Posted on: March 6, 2012 12:07 am
Edited on: March 6, 2012 12:11 am

Tiny Dancers: Davidson

By Jeff Borzello

For the first time since Stephen Curry was the go-to guy for Davidson, the Wildcats are back in the NCAA tournament.

They survived a double-overtime contest against Western Carolina in the championship game, constantly overcoming clutch shots by the Catamounts. Davidson had five guys score in double-figures in the title game, with three of them playing more than 40 minutes. It was head coach Bob McKillop's sixth conference tournament championship.

Davidson was one of the few regular-season champions to get through the conference tournament unscathed so far this season, winning three in a row after going 14-2 during the campaign. The Wildcats started 9-0 in the league before dropping a three-point game at Samford in late January. During the non-conference season, Davidson knocked off Kansas in Kansas City; this team can play.

Bob McKillop has steered Davidson back to the NCAA tournament. (US Presswire)

Player to know: De’Mon Brooks. The Southern Conference Player of the Year could have been the hero in the first overtime of the title game, but his leaner rimmed out as time expired. Brooks still managed to finish with 19 points and eight rebounds, staying true to his extremely efficient self. In games against Duke, Vanderbilt and Kansas, Brooks averaged 16.3 points and 6.0 rebounds.

The Vitals:

  • Record: 25-7 overall, 16-2 in SoCon
  • Most recent tournament appearance: 2008, No. 10 seed. Beat Gonzaga in first round, beat Georgetown in second round, beat Wisconsin in Sweet 16, lost to Kansas in Elite Eight.
  • We’re thinking: 14 seed
  • KenPom ranking: 58
  • Sagarin ranking: 66
  • RPI: 65
  • Best wins: Kansas, Penn, Richmond
  • Worst losses: Samford, Charlotte
  • Notable stat: Davidson could be tough in a close game. The Wildcats rank ninth in the country in free-throw percentage, shooting 76.6 percent from the foul line.

-- Jeff Borzello

Posted on: March 5, 2012 2:11 am

Championship game preview: Southern

Back on February 11, Western Carolina was just 10-17 and was suffering through a 4-10 Southern Conference record. Only three weeks later, and the Catamounts will get a chance to play one game for the right to go to the NCAA tournament.

On the other side will be Davidson, the best team in the conference and a squad that dominated its way to a 14-2 league record.

Western Carolina might be the hotter team, winning its last seven games, including three in the past three days. The Catamounts knocked off The Citadel to open the tournament, upset title contender Wofford by 23 and then handled division champion UNC-Greensboro on Sunday evening.

Davidson had far less excitement in its road to the title game, winning its two games by a combined 35 points without much of a sweat.

In the first meeting between the two teams, Davidson rolled to a 19-point win. But Western Carolina is a very different team than it was in mid-January. Against the Wildcats, the Catamounts will go as far as their 3-point shooting takes them. They shot 50 percent from deep in the quarterfinals against Wofford, and knocked down 10 3-pointers in the semis against Greensboro. Davidson is susceptible to prolific shooting teams, but will Western Carolina be able to stop the Wildcats at the other end?

Davidson is a very balanced team with five double-figure scorers and two very tough inside-outside scorers in De’Mon Brooks and Jake Cohen. Western Carolina only starts one player taller than 6-foot-4; Davidson’s entire lineup is at least 6-foot-3.

Bob McKillop’s team will be the heavy favorite, but Western Carolina has made a living off upsets this week. Can the Catamounts pull off one more?

-- Jeff Borzello

Posted on: February 29, 2012 1:54 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 1:11 pm

What-to-know conference previews: Southern

There’s no Stephen Curry in the league, but Davidson ran through the Southern Conference this season and remains the favorite heading into the conference tournament. Can the Wildcats end Wofford’s two-year NCAA tournament streak?

Davidson went into Kansas and beat the Jayhawks on December 19 – and hasn’t really looked back since. They started out 9-0 in league play, running away with the regular-season title by four games. Bob McKillop has a balanced squad with five double-figure scorers paced by De’Mon Brooks and Jake Cohen. They push the ball effectively and get to the free-throw line. There are multiple 3-point shooters as well as guys like Brooks and Cohen who can score inside.

Wofford had a three-game losing streak in early February, but has won its last four conference games to forge a second-place finish in the division. The Terriers slow things down and rely on Brad Loesing and Kevin Giltner to carry the load. Georgia Southern made a nice run late in the season before losing its final two games. The Eagles are one of the most inside-dependent teams in the league, with Eric Ferguson.

Player of the year De'Mon Brooks leads a balanced attack for top-seeded Davidson. (US Presswire)

We would also be remiss not to mention UNC-Greensboro, which completely turned things around upon the resignation of head coach Mike Dement. Wes Miller took over the program and steered the Spartans to a North Division title.

The sleeper heading into the conference tournament is perennial contender Charleston. The Cougars have won seven of their last nine games and have some of the most talent in the league. Antwaine Wiggins and Trent Wiedeman are all-conference-caliber players and Andrew Lawrence is a playmaker. This team is a threat.

Davidson looks like the favorite, but there are plenty of threats to the Wildcats’ quest for an automatic bid.


Title game: Monday, March 5 on ESPN2 (9 p.m., ET)


  1. De’Mon Brooks, Davidson
  2. Brad Loesing, Wofford
  3. Eric Ferguson, Georgia Southern
  4. Trevis Simpson, UNC-Greensboro
  5. Antwaine Wiggins, Charleston

Conference RPI: 23

KenPom.com rating: 23

Sagarin rating: 25

NCAA Tournament Locks: None

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: None

Last NCAA Tournament Appearances

  • Appalachian State Mountaineers: 2000, No. 14 seed, lost to Ohio State 87-61 in the first round.
  • Chattanooga Mocs: 2009, No. 16 seed, lost to Connecticut 103-47 in the first round.
  • The Citadel Bulldogs: N/A.
  • College of Charleston Cougars: 1999, No. 8 seed, lost to Tulsa 62-53 in the first round.
  • Davidson Wildcats: 2008, No. 10 seed, beat Gonzaga 82-76 in the first round, beat Georgetown 74-70 in second round, beat Wisconsin 73-56 in the Sweet 16, followed by a 59-57 loss to Kansas in the Elite Eight.
  • Elon Phoenix: N/A.
  • Furman Paladins: 1980, No. 10 seed, lost to Tennessee 80-69 in the first round.
  • Georgia Southern Eagles: 1992, No. 15 seed, lost to Oklahoma State 100-73 in the first round.
  • Samford Bulldogs: 2000, No. 13 seed, lost to Syracuse 79-65 in the first round.
  • UNC-Greensboro Spartans: 2001, No. 16 seed, lost to Stanford 89-60 in the first round.
  • Western Carolina Catamounts: 1981, No. 16 seed, lost to Purdue 73-71 in the first round.
  • Wofford Terriers: 2011, No. 14 seed, lost to Brigham Young 74-66 in the first round.

- Jeff Borzello

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 4, 2011 9:00 am
Edited on: February 4, 2011 11:34 am

Samford, Davidson play in front of just 250 folks

Posted by Matt Norlander

It’s not often — in fact, it’s happened maybe only a handful of times in the past few decades — when a program decides to go out of its way to tell fans to stay away from a game.

But that’s exactly what went down in Birmingham, Ala., last night, as Samford sent out a public address announcment stating, “Due to the ice and sleet in the Birmingham area Thursday, Samford's Southern Conference basketball game against Davidson, which is still slated to begin at 7 p.m. (CST), will now be a closed-door event.”

And so, even though anyone who insisted on showing up despite the skittish travel conditions was allowed into the Pete Hanna Center, a Thursday-night game (Davidson won, 62-49, by the way) in the Southern Conference between sub-.500 teams had the atmosphere of a glorified practice.

Or did it?

“No, not at all,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop (right) told me over the phone late Thursday night. “Obviously there was no home court advantage for Samford because the crowd (wasn’t there). If anything, they suffered from not having their band there, their student section there, their supporters.”

Ironically, the game is receiving some national attention because of the circumstances, yet McKillop told me last night he didn’t spot any local media in the building (though the Birmingham News was definitely in the house). He also estimated, teams, officials and building personnel included, that about 250 people made it out to see the game. Davidson had “about two dozen” brave the weather. I spoke with McKillop as he was travelling back to the hotel on the team bus. Davidson’s flight was cancelled due weather conditions, so it had to spend an extra night in Birmingham.

“It’s gotten progressively better,” McKillop said. “The temperature has warmed up somewhat. I think it was at its worst at about 4 p.m. this afternoon. My suspicion is … because of the ice, at 4, traffic was so completely backed up, they thought it would get worse and worse through the night. It did not get any worse, though.”

His players were upset, partly because the conditions were improving as the night went on, according to McKillop, and also because many were feeling anxious over missing class time on Friday.

“They heard in the locker room they weren’t leaving, this was after the game, and they players were pleading about how they had presentations and classes to be at,” McKillop said.

Davidson didn’t know of the public service announcement until it arrived at the arena around 4:30 p.m., local time.

“A closed event? I didn’t even know what that meant,” McKillop said.

The conditions seemed to clearly benefit McKillop’s team, which won its third straight in the SoCon and improved to 4-7 in the standings.

“Being able to talk, defensively, and the emptiness of the arena allowed that talking to be more pronounced,” he said.

Davidson plays at home against league-leader Chattanooga Saturday; Samford on the road against basement-dweller Georgia Southern. Temps are expected to be in the low 40s and with mostly sunny skies.

Photo: AP
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Davidson, Samford
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