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Drake Bulldogs men's basketball

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University  Drake University
Nickname  Bulldogs
Home  Away
Arena/Stadium  Knapp Center
Location  Des Moines, IA
Colors  Blue and White
Head coach  Jeff Rutter
Division  Division I (NCAA)
Drake Bulldogs men's basketball httpspbstwimgcomprofileimages7432100009783
Conference  Missouri Valley Conference

Drake bulldogs men s basketball

The Drake Bulldogs men's basketball team represents Drake University, located in Des Moines, Iowa, in NCAA Division I basketball competition. The program is best known for making the 1969 Final Four.


The early years (1906–1959)

The first season Drake fielded a men's basketball was 1906-07. The Bulldogs finished with a 2-1 record as an independent. The next year during the 1907-08 season they were charter members of the Missouri Valley Conference.

Drake would dominate the 1930s winning three conference titles in the decade (1934–35, 1935–36, and 1938–39). The Bulldogs unfortunately did not qualify for a post-season tournament by winning the conference title as no post-season tournaments were held during the 1934-35 season. The following 1935-36 season Drake was invited to the District Olympic Tournament post-season tournament (defeating North Dakota 49-46, falling to Minnesota 36-19). The Bulldogs participated in the National Intercollegiate Tournament in 1937-38 (losing to Murray State 47-40) and 1938–39 (losing to Oklahoma State 28-15).

Throughout the 1940s and 1950s Drake would secure eight winning seasons. There was no Missouri Valley Conference play during the 1943-44 and 1944-45 seasons because of World War II. This was in part because less MVC schools were playing basketball during that time, Drake was though. In 1951 Drake withdrew as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference, along with Bradley as a result of the lack of action taken by the Missouri Valley Conference against Oklahoma A&M in the Johnny Bright Incident. Drake would not compete in the Missouri Valley Conference again until the 1956-57 season.

Glory years (1960–1986)

The 1960s through mid-1980s saw some of the all-time great Drake teams. The Bulldogs were in the national rankings on a regular basis and the Missouri Valley Conference was one of the premier conferences in men's basketball. Drake had fourteen winning seasons during this time.

Drake shared the 1963-64 conference title with Louisville and received an invitation to the National Invitational Tournament. In the tournament, Drake defeated Pittsburgh 87-82 in the first round and lost to tournament runner-up New Mexico 65-60 in the second round.

The 1968-69 season was by far the most accomplished in Drake history. The Bulldogs won the Missouri Valley Conference outright and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Final Four, finishing third. During the tournament, Drake received a bye in the first round, defeated Texas A&M 81-63 in the Sweet Sixteen and Colorado State in the Elite Eight 84-77. The Bulldogs would fall to eventual champion UCLA 85-82 in the national semifinal before routing North Carolina 104-84 in the third place game.

Drake continued its magical run during the 1969-70 season once again capturing the Missouri Valley Conference title. The Bulldogs would qualify for their second straight NCAA Tournament, earning a bye in the first round. In the Sweet Sixteen, Drake defeated Houston 92-87, but fell to New Mexico 87-78 in the Elite Eight.

In 1970-71, the Bulldogs earned their third straight Missouri Valley Conference crown, advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the third year in a row. Drake received a bye in the first round, defeated Notre Dame in the Sweet Sixteen 79-72 (OT), but lost to Kansas 73-71 in the Elite Eight.

Drake would win their first national tournament title during the 1974-75 season, capturing the National Commissioners Invitational Tournament postseason title. In the tournament, the Bulldogs defeated USC 80-70, Bowling Green 78-65, and Arizona in the championship game 83-76.

The Bulldogs also advanced to the National Invitational Tournament during the 1980-81 season (losing to Minnesota in the first round 90-77) and the 1985-86 season (falling to Marquette 79-59 in the first round).

Dark days (1987–2006)

From 1987 to 2006, Drake did not have a winning season in men's basketball. It was a dreary time in the program's history. The stretch included a dismal 2-26 season in 1996-97 and a dreadful 3-24 season in 1997-98. The Bulldogs went through four coaches, none of whom finished with a winning coaching record at Drake.

The 2001-02 season showed a glimmer of hope after starting out on the wrong note. Drake would suspend four players at winter semester break due to their not abiding by the school's 2.0 GPA rule (NCAA requires 1.8). The Bulldogs almost responded by pulling off the unthinkable winning season. Drake entered the conference tournament with a 14-14 record; but fell to Illinois State 63-64 on a buzzer beating shot, ending the season 14-15.

The next season (2002–03) Drake would finish 10-20, leading to the dismissal of head coach Kurt Kanaskie at season's end.

On April 22, 2003, Drake announced the hiring of Dr. Tom Davis as its new men's basketball coach. The hiring drew national attention and brought instant credibility to the struggling program. Davis’ career included sixteen 20-win seasons, eighteen post season appearances, and he was named Associated Press National Coach of the Year in 1987.

During the 2003-04 season, Davis began the massive rebuilding project of Bulldog basketball. After going 37-51 in his first three seasons, the team finished with 17-15 in the 2006-2007 season. It was Drake's first winning record since the 1985-86 season. Following the season, Davis resigned leading to the hiring of his son Keno Davis.

Magical Season (2007–2008 season)

Under the guidance of Keno Davis, the 2007-08 season was one of the most storied in Drake history. The Bulldogs won the Missouri Valley Conference regular season and tournament titles, advancing the NCAA Tournament. Drake earned a five seed in the NCAA Tournament and they were ranked nationally throughout the year. The season would end in heartbreak fashion when Ty Rodgers hit a last second twenty-six foot three-point shot (a play that remains to this day on ESPN's Top 10 NCAA Tournament Buzzer Beaters), giving Western Kentucky a 101-99 overtime victory in the first round. Drake finished the season with a school best 28-5 record.

Dark Days Part II (2008–present)

After the successful 2007-08 season, Keno Davis accepted the head basketball coach position at Providence. As a result, Drake AD Sandy Hatfield Clubb hired former Arizona State assistant coach Mark Phelps. In 2008-09, Phelps' first season, the Bulldogs finished with a 17-16 record, falling in the College Insider Tournament to Idaho. Despite his ability to recruit, Phelps' on the court coaching led to finishes of 7th and below in the MVC and dwindling fan attendance and support. Phelps contract was not renewed following the 2012-13 season, and Drake AD Sandy Hatfield Clubb replaced him with her new choice Ray Giacoletti. After failing to finish above .500 for three seasons and a 1-8 start in his fourth year, Giacoletti turned in his resignation to Drake AD Sandy Hatfield Clubb on December 6. Interim Head Coach Jeff Rutter took over in his place, leading the team to their 9th play-in game in 9 seasons under a coach chosen by Drake AD Sandy Hatfield Clubb.

Record versus conference teams

Below are the records of the Bulldogs versus current members of the Missouri Valley Conference.

MVC All-Centennial Team

In 2006-07, the Missouri Valley Conference celebrated its centennial as the nation's second-oldest NCAA Division I conference. As part of the celebration, The Valley named All-Centennial teams for each of the sponsored sports. Two of the 50 men's basketball players named were from Drake's program.


  • See List of Drake Bulldogs men's basketball seasons
  • Tournament history

    Drake has participated in four different postseason tournaments. They have a 10–9 record overall in them.


    Drake Bulldogs men's basketball Wikipedia