On Monday’s Missouri Valley Conference coaches teleconference, Drake coach Mark Phelps discussed his Bulldogs (7-9, 1-4 MVC) and their game Wednesday against UE, which tips at 7:05 p.m. in Des Moines, Iowa.
Phelps’ squad snapped a four-game losing streak last weekend with an 82-77 decision against Illinois State on the Redbirds’ home court, while UE has won four straight — most recently Sunday’s victory over then-No. 23 Wichita State.
Phelps’ opening statement: “It’s good to get our first win in league play, and it was a very difficult place to play. I thought we started doing some things we’re capable of doing, especially in the second half – defending and sharing the ball and knocking down shots. It’s great to come into this week off that, but it doesn’t get any easier. Both of our opponents this week (UE and Northern Iowa), I think, are playing tremendous basketball. Evansville at 4-1 obviously took care of business against Wichita State. I think they’re one of the toughest teams you can play in college basketball. Marty (Simmons) does a good job. Colt Ryan’s playing at a high level. They understand their roles. They’re tough. I think every single play you have to battle against those guys. It’s going to be a challenge but another great opportunity to see where our basketball team is on Wednesday.”
Pehlps on his team’s improvements made in the Illinois State game: “I thought we played like we see our guys practice a lot. We finally got some carryover in terms of the conference season from practice and preparation for the game. Being down nine at halftime, I thought our defense as much better in the second half, and it helped us on the offensive end. We scored 50 points in a half – that’s pretty good – but it was really a result of us just concentrating on one thing, and that was playing as hard as we could and letting the chips fall where they may.”
Phelps on what he’s seen UE do well during the Aces’ current winning streak: “I think everyone really understands their role. You’ve got Troy Taylor averaging (7.4) rebounds per game. That’s how you can have a special season. You have Colt Ryan doing exactly what everyone expects of him, even though everyone’s keying on him. Obviously the freshman in the middle (Egidijus Mockevicius) gives them size – gives them skill and scoring. I do think everyone has bought in. I think Marty’s doing a great job of getting those guys to get bought in, and I think the results are happening on the floor. They beat some great teams in our league already, and they’re clearly playing at a high level.”