#45 Davidson Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Davidson Wildcats
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #45
Conference Rank: #4 Atlantic 10
Davidson had to deal with injuries that certainly hurt them last season. Still, they played well in the Atlantic 10 and got an invite to the NIT after a 20 win season. With ever growing expectations, the Wildcats are poised for another postseason berth. This time though, if injuries are not a huge problem again, Coach Bob McKillop and company should be heading to the NCAA Tournament. With Jack Gibbs back for his senior season, that should be the goal. Gibbs was asked to do a lot last year and his shooting percentages suffered because of it. But his scoring was impressive with 23.5 points per game. Ideally Gibbs will have more help around him this year so he can be a little more selective. If that happens, expect him to score just as many points, but shoot better than 33.5 percent from beyond the arc and 43.2 percent from the floor.
2015-16 Record: 20-13, 10-8
2015-16 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Bob McKillop
Coach Record: 516-315 at Davidson, 516-315 overall
Who’s Out:
Losing Brian Sullivan is a significant blow to the Wildcats. He had a great shooting year, knocking down 99 three-pointers at a 40.7 percent clip. Finding that third scorer to replace Sullivan could be a season long process for Davidson. Jordan Barham, who averaged 8.4 points per game, is also gone. He only played 14.2 minutes per contest, but Barham provided instant offense. Jake Belford was one of the injured players last year. After six starts, he opted to end his basketball career due to concussions.
Who’s In:
Dusan Kovacevic and Kishawn Pritchett were injured before their collegiate careers even began, but both are back and ready to go in 2016-2017. Kovacevic, a 6-10 forward, will add quality depth to the frontcourt and he can stretch the defense with his shooting too. Pritchett could be a very important player for a team that is lacking a big guard. At 6-6 and with his toughness, Pritchett is a great fit for the small forward position and he could earn quite a few minutes if he is ready to go. Jon Axel Gudmundsson could play an important role too. With Sullivan gone, somebody needs to handle the ball on those rare occasions when Gibbs is off the floor and the Iceland native with international experience is certainly an option. But perhaps the most exciting newcomer, for this year at least, is Boston College transfer Will Magarity. His size and experience will immediately help the frontcourt. The 6-11 junior did not play too much during his time at BC, but he was coming on pretty strong in ACC play during the 2014-2015 campaign before missing most of the end of the season with a concussion.  
Who to Watch:
The most interesting thing to watch for this year is where Peyton Aldridge plays. He has spent most of his collegiate career at the four spot, but due to the lack of size on the perimeter, he could spend a lot of time on the wing this year. The 6-8 junior can certainly shoot and handle the ball well enough to play small forward. Last season he averaged 15.5 points per game and connected on 36.8 percent of his 133 attempts from beyond the arc. He can score just as well in the paint. It would be a different look for Davidson, but Coach McKillop can make it work if needed. That would allow the Wildcats to take advantage of the depth in the frontcourt and cover the probable lack of size on the perimeter. Nathan Ekwe will be starting in the frontcourt either way. The 6-7 junior is the best rim protector on the team and a very strong rebounder as well. Oskar Michelsen, who started 16 games a year ago, can shoot the ball like a guard, but he likely needs to remain at the power forward position for defensive purposes. Starting or not, Michelsen will stretch the defense.
Final Projection:
There are options on the perimeter besides Gibbs. Jordan Watkins had a decent sophomore season, averaging 5.7 points per game. He is a player who can help replace those three-pointers lost with Sullivan, but he may have to do a little ball handling too. Rusty Reigel was starting at the end of last season, but never really got into the whole scoring thing. He did improve as the season progressed though and he is tough enough to spend time at the small forward position against some opponents despite his 6-2, 190 pound frame. Kamau Faines is another 6-2 guard who has potential. He barely played last season, but could earn a few more minutes off of the bench this year. As long as the backcourt can find somebody who can be a threat to shoot, bring the ball up the floor a few minutes per game and play solid defense, often against taller opposition, then Davidson will ride Gibbs and the healthy frontcourt to the NCAA Tournament. And with this group and Coach McKillop leading the way, expect the backcourt to be just fine. There are more than enough options and more than enough talent for Davidson to compete for an A-10 title and earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Jack Gibbs, Senior, Guard, 23.5 points per game
Jordan Watkins, Junior, Guard, 5.7 points per game
Rusty Reigel, Junior, Guard, 2.3 points per game
Peyton Aldridge, Junior, Forward, 15.5 points per game
Nathan Ekwe, Junior, Forward, 5.7 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 79.0 (40th in nation, 2th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 78.1 (304, 13)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.2 (171, 10)
Field-Goal Defense: 45.9 (296, 14)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 9.6 (16, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.5 (132, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 76.1 (12, 2)
Rebound Margin: -4.2 (304, 11)
Assists Per Game: 15.1 (66, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.2 (12, 2)