Congratulations to Davidson College. The Wildcats won eight regular season SoCon titles over the past decade, turning five of those into NCAA berths, one of which resulted in a Steph Curry-led ride to the Elite 8. Bob McKillop’s boys won 20 or more games over that span and due to the ever-changing landscape of college athletics have now found themselves aligned with the gritty teams of an increasingly dangerous Atlantic 10 conference.
That’s the good news. Here’s the bad: Davidson had one of the worst defenses in college basketball last season and will begin their A-10 journey with home-and-home matchups against the likes of VCU and GW, travel to Amherst take take on a Minutemen squad that returns a number of key pieces from a team that led the conference in scoring last season and all-in-all will have the challenge of adjusting to a much harder conference schedule, this year, in an 18-game format.
Will they be the next VCU and quickly assert themselves as one of the top teams in the conference or another George Mason, struggling to make the transition from a smaller conference?
The Wildcats challenged themselves last season with games against Duke, UNC, Wichita State and Virginia to name a few, but went just 1-6 against kenpom top-100 teams. They had nearly as many losses (four) to sub-200 kenpom squads, including two at home.
But don’t count the Wildcats out before they even get here. Davidson can score, and finished 26th nationally in scoring this past season at 78.5 points per contest, better than any A-10 team. That ability to put the ball in the hoop saw them hang 85 on UNC where they eventually fell in overtime.
But gone are leading scorer De’Mon Brooks and fellow grad Tom Droney, Davidson’s lone double-digit grads at a combined 29.2 points per game. Back, however, are a pair of solid scorers in Brian Sullivan (12.9 ppg) and Tyler Kalinoski (11 ppg) that will be expected to carry the load. And it’s a load they’ll have to dump on opposing A-10 defenses as the Wildcats 109.2 adjusted D ranked 258th nationally this past season, worse than all but one A-10 team, the Fordham Rams, and we all know how well that worked out for them.
Davidson gave up 51% shooting this past season but were able to connect on 53.4% of their own two-point buckets to outpace most of their opponents en route to a SoCon regular season championship before being upset by Western Carolina in the conference semis.
De’Mon Brooks (6’7, 230 F) – 19 ppg, 7 rpg, 58.6% fg%, 45.2% 3p%
Tom Droney (6’6, 200 G) – 10.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.3 apg, 47.3% fg%, 37.5% fg%
Chris Czerapowicz (6’7, 200 G) – 8.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 41.5% fg%
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS
Brian Sullivan (5’11, 175 G) – 12.9 ppg, 2.1 apg, 39.7% fg%, 38% 3p%
Tyler Kalinoski (6’4, 180 G) – 11 ppg, 5 rpg, 3.4 apg, 49.2% fg%, 45.5% 3p%
Jack Gibbs (5’11, 190 G) – 6.8 ppg, 2.1 apg, 38.2% fg%, 32.1% 3p%
Jack Belford (6’9, 210 F) – 6 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 57.7% fg%, 47.2% 3p%
Jordan Barham (6’4, 190 G) – 5.8 ppg, 3 rpg, 62.1% fg%
Bob McKillop – 472-292 (25 seasons), 7 NCAA tournament appearances (1 Elite 8), 5 NIT appearances, 1 CBI
John M. Belk Arena – 5,223 (3,712 avg attendance in 2013-14 season)