Tuesday, February 28, 2006

March-ing On

As February ends today, anticipation is mounting for the Southern Conference tournament. As I returned to church on Sunday, all of the parish members that talked to me all asked what Davidson's chances were. College basketball fever has swept this city.

Davidson finished the season as the 3 seed, meaning that they play on Friday at around 8:30 against the winner of the Furman/Citadel game.

While Furman was the team that ended the Wildcats' spectacular conference run, they also match up quite well with us. They are a team that loves to power the post with Moussa Diagne and then swing the perimeter to find shooters like Eric Webb and Robby Bostain. In our home victory against them a week and a half ago, we were able to hold Webb and Bostain to just two three-pointers and we got Moussa in foul trouble. I feel like our defense is smart enough to be able to double down on Diagne while closing out on outside shooters when the ball goes back to them. If the referees actually call fouls, Sander should be able to get Diagne in foul trouble again, and our defense can stay in the face of Webb and Bostain.

I'm really not worried about the Citadel beating Furman in the first round, but in case they do, we just need to run a Box and 1 defense on Donny McLendon and the rest of the team will fold. McLendon opened up for several three-pointers against us in Charleston, and we had trouble sticking to our gameplan when an inferior team was beating us. The strategy against the Citadel? Stick to your gameplan and don't let them beat you. Very simple.

If we were to win that Friday night game, we would play the winner of the Elon vs WCU/UNCG game. I really think that right now Elon is vulnerable and Western could sneak up on them. The Phoenix nearly lost to the Spartans last week in a game with first place implications. I could see us playing a Catamount team that nearly shut down our entire offensive team a month ago on the road to our first loss in Belk Arena in a year. The key to this matchup, and in large extent to all matchups, is effective defense. I don't think that we do well in shoot-out games where teams just trade baskets (eg. Wofford #2). We have to hold our opponents under 40% shooting, and we cannot allow Western (or Elon) to get easy points in the paint like last time.

If everything works out to plan, we should be facing Georgia Southern in the championship game on Sunday afternoon. Despite their no. 1 seeding, we are clearly a better team than the Eagles as evidenced by our double-digit home win and mere three-point loss in a game where we turned the ball over 28 times on the road.

Certainly anything can happen in this tournament, but this year we get to demonstrate why a conference tournament is a good thing. After last year's disappointing loss in the semis, everyone was asking why the tournament held so much ground if the regular-season champ didn't get anything for losing. I think that Davidson will prove this weekend that they are the best SoCon representative for the field of 65, and that March really is redemption time for all of those struggles back in February.

1 comment:

WB said...

We couldn't have asked for a better draw for the tournament. C of C, GSU and UTC are all on the other side of the bracket.

I like our chances.