By RON MALY
I'm very happy for the marvelous Drake women's basketball players and coaches who won their 17th consecutive game tonight and assured themselves of the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championship.
And I'm certainly not the only person to be fired-up for these rampaging Bulldogs following their 70-57 victory over Northern Iowa at a Knapp Center that had never been as electric and as jammed full of fans for a women's game as it was tonight.
Indeed, these talented Drake women got the joint jumpin'.
There was a whopping crowd of 6,456 in the 7,000-seat building--the biggest turnout ever to see the Bulldogs play a women's home game--and most of the fans obviously were cheering for Drake.
Ty Patton, Drake's sports information director, quoted Bulldogs coach Jennie Baranczyk on Twitter as saying, "Tonight's record crowd was a testament to the state of Iowa. I've lived in 6 states and have never seen support like this."
Baranczyk obviously deserves a lot of credit for Drake's amazing success this season.
Now I hope Jennie doesn't screw this whole thing up and leave for another job at season's end.
It's happened at Drake before, you know,, that a successful coach has left the university for a job that pays twice as much.
But, hey, let's not borrow trouble on a fun night like this. Let's enjoy Jennie and her outstanding coaching style as long as we can before she takes another job in the Big Ten or some other higher-profile conference.
The Bulldogs improved their Valley record to 16-0 and their overall record to 23-4 with tonight''s victory. Also a women's program high are the 17 consecutive victories.
It's Drake's first outright Valley regular season championship since the 1999-2000 season.
Lizzy Wendell, a senior from Blue Springs, Mo., led Drake with 21 points over a UNI team that's 13-3 in the Valley and 20-7 for the season.
Thanks to John Meyer and Ty Patton of Drake's publicity office for sending me the facts on the Bulldogs' victory.
The editorial comments are, of course, mine and not theirs.
I didn't attend the Drake-UNI game. I was at the Bill Coldiron Fieldhouse on Valley High School's campus in West Des Moines, where the Tigers absolutely crushed Ankeny Centennial, 68-37, in a boys' regional semifinal.
Make no mistake, Curry can be a game-changer. He makes everyone else in the Tigers' lineup better.
We'll know more about that Tuesday when Valley plays talented Hoover at Ankeny Centennial.
Like most of you, I think Hoover should be favored. But Valley coach B.J. Windhorst, whose team won the class 4-A championship last season, is a wonderful motivator and outcoaches a lot of other guys.
So, like I said, we'll see.
A spot in the state tournament will be up for grabs. It should be fun.