Darrell Davis at La Salle. David Jablonski/Staff
The 2015-16 college basketball season is just around the corner. In honor of the Flyers winning 53 games the last two seasons (and because I couldn’t come up with 2,015 reasons), I’m counting down 53 reasons (in no particular order) to look forward to the season.
Follow the blog between now and the season opener against Southeast Missouri State on Nov. 13. I will have four to five updates per week.
I’ll post links on Twitter (@DavidPJablonski) and on my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/DavidPatrickJablonski.
No. 51: The development of Darrell Davis
Darrell Davis started and ended his freshman season with the Flyers as the hottest shooter on the team.
The guard from Detroit scored a team-high 17 points in the season opener against Alabama A&M — I wrote that the new D at center court at UD Arena must have stood for Darrell or Davis — and scored 15 against Oklahoma in the NCAA tournament.
Until mid-January, Davis was one of the best shooters in the country. In a three-game span against Boston, Georgia Tech and Ole Miss, he made 10 of 10 3-pointers. He made 1 of 3 against Duquesne and followed that with back to back 3-of-3 performances from long range. In all, he made 17 of 19 3-pointers in that stretch.
Davis couldn’t miss.
“I had so much confidence in myself right then I thought every shot was going in,” Davis said later in the season.
By the time the NCAA tournament arrived, Davis had lost that confidence. In one seven-game stretch in A-10 play, he made 4 of 17 3-pointers. He shot 0 of 5 against Rhode Island and VCU in the A-10 tournament and then 1 of 5 against Boise State in the First Four.
Davis finally made a 3-pointer in the second half of the Boise game. Days later, coach Archie Miller told our Tom Archdeacon.
“I got after him a little bit,” Miller admitted. “I told him this is the time of the year we need all hands rowing in the right direction. The last few games he hadn’t made shots and he got down on himself. And he let that play into every aspect of his game.
“I told him we need everyone going in the same direction or we won’t succeed. I said, ‘Look, it’s not about you shooting the ball anymore. It’s about your attitude, your confidence level in your teammates. It’s what you’re willing to do for your teammates out there.’ I told him if he buys into that, good things will happen out there again. And you know I thought he bounced back quickly. Quite frankly, I thought his mindset changed in the second half and when he took a shot, he made it.”
If you’re looking for a clue that UD will get a more consistent Davis in the years to come, that he will be the most improved player on this year’s squad (46 percent of voters in my poll yesterday expect him to be just that), all you have to do is look at what he did in the last two games of the season. With all eyes on him, with no one expecting much because of his slump, Davis made 7 of 10 3-pointers against Providence and Oklahoma.
A day before that game, Miller said, “At this time of year you’ve got to find ways to score. And guys like Darrell — with that type of range — don’t come around the block every day. So if he can make a couple of shots now — if he can just turn it back on — that will make a real difference for us now.”
Davis almost helped get UD to the Sweet 16, He played 26 minutes against Oklahoma. He did have a layup blocked with 1:02 left, with UD trailing 52-48 during an epic and untimely cold streak, but all in all, it was quite the performance by Davis.
Despite the mid-season slump, Davis led the A-10 in 3-point field-goal percentage (45.2, 47 of 104). He played a lot of minutes for a freshman (as did everyone on the seven-man team) and also had to play some point guard as a backup to Scoochie Smith. That had to have contributed to his streaky shooting.