Friday, December 07, 2007

What it'll take for Davidson to rebound

Davidson faces a solemn cross-country flight today to California, one day after its second consecutive loss. The Wildcats were left searching for answers after a 75-68 loss to Charlotte on Wednesday. They face No.7 UCLA Saturday.

Davidson, ranked at one time this season, is 3-4 and doesn’t have a win against a Division I opponent with a winning record. Any hope of a NCAA tournament at-large bid is distant at best – the Wildcats first have to start winning games.

To do that, Davidson has to get more help for sophomore guard Stephen Curry. Curry has been spectacular at times this season, but point guard Jason Richards is the only other Davidson player to score at least 15 points against a Division I opponent (reserve Bryant Barr had 17 against Division III Emory in the season opener).

Last season, all five Davidson starters scored 20 points in at least one game, and Davidson had four players average double figures. Curry accounted for about 25 percent of the offense, but this season he’s scoring a third of Davidson’s points against Division I opponents.

The Wildcats also have been too reliant on the 3-point shot. Davidson has attempted 3-pointers on 46 percent of its shots. Those shots aren’t going in as often, because players other than Curry are making only 27 percent of their 3-pointers. The Wildcats have been effective when they have gone inside, making 58 percent of their two-point attempts.

Coach Bob McKillop said this season that his team has been hunting for 3-pointers too much, and Wednesday night he also pointed to Davidson’s decline at the free-throw line. The Wildcats are shooting 64 percent this season; they made 76 percent last season. Those misses played a role in at least two losses.

McKillop hasn’t mentioned any possible lineup changes, but that might be something to consider. Curry and Richards are both playing heavy minutes against top opponents, and their fatigue at the end of games has hurt Davidson’s perimeter defense. Freshmen Brendan McKillop and Aaron Bond could be useful for short spurts in the first half of games, and the Wildcats might also want to consider going with a big lineup with starters Thomas Sander and Boris Meno and reserve Andrew Lovedale on the front line. Those three aren’t outside threats, but they screen well, are strong defenders and would force Davidson to look for more inside shots.

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