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Drake Bulldogs Basketball History: UD Flyers Game 9 opponent of 2019-20 Season

University Drake University
Head coach Darian DeVries (1st season)
Conference Missouri Valley
Location Des Moines, Iowa
Arena Knapp Center
(Capacity: 7,002)
Nickname Bulldogs
Colors Blue and White

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

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 MVC was one of the premier conferences in men’s basketball. Drake had fourteen winning seasons during this time.

Maury John era

Coach Maury John had a Drake record 211 wins (211-131) coaching the Bulldogs from 1958-1971. John came to Drake after he had compiled a 285-58 record (.831) at Moberly Junior College (1946–1958) and led Moberly to back-to-back NJCAA National Championships in 1954 and 1955. (John was replaced by Cotton Fitzsimmons at Moberly when he came to Drake.) After Coach John, Howard Stacey compiled a 34-44 record coaching Drake from 1971-1974, Bob Ortegel compiled a 94-103 record from 1974-1981 and Gary Garner was 95-104 from 1981-1988.

Under Coach John, Drake shared the 1963–64 Missouri Valley Conference title with Louisville and received an invitation to the 1964 National Invitation Tournament (NIT). In the NIT, 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 Drake Bulldog season was by far the most accomplished in program history, as the Bulldogs advanced to the 1969 NCAA Final Four. The Bulldogs, under Coach John, won the Missouri Valley Conference outright and advanced to the 1969 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 with Coach John Wooden 85–82 in the national semifinal before routing North Carolina under Coach Dean Smith 104–84 in the third place game. In the 1969 NCAA Tournament, Drake opened by defeating Texas A&M 81–63 in the round of 16 after receiving a bye in the 25 team tournament. The Bulldogs then defeated Colorado State 84–77 to win the Midwest Region and advance to the Final Four.

In the 1969 NCAA Final Four, on March 20, 1969 in the National Semi-Final, Drake lost to UCLA with Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Coach John Wooden 85–82. Drake, with 24 points from Willie McCarter, 13 points with 16 rebounds from Willie Wise, and defense from Rick Wanamaker and Dolph Pulliam, almost pulled off a historic upset. UCLA led 83-74 with one minute and 12 seconds remaining before Drake scored eight straight points to make the score 83-82 with just seconds remaining. (UCLA would go on to defeat Purdue (92–72) in the NCAA Championship game, their fourth of seven consecutive NCAA Championships.

The Los Angeles Times described the closing moments of the UCLA game: “Late in the game, UCLA led by three, but Drake had the ball and the momentum. Guard Willie McCarter put up a jumper from the left corner that ricocheted around the rim before falling into the hands of Drake forward Dolph Pulliam, who went straight back up with it. On the way up, Pulliam was hammered by Alcindor and Curtis Rowe, but the ball somehow made it through the hoop. The basket counted, but no foul was called against the Bruins. Eight seconds remained, and Drake trailed by one. UCLA escaped the Bulldogs’ full-court press and got a pass through to Lynn Shackelford. In desperation, Drake’s Ron Gwin fouled him. Shackelford made both of his one-and-one attempts.”

After the game, Coach John Wooden was asked what had been wrong with UCLA. Wooden replied simply,”Drake.”

In the 1969 NCAA 3rd Place Game, the Bulldogs defeated Coach Dean Smith‘s ACC Champion North Carolina Tar Heels, with Charlie Scott convincingly, 104–84, behind 28 points from Willie McCarter. Drank finished the season 26-5.

Drake continued their success under Coach John in the next two seasons as they advanced to the Elite Eight of both the 1970 NCAA Tournament and the 1971 NCAA Tournament. Drake finished 22-7 in 1969-1970 and 21-8 in 1970-1971.

In the 1969–70 season once again captured the Missouri Valley Conference title and made their second straight NCAA Tournament. Earning a bye in the first round, Drake defeated Coach Houston, with Coach Guy Lewis and Dwight Davis, 92–87. Drake lost to New Mexico State 87-78 in the 1971 Midwest Regional Final.[15]

In 1970–71, the Bulldogs earned their third straight Missouri Valley Conference championship. They made their third straight NCAA trip, qualifying for the 1971 NCAA Tournament. There, Drake (21–8) defeated Notre Dame University with Austin Carr 79–72 in OT, then lost to Kansas 73–71 in the Midwest Regional Final.

In 1971, after 13 seasons and a Drake record 211 wins, Coach John left Drake for Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. John’s tenure at ISU was tragically short as he died of cancer on October 15, 1974 at the age of 55.

Bob Ortegel era

Drake won their first national tournament title during the 1974–75 season, capturing the National Commissioners Invitational Tournament postseason title under Coach Ortegel. 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, under Coach Ortegel, losing to Minnesota in the first round 90–77 and the 1985–86 season under Coach Gary Garner, 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). Despite having a depleted roster, the Bulldogs nearly eked out a winning season. Drake entered the MVC 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.

Tom Davis era

On April 22, 2003, Drake announced the hiring of former Iowa head coach 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 a massive rebuilding project of Bulldog basketball. After going 37–51 in his first three seasons, the team finished 17–15 in the 2006–2007 season for its first winning record in 21 years. Following the season, Davis resigned and was succeeded by 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 (2008–2017)

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, 2016, and 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.

On March 26, 2017, Drake University President “Marty” Martin named former Furman University head coach Niko Medved as head men’s basketball coach. After a 17-17 season that exceeded low expectations, Medved announced his departure from Drake, accepting an offer from Colorado State University on March 22, 2018, less than one year after his tenure at Drake began.

Champions again (2018–present)

On March 29, 2018, Creighton University assistant coach Darian DeVries was named the new head coach of the team. Now, Darian “The GOAT” Devries led the Bulldogs to a regular season record of 23-8 and won the MVC Championship in his first year as head coach. Devries was named MVC Coach of the Year for his role in returning Drake to the top of the Valley.

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.


Player Years
Lewis Lloyd 1979–81
Willie McCarter 1966–69


Retired numbers

Retired numbers
Number Player Year
#5 Dolph Pulliam 2009
#15 Willie McCarter 2009
#30 Lewis Lloyd 1981
#33 Red Murrell 1958
#42 Willie Wise 2009



Missouri Valley Conference Players of the Year

Player No. Position Year(s) chosen
Jeff Halliburton 42 F 1971
Lewis Lloyd 30 SF 1980, 1981
Curt Smith 13 PG 1993
Adam Emmenecker 15 PG 2008


National Coaches of the Year

Coach Year(s) chosen
Keno Davis 2008

Postseason appearances

Drake has participated in four different postseason tournaments. They have an 11–10 record overall in them.

National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournament history

The Bulldogs have appeared in four NCAA Tournaments. Their combined record is 5-4.

Year Seed Round Opponent Result
1969 Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
Final Four
Third Place Game
Texas A&M
Colorado State
North Carolina
W 81–63
W 84–77
L 82–85
W 104–84
1970 Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
New Mexico State
W 92–87
L 78–87
1971 Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
Notre Dame
W 79–72 OT
L 71–73
2008 No. 5 First Round No. 12 Western Kentucky L 99–101 OT 



National Invitational Tournament (NIT) history

The Bulldogs have appeared in three National Invitation Tournaments. Their combined record is 1-3.

Year Round Opponent Result
1964 First Round
Second Round
New Mexico
W 87–82
L 60–65
1981 First Round Minnesota L 77–90
1986 First Round Marquette L 59–79 Tournament (CIT) history

The Bulldogs have appeared in four Tournaments. Their combined record is 2-4.

Year Round Opponent Result
2009 First Round Idaho L 67–69
2012 First Round
Second Round
North Dakota
W 70–64
L 68–74
2018 First Round
Second Round
Abilene Christian
Northern Colorado
W 80–73 OT
L 72–81
2019 First Round Southern Utah L 73-80 OT 



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