The Drake Bulldogs just put the finishing touches on their regular season with a surgical dissection of the Illinois State Redbirds, 79-49. It was the largest victory in an MVC title game ever. The 'Dawgs had been left for dead before the season even began, having lost four starting seniors and being picked to finish ninth in the conference--justifiably so. They start two walk-ons and a Korver with one good knee. Their head coach was a product of naked and blatant nepotism--Keno Davis, just 35 at the time of his hire, had spent a couple seasons at Drake under his father, whom we're mildly familiar with.
And yet here they are, runaway regular season champions of the Missouri Valley Conference, dominators of the conference tourney, and mortal locks for a 6 seed or better in the Big Dance. One of those walk-ons, Adam Emmenecker, became just the third NCAA player in the last 10 years to be named conference player of the year while averaging fewer than 10 points per game. That "Keno" kid is a heavy favorite for national coach of the year. And Dick Enberg only restated the achingly obvious as time wound down yesterday, declaring Drake the "story of the year" in college basketball.
So about recruiting. Certainly none of these players, save possibly sophomore wunderkind Josh Young, would have been on anybody's radar in high school. Actually, just checked on that. Nope. Meanwhile, everyone on the Hawkeyes' roster was offered a scholarship by multiple D-I schools--even JR Angle, who [name redacted] landed in a coup during Angle's sophomore year. Now, as we look back, not only has Iowa suffered through the worst season in school history, but you can't even blame a single player for underachieving (Jebus's hatred for Tony Freeman aside). To what, dear readers, do you attribute this massive disparity? Was [name redacted] really that poor an evaluator of talent? Was he that poor a developer of talent? Does Emmenecker's presence really make that much of a difference in Drake's play? And if so on the last front, shouldn't there be a sea change in the way point guards are emphasized, scouted, and evaluated at the high school level?
Let's hear your thoughts. And if it makes you feel better, yes, you may still blame Ken O'Keefe.