Thursday, March 15, 2007

Watch out for Davidson next year

Davidson’s 82-70 loss to Maryland ended the Wildcats’ season, but the lessons learned from the defeat could carry into next year.

The Wildcats created a bit of a buzz with their performance, which included a second-half lead against one of the best teams in the ACC. Here’s a few things to watch out for next season:

- Stephen Curry will become a national name. Curry had been a hidden treasure for most of the season, but his 30-point outing Thursday will likely vault him onto some preseason All-America lists. One thing to watch: reigning Southern Conference Player of the Year Kyle Hines of UNC Greensboro returns, but Curry might be the preseason pick to win that award.
- Davidson’s scheduling could get stronger. The Wildcats have nine nonconference games next season, and six of them are already slotted. Assistant coach Matt Matheny coordinates the Wildcats schedule, and said the team wants to play in a preseason tournament (three games that only count as two per NCAA rules) and one other game. Davidson could get an invite to a prestigious tournament now, such as the Preseason NIT, but the Wildcats might struggle to get a big name in their final available game. Schools from major conferences will likely avoid Davidson, so the Wildcats might have to turn to another mid-major school.

- Davidson hasn’t been nationally ranked since 1970, but the Wildcats could sneak into the preseason poll next year. All 11 scholarship players return, and Thursday’s game may have helped their cause.

- Heightened expectations. Davidson’s 29-5 season was a pleasant surprise this season, since the team lost seven seniors. But next season, anything less than a Southern Conference championship and a NCAA tournament victory will be considered a disappointment. - Kevin Cary