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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

August 9th, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball

 

Drake Bulldogs

Overall Rank: #95

Conference Rank: #6 MVC

 

2005-06: 12-19, 5-13, 7th (t)

2005-06 postseason: none

 

Drake was disappointing at best last year, but with four starters returning and Klayton Korver coming back from injury, there is reason to be optimistic.  Hopefully, for Drake fans, Korver will provide the spark they lacked at the end of last season when the Bulldogs lost 11 of their last 12 games.  That is not the type of momentum you want with so many players returning.  Coach Dr. Tom Davis has some work to do to turn this team around.  Unfortunately, he didn’t earn his doctorate in sports psychology. 

 

Who’s Out: Chaun Brooks and Sean Tracy have graduated, yet there are still plenty of options and talent in the backcourt.  Brooks averaged a team high 10.4 points and was the only player to start all 31 games for the Bulldogs.  Tracy, who earned three starts, averaged 3.8 points per contest. 

 

Who’s In: Drake fans hope that the return of Korver is the answer to all their problems.  After averaging 9.9 points and 5.0 rebounds in the 2004-2005 campaign, the 6-5 junior missed the following year while recovering from a knee injury.  If he’s back to where he was two years ago, Drake could see a drastic improvement.  The frontcourt doesn’t need too much more depth, but it’s never bad to have too many big men, or in most cases here, undersized big men.  Armel Traore dit Nignan is a solid rebounder and shot blocker who is ready to contribute immediately.  Of course, at 6-6, 235 pounds, the junior from Burkina Faso is a little undersized for the center spot, but his reach makes up for it.  Bill Eaddy, a redshirt freshman and Keither Worner, an incoming freshman, will add more depth at both forward spots.  Shooting guard Josh Young is a scoring machine.  He led the state of Oklahoma in scoring while at Lawton Christian High School the last two years.  If the 35.2 points per game weren’t enough, Young tacked on 10.3 rebounds, 8.4 assists and 3.9 steals during his senior campaign.  It will take some time to adjust to the level of play, but Young can do some scoring right away.

 

Who to Watch: Al Stewart stepped right into the Bulldogs starting lineup and did a solid job running the point, racking up 144 assists on the season.  With a year of experience at Drake, the senior has the ability to make a bigger impact this season.  Chris Bryant and Nick Grant were part-time starters last season.  Bryant, the only player to average over one three-pointer per game, should get more open looks this season with Korver back and firing up the long ball. 

 

Final Projection: The returning frontcourt depth is immense with Ajay Calvin, Aliou Keita, Jonathan Cox, and Brent Heemskerk.  Calvin, who averaged 10.2 points and 5.3 rebounds as junior, is a little undersized at 6-5, but gets the job done on the glass and in the scoring department.  Keita, a 6-7 center, gets most of his props on the defensive end.  With a year left to go, the Senegal native already is the school’s career shot blocking leader.  With a little more consistency on the offensive end, Keita can regain his starting job that was lost in the middle of last season.  No matter who starts this year, Cox and Heemskerk will see quality minutes up front.   The experience is there, but the overall talent level is lacking compared to the upper echelon of teams in the Missouri Valley Conference.  If Korver can hit the big shots down the stretch, this team can win a few of those close games that they lost last year.  And if that can happen, maybe an NIT bid won’t be that far away.

 

Projected Post-season Tournament: none

 

Projected Starting Five:

Al Stewart, Senior, Guard, 9.8 points per game

Chris Bryant, Junior, Guard, 8.2 points per game

Klayton Korver, Junior, Forward, DNP last season

Ajay Calvin, Senior, Forward, 10.2 points per game

Aliou Keita, Senior, Center, 4.8 points per game

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