Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Article about Davidson from Maryland student paper

Just who are the Davidson Wildcats?
Stephen Whyno

For just about everybody in and around the Terrapin men's basketball program, this week will be a time to learn about the Davidson Wildcats, the Terps' first-round opponent in the NCAA tournament.

That includes coach Gary Williams, who did not profess to be an expert on Davidson shortly after the pairings were announced. A reporter asked Williams if he "had a chance to look at tape from Davidson yet."

"Yeah, I just looked at two games," Williams jokingly said. "Come on, I just found out like 15 minutes ago."

Of course it was ridiculous to think Williams had already mastered Davidson's offensive and defensive sets, but there is merit to the question of, "Who is this team that the Terps will play Thursday in Buffalo, N.Y.?" Welcome to a crash course on the Davidson Wildcats.

Davidson (29-4) was the Southern Conference tournament champion and won the league's South division regular season title with a 17-1 record. The Wildcats have won 25 of their last 26 games, with the only loss coming to Appalachian State - a team that beat Virginia on a neutral court in December.

Outside of the No. 1 seeds and Memphis, Davidson has the most wins in the rest of the tournament field. Davidson boasts the No. 41 Ratings Percentage Index ranking but also the No. 195 toughest schedule. Coach Bob McKillop told reporters in North Carolina he expected a higher seed and said he saw a No. 12-seed as "maybe the worst-case scenario."

Williams' knowledge about the Wildcats comes from when the Terps beat Davidson in the NIT in 2005.

"They run a lot of really good stuff, shoot a lot of threes usually. [It] is the way they like to play - spread the court," Williams said. "NCAA is always interesting 'cause you get styles that you haven't seen in a while, maybe in your league, no matter what your league is. So you gotta make some adjustments quickly in a lot of those games. We're looking forward to it."

Williams admitted not knowing too much about Davidson's stellar freshman guard Stephen Curry, son of former NBA swingman Dell Curry. The 6-foot-1-inch, 180-pound Stephen Curry is the No. 2 freshman-scorer in the nation (21.2 points per game) behind only Texas' Kevin Durant.

Davidson gives up some athleticism and talent when compared to the Terps, but it has hit almost 10 3-pointers per game, good for No. 5 in the country. The Wildcats slow the tempo, while the Terps like to run and gun.

In fact, there are really only two links between the two programs. The first is Charles "Lefty" Driesell, who coached at Davidson before being hired to coach the Terps in 1969. But the more recent connection is between Terp freshman guard Greivis Vasquez and Curry.

"I played against him a couple times over this past summer," Vasquez said, admitting he didn't know the point guard's name but would easily recognize him after playing with him. "He's a pretty underrated guard. I give him some respect."

Even with Vasquez's experience, Davidson still represents an unknown entity. But senior guard D.J. Strawberry said there is a positive element to not knowing a lot about an opponent.

"We're gonna have to be focused on us and how we play," Strawberry said. "That's how we got down to that seven-game winning streak at the end of the season. We really weren't focused too much on anybody else. We were focused on what we can do to win games and what we can do to improve as a basketball team. I think that's gonna help us a lot going into the tournament."

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