Friday, November 24, 2006

Up Next: at #9 Duke

Last year, Davidson brought one of its most experienced team in several years up to Durham, NC to play Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Wildcats were utterly defeated. Why then, with a team that has averaged 20.7 turnovers per game, am I interested in previewing Davidson's chances against this Duke team? Well, why not? They are going to lose anyway right? Or are they?

This year's Duke team does not have a starter with more experience than junior DeMarcus Nelson. That inexperience was exposed last Tuesday as Marquette got hot in the second half and the Dukies panicked. For years, Coach K has lived off of momentum, but he might not always a crew to generate it. For four years, J.J. Redick was instant momentum as he could seemingly hit three-pointers from anywhere on the court. In last year's matchup, Shelden Williams thwarted any hopes of Davidson establishing an inside game as he reached double digits in blocks.

This year, however, the Dukie playmakers are wrong and unproven. It also seems that they know that they are beatable. For Davidson, there is never a good time to play Duke, but I will take this opportunity as it is. The Wildcats have a group of players that admittedly aren't experienced to enough to handle Bob McKillop's intricate system. As a result, they set new school records for three-point attempts against D-III schools. This team, turns the ball over a lot and shoots too early on possessions. But they are also very explosive. They overcame double digit deficits against Eastern Michigan, Michigan and Missouri, although they dropped the last two. With freshmen like Stephen Curry and Will Archambault having the potential to score 20+ on three-pointers alone, this group can upset anyone.

The Wildcats have nothing to lose in this game, whereas the Dukies have an identity to reestablish. The Blue Devils will not take it easy on Davidson early on, but Coach McKillop likes it like that. He knows that his legendary coaching counterpart in blue respects the Wildcats way too much to take it easy on them.

If Davidson is to win, the Wildcats will have to shoot like they did against UIC, rally like they did against EMU and protect the ball like they didn't do against Missouri. Most importantly, they have to adopt the moniker on Steve Rossiter's shoulder and play "with the heart of a lion."

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