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January 13, 2010, 01:53 PM ET
Drake is now officially a Scooby-Doo villain

by John Gasaway

It really is past time for some aspiring Velma in Des Moines to walk right up to a “Drake” player like, I don’t know, “Adam Templeton” or “Ryan Wedel,” yank off the latex mask that quite obviously conceals said player’s true identity, and exclaim with knowing triumph: “Jon Scheyer!”

How else to explain the startling and indeed incomprehensible turnaround executed by the Bulldogs in still-young calendar 2010? Just seven days ago Ken Pomeroy’s pitiless number-crunching robots were pointing their ominously apodictic and metallic fingers at Mark Phelps‘ unprepossessing group and singling them out as The Most Likely Non-Fordham Team in the Nation to Go Winless In-Conference This Year. (Try fitting that on a commemorative ball cap.) And while, at the risk of over-sharing, I don’t happen to be a robot myself, at the time I could only read that post and nod earnestly in agreement, because here is what I was looking at on the morning of January 6:

Doomed! Doomed, I tells ya! 
Drake tips off its 2010 Missouri Valley season with a team-wide seizure
Pace: possessions per 40 minutes
PPP: points per possession    Opp. PPP: opponent points per possession
EM: efficiency margin (PPP - Opp. PPP)

                     Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP   EM
vs. Bradley          66.9    0.88    1.00   -0.12
@ Wichita St.        67.0    0.57    0.92   -0.35
vs.  Indiana St.     62.5    0.74    0.96   -0.22
TOTALS               65.4    0.73    0.96   -0.23

Just how bad was that? A team that scores a mere 0.73 points per trip in-conference is on-track to be the single worst offense I’ve seen since I started tracking this stuff way back in the previous decade. I mean, this team lost at Iowa for goodness sake. Ken’s bots were right to be chuckling behind Drake’s back last week.

Now look:

Phelps: “That’s absurd! My players aren’t wearing latex mas– DON’T PULL ON THAT!” 
Drake continues its 2010 Valley slate

                     Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP   EM
@ Creighton          67.5    1.02    1.08   -0.06
@ S. Illinois        63.4    1.10    0.93   +0.07
vs.  Missouri St.    65.5    1.34    1.18   +0.16
TOTALS               65.4    1.16    1.09   +0.07
 

This is mostly an instance of a perimeter-oriented team starting, at last, to make shots from the perimeter. Over their past three games the Bulldogs are hitting 43 percent of their threes. (Previous three games: 23 percent.) As will often happen in such cases, great shooting from the outside has had a huge impact on the interior, and Phelps’ team is now making its twos as well.

So look past the ostentatiously ugly Pomeroy rating, for this is a new (wink, wink!) ”Drake” team. Valley, you’ve been warned. 

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