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2/27/2023 2:26 am  #1

GW vs Davidson Game Thread

GW is rolling, with 3 straight wins, and surged into a 5th place tie in the A10,  is back on the road to face an equally hot Davidson team.

Davidson, with a nearly 100 spot better KenPom, and another road game, this is going to be a tough task.

Does GW pull off the upset to improve to 10-7 in The A10???


3/01/2023 12:55 am  #2

Re: GW vs Davidson Game Thread

Davidson Wildcats

Date/Time: Wednesday March 1st @ John M. Belk Arena in Davidson, NC.
Preseason Ranks: 105th (KenPom), 118th (Bart Torvik), 105th (Sports Illustrated)
2021-22 Record: 27-7, 15-3 (1st in A10)
2022-23 Projected Record: 15-15, 8-10 (T-8th in A10)

Head-to-Head: 13-15. Davidson has won five of the past six meetings, including last year's meeting in Foggy Bottom. GW went winless (0-6) against the six teams that finished above them in the standings, but our performance at home against Davidson was easily our best effort against that upper tier during conference play. The Buff and Blue took an eight point lead into the half, largely fueled by some exceptional shooting from deep. GW finished the game 13/30 (43%) from distance, with JB making six threes for the game. Some of his made shots were 40+ feet from the basket.

Offense wasn't a problem on that day (although it would have been nice to get to the FT line more given our 83% shooting performance) but the usual problems popped up at critical moments of the game. GW was outrebounded by eight in a game where they could have definitely won the rebounding battle, there was major foul trouble in the frontcourt (Hunter fouled out and Ricky/Noel each had four fouls), and we couldn't get a stop when needed. The Wildcats shot a blazing 56% from the field and pretty much took control in the second half. I sometimes think about Brajkovic's layup with a minute left from time to time as it was the dagger in a game we could have stolen. He drove from the right side, posted up Hunter successfully, and drew the foul for the and-one. It didn't make a difference, but Hunter somehow managed to pick up three fouls in the final minute to foul out of the game. You would think someone else would commit the intentional foul to extend the game but oh well.

Just two GW players finished in double figures despite the strong offensive performance: JB finished with a team-high 26 points and Joe added 19.

Offensive Efficiency: 112th (KenPom), 108th (Bart Torvik)
Defensive Efficiency: 187th (KenPom), 179th (Bart Torvik)
Pace: 293rd (KenPom), 281st (Bart Torvik)
Offensive Shot Quality Rank: 105th
Defensive Shot Quality Rank: 149th
Rim & 3 Rate: 84% (39th)

Strengths (OOC Play):
Three Point Percentage Defense (26th)
Free Throws Made Per Game (29th)
Free Throw Attempts Per Game (T-33rd)
Fouls Per Game (T-54th)
Defensive Rebounds Per Game (T-88th)

Weaknesses (OOC Play):
Three Point Attempts Per Game (T-254th)
Steals Per Game (T-270th)
Bench Points Per Game (271st)
Turnovers Forced Per Game (T-292nd)
Rebound Margin (299th)
Offensive Rebounds Per Game (T-302nd)
Blocks Per Game (T-346th)

Key Returning Players:
Foster Loyer (Senior; Clarkston, MI) 16.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.3 apg; 45% FG, 44% 3-PT, 94% FT
      Last Season @ GW: 16 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals; 6-11 FG, 3-6 3-PT, 1-2 FT in 37 minutes.

Sam Mennenga (Junior; Auckland, New Zealand) 8.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.5 apg; 52% FG, 47% 3-PT, 63% FT
      Last Season @ GW: 11 points, 3 rebounds; 4-5 FG, 3-4 FT in 23 minutes.

Key Losses:
Hyunjung Lee (Exit Early Pro; Yeok, South Korea) 15.8 ppg, 6 rpg, 1.9 apg; 47% FG, 38% 3-PT, 78% FT
Luka Brajkovic (Exit Early Pro; Feldkirch, Austria) 14.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.1 bpg; 58% FG, 41% 3-PT, 64% FT
Michael Jones (Transferred to Stanford; Woodbury, MN) 11.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1 spg; 46% FG, 42% 3-PT, 84% FT

The 2022 offseason saw six openings within the Atlantic 10. Of those six, only two coaches left on their own terms, which both coincidentally happened to be due to retirements. Late in the offseason, ex-Fordham coach Kyle Neptune was named the successor to Jay Wright at Villanova which led to top assistant Keith Urgo getting promoted from top assistant to head coach. The move was one that attempted to retain the culture that made Fordham actually respectable for the first time in years.

The other school, Davidson, also promoted the top assistant from the coaching staff - except the new man in charge also happens to be the son of the previous coach. Bob McKillop decided to hang it up after 33 years coaching the Wildcat program, notching 634 wins over that span. For those without a calculator, that's just under 20 wins per season. That's pretty good! That doesn't even cover the accolades - 10 NCAA appearances, 8 NIT appearances, 13 regular season titles, 8 conference tournament titles, 10 coach of the year awards. McKillop is certainly deserving of a lot of praise. I have to think something at the school will be named after him at some point. Davidson went undefeated in SoCon play three(!) times under his watch.

In steps son Matt, one of Bob's three kids. Matt McKillop played for his dad at Davidson and like CC earned his stripes as an assistant (14 seasons) before getting the well-deserved promotion. One would assume the Wildcats operate business as usual, but Davidson did experience quite a bit of roster turnover in the offseason with some starters opting to go pro while others with eligibility heading elsewhere due to the school not having a graduate program.

It's hard to know whether the elder McKillop decided to retire just because he thought it was time or because NIL/transfers have become a major factor in recruiting. Whatever the case is, it was nice that he at least went out on top with a trip to the NCAA tournament. McKillop was one of eight coaches that retired last offseason: Jay Wright (Villanova), Tim Jankovich (SMU), Randy Rahe (Weber State), Fran O'Hanlon (Lafayette), Mike McConathy (Northwestern State), Wayne Brent (Jackson State), and of course Coach K (Duke) were the others. I'm sure Curry can help out when it comes to any NIL support, but Davidson has always been a program built on player development with each class passing the torch to the class below them without substantial drop off. Bob McKillop had an eye for talent and knew which players would fit his system well. That's not to say they wouldn't take a transfer here or there, but this year's Davidson team did take on more transfers than they have in the past and I wonder whether that's disrupted their usual success this year. It was always going to be a bit of a rebuilding year and having a first-year head coach doesn't help but I think it's just a minor setback moving forward.

Hyunjung Lee and Luka Brajkovic were certainly very big losses having both made first-team all-A10 last season. Lee, who is now playing for Golden State's G-League team (Santa Cruz Warriors), was always a tough cover as he could absolutely light it up from distance. He led the team with 80 makes on the year which ranked 82nd best nationally. Brajkovic, who deservedly won A10 player of the year last season, was a double-double threat on a nightly basis with his ability to rebound and score - he had the 20th best FG percentage mark in the country which is pretty impressive for a player who attempted 88 threes on the year. The thing with Brajkovic is that he may not have been the biggest scorer or rebounder on a nightly basis (he was 12th in ppg and 9th in rpg in the A10) but you could instantly see his impact when playing. His ability to suck defenses in down low opened things up for Davidson's shooters to constantly get great looks. Michael Jones was a loss as well having made 69 threes himself (third on team). At least he is getting a grad degree from Stanford because he deserved a better coach to end his collegiate career than Jerod Haase.

Davidson performed decently during OOC play. Like us, they began the season with a non-D1 opponent. Thankfully they didn't have to face any CAA teams after December, as three of their five losses came to teams from that conference - JNJ's Delaware squad by 2, Northeastern by 3, and a strong Charleston squad also by 3. When you consider that all their losses were by single digits, it wasn't a bad showing by any means - especially for a team in transition. Their slate also included a game against Purdue, who was #1 in the country at the time and featured the two Loyer brothers facing off.

This Wildcat squad still shares some traits from ones in the past - they play a conservative yet disciplined defense that won't try to turn you over but will also not commit silly fouls that lead to extra FT attempts for the opposition. Davidson also prefers to get back on defense to prevent transition opportunities rather than attack the offensive glass. What stands out when it comes to this season's team is that they aren't quite as strong from 3 as previous teams. In fact, they are not much better/different from us. Davidson is just 33% from 3 on the year which would be worse than any of their teams in the past 23 years (the 1999-2000 squad was slightly worse, per KenPom). As a result they look to generate a bit more offense from the FT line this season.

Everything starts with Foster Loyer, who came over from Michigan State last season. Loyer, a second-team all-A10 selection last year, was most notably the best free throw shooter in the country last year at 94% (he missed just eight all year and one came in our matchup) but was also 4th nationally in three point FG percentage. With the number of pieces the Wildcats lost last offseason, Loyer was forced to take on a much larger workload which has hurt his efficiency - he is shooting under 40% from the field and just 34% from 3 this year. Looking at where he ranks nationally in a number of statistical categories during OOC play it definitely looked like he was the Davidson offense on a nightly basis:

Minutes Per Game (28th)
Assists Per Game (31st)
Free Throws Made (T-31st)
Steals Per Game (T-54th)
Three Pointers Made Per Game (T-81st)
Points Per Game (T-83rd)

Despite leading the team in scoring for the season, Loyer is not actually Davidson's leading scorer during conference play. That would be their other key returner from last season, Sam Mennenga.

Mennenga, a Kiwi, is very skilled at drawing fouls and getting to the FT line. He took the 85th most attempts in the country during OOC play. While Mennenga does not take a lot of threes, he's efficient when he does, making 47% last year and 38% this season. I worry more about our ability to defend him than Loyer.

Two other key reserves from last year, Grant Huffman and Desmond Watson, figure to see larger roles this year given all the departures. Huffman is the prototypical Davidson player - he has a good understanding of how to score and cut on offense, does a good job moving the ball in the halfcourt, and provides good on-ball defense. While he shot 37% from 3 last season his shooting numbers have gone down this year (just 24% from 3). He will look to drive and we will need to do well to cut that off. Huffman isn't a particularly good FT shooter through two seasons of collegiate basketball. Watson is one of the more athletic players on their squad although is a bit inconsistent as a shooter. He fares a bit better from the FT line but isn't quite as good a passer.

The final starting spot is occupied by true freshman Reed Bailey, a top 200 prospect in the Class of 2022 per 247Sports. Bailey stands at 6'11" but has the ability to play multiple positions on the floor due to strong ball-handling. He shoots 36% from 3 on the year but largely operates getting to the basket where he is second on the team in FG percentage behind Mennenga. Making him earn his points from the FT line isn't the worst idea given Bailey is only 65% on the year.

Coming off the bench for Davidson is Buffalo transfer David Skogman, William & Mary transfer Connor Kochera, Swiss walk-on Achile Spadone (cool name), and true freshman Sean Logan.

Skogman I assume was supposed to be the replacement for Brajkovic. He isn't the rebounder and passer Brajkovic was, but is still a good shooter. Skogman is 38% from distance on roughly two three point attempts a game and shoots 87% from the line which is second best on the team (and was 44th nationally during OOC play).

This should actually be the second time we face Kochera but he did not play in the game for William & Mary when we faced them. Hopefully this is the last time I ever have to reference that game which may have been the lowest point in the JC era. Kochera is a decent passer but is in the game to shoot - he is second on the team with 35 makes and shoots 37% from behind the arc.

Spadone and Logan likely only see spot minutes in the game. Neither player has a high usage rate and both are shooting under 40% from the field on the year. Spadone put up six against VCU in 29 minutes a month ago but hasn't scored since. It's been even longer for Logan who hasn't scored in his last 12 appearances.

This would be a nice to win game, but given we haven't won at their place in nearly 57 years and it's Senior Day for them I'd expect this to be a tough game. It is certainly more winnable than the VCU game to end the regular season but that's about it. Winning the battle on the glass will be key. Davidson is entering the contest on a three game winning streak of their own so there isn't a major momentum advantage. I worry about our ability to contain Mennenga, Hunter/Noel being able to close out on Skogman when he's along the perimeter, and the team constantly going under screens allowing a guy like Kochera to knock down three after three. As long as we aren't in foul trouble (which is another issue) I think this can remain a close game. I'd expect another high scoring contest. With this team, we just need to make it to overtime.

Projected Score: Davidson 80, GW 72. 24% chance to win (Bart Torvik). ESPN gives us a 21.8% chance to improve our record to 10-7 in conference.


3/01/2023 10:41 am  #3

Re: GW vs Davidson Game Thread

7.5 underdogs.  Was surprised at that.  Was expecting more like 4.5.  Oddmakers do not see this as a competitive game.  I would suspect that the line will not be this bad vs. VCU.  First line I saw had us plus 8.5, so I guess bettors like us.  I kinda like us to  at least cover, if not win outright.

Last edited by Long Suffering Fan (3/01/2023 10:45 am)


3/01/2023 10:52 am  #4

Re: GW vs Davidson Game Thread

What are the odds that GW is up 10+ late in the second half, Davidson ties it with a few seconds left, and GW wins it in OT? 


3/01/2023 10:56 am  #5

Re: GW vs Davidson Game Thread

Colonials +310 on the money line. Me likey.


3/01/2023 7:02 pm  #6

Re: GW vs Davidson Game Thread

Took GW plus 4.5 for the half.


3/01/2023 7:05 pm  #7

Re: GW vs Davidson Game Thread

Davidson announcers did their homework on GW.   


3/01/2023 7:18 pm  #8

Re: GW vs Davidson Game Thread

We need to get out of that 3-2 zone


3/01/2023 7:19 pm  #9

Re: GW vs Davidson Game Thread

ESPN+ is for crap. Trouble all season with their so-called streaming service.


3/01/2023 7:21 pm  #10

Re: GW vs Davidson Game Thread

My ESPN plus service has not given me any problems all season.  Maybe a weak internet connection?


3/01/2023 7:23 pm  #11

Re: GW vs Davidson Game Thread

Already 6 offensive rebounds for Davidson and we are not at the 10 minute mark yet.


3/01/2023 7:24 pm  #12

Re: GW vs Davidson Game Thread

Thanks. I'll look into it.


3/01/2023 7:29 pm  #13

Re: GW vs Davidson Game Thread

Glad we got out of the 3-2.

As bad as we’ve played, only down 4 (with Dean about to get a FT).

Not bad, because you know we’ll find an offensive rhythm.  Need to tighten the D and boards so our offensive spurt is meaningful.


3/01/2023 7:30 pm  #14

Re: GW vs Davidson Game Thread

Davidson doing a great job of shutting down Adams and Bishop.  We will need better than 2-8 (0=4) in 13 minutes from them  Not sure if our being down only 3 is a good or bad sign.


3/01/2023 7:31 pm  #15

Re: GW vs Davidson Game Thread

How improved is Hunter Dean this season???  remarkable strides taken


     Thread Starter

3/01/2023 7:31 pm  #16

Re: GW vs Davidson Game Thread

Too much dribbling


3/01/2023 7:34 pm  #17

Re: GW vs Davidson Game Thread

They are REALLY overplaying the passing lanes. I’m sure Caputo will make a big halftime adjustment.


3/01/2023 7:39 pm  #18

Re: GW vs Davidson Game Thread

Not only haven't we made any 3s tonight, but I think we may have had only one good look.  On the other hand, Davidson is shooting 3s without any defender in sight.  


3/01/2023 7:45 pm  #19

Re: GW vs Davidson Game Thread

I wish our end of half play would be something other than Bishop or Adams dribbling  around until its too late and we hoist a bad shot.  There was no reason why we had to settle for a 28 footer by Adams to end the half, when there was so much time left when we got the ball.   Why not run your offense?


3/01/2023 7:47 pm  #20

Re: GW vs Davidson Game Thread

St. Joes up 6 over Richmond with about a minute and a half left in the half.  A Richmond loss guarantees our bye.


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