Atlantic 10 WBB Season Preview: Davidson

A10 Talk’s Women’s Basketball Previews continue with Davidson. Each piece will have exclusive interviews with players and coaches, while some also will have video as well. Stay tuned tomorrow for Nathan’s preview on Fordham.

Last season was a difficult one for the Davidson Women’s Basketball Team, as it had to navigate through injuries and COVID-19 which affected both travel and conditioning for international players on the roster.

This led to a 5-10 conference record, though the Wildcats refused for that record to be the team’s story, as it triumphed in an Atlantic 10 Championship first-round contest over St. Bonaventure, before falling to eventual tournament champion VCU.

Davidson won the first and fourth quarters over the Rams, but the mid-quarter deficit between, was too much to overcome.

Assessing what occurred a season ago, senior guard Chloe Welch, who has assumed a leadership role on the team, was able to process the ebbs and flows, viewing the overall takeaways as a positive.

“We just learned from the process what it takes to win and keep winning and remain consistent throughout a season,” she said. “All it is, is playing together as a team and doing the best with what we have and fulling committing to our values, principles and strategies. It is sticking to the basics of what we know and we can win.”

Davidson brings back seven returners with Welch, Cassidy Gould and Sarah Konstans, being the team’s three seniors.

Welch (16.2 ppg/45.1% FG) was the team’s leading scorer a season ago, and once earned A-10 Player of the Week honors after scoring 18 straight of her 32 total points in the fourth quarter of a win over Appalachian State. Welch also missed seven games due to injury.

She credited her teammates and coaching staff for the success from a season ago, as giving her confidence and trust.

Now Welch has progressed to be a leader on this team, which admittedly was not the easiest thing to do, but because of the team’s close nature, it was easy for her to find the necessary support.

Gould (10.6 ppg/44.7% FG/81.5% FT) is now in her third season as a captain and with Katie Turner now lost to graduation, her leadership has become even more vital.

Additionally, Gould started in all 23 games last season and achieved double figures on 10 separate occasions. Her 25 points in the aforementioned A-10 contest against St. Bonaventure on 8-of-12 shooting represented a career high.

Not to be outdone, Gould netted 23 points a day later against VCU.

“Cassidy has typically played well down the stretch of a season,” Davidson coach Gayle Fulks said. “She’s incredibly competitive and in those environments where if you lose, you go home, she’s really shined. She continues to take those steps and grow. We’re really excited for her and the leader she is for us as well.”

Konstans (5.1 ppg/41.3% FG) started 21 of 23 games and Fulks considers her a glue piece which is crucial towards Davidson’s success.

Also returning is junior guard Rosie Deegan (10.7 ppg/42.9% FG). Deegan, who was named A-10 Freshman of the Year and going into last season was named to the A-10 Preseason All-Conference First Team, struggled with injuries, playing in 10 games and starting two.

Deegan did show flashes of that form with her 23 points in 20 minutes, which led to a crucial win over Fordham early in A-10 play. She is healthy once again which is something that pleases Fulks.

Adelaide Fuller (8.2 ppg/41.7% FG) started in 12 of the 23 games and her post flexibility provides challenges to opposing teams. She also is back to full health.

Also returning are Cameron Tabor (6.4 ppg/six starts) and Peyton Carter (3.9 ppg/10 starts).

Davidson also brings eight newcomers which Fulks excitedly expressed has made practices both more competitive and fun overall.

Ellie Sutphin is a transfer forward from NC State which Fulks cited has been a good piece. Given Sutphin resides in North Carolina, it allowed her to stay for much of the summer and have a seamless transition.

Issy Morgan is a freshman forward who was on Australia’s U-20 National Championship Team and the experience has served her well.

Fulks also cited freshman Mallorie Haines’s shooting ability as something that provides an upside.

“We’re a lot deeper this year and knock on wood, we’re healthier,” said Fulks. “I’m really excited that we’ll be able to apply a lot of pressure through strength in number. They have improved their games and gotten in better shape, which will allow us to pressure teams. It’s an exciting time for our program.”

Something else which has helped Davidson’s cause is that more Wildcats were on campus over the summer, which has been a pleasant development.

Given five Wildcats reside in Australia, and the country’s COVID-19 restrictions, it allowed for more student-athletes to remain on campus and get proper training that was missing the previous summer.

The team had a rental house right next to campus with many living there full time.

“Having more people here and spending more quality time, our cohesiveness is really our secret sauce here at Davidson,” Fulks said. “Our girls enjoy being around each other and everywhere they go, you see a pack of them. That was really strengthen this summer and we got a head start on that chemistry.”

Welch believes this head start has led to high-energy practices, behavior which has been contagious.

Now, she says, the point of emphasis is better challenging and supporting each other verbally. This goal is so Davidson can make progress in tangible ways instead of words of encouragement possessing more of an empty value.

“We want to push each other forward and not being stagnant with each other,” said Welch. “We want to be competitive in a supportive environment and we are getting better with that and that started at training camp.”

This, combined with Fulks’s desire to have a more consistently sound defense, a goal she feels is attainable given Davidson’s depth, gives her optimism that her Wildcats will achieve success this season.

“Every game we’ve got to get better,” Fulks stated. “We’re so young and have many new pieces. It’s much more important for me to see how we evolve over that time to get ready for A-10 play, and that we’re playing our best basketball in February and March.”

Zachary Weiss has had a 10 year journalism career, with the past three mainly focusing on Duquesne Athletics and the Atlantic 10.