Drake’s tough non-conference schedule should serve them well in MVC play

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Photo courtesy of Drake University Athletics.

The Drake Bulldogs start off the 2021-22 season with some tough non-conference opponents.

Drake has a strong core of their 26-5 NCAA tournament team back from last year to start off the 2021-22 season.

Fourth-year head coach Darian DeVries has won 70 games during his first three seasons which is the most in any three year stretch in program history.

DeVries returns four players aged 24 and older including the MVC’s oldest player Tremell Murphy (born 4/27/1997) along with two All-MVC players including senior guard Roman Penn and senior forward ShanQuan “Tank” Hemphill. Both players were also included on the Lou Henson National Men’s Basketball Player of the Year award watch list.

Senior guard DJ Wilkins also returns after starting all 31 games last year and averaging 10.1 points per game.

DeVries also signed his son Tucker DeVries who is a 6’7 freshman forward who was rated as a 3-star recruit and also had offers from Iowa State, Florida, Creighton, Air Force and South Dakota. The younger Devries was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Iowa in 2020-21.

Drake led the MVC in scoring last year with 75.9 points per game and had the second best defence in the conference allowing just 64.5 points per game.

The Bulldogs opened the 2021-22 season with a comfortable 87-61 win over D3 Coe College but they now enter a very tough portion of their non-conference schedule with three upcoming games against South Dakota (Nov 14), Richmond (Nov 20) and Belmont (Nov 25). They’ll also see other challenging games against Valpo (Dec 2), Clemson (Dec 11) and Saint Louis (Dec 22) before the end of the calendar year.

It will be difficult for Drake to match their 26-5 record of a year ago but they certainly have the talent and coaching staff to battle for the MVC title and get back to the NCAA tournament once again.