Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Carry On My Davidson

Pun City had the chance tonight to watch Appalachian State visiting Davidson in a SoCon matchup. This blog was as surprised as anyone that this game was on TV, but Dish Network picked up the SportSouth feed and Pun City was immediately entranced. *Also note that it is no coincidence a Davidson article is popping up the day after this blog got a lot of Davidson traffic.

Most neutral observers don't know about Davidson. "Knowledgable" observers probably think of a typically gaudy overall record and have a vague concept of Dell Curry's son playing for them. Alas, it is people like this that win NCAA pools over fanatic rubes like this blog.

Stephen Curry is indeed the key cog in Davidson's machine, but he is definitely not a one-man show. Even though he's in the top-10 nationally in scoring, with 25.3 points per game. Even though his range is virtually halfcourt and in. Even if, when defenses come out to defend Curry, he just backs up and makes the longer shot.

The rest of the Team, contributing to Davidson's success, includes both inside and outside resources. For starters, there is some size to complement both Curry and point guard Jason Richards' outside shooting prowess. (Richards is 2nd on the team in scoring with 12.6 ppg). Thomas Sander, Boris Meno, and Andrew Lovedale form a 3-headed frontcourt monster and all average over 5 rebounds and 6 points per game. They're also all 6'8", which allows Davidson the flexibility to matchup physically with most teams in the country.

Tough matchups would be against teams like Georgetown or Connecticut where there is a skilled 7-footer. That said, it would be unlikely the Wildcats would end up having to face either of those schools until at least the 2nd round, as ESPN's Bracketology has Davidson currently slotted at a 12 seed, with Georgetown a 3 and Connecticut a 4.

It's easy to see why they were able to compete with Duke and North Carolina, two teams that don't currently have the luxury of a 7-foot behemoth.

For the game Pun City's currently watching, Davidson is very adept at outside shooting, 6 of 13 from beyond the arc at the half. This will definitely extend a defense, so without a good combination of a tall post player and ball-hawking guards, you're going to have problems with them.

This blog is realizing that definitely the most underrated player for DC is Richards. He leads the nation in assists per game and unless you root for a SoCon team, you've never heard of him before. His senior leadership from the point guard position is almost certainly the primary reason that Davidson stands where they are now and will be a great challenge for any postseason opponent. If for some reason the Wildcats don't make the NCAA tournament, a possibility that is unfortunately still out there because they weren't able to schedule a major conference school at Belk Arena or pull off the upset on the road in non-conference play - they will win the NIT.

That said, Pun City is fully confident that they'll continue their undefeated march through the SoCon through the title game and clinch the automatic bid. It would also be hard for the selection committee to omit a team with Davidson's talent level and experience, especially after a snub in 2005, even if they lost in the SoCon tournament. (Although, based on the 2005 snub, Pun City recommends Davidson at least lose in the final if they want to be sure).

Other Davidson points to note:

-Like a lot of non-majors, they know how to handle a zone. This doesn't always apply to major conference programs because there is a prevalence of major-conference schools that refuse to play zone. Smaller conference schools usually don't have the "come-uppance" and will pull out all the stops to get a win. This means a squad like Davidson has seen zone a lot, and their undefeated conference season means they aren't fazed by it.

-Davidson is a good but not great defensive team. They tend to gamble a lot defensively. This leads to a number of steals and easy transition baskets, but they will occasionally give up an easy bucket. Playing a disciplined team like a Wisconsin or Washington State will probably not help their cause in that they'd need to outshoot the disciplined team in a low-possession game without as many transition baskets as they may now be relying on.

-Depth is not a problem for Davidson. They boast a 9-man rotation where each player averages at least 12.9 minutes per game. A team like Tennessee might have ideas for running them out of the gym, but this blog is of the opinion this would not work given the longer TV timeouts during the NCAA tournament, in addition to DC's bench essentially being interchangeable parts with their starters (Curry and Richards excluded). Keeping Curry and Richards out of foul trouble will be important, but this seems very feasible given that the duo averages 2.4 and 1.7 fouls per game, respectively.

This blog is aware that coming out of the SoCon with the best RPI win being over #96 Georgia Southern is a tenuous position. This blog would like to believe their willingness to take on strong opponents will "Curry" favor with the selection committee. This blog would also like to believe that Davidson will make the issue moot by storming through the SoCon Tourney. If Davidson gets an NCAA bid, at-large or otherwise, Pun City predicts a first round win. If they can avoid the UConns and Washington States of the world in the second round, Wildcat fans will enjoy a sweet March to the round of sixteen.

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Blogger Will Bryan said...

liked your writeup...check out my blog on the Wildcats at the SoCon tourney here:

10:31 PM  

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