Friday, February 20, 2015

Davidson Scouting Report

One of the best parts of Fordham making their southern road trips is the guest insights of friend of the site Gary Moore, who hauled his tack, to use horse racing parlance, to South Carolina in 2012 to cover college basketball in and around the Palmetto State for The College Hardwood, which we were introduced to before Gary moved to warmer climes, back when he covered Hofstra men's basketball and of course, Iona women's basketball under former coach and mutual personal friend Tony Bozzella, now the head man at Seton Hall.

With Fordham heading to Belk Arena tomorrow to take on Davidson for the first time since the Wildcats moved from the Southern Conference to the Atlantic 10, our preview guest was a no-brainer. In keeping with what has become an annual tradition for both our site and Gary's outstanding portal, we bring you the latest scouting report from Gary Moore:

***Click here for our scouting report of Fordham for The College Hardwood***

(All photos courtesy of Gary Moore)

Hey, Daly Dose of Hoops fans! It’s Gary Moore from the College Hardwood, here to give you a scouting report of the streaking Davidson Wildcats!

Background

During their seventeen-point home win over Dayton on January 20, sophomore guard Jack Gibbs went down with a knee injury. The Wildcats would win their next game, an overtime win at George Mason, but they would lose their next two games, a road loss at Saint Joseph’s, and then a stunning-buzzer beater home loss to St. Bonaventure. Davidson would rally to win their next four games, including their most recent win on Wednesday at George Washington, as Gibbs returned to action.
Guards
He’s back! Yes, sophomore sensation Gibbs is back after missing several games due to a slight meniscus tear in his knee. Gibbs had eleven points in fourteen minutes in the 65-63 win over GW. Gibbs came off the bench in his first game back and he picked up where he left off before his injury, hitting three 3-pointers in his limited duty. Gibbs is averaging 15.5 points per game on the season, shooting over fifty percent from the field and nearly hitting forty-three percent of his three-point attempts.

Senior Tyler Kalinoski leads the Wildcats in scoring, averaging sixteen points per game and shooting forty-two percent from three. The six-foot-four guard also averages six rebounds per game. Kalinoski had a double-double in the win over the Colonials, with eleven points and ten rebounds.

Junior Brian Sullivan has been a rock, as he plays thirty-three minutes per game, averaging thirteen points and four assists per game. At only five-foot-eleven, Sullivan can rebound, as he had six rebounds in the win over GW.

Freshman Jordan Watkins filled in as a starter when Gibbs got hurt. He had back-to-back double-digit scoring games in the wins over Duquesne and George Mason. 
Forwards
Peyton Aldridge is a freshman, but you would not know it based on his performance. Aldridge is the fifth leading double digit scorer on the Wildcats, averaging ten points per game. He was unstoppable in the game I saw in person vs. Duquesne. He had nineteen points on seven-of-eight shooting from the field. He is of course, another three-point weapon, shooting forty-two percent from three point range on the season.

Junior Jordan Barham is listed at as a six-foot-four guard, but Barham plays the four for Davidson. And that’s because he is a very effective post player. When Gibbs got hurt, Barham stepped up nicely, as he has averaged over eleven points per game on the season. He is shooting fifty-nine percent from the field on the season and scored fifteen points on seven-of-eight shooting against the Colonials. And of course, Barham can rebound too, averaging five rebounds per game.

The other starting forward, Oskar Michelsen, is also a freshman and he averages about seven points per game. And of course, the six-foot-nine forward from Finland can also shoot the three, as he shoots forty percent from beyond the arc.  

Michelsen rotates with two other forwards, Nathan Ekwu, another freshman who hails from Nigeria and Andrew McAuliffe, a six-foot-eight sophomore. All three players average at least twelve minutes per game, with Michelsen averaging nineteen minutes per game.

Strengths and Weaknesses
Davidson features one of college basketball’s most prolific offenses, as they average 80.6 points per game, which is sixth in the country. They average seventeen assists per game, shoot forty-seven percent overall, and shoot more than thirty-nine percent from beyond the arc. They also do an excellent job in not turning the ball over, as they are third in the country in offensive turnover percentage at 14.6% (their offensive KenPom numbers are off the chart).

The reason that the Wildcats have such a potent scoring attack, is because they are one of the hardest working offenses in college basketball. Davidson's offense prides itself on movement, with and without the ball. Expect lots of screens, picks, back door cuts and good offensive post play. But what sets them apart is they have a lot of accurate long range shooters. If you double a Davidson post player, the Wildcat perimeter players will make you pay.

They are also such a consistent offense. When I witnessed them absolutely shellac Duquesne 95-69 a few weeks ago, the offense was incredibly consistent, as Davidson shot sixty percent in both halves.  And this was without Gibbs in the lineup.

If Davidson has any weakness, they are not terribly athletic or tall in the front court.  They allow opponents to shoot fifty-two percent from two-point range on the season.  They block very few shots, as they don’t even block three shots per game and don’t force teams to turn the ball over (17.6 turnover percentage on defense).

Coaching
Bob McKillop is the mastermind behind Davidson, having led the Wildcats to seven NCAA tournament teams, including the 2008 Elite Eight team, which of course featured Stephen Curry. McKillop is a well-respected coach, known for his Xs and Os. Fordham head coach Tom Pecora was an assistant for McKillop when McKillop was a head coach at Long Island Lutheran back in the ’80s. To my knowledge, they have only faced each other once prior to this season. That was when Pecora was still the head coach of Hofstra and the teams faced each other in the consolation round of the Holiday Festival, which Davidson won 61-52.

Now that Davidson is in the A-10, McKillop can recruit better talent than he did in the Southern Conference, which is truly a scary thought. And outside of Tyler Kalinoski, his entire rotation is back next season.  The Wildcats are going to be good for the next several seasons. 
Prediction
Fordham has played very well lately, having won three of its last four games and have been very competitive in six of their last seven game. The Rams can keep this game close if they work the ball inside to their forwards Eric Paschall, Christian Sengfelder and Ryan Rhoomes, who have a size advantage on the smaller Wildcats.

However, I think Davidson's all around balanced offense will be too much for Fordham. With the return of Gibbs, which gives them the ability to have five double-digit scorers on the court at the same time, the Wildcats will eventually pull away from the Rams. I see the final being 82-72 Davidson.

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