Thursday, March 20, 2008

Davidson familiar with Gonzaga's style

When Davidson coach Bob McKillop looks at first-round NCAA tournament opponent Gonzaga, he sees components of the high-powered teams the Wildcats faced early in the season.

Like Duke, Gonzaga can spread the floor makes a high percentage of its 3-point attempts (39.7 percent).

Like North Carolina, Gonzaga is explosive in transition (82.9 ppg) and has a point guard, Jeremy Pargo, whom McKillop calls a one-man fast break.

Like UCLA, Gonzaga has tenacious defenders who use their length to bother opponents and are interchangeable at two or three positions.

Davidson was competitive against Duke, North Carolina and UCLA, but lost all three games. After the Wildcats lost five of their first nine, it appeared that McKillop’s strategy of scheduling strong outside the Southern Conference had failed because Davidson didn’t get a “marquee” victory.

Now it’s obvious that the scheduling strategy worked. Davidson played at NCAA tournament venues in Charlotte, Anaheim and Raleigh and got exposure to styles of play it wouldn’t see from Southern Conference opponents.

“The purpose of that nonconference schedule was to test us, to expose us, and maybe get us knocked to the mat,” McKillop said.

On Friday against Gonzaga, the Wildcats will see if getting knocked down early will help them get back up at the most important time of the season.

– Ken Tysiac