December 3, 2009 11:20 am ET by Kyle Whelliston
Davidson at The Citadel (Southern Conference)
McAlister Field House - Charleston, SC
There are other things happening in other parts of Hoops Nation. Like, for instance, Utah, where Weber State and Utah State pulled off Wednesday night RLU's against Utah and BYU, respectively. Or Iowa, where UNI of the Valley punished old head coach Greg McDermott again. But we're staying in the good old Southern Conference for a second straight G!O!T!N!, because this is just too good.
Davidson (1-5) has struggled to find its bearings since Stephen Curry left early to become a fundamental redundancy for the Golden State Warriors. Nearly a month into the season, all they have to show in the win column is a virtual mulligan against Fredonia State, and have gone oh-fer against Division I. While it's easy to offer some off-hand analysis and say that Curry would have performed a three-superheroes-in-one act and won a few of those games on his own, the truth is that his absence has thrown some of the existing fissures in bold relief. The other Wildcats had issues shooting and rebounding last season, and even with three seniors with Elite 8 experience (William Archambault, Bryant Barr and Stephen Rossiter), the team has shot 41.2 percent for the season and averages just 31 boards per contest -- both figures in the lower third of D-I.
So there's no real momentum entering the league slate, and The Citadel is definitely not the team Davidson wants to play right now. The Bulldogs (5-3) were last year's big SoCon surprise, winning 20 games and breaking a long string of My Losing Seasons. Keep in mind that The Citadel has never reached the NCAA Tournament, despite fielding an eligible team for each of the 70 years it's been contested. Also note that the 20-win team was mostly made up of sophomores; guys like 6-1 guard Cameron Wells (17.1 ppg) are all upperclassmen now, and the squad has seven juniors that have two more years to do something special. The key hallmarks of this team are its extreme ball control (a microscopic 8.9 topg) and its military-style discipline -- at just 12.2 fouls per ballgame, the Bulldogs lead the country in courtesy. As for tonight, it's a chance for the emerging team to make a big early statement, and write the first chapter of a truly historic hoops season story. (Or, more likely, Pat Conroy will write it for them.)
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