#40 Drake Women's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

Drake Bulldogs
Overall Rank: #40
Conference Rank: #1 Missouri Valley
Drake Logo
Drake was outstanding during the 2016-17 basketball season as the Bulldogs won 28 games and swept through the Missouri Valley Conference with an 18-0 record. Head Coach Jennie Baranczyk has steadily built Drake into a strong mid-major program that can compete with anyone on any given night. The combination of being able to play an up-tempo style offensively along with forcing turnovers at nearly 18 per game has set the Bulldogs up for an extended run of being a tough out in the NCAA Tournament against any power five school depending on the draw from the selection committee.

2016-17 Record: 28-5, 18-0
2016-17 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Jennie Baranczyk
Coach Record: 99-61 at Drake, 99-61 overall
Key Departed Players (starters in bold)
Lizzy Wendell, Forward, 21.0 points per game
Caitlin Ingle, Guard, 10.2 points per game
Nicole Miller, Guard, 5.6 points per game
Cortni Rush, Guard, 2.7 points per game
Key Returning Players (starters in bold)
Becca Hittner, Sophomore, Guard, 12.4 points per game
Sammie Bachrodt, Junior, Guard, 10.3 points per game
Becca Jonas, Redshirt Junior, Forward/Center, 8.3 points per game
Brenni Rose, Guard/Forward, Sophomore, 7.0 points per game
Sara Rhine, Redshirt Sophomore, Forward, 11.6 points per game
Maddy Dean, Redshirt Junior, DNP last season due to injury
Paige Grenier, Senior, Guard, 2.7 points per game
Mya Mertz, Sophomore, Forward, Center, 2.7 points per game
Key New Players
Maddie Monahan, Freshman, Guard
Hannah Fuller, Freshman, Guard
Katie Van Sycoc, Freshman, Guard
Monica Burich, Sophomore, Forward, Transfer from Colorado
Replacing the production and leadership of Lizzy Wendell won’t be easy. Wendell was the player of the year in the Missouri Valley Conference last season and at times was lethal offensively. The duo of Becca Hittner and Sammie Bachrodt are going to have to pick up the slack and average about 35-40 points per game between them for Drake to stay dynamic offensively. Sara Rhine had her season cut short due to injury after starting six of eight games and Rhine averaged 11.6 points per game along with six rebounds. If Rhine is back at full strength that should help the Bulldogs be able to keep teams off balance with a nice inside-outside combination. Overall, it will be interesting to see how Drake responds to having a target on their back in conference play. A trip back to the NCAA Tournament and about 25 wins should be in the cards for Drake in the 2017-18 season.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 82.2 (9th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 64.4 (175, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 48.5 (5, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 38.4 (98, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.4 (16, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.3 (25, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 74.0 (60, 1)
Rebound Margin: 4.3 (70, 2)
Assists Per Game: 21.6 (3,1)
Turnovers Per Game: 15.6 (171, 4)