MVC Tournament Recap: Drake 68, Indiana State 46

by Andrew Force | March 8th, 2008

“We have to work at putting teams away,” said Drake forward Jonathan Cox one month ago following a depressingly narrow defeat of Evansville. His dream came true in Drake’s 68-46 drubbing of a worn down Indiana State team.

Despite sharing a color scheme, 100 seconds of basketball left no doubt which team was the favorite. The Bulldogs stormed out of the gate, 10-2. Indiana State never made it to the proverbial gate, let alone out of it.

The play of the tournament, should Drake run the tables, will inevitably be Bucky Cox pulling up from 30 feet out only to shoot the ball 27. The initial crowdwide gasp turned to audible appreciation as baseline-traipsing Leonard Houston leapt in the air, caught the pass on cue, and pounded it home.

“I just throw it up there and he goes and gets it cause he can jump out of the gym,” said Cox on the planned alley-oop. “I just put it somewhere by the basket.”

In his first game since being named Larry Bird Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year, DU point guard Adam Emmenecker showed a broad skill set. The predictable five assists left his hands.

AE also tugged in a season high 10 rebounds. On offense, Emmenecker typically finds himself in perfect rebounding position after he kicks out to the shooter. So four offensive rebounds does not shock the sense.

The team-leading six defensive rebounds both reassured beat writers (who voted for him), and began his campaign for MVC Tournament Most Valuable Player.

“Adam was the straw that stirs the drink,” said Houston.

Playing with Emmenecker is a shooter’s dream. No need to hunt for the ball.

“You always gotta be ready when you play with a guy like Adam,” admits Houston. “He will slash and dice, get between the defenders and the next thing you know the ball is coming to you.”

With Emmenecker’s vision helping, Houston dumped in a game-high 16 points. In the second half, Houston found his range and buried three triples.

If Houston finds his stride, as Klayton Korver and Josh Young already have, then the Bulldogs will be the toughest out in the Valley Tourney.

As a number one seed, conventional wisdom would make them the prohibitive favorites, but only one regular-season champion has won this tournament since 2001. Also, a growing number of fans and media members feel Drake peaked too early. The Bulldogs have to be on their best behavior to win this winner take all, losers take nothing tournament.

A student in the Drake cheering section eagerly held up signs throughout the game. One said “Why Do Dogs Love Trees?” The answer, though hardly readily-available to any guesser, is they lift their legs and urinate on trees. Drake, (the Bulldogs) fulfilled her prophecy by completely relieving themselves on the Indiana State Sycamores.

One of those trees will be missed in the MVC. Sycamore point guard Gabe Moore, a fighter constantly on undermanned teams, ended his career with 1223 career points and sadly just 48 career wins.

Saturday, Drake tries to beat Creighton for the third time this season. The Bulldogs knocked off Creighton 68-60 (OT) in Omaha and won 75-65 at home.

DU hopes to do the unthinkable and earn a 4-5 seed, ahead of the third place Big 10 team, whomever that may be. If you are going to dream, why not dream big? Sometimes big dreams come true. Thus is 2007-2008 Drake basketball.

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4 Responses to “MVC Tournament Recap: Drake 68, Indiana State 46”  

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  1. Dex Says:

    Moore’s a player. I’m sad to see him go. But watch out for the Sycamores. 4 of their top 6 scorers are returning and I’m pretty sure that their frosh Isiah Martin led the conference in blocks. If they can get their act together on the road, they could be next year’s Drake.

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  2. Andrew Force Says:

    Martin did lead the league in blocks. They certainly want him to develop more of a back to the basket game. I first saw him at Purdue and he certainly belonged on the floor with Scott Martin, another excellent freshman.

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  3. Sam Says:

    The Sycamores were practically unstoppable at home this year. But they were just terrible on the road. If they can find a way to win on the road, they’ll be a mighty tough team next year.

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  4. Andrew Force Says:

    I really like their arena. It doesnt have the old time feel of a Hinkel or the high profile of Assembly Hall, but the Hulman Center houses good basketball fans. They know the game as well as any in the nation, show little irrational venom, and support their players to the fullest. The sight lines are excellent and the building has Larry Bird memorabilia everywhere, as it should.

    Indiana State would be a nice place to have meaningful Valley games late in the year. Hopefully Kevin McKenna brings the Sycamores back to the top half of the conference soon.

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