Davidson Basketball Preview: #40
Overall Rank: #40
Conference Rank: #1 Southern Conference
2007-08: 29-7, 20-0, 1st South
2007-08 postseason: NCAA
Davidson scrapped their way into the Elite Eight by knocking off Gonzaga, Georgetown and Wisconsin. That is an impressive run. Equally impressive was the 20-0 conference record. The Wildcats were ranked very highly coming into last season but fell off the radar due to early struggles on the road. The hype and superstar Stephen Curry will keep Coach Bob McKillop’s team in the headlines and competing for another NCAA berth.
Everybody’s talking about Curry being back, but the 2007-2008 Davidson team was about a lot more than just Curry. Jason Richards was the unsung point guard who not only led the nation with 8.1 assists per game, but was the team’s second leading scorer behind Curry. Also gone are forwards Thomas Sander and Boris Meno, who ranked third and fourth on the team in scoring. Having Curry is a bigger deal, but replacing those three is a much larger problem than most care to admit. Little used walk-on Mike Schmitt has also wrapped up his playing career at Davidson.
There is enough talent returning in the backcourt to not cause too many problems, so this small class concentrates on depth up front. Frank Ben-Eze is a bruiser under the basket and a great late pickup for the Wildcats. His offense may need a little time to come around, but the 6-10, 230 pounder can fill up the lane, grab plenty of rebounds and help replace Meno in the blocked shots department. Ben Allison cannot match Ben-Eze in the size department, but the forward can stretch the defense with his outside shooting ability and that is something that will come in very handy in the years to come.
Who to Watch:
Of course the player to watch is Stephen Curry. The 6-2 junior averaged an impressive 25.9 points per game and will once again put the Wildcats on his shoulders. But there is more talent in the backcourt than just Curry. Max Paulhus Gosselin will fill a starting spot for the third season. He is not a scorer, but the senior is the typical glue guy and will do whatever the team needs him to do to win. Finding another scorer in the backcourt is a small issue. Bryant Barr was almost entirely a three-point shooter last season, but he has the ability to tally more than 5.2 points per game this year. If he can start getting to the basket and scoring in other ways, Barr could be the scorer the backcourt needs. If not, he will come in off the bench and shoot three’s…which he does very well and leave the other scoring to William Archambault or the coach’s son, Brendan McKillop. Having Curry on the ball more often this year might hinder his ability to score a little bit, but he can certainly handle it.
A bigger concern than where Curry spends his time is the frontcourt. Andrew Lovedale averaged 6.8 points and 5.4 boards a year ago and will step back into a starting role, yet the absence of Sander and Meno leaves a big hole. Lovedale can score around the basket and does a fine job on the glass and in the shot blocking department, but it will not be as easy this year if nobody can replace the departed forwards. The logical candidate to step up is Stephen Rossiter. The 6-7 junior only averaged 13.4 minutes per game last year but he noticeably improved as the season progressed. If Rossiter, Dan Nelms and the newcomers can keep the frontcourt on the same level as it was last year, Davidson can make a run like they did last season. Even if they cannot, this is still an NCAA Tournament team whether or not they win the Southern Conference Tournament, but the magical run of 2007-2008 will be difficult to repeat.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Stephen Curry, Junior, Guard, 25.9 points per game
Bryant Barr, Junior, Guard, 5.2 points per game
Max Paulhus Gosselin, Senior, Guard, 3.5 points per game
Stephen Rossiter, Junior, Forward, 3.0 points per game
Andrew Lovedale, Senior, Forward, 6.8 points per game