Sunday, January 22, 2006

GSU article

During the last week and a half, there has been a lot of talk of streaks surrounding the Men’s Basketball team. Going into their matchup with Furman on January 14, the Wildcats were sporting the nation’s longest conference winning streak at 27 games, a mark that tied the all-time record for Davidson basketball history. The Wildcats lost that Furman game 70-66, causing a stir among Davidson fans as their Wildcats dropped out of the division lead. Davidson shot a measly 38% from the field while allowing Furman to connect on 11 three-pointers. Davidson was no longer perfect.
Losing to Furman only allowed Davidson to get better, and that they did. Pushed to the limits at the College of Charleston on January 17, Davidson was able to alter its offensive philosophy in a successful manner. The Cougars pushed the Wildcats on the perimeter and in transition, but Davidson was able to respond by driving to the basket, and getting open on backdoor cuts. Brendan Winters ’06 led Davidson with 25 points, and yet only attempted one three-pointer. “Brendan read the defense and took what it gave him,” said Coach Bob McKillop. “That’s something the team is getting better at doing.” Boris Meno ’08 also retained his emerging presence on the interior as he led the team with 9 rebounds. The game was tight throughout most of the first and second half, with the College of Charleston forcing a tie with just under five minutes remaining. But Davidson went on a 8-0 run that was capped by a Thomas Sander ’08 three-pointer with the shot clock winding down. It was Sander’s first three of his career.
Coming into the game last Saturday, Davidson sported the longest home conference winning streak in the Southern Conference at 19 games. The last team to beat them was none other than their Saturday opponent, Georgia Southern. But if the College of Charleston game marked versatile and responsive strategy, the Georgia Southern victory was a return to Davidson’s tried-and-true philosophy of strong defensive rebounding, crisp passing, and inside-out scoring. Davidson was able to get the ball on the block for Ian Johnson ’06, who followed his 20-point output against the College of Charleston with a 11-point performance last Saturday, as the Wildcats cruised to 83-58 victory. Combined with Sander and Meno, the interior trio accounted for 29 points and 21 rebounds. More importantly they drew double teams from the Eagle defenders and players like Winters and Eric Blancett ’06 found open looks from the outside. Winters finished with 15 points, surpassing Mike Maloy ’70 for fifth place on the all-time scorer list with 1,667 career points. That accomplishment was overlooked by Blancett’s performance as he had a career-high 17 points on 6-7 shooting, and 3-4 from beyond the arc. “I couldn’t be happier for a player than to have him have a game like today,” said Coach McKillop. For Blancett, the performance was perfectly timed as he had been struggling to find a rhythm all season. Blancett has a history of injuries that have pocked his otherwise productive Davidson career. It was special for a sometimes overlooked 5th-year senior like Blancett to have a breakout game and lead his team to victory.

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