with 12 assists in a 78-64 win against Wichita State. He played a career-best 37 minutes at Northern Iowa, collecting nine points, three rebounds and two steals. He collected 10 points and seven assists in 26 minutes against Creighton.

HEARTBREAK HOTEL IN ILLINOIS: During a recent road swing to Illinois, Drake suffered a 67-65 loss at Bradley determined by a rebound basket with 1.8 seconds left, followed by a 71-68 setback at Illinois State. With Drake trailing 69-68 with 0.5 seconds left, Josh Young missed a free throw that would have sent the game into overtime against the Redbirds.

PAINFUL LOSS FOR YOUNG: The 67-65 last-second loss at Bradley Feb. 2 was painful for Drake. But no one suffered more than senior guard Josh
Young. He missed the final 4:41 of the first half after spraining his ankle. Just 1:35 in the second half, Young took an inadvertent elbow to the mouth from Bradley’s Chris Roberts getting his front left tooth knocked out.

MAKING HISTORY: Drake became the first team in MVC history to lose its first four conference games, then win its next five to move above .500 in conference play.

PLEASE EXPLAIN: How does a team go from encountering a six-game losing streak to winning six of its next seven games?
   
Remember the key word stressed in Drake’s team outlook entering the season was CHEMISTRY. Keep in mind that Drake has more first-year players (11) in its program than any other team in the MVC. And if you’ve done your homework, you would also realize that Drake had enjoyed second-half leads in 10 losses this season. So the ball is starting to bounce Drake’s way.
   
The streak started when the Bulldogs earned a 70-65 victory at Southern Illinois Jan. 9 which marked the first time in school history Drake has posted back-to-back victories at arguably the toughest home court in the MVC. Drake shot a season-high 60 percent from the floor, while matching a season high with 14 three-point baskets en route to an 88-77 victory past Missouri State Jan. 12 and then closed a two-game homestand with a 69-59 victory past Illinois State Jan. 17. Drake also claimed a 72-65 victory at Evansville before surprising second-place Wichita State, 78-64, Jan. 23 followed by a 79-74 home win against Creighton.

ON THE REBOUND?: Drake has shown improved play in all three phases of the game. It all started on a road trip to Creighton where Drake suffered a 73-69 setback before reeling off five straight victories starting at Southern Illinois (70-65), followed by home victories against Missouri State (88-77) and Illinois State (69-59), a win at Evansville (72-65), a home triumph against second-place Wichita State (78-64) and a home victory against Creighton (79-74).
   
The Bulldogs, who entered the Creighton-Southern Illinois road trip ranked last in the MVC in rebounding, won the rebounding battle with a 38-34 edge at Creighton and a 34-28 advantage at Southern Illinois. Drake held Creighton and Southern Illinois to a combined 30.4 percent shooting (14-46) from three-point range. The Bulldogs held Missouri State, which entered the game leading the MVC in three-point field goal percentage (.397), to a season low 6.3 percent from beyond the arc, making just one of 16 shots.
   
The Bulldogs shot 52 percent from the floor in the second half at Southern Illinois and were 14-of-15 at the free throw line in the second half. Drake exploded for a season-high 51 points in the first half of an 88-77 romp past Missouri State in a game in which Drake owned a 25-point lead in the first half. The 51 points in the first half surpassed Drake’s entire scoring output in two MVC losses to Wichita State (61-38) and Indiana State (60-46).
   
The Bulldogs held Illinois State to a season-low 15 points in the first half en route to a 69-59 victory and then limited Evansville to 26.7 percent shooting from three-point range, while holding Wichita State to 31 percent shooting beyond the arc. Drake hit 50 percent from the floor (24-48) against Creighton, while drilling nine three-point baskets.

TEMPLETON INSTRUMENTAL IN STREAK: Who’s the most improved player in the MVC? Drake senior forward Adam Templeton has to be given strong consideration. He has nearly doubled his scoring output from last season, averaging 10.2 points compared to 5.5 in 2008-09.

He has made 100 baskets this season, surpassing his entire 2008-09 output of 59. He has grabbed 210 rebounds, surpassing his entire 2008-09 total of 127 boards. He also has 53 treys, bettering his 2008-09 total of 35.

Torrid shooting by Templeton ignited Drake on its recent five-game winning streak. Templeton averaged 16.4 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.8 three-point baskets in the streak. He  shot  60.5 percent (26-43) from the floor, including 66.7 percent (14-21) from three-point range. He got the winning streak started when he enjoyed his third career double-double with a career-high 22 points and 13 rebounds (six offensive boards) at Southern Illinois.

ON YOUR MARK: Getting off to fast starts were instrumental in Drake’s recent five-game winning streak. The Bulldogs constructed 20-point leads in the first half against Missouri State and Illinois State. Drake also enjoyed a 27-17 lead at Evansville and held a 24-9 advantage against Wichita State en route to a 36-24 halftime lead. Drake constructed a 35-20 lead against Creighton with 6:41 left in the first half.

The Bulldogs jumped to a 9-2 lead against Illinois State behind five points from junior transfer guard Ryan Wedel. Two three-point baskets by Adam Templeton triggered a 12-2 run that turned a 13-6 Drake advantage into a 25-8 cushion. Josh Young then closed out the first half with consecutive baskets to give Drake a 35-15 lead. Drake enjoyed a 51-29 halftime lead in its previous game against Missouri State.

STEPPIN UP: Four starters shoot more than 50 percent from the floor during Drake’s recent five-game winning streak. Senior forward Adam Templeton topped the list, firing at a 60.5 percent clip, including 66.7 (14-21) from three-point range. Then there’s guards Ryan Wedel (.525) and Josh Young (.522), followed by freshman center Seth VanDeest (.517). Drake also made more free throws (88) than its opponents attempted (71).     

20-20-20 VISION: When Josh Young, Seth VanDeest and Ryan Wedel scored 20 points against Creighton it marked the first time Drake had three 20-point scorers in same game since Dec. 11, 2002 when Drake beat Grinnell, 162-110. J.J. Sola had 36 points followed by 25 apiece from Greg Danielson and Quantel Murphy.

BRING ‘EM ON: Drake already has played 15 opponents this season that advanced to 2009 post-season play, earning six victories including a 90-80 BracketBusters victory against Cal State Northridge which played in the 2009 NCAA Tournament as well as a 69-59 victory against Illinois State and a 79-74 win against Creighton which both advanced to the 2009 NIT. Drake claimed a 77-76 victory against Binghamton which posted a 23-9 record last year, advancing to the NCAA Tournament. Drake had a 78-64 win against Wichita State which played in the 2009 College Basketball Invitational.        The Bulldogs suffered a 76-73 home setback to San Diego State which advanced to the semifinal round of the NIT last year while posting a school-record 26-10 mark. Drake dropped a 63-59 verdict to preseason Mid-American Conference favorite Akron which played in the 2009 NCAA Tournament. Drake rebounded to earn a 78-72 victory at Austin Peay which played in the 2009 CollegeInsider.com Tournament.

STAYIN’ ALIVE: The Bulldogs shot 52.4 percent from the floor (99-189) in their recent four-game home winning streak, while averaging 9.8 three-point baskets. Drake had an average victory margin of 10 points, with wins against Missouri State (88-77), Illinois State (69-59), Wichita State (78-64) and Creighton (79-74). Drake also held opponents to 29.3 percent shooting from three-point range (29-99).

NEWCOMERS IN BACKCOURT SPARKLE:  Head coach Mark Phelps has utilized a three-guard starting lineup in the past 15 games, with Craig Stanley and Frank Wiseler at point guard, while moving junior transfer Ryan Wedel to off guard.
   
Wedel, has collected 32 steals in his last 17 games, including a career-high five at Creighton. After missing his first five shots from beyond the arc at Southern Illinois, Wedel made his next two treys, including the game winner with 37.2 seconds left in a 70-65 victory. Wedel scored 14 points - all in the second half - against the Salukis. He followed up with 15 points against Missouri State and 14 against Illinois State.
   
Senior guard Josh Young matched a career high with seven assists against Missouri State, while Stanley tied his season high with six assists.
   
Wiseler collected eight points and three assists against Southern Illinois, surpassing the seven points he scored in the previous combined six games. He replaced the injured Stanley in the starting lineup against Illinois State collecting five points and then had a career-high 12 points, and four rebounds at Evansville. He had a career-high 12 assists against Wichita State.
   
Drake guards routinely penetrated the lane in the second half against Southern Illinois and either scored or created open looks for teammates. Drake guards combined for half (35) of the team’s 70 points against Southern Illinois.
   
Drake recorded a season-high 21 assists against Missouri State, enjoying a remarkable 15-to-2 assist to turnover ratio in the first half while leading 51-29. The 15 first-half assists, surpassed the Bulldogs’ entire single game outputs of its previous seven games.

A CLOSER LOOK AT DECEPTIVE RECORD: Drake could have 20 victories at this juncture, but the Bulldogs’ demise in 13 losses was their inability to finish off games. Drake owned a 45-42 lead against league-leader Northern Iowa before closing out the game making just one of its last six shots. After being deadlocked in a 49-49 tie at Indiana State, Drake closed out the game making just five of its last 16 shots. Drake blew an 11-point second-half lead in the opener against IUPUI, while making just one of its last eight shots to close out the game, en route to suffering an 88-82 loss.
   
Owning a 67-65 lead with 25 seconds left at Illinois State, Drake missed a layup and free throw to close out the game en route to a 71-68 setback. Trailing 71-69 with 11 seconds left at Creighton, the Bulldogs missed two shots to tie the game. Drake had a 42-39 advantage against Indiana State Jan. 3 with 8:52 left but then made just two of its last 11 shots to close out the game. Drake enjoyed a 39-34 lead against Bradley in its MVC opener but made just six of its last 18 shots (.333) to finish the game.
   
Clinging to a 57-55 lead with 3:11 remaining against Akron, which played in the 2009 NCAA Tournament, Drake made just one of its last nine shots en route to falling 63-59, in the Glenn Wilkes Classic in Daytona Beach, Fla. The following day, trailing 51-50 to Central Florida with
6:08 left, the Bulldogs ended the game by missing their last seven shots while committing three turnovers in a 59-50 loss.
   
Drake saw a 58-52 lead against SIU Edwardsville with 2:33 left evaporate after closing out the game missing their last four shots en route to a 60-58 setback in the Hy-Vee Classic. Drake made just one basket in the last 2:14 of the game en route to dropping a 71-67 decision at Iowa. Owning a 62-54 against 2009 NIT semifinalist San Diego State with 4:54 left, the Bulldog made just two of their last seven free throws to close out the game.

UNDER THE RADAR:
Here are some notes you might not be aware of on the Drake basketball team:
—The Bulldogs set a school record by having eight different players make a three-point basket in the same game against Missouri State Jan. 12.
—Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek has served as a mentor to Drake head coach Mark Phelps. Sendek’s Sun Devils are in second place in  the Pac-10 Conference with a 8-5 record, while ranking seventh in the NCAA in scoring defense this year, allowing 58 points.
—Freshman Ben Simons’ aunt is Gail Goestenkors who is the head women’s basketball coach at Texas.
Adam Templeton will get married on April 3 to Kara Finley. His future brother-in-law, Zach Finley, plays basketball for Princeton.

TEMPLETON SWEEPS MVC AWARDS
: Drake senior forward Adam Templeton was named the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week as well as the MVC Scholar Athlete of the Week Jan. 18 for his efforts in fueling the Bulldogs to two victories.
   
He averaged 16.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.5 three point baskets while leading Drake to victories past upper-division teams Missouri State (88-77) and Illinois State (69-59). Templeton shot 58.8 percent from floor (10-17), including 58.3 percent (7-12) from three point range. He had 16 points, five rebounds and made 5 of 8 shots (including 3 of 4 three pointers) against Missouri State. He came back with his fourth career double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds against Illinois State last.

SMITH SIDELINED:  Freshman reserve guard David Smith remains sidelined after suffering a torn plantar fascia in his right foot in a Dec. 7 practice. Smith had appeared in all eight Drake games prior to the injury, averaging 1.5 points and 0.5 rebounds. He scored a season-high five points in 13 minutes against Akron.

TEMPLETON NAMED MVP:
Drake senior forward Adam Templeton was named the most valuable player of the Drake Invitational Dec. 13.
   
Templeton averaged 16.5 points, 12.0 rebounds and 4.0 three-point baskets while leading the Bulldogs to the championship with victories past South Dakota (96-81) and Binghamton (77-76). He shot 57.1 percent (12-21), including a sizzling 61.5 percent  (8-13) from three-point range.
   
Templeton enjoyed his second career double-double with 17 points and a 2009-10 Missouri Valley Conference high 16 rebounds against South Dakota. He made a career-high four of seven three-point shots. The 16 rebounds by Templeton were the most by a Drake player since Jonathan Cox grabbed 16 rebounds against Western Kentucky in the first round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament.
   
Templeton had 16 points and eight rebounds against Binghamton. Josh Young and Seth VanDeest also were named to the all-tournament team Young averaged 18.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.5 three-point baskets in two games. He scored 21 against South Dakota. VanDeest averaged 13.5 points, scoring a career-high 21 points against Binghamton.

MR. BASKETBALL: Drake has two players on its roster who have been named Mr. Basketball in their respective states, as well as a freshman who earned runner-up honors last year. Junior guard Ryan Wedel was named Mr. Basketball in Kansas as a high school senior in 2006. Redshirt freshman forward Cory Parker was named the 2008 Colorado Class 3A Mr. Basketball as a senior at Aspen High School. Drake freshman Ben Simons was runner-up for Mr Basketball in Michigan last season. Simons made four three-point baskets in his college debut Nov. 14 - which ranks fourth best on the Drake single-game freshman records.

STERLING IN-STATE RIVALRY DEBUT: Freshman forward Ben Simons got his first taste of Iowa’s Big Four rivalry and responded in flying colors. Simons scored a career-high 24 points against Iowa State which was the ninth most points scored by a Drake yearling in a game. He made 8 of 11 shots, including four of six from three-point range.

HE SHOOTS, HE SCORES
: Junior transfer guard Ryan Wedel had a conspicuous debut for Drake by opening his first game on fire, making his first five shots including four from three-point range in the opening 3 minutes 29 seconds of the game against IUPUI. The four consecutive three-point baskets made rank third on the Drake single-game list. Wedel’s 15 points in the opening minutes of the game weren’t really any surprise. As a high school senior in Minneapolis, Kan., Wedel was featured on ESPN SportsCenter after scoring 25 of his school-record 46 points during a 2:02 span against Southeast-Salin, knocking down six straight three-point baskets. The video is on www.youtube.com.

TOURNAMENT TIME: Drake played in three tournaments in a four-week period, competing in the Glenn Wilkes Classic Nov. 20-22 in Daytona Beach, Fla., while hosting the Hy-Vee Classic Dec. 4-5 and the Drake Invitational this past weekend. It marked the fourth straight year, Drake played in a school-record tying three regular-season tournaments. Drake has won 17 of 23 regular-season tournament games dating back to 2006, claiming titles at the 2006 Sun Bowl Invitational; the 2006 and 2007 Drake Regency Challenge;  the 2007 and 2008 Iowa Realty Invitational and the 2009 Drake Invitational. The Bulldogs finished runner-up in the 2008 Drake Hy-Vee Classic and third in the 10-team 2008 Cancun Challenge and the 2009 Drake Hy-Vee Classic.

THREE PREPS JOIN PROGRAM: High school basketball standouts Karl Madison, a 5-foot 10-inch guard from Springfield, Ill.; Rayvonte Rice, a 6-3 guard from Champaign, Ill., and Jeremy Jeffers, a 6-6 guard from Wilson, N.C., signed early fall national letters of intent at Drake.   
 
 A point guard, Madison earned first-team all-league honors after averaging 21.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.4 steals as a junior at Lamphier High School. He shot 42.7 percent from the floor, including 30.6 percent from three-point range. He collected season highs of 32 points and six rebounds against Chatham Glenwood Jan. 9, 2009, and Jacksonville Feb. 27, 2009. Madison played for the St. Louis Eag

Rice was named most valuable player of the 2009 Illinois Class 3A State Tournament after leading Centennial High School to the 2009 Illinois Class 3A state championship. He earned third team all-state honors as a junior by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association after leading the team to a 32-1 record in 2008-09, including the Big 12 Conference title with a 13-0 record. He was a two-time first team Champaign News-Gazette All-Area selection as well as a two-time All-Big 12 Conference performer. Rice averaged 16.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 2.4 assists in 2008-09, while shooting 53 percent from floor. He also started as sophomore, averaging 15.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 steals. During the summer he played for the Illinois Stars AAU team.
   
Jeffers averaged 16.0 points, 6.1 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.1 steals while leading Greenfield High School to a 31-6 record in 2008-09, en route to advancing to the semifinal round of the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A Tournament. He scored a career-high 25 points against Cresset Christian in the quarterfinal round of the 2009 state tournament. He earned first team all-area honors by the Wilson Times and also was a first-team all-conference choice. Jeffers played for the North Carolina Flight AAU team which finished eighth out of 184 teams at the 2009 AAU National Tournament. He also was named to the all-tournament team at the Big Shots AAU Tournament this past July in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

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