Davidson celebrates a last-second win in the A-10 tourney last season. 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.
NOTE TO READERS: I want to salute the fans at some point in this series. Here’s my idea: Email me a photo of your favorite piece of UD memorabilia (email@example.com). It could be a ticket stub, a T-shirt, a poster, a newspaper page, a photo of you at a game, etc. And write a paragraph or two or more about the story behind it: where you got it, what it means to you, why it’s special, etc. Also tell me how long you’ve been a fan, how and why you started rooting for the Flyers. I will include the story and the text in a blog entry. The best photo and entry wins an 8×10 print of Vee Sanford’s shot against OSU or Jordan Sibert’s shot against Boise. Your choice.
No. 31: Davidson game
This is the first in a series of posts analyzing Dayton’s A-10 opponents in order of finish last season, starting at the top with Davidson. For the second straight season, A-10 teams will play 18 conference games: two games home and away against five opponents and single games home or away against eight opponents.
Dayton took an eight-game winning streak into Davidson last season and lost 77-60. It was the team’s first loss since the dismissal of Devon Scott and Jalen Robinson. After the first five minutes, it was never a close game. After a 3-2 start in their first A-10 season, the Wildcats proved that night they were a real contender. They won their last 10 games to win the regular-season title by a game over Dayton and Rhode Island.
Of that game, I wrote:
Dayton coach Archie Miller saved his best for last. He found a way to make light of a dark night for the Flyers with his final statement at the post-game press conference.
“The great thing about these guys is nobody’s getting benched,” Miller said. “No one gets the doghouse from the coach. They’re all going to play the next game, too.”
No matter how bad Dayton plays — and it struggled in almost every area in a 77-60 loss to Davidson College at John M. Belk Arena on Tuesday — the same seven players will see the floor in the next game. Miller can’t sit players when he has so few options on the bench.
Maybe the Flyers (15-3) were tired from playing five games in 13 days. Maybe the pressure of playing with a No. 22 ranking for the first time got to them. Maybe they just ran into a Davidson team on a mission, a team trying to bounce back from its worst loss of the season, an 89-63 setback at Richmond on Saturday.
All three of those reasons and a few more, such as Davidson’s 52 percent shooting from 3-point range (12 of 23), played a part.
Peyton Aldridge and Tyler Kalinoski each hit 9 of 14 shots from the field for Davidson (13-4, 4-2). Aldridge scored 22 points and made 4 of 5 3-pointers. Kalinoski hit 3 of 4 3-pointers and finished with 21 points.
Once again, Dayton plays Davidson only once this season. The Jan. 12 game at UD Arena is the fourth on the A-10 schedule.
Davidson will try to prove this season its first season in the A-1o wasn’t a fluke. It has the tools to do that. It loses its top scorer, Tyler Kalinoski (16.7 points per game), but returns its six other top scorers, who all averaged between 5 and 16.2 points per game. Here’s what we know about Davidson, which has won 20 or more games nine times in the last 11 seasons:
- The team’s top returning player is Jack Gibbs, a junior guard from Westerville. He missed the game against UD with a knee injury. He averaged 16.2 points and was one of five players on the team to make at least 40 3-pointers. Davidson coach Bob McKillop called Gibbs “one of the best we’ve had” in a Charlotte Observer feature last March.
- With all those returners, 3-point should again be a strength. The Wildcats led the A-10 in scoring offense (79.0), field-goal percentage (46.7) and 3-point percentage (39.1). KenPom.com ranked the Wildcats eighth in the nation in offensive efficiency, 12th in effective field goal percentage and second in turnover percentage.
- McKillop is a bargain for Davidson. McKillop, the A-10 coach of the year last year (unless you polled only Flyer fans, who had a pretty good argument for Archie Miller), signed an extension after the season. According to this story, he’s making around $400,000 per season, which is a lot of money for you and me but not for a coach with 495 career victories. He ranks among the lowest-paid coaches in the A-10.
- Davidson has more Ohio natives than UD. In addition to Gibbs, the Wildcats have senior guard Brian Sullivan, of Upper Arlington. He started his career at Miami, and his brother Chris was one of the great 3-point shooters at Wittenberg a few years back. Chris now is an assistant coach at Denison in Granville, Ohio, and Denison plays at Davidson in November. Another senior guard, Jordan Barham, is from Cleveland. Sophomore forward Peyton Aldridge is from Leavittsburg, Ohio.
- UD is continuing to upgrade its facilities. A new strength center opened last year. The Donoher Center is being redone. It’s a similar story across the conference. VCU is preparing to open a new practice facility. Davidson did the same this summer, and its most famous former player, Stephen Curry, took the first shot on the new court.