Well, because this private Missouri Valley Conference school, located in the heart of Des Moines, Iowa, has produced one of the most intriguing and exciting stories in modern NCAA basketball history. The Drake University mens basketball team, picked to finish 9th out of 10 teams in the MVC, has finished up a regular season magical run to a record of 28-4. In the process, they have scooped up a bevy of championships and national awards:
- 2008 MVC Regular Season Champions
- 2008 MVC Tournament Champions
- 2008 MVC Player of the Year (Adam Emmenecker)
- 2008 MVC Coach of the Year (Keno Davis)
- 3 members named to 2008 MVC Most Improved Team (Adam Emmenecker, Jonathan Cox, Leonard Houston)
- Outstanding Player of 2008 MVC Tournament (Adam Emmenecker)
- 2008 MVC All-Tournament Team (Emmenecker, Cox, and Josh Young)
- 2008 Sporting News Magazine National Coach of the Year (Keno Davis)
- 2008 U.S. Basketball Writer's Association District VI Coach of the Year (Keno Davis)
- 2 members named to the All District VI team (Emmenecker and Young)
- Finalist for 2008 NATIONAL Coach of the Year (Davis - we won't know results of this until later this month)
- 2008 ESPN the Magazine's Academic All-American Player of the Year (Emmenecker)
And this doesn't even include the success that the women's basketball team is having! The lady Bulldogs have wrapped up a share of the MVC regular season championship and they enter the MVC tournament this week with confidence. They also have some nice accolades coming their way.
The most amazing part of this whole "cinderella" story, is that Drake University is definitely an academic school first. The athletic programs pride themselves on creating and building true "student athletes," as is shown by their academic standards for athletics. Drake requires athletes to maintain a 2.0 grade point, while the NCAA only requires a 1.8 GPA. The student athlete cannot be exemplified more, than by Adam Emmenecker, Drake's senioir leader and point guard. Adam's on-the-court excellence barely compares to his in-the-classroom excellence. He carries four majors and two minors, and has a 3.97 GPA.
Finally, Keno Davis. This man is an amazing coach, and an amazing leader. This first year head coach has done nothing short of outstanding in the way he has developed this basketball team. I'm telling you now folks: If you haven't watched any Drake basketball this year, you have missed out on some exciting basketball. I have never seen such an unselfish team play. They work hard and they pass a lot! It's quite a sight. So, if you're feeling inclined to watch, tune in to the first round of the NCAA tournament, and get yourself a piece of the magic!
Good Luck Bulldogs.....I'll be right there with you, cheering you on!!
note: the following video is from an ESPN interview with Keno Davis and Dr. Tom Davis. Just a little something to show you what kind of man Drake's head coach is.
note: picture courtesy of Chris Creamer's sportslogos.net