Virginia defeats Davidson, but it wasn’t easy

Virginia might have defeated Davidson 82-73, a strong cover by the Wildcats if you are into that sort of thing by the way, but it wasn’t easy.

Justin Anderson after the game, “This is the toughest team I’ve played, I think, since I’ve been in college.”

Respect is not given but earned.  Consider the Wildcats respected on all levels after that performance last night.  I know Coach McKillop and company don’t want any part of moral victories but Davidson went into a sold out JPJ and didn’t back down one inch.

Anthony Gill was 11-16 from the floor, 3-5 from the line, and pulled down 13 rebounds in 34 minutes of action.  Center Mike Toby had 7 rebounds in 17 minutes of otherwise ineffective play.  Reserve Darion Atkins was 6-8 from the floor and had 10 rebounds in 18 very effective minutes.  Virginia’s big fellas won the day.

Virginia had to get points in the paint because Davidson started off firing on all cylinders and made life pretty miserable for the Wahoos everywhere else on the floor.

Guards Jack Gibbs, Tyler Kalinoski, and Brian Sullivan combined to go 19-24 from the floor and 11-19 from deep.  They definitely had Tony Bennett’s attention right from the opening tip.

Bennett after the game: “If you don’t fly back and figure out how to get the ball stopped, and match up with the shooters, you’ll have problems. Then when they run their offense, you’ve got other problems.”

Virginia used an 8-0 run in the second half, fueled by two Justin Anderson 3’s, to get an 8- point lead with around 8 minutes to go and never looked back.

Davidson made them work for it though, making some shots to stay within striking distance.

Gill was just too much to handle inside and Atkins came up with some critical rebounds and points in the paint to help keep the Cavaliers undefeated.  Virginia is really good this year.  The A-10 is well aware.

Davidson put the A-10 on notice last night.  The Wildcats are most definitely for real.  I don’t know where they will end up finishing the season in the final standings, but I’m inclined to go with higher rather than lower.  And coming into the season, I have to admit I was one of the many prognosticators who didn’t give the Wildcats nearly respect I should have.  And I know better.

See, I have a serious man crush on Bob McKillop.  I think he is one of the 10 best coaches in all of college basketball today.  He was won 749 basketball games as a head coach dating back to his high school day.  I haven’t hit the urinal while peeing 749 times since I turned 13.  I have loved watching his teams play for as long as I can remember being a serious basketball fan.  His teams play with incredible discipline.  They share the ball and use precision cuts to the basket to create wonderful floor balance and spacing.  And then they make shots.  Whether it is from 30 feet out or 5 feet in, his teams play a beautiful game and are a pleasure to watch.  I’m not even going to mention that guy out in San Francisco who could win the MVP in the NBA this year.

My favorite sequence of the game last night happened when Davidson was in the midst of a nice run with around 7 minutes to go in the first half.  There was a scramble for the ball after a missed shot by Davidson and somehow the ball got tapped back to Kalinoski who was in perfect position behind the 3-point line.  As Tyler was in the process of letting it go, McKillop comes flying down the sideline with both hands raised and fists clenched.  Ball goes in the hoop, McKillop gives a serious double fist pump and the game continued.  Dude is the man and has forgotten more about basketball than I will ever know.Virginia was the better team last night but Davidson was damn good as well.  It looks like we are in for another interesting year of A-10 hoops.  I suspect we will see a lot of tight games and quite a few fantastic finishes.  And after last night, I won’t be surprised if the Wildcats get their fare share of victories in those battles.

Brian Keiper is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and has a M.Ed from University of Richmond. He teaches, coaches, and spends way too mu...