MVC Tournament Recap: Drake 75, Creighton 67

by Andrew Force | March 9th, 2008

No worries. Drake defeated Creighton 75-67 to reach the nationally televised Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Final. The one team that did not need a strong conference tournament showing, Drake is starting to regain the air of invincibility they established earlier and seemingly lost in late February.

Led by an incredibly reserved coaching staff, DU plays with surprising calm for an upstart program.

For a team that hasn’t played in an MVC Championships since time began, hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 1971, the Bulldogs compete so casually, self-assuredly.

“I think there are a lot of different defenses that we have seen throughout the years and we feel like there is nothing we haven’t seen yet,” said DU guard Leonard Houston. “We try to analyze it and stay calm.”

The effort is strong but the faces remain quietly confident.

“We have so many guys on our team that can score, said Houston. “I feel like we really don’t need to rush. Our points are going to come.”

The Bulldogs’ shared responsibility disseminates the burden among multiple players. When all that is asked of you is 10 points, 3 rebounds your heart beats slower. Another advantage of playing on a balanced team is the dispersion of wealth. Everyone feels important but no one feels over-important.

“I think a lot of people thought we just had Josh Young, who is our leading scorer,” said Jonathan Cox. “We definitely felt that we have shown just in these last two games that we are a balanced team out there.”

All five starters scored in double figures for Drake. In fact, the starting five dumped in 73 of the 75 total points. Adam Emmenecker led them in scoring with 20 due in large parts to a 12-13 free-throw performance.

He did not lead the team in scoring, but Young was the only Drake player to make more than four field goals. The regular season co-scoring champion came out looking to score. The sophomore guard was getting to the rim early with high energy paving the way.

Creighton has some quick and clever offensive guards, who are still learning to play defense in Head Coach Dana Altman’s system. Between Booker Woodfox, Cavel Witter, and P’Allen Stinnett the Bluejays will have a dynamic backcourt next year.

Stinnett had an eventful afternoon. Furious with a foul call, P’Allen Stinnett removed his mouthguard and flung it 50 feet down the sideline. Immediately assessed a technical, the series of events inspired an already invested crowd. Late in the second half the MVC Freshman of the Year Stinnett cramped up. His time will come.

For now it is all Drake love.

The “other” Korver, Klayton, knocked down three triples with an exaggerated follow through. “If you hold it up there it seems like it has a better chance to go in,” Korver revealed. “I shot it and it felt really good. Then it hit the front. It hit the back and I was just thinking ‘C’mon, trickle in. I am glad it did,’” Korver laughingly recalled a particularly fortuitous roll.

From the player whose free throws put the finishing touches on Drake’s 27th win, it was also Emmenecker who wrapped up the importance and relevance of the Tournament so eloquently. “It means a lot to us as individuals going through the struggles of the last three and four years,” said Emmenecker. It’s for our fans that have been diehard Drake fans since 1969. The fans that have been Drake fans and have gone through some of the lowest lows in college basketball over than time. It’s great for us and it’s great for them.”

How great will it be for Drake? Already an at-large team, the Bulldogs seek a protected seed in the Big Dance with a third consecutive win over Illinois State tomorrow.

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