Thursday, September 25, 2008

No. 20 Davidson: 2008-2009 Team Preview

2007-2008 Team Record: 29-7, 20-0 Southern (1st)

Key Losses: Jason Richards (12.7 ppg, 8.2 apg), Thomas Sander (7.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg)

Key Returnees: Stephen Curry (25.7 ppg, 4.5 3's, 44%), Andrew Lovedale (6.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg)

Newcomers: Ben Allison, Frank Ben-Eze, Aaron Bond

Knowing nothing about the upcoming season, if I were to tell you that the media darling of the 2008-09 college hoops season played for a school in North Carolina, how many teams would you guess before you came to Davidson? 10? Unless you have lived under a rock for the last six months, then you are probably fully aware of the year that Stephen Curry had. 25.7 ppg, good for 4th in all of college basketball. 128 points (32 ppg) in four NCAA tournament games, leading Davidson to within a Jason Richards 25 footer of the Final Four with one of (maybe the) greatest NCAA Tournament performance of all-time.

Curry can score. There's no arguing that. He is the best shooter in the country, but is also quick and athletic enough, with a good enough handle, to get to the basket (although he was still more effective last year catching and using a pump fake or jab step then using the bounce). It will be very interesting to see Davidson and Curry play this year. On the one hand, they lose one of the best point guards (and NCAA's leading assist man) Jason Richards, who no doubt set up Curry on a huge number of his three's. But on the other hand, Curry now has a chance to showcase his point guard skills to the NBA. He's been getting good reviews during the off-season, and I expect him to impress people with his ability.

It's not as if Curry will be by himself, however. Senior Andrew Lovedale is an athletic, 6'8" big man who really came on towards the end of the season. He should be a force in the Southern Conference this year. 6'7" junior Stephen Rossiter should start along side Lovedale, but two freshman, 6'10" Frank Ben-Eze and 6'9" Ben Allison, should play a lot of minutes. With Curry moving over to the point, junior Bryant Barr (who has one of the best nicknames I've ever heard, the White Lobster - h/t Loose) should slide into the shooting guard position. Barr is an excellent spot up shooter, and can get hot in a hurry (as evidenced by the three straight three's he hit on Kansas in the Elite 8). The starter at small forward will probably be Max Paulhus Gosselin, who started there last year. At 6'6", Gosselin is a defender and rebounder who gives Davidson some toughness. Will Archambault, who is a similar player to Gosselin (less of a defender, more of a scorer), will see minutes off the bench.

Outlook: As I said before, it will be very interesting to see this Davidson team, and specifically Stephen Curry, play this year. Once again, Head Coach Bob McKillop has scheduled a monster of a non-conference schedule (NIT Preseason tourney, Winthrop, NC State, West Virginia in the Jimmy V classic, at Purdue, and at Duke), so by January we should have a pretty good feel of how good this team will be. Although they may not go 23-0 in Southern Conference play again, I would expect more conference titles, and maybe a win or two in the Dance.

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