We've Moved!

We've Moved!
Click here to head to riddickandreynolds.wordpress.com!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Davidson reaping the rewards of scheduling tough

In an era of college sports where football and basketball programs love to load up on cupcakes to pad their win totals, Davidson is validating the notion that getting your teeth kicked in at the beginning of the year by big-name programs has some real, tangible value.

The top teams in Davidson's non-conference schedule read like a murderer's row for a small school from the Southern Conference: North Carolina, Duke, UCLA, Charlotte, N.C. State. Each game ended in a loss, and by the end of December the Wildcats were 4-6.

Kudos to coach Bob McKillop for taking a chance on playing these tough teams; by signing up for games he was likely to lose, he ran the risk of missing an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament had the Wildcats not won their conference tournament.

But now they're in the Sweet 16 after knocking off Gonzaga in the first round and Georgetown in the second. What's more, Davidson twice staged comebacks to advance to the second weekend, down double-digits in the second half in both games.

I've always been a big believer that you learn more about your team in losing to stronger teams than in winning against cupcakes. If you drop 80 on a directional squad from Michigan but distribute the ball poorly or don't have to fight for rebounds, have you improved as a team? Conversely, when you learn to fight and make plays against squads filled with McDonald's All Americans, your weaknesses are easier to spot and easier to improve from game to game.

You also gain poise. The poise that comes with playing the "big boys," often on the road. And poise, when down big in the second half of both games this weekend, is what kept Davidson plugging away when more-talented-yet-less-tested teams would've folded.

Stephen Curry is playing out of his mind at the moment and quickly putting together one of the greatest single-player NCAA tournament performances of all time. But the rest of the Davidson team is not simply standing around watching Curry work; they're supporting him on the defensive side of the ball, rebounding and applying pressure. The Hoyas finished with 20 turnovers to Davidson's four. Four! And all-everything Roy Hibbert fouled out, scoring only six.

This collection of Southern Conference-caliber players isn't backing down just because the names on the front of the jerseys say they should. At this point, playing the country's best is old hat to them, and it shows each time they take the court.

1 comment:

  1. Stephen Curry can flat out shoot the ball. he was pretty amazing to watch.

    and his mom is hot.