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Next Up - Davidson

| N&O

Next up for Duke is an always solid Davidson team, and one with seven seniors, which suggests that they may be a particularly dangerous opponent this year.

Bob McKillop is one of those guys who really should have gotten an offer from a bigger school, and maybe he has and just likes Davidson. He's a very, very good coach who happens to work at a school with a lower profile than maybe he could somewhere else. But he's extremely solid, as his recent record has demonstrated. He has given Duke a game or two in Cameron where Coach K had to keep his main guys in until the very end, and has given Stanford and Kansas fits.

As Davidson often does, the Wildcats have a very rugged schedule, with Duke, UNC, Kansas, and Syracuse, and with seven seniors returning who went undefeated in Southern Conference play last year, Davidson could have a great year.

Davidson's frontcourt is led by Ian Johnson. At 6-9 and 225 he has size. He also has an unconventional shot, which could be a challenge.

Johnson is flanked by 6-8 Boris Meno and 6-8 Thomas Sander, two young but promising players.

The backcourt is led by 6-5 Brendan Winters, son of former South Carolina star Brian Winters, who is part of the answer to a famous trivia question: who did the Bucks get when they traded Abdul-Jabbar to the Lakers? Three players, one of whom was Winters.

He's a solid player and averaged 16.7 last year. He's joined by the coach's son, Matt McKillop. Both players have high basketball IQs.

Davidson's problem has never been smart players. They always have smart kids. Their problem is in being athletic enough to keep up with the Duke's and UNCs. We don't know enough about their team to know how athletic they are this year, but whether or not they should be taken seriously is, we hope, an old and dumb question. They are a very well coached team, and they'll do their very best.
They also, no doubt, saw what B.U. did in spreading the court. Given McKillop's love of the long shot, we wouldn't be surprised to see them try to spread the court, drive, and kick out for threes.

On the other hand, if Duke plays defense like they have played it so far this year, and especially against Seton Hall, it'll be very difficult for Davidson to move the ball at all, much less to spread the court.

So what we'd expect to see in this game is two highly disciplined teams, one with considerably more talent, and both enjoying the long ball. Davidson, if we remember, tends to run more set plays and mixes in a lot of zone defensively.

They certainly don't mirror each other style-wise, but Duke and Davidson have a long and honorable history together, and both are ethical programs at serious schools. Bob McKillop has made Davidson's basketball program highly respectable again, and while they haven't beaten Duke, they have provided some very solid competition. We would expect a solid performance from both teams, although given Duke's defense so far, that could mean Davidson might lose by a wide margin and still be solid. That's what Davidson is now, and what they're likely to be for the near future. And we think it's great. Davidson has earned a lot of respect.