Monday, March 12, 2007

Let's break down the Davidson Wildcats

Congratulations to the Terps for earning a 4 seed and getting back to the Big Dance. It's a good day. I'm excited about the games, but do you want to hear something that sucks? I'm going to be at a work conference in L.A. from Thursday to Sunday. Yep -- just the absolute perfect amount of time for me to most likely miss all Terp action (and probably all the other action as well) as well as any and all St. Patrick's Day celebrations. Way to go, conference organizers. Hey, I've got a few days open from, like, Dec. 24 to Jan. 31. Nothing going on at the office. Why don't we set something up? Book some meeting space? You bunch of soulless banshees.

But while I nevertheless remain excited for the Terps and (for the most part) impressed by the montage-worthy late-season run that got them here, there's still some work to be done. After Davidson, who could we potentially play? I'll say right now -- I have no idea. Why? Because Davidson's enough to worry about. Have we learned any lessons about looking past ostensibly easy opponents? I sure hope so. But to help drive that point home, here's a breakdown of the Davidson Wildcats, their strengths and weaknesses, and what we can do to stop them.

The first thing you have to know about Davidson is that they are lead by
dynamic freshman Stephen Curry. And this dude is no joke. He's the son of long-time NBA and Virginia Tech alumn Dell Curry, who coincidentally I used to watch in person all the time during his Hokie days. Not that that makes me feel old or anything. Anyway, he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps, but Va. Tech declined, putting him in college basketball's minor leagues. But their loss is the 29-4 Wildcats' gain, as they secured their tourney spot after Curry scored 29 points in the Southern Conference tournament finals over College of Charleston, who I seem to remember upending a certain Maryland team in the first round back in 1997. And if all of that isn't enough history for you, Lefty Driesell was the Davidson coach in the 1960s.

But the Wildcats didn't get here because they had a fortuitous run in the conference tourney. Behind 117 three-pointers from Curry, they dominated the Southern Conference all season, going 17-1 in the conference. But it's not just Curry. The team has four foreign players on their roster. And you know how hip and team-oriented and smoothly precise those foreign players are.

And while there's nary a senior of any significance on the roster, they have more recent Big Dance experience than the Terps. They were here last year, too (they lost to Ohio State in the first round. But then again,
so did Maryland. Oh wait, that was the first round of the NIT. Sorry). And Davidson has a respectable RPI of 57. Not too bad.

That said, I don't want to make the Wildcats into some kind of juggernaut. Their biggest win was probably over Ohio University or Central Connecticut State, so we're not dealing with a powerhouse here. I think if the Terps really focus on Curry and get into Davidson's bench, they should have a good chance to beat them. Nevertheless, look past the Wildcats at your peril, Terps. Hopefully you won't repeat the past.

- Happy Return is Three Years' Coming [Washington Post]
- 1997 Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament [NCAA Wiki]
- ACC's Whiff on Curry is Davidson's Gain [ESPN]
- Manhattan Holds Off Maryland For 87-84 Win []

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