Friday, March 2, 2007

Observations from Charleston

Stray thoughts from soggy Charleston entering tonight’s semifinals:

Davidson looked like the third-best team in this tournament Thursday. Appalachian State and College of Charleston both played better than the Wildcats, but those two teams will play in the second semifinal tonight.
Davidson faces Furman, a team the Wildcats should beat. Furman doesn’t have a quick point guard or dominant post player, so expect Davidson to revert to form today.

Davidson freshman Stephen Curry gets most of the team’s publicity, but point guard Jason Richards is the Wildcat who should take clutch shots. Richards doesn’t shoot a lot unless he senses the team is in trouble. He scored 12 points in the second half Thursday, including two clutch 3-pointers.

A fun matchup tonight will be watching Appalachian State guard D.J. Thompson against College of Charleston guard Dontaye Draper. Those two might be the quickest players in the conference.

Davidson played in front of a sparse, yet friendly crowd Thursday, but that will change tonight. Everyone in the arena – except those wearing red – will be pulling against the Wildcats, because Charleston and Appalachian State fans would rather face Furman. If Furman gets ahead, the crowd will begin to buzz.

Appalachian State reserve Donte Minter has to work on his conditioning. The 6-foot-8 junior is listed at 260 pounds, but he might be closer to 300 now.

Give Davidson coach Bob McKillop credit for some gutsy moves in the second half against Chattanooga. McKillop put in freshmen Bryant Barr and Stephen Rossiter – who rarely played in the second half of games – with Davidson up four with seven minutes left. Neither player scored, but Davidson did not lose ground with them on the court.

Remember this name: Moussa Diagne. The Furman forward can have big games – he scored 34 against Charleston earlier this season – and his play could be a key against Davidson.

Everyone is talking about Davidson and Appalachian State, but don’t forget about College of Charleston. The Cougars have quietly won 21 games this season, and have the most athletic talent in the league.

Appalachian State has one advantage over Davidson and Charleston. The Mountaineers have the deepest bench in the league. The team’s reserves scored 49 points Thursday, and allowed the Mountaineer starters to stay fresh entering tonight’s game.
- Kevin Cary