Know Your Iowa Basketball Opponents: Drake

Bulldogs are an early-season success story

Mike Hlas
Published: December 6 2013 | 10:35 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 12:32 am in
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Drake basketball doesn't get much attention in Iowa unless it really does something big. Like in 2008 when it won the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season and tournament titles and made its first NCAA tourney appearance since 1971.

The Bulldogs quickly returned to anonymity. But what they've done so far in their first season under coach Ray Giacoletti is noteworthy.

Playing five of its first seven games away from home, Drake is 6-1. Its lone loss was a 67-63 decision at St. Mary's, and there's no shame in that. The Gaels have been a basketball success story for the last several years, and are 6-0 this season.

The Bulldogs went back to California last week to play in the Fresno State Classic, and won three games in three days. Included was an opening-night 84-74 win over host Fresno State.

"Been one of the most impressive teams in my view," Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said Tuesday. "They go on the road, win their first game (against Illinois-Chicago). But to go to California and win three in three days, it's pretty impressive. 6-1 start. Ray's got 'em going, yeah. Really impressed with them."

Giacoletti has forged a nice player rotation, led by senior guard Richard Carter. He is averaging 20.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists. Nice.

Backcourt mate Gary Ricks Jr., has averaged 14.8 points in his last four games, and is averaging 3.9 assists.

Giacoletti has a 129-91 record as a head coach, covering three seasons at North Dakota State, four at Eastern Washington, and three at Utah. He led Utah to a 29-6 record and Sweet 16 berth, but was fired two years later after an 11-19 season. He was an assistant at Gonzaga the last six seasons.

This could be a very interesting game.


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