Saturday, November 24, 2007

Rossiter's double-double leads Davidson to 2-2

Photo by Tim Cowie

Coming into today's game against North Carolina Central, the 25th-ranked Davidson Wildcats seemed to have more questions than answers about where this 100th season was going. The Wildcats had fallen to unranked Western Michigan on Wednesday night and started the season 1-2.

On the message boards and around the Thanksgiving turkeys Wildcat fans were wondering where the Davidson post game had gone...where was the production of Lovedale/Barr/Archambault?...where was the team's rhythm? was Davidson supposed to beat Duke/UCLA/NCSU and earn an at-large bid if they couldn't even lead Western Michigan for more than one minute?

Against NCCU, the Wildcats seemed to take a step forward in answering those questions and becoming a better team overall. The team's bench scored 51 of Davidson's 98 points. The Wildcats doubled the Eagles' offensive rebounding numbers (18:9) and they scored 24 points off of turnovers. Davidson finished with a 98-50 victory in front of 3,412 at Belk Arena.

Before Saturday's game, Coach McKillop told John Kilgo that he led such a "passionate" practice on Thursday morning that he was worried that none of the players would show up at his house for Thanksgiving dinner.

Davidson's first half attack was headed by Thomas Sander who scored seven points early. He finished with 13 points and two steals in just 21 minutes of play. Stephen Curry had a 2-minute spurt where he scored two point baskets on three straight possessions. Curry finished with a team-high 16 points on 6-14 shooting. Jason Richards also played well, tallying four steals and 10 assists against zero turnovers.

The biggest plus from the game, however, was the play of Steve Rossiter, Bryant Barr and Will Archambault. Rossiter, who has been one of the unsung heroes of this program for the last two years, had a very impressive double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds (including 4 offensive). Rossiter contributed huge minutes in Davidson's four-point loss to #1 UNC on the 14th. He is averaging 6.5 points a game and is shooting a team-high 75% from the field.

Bryant Barr also broke out with four three-pointers on 4-7 shooting. While he needs to attempt more two-pointers (21 of his 26 season attempts have come from three land), his ability to hit the outside shot will be crucial in stretching the defense when Curry is taking a breather.

Even the much maligned Will Archambault ended up with a nice stat-line. He started the game cold but finished with 10 points. Archambault had only hit two threes in the past three games and Coach McKillop had spent a lot of practice time to work on Archambault's balance. Even with today's game going the route of the blowout, McKillop stuck with Archambault and helped him get some confidence, as he hit several nice shots and ended up with some big rebounds late in the contest.

The Wildcats used a matchup zone at several moments during the contest. This was an interesting decision after McKillop claimed that his use of the 1-3-1 in two possessions was one of the biggest keys to the Wildcats' loss to UNC. The Wildcats lost several Eagles who found open space after Davidson came with the trap, but Davidson also came up with 15 steals and forced 27 NCCU turnovers. The Wildcats will need to continue their aggressiveness against some very quick opponents in the next week. However, they need to react and recover like they did against UNC instead of the way that they did against WMU.

The Wildcats' next game will be against Appalachian State on Monday night in Boone. The Mountaineers started the season slow with an opening loss at UNC-Charlotte, but they have since recovered to hold a 3-2 record. In their latest win, they knocked off Campbell 71-64. Game time is slated for 7 p.m. The game will be televised on MASN.

No comments: