You’ve had time to decompress and get over the Fordham loss, NEVER FORGET! Fifteen games remain and we are going to drudge through every single last one of them, so help us. We broke down the Fordham game with a surgeon’s precision, I think Sully spent a collective three hours talking about it on podcasts.
The loss to the Rams is a stink you can’t wash away, we all know this and accept it. What you should be looking for going forward is the following: (1) A renewed sense of purpose and urgency from your Flyers, after all, sometimes pride is all you have left. (2) Further development from the likes of Brea, Zimi, Weaver and Mus. While it’s not time to turn the proverbial page on Crutcher, Sleepy, Blakney and Chatman just yet (ok, maybe Rodney), the most encouraging sign from here on out would be continual improvement from the also-rans. (3) Rack up enough wins to avoid a Wednesday night pillow fight in Brooklyn. Again, all we have left as a program at this juncture is pride, or, at the very least, an indication of pride. Going from #3 in the nation to a matchup against George Washington in just one season would be the cherry on top of our newly formed shit sandwich.
So, we move forward. The first of three Sock Hops takes place tonight against a scrappy Davidson Wildcat squad. Burn the boats, the oars and the horses.
Not going to sugarcoat it, this game has the potential for being unwatchable. While both offenses are efficient, Davidson and Dayton play at some of the slowest paces in all of the land — the Wildcats are currently 351/357 in D1 as far as adjusted tempo is concerned. Whereas Dayton’s offense runs in cement seemingly due to sheer confusion and apathy, Davidson’s offensive cadence is purposeful and deliberate. You’ve likely seen McKillop’s system plenty of times by now, nothing has changed.
Lots and lots of spot-up jumpers from the perimeter are coming the Flyers’ way. Davidson is the textbook definition of a catch-and-shoot team. Half of the Wildcats’ shot attempts come from behind the arc which, of course, is either a recipe for success or disaster depending on the night. Hyunjung Lee, Kellan Grady and Carter Collins will launch the majority of the bombs against Dayton. The trio accounts for 65% of Davidson’s three-point attempts. Outside of the main three, McKillop’s squad is rounded out by the usual suspects — a bunch of weird foreigners and guys that look like active Eagle Scouts.
Davidson is 2-1 in the Atlantic Ten, with wins over Rhody and Duquesne, the loss coming at the merciless, murderous, hands of Richmond (hop on the Spider Shuttle). While nothing on the Wildcats’ resume jumps out and grabs you, Davidson did post an increasingly impressive performance against Texas, a two-point loss against the Horns in the opening round of the Maui Invitational — the Cats had two good looks from three on their final possession, but the Good Lord just wasn’t with the tiny school from North Carolina that day. Live by the three, die by the three, my friends.
Ahead of the Friday night sock hop against Davidson, a few have mentioned that both the Wildcats and the Flyers play at a slower pace than most. In KenPom’s adjusted tempo metric, the Flyers average 65.4 possessions a game which ranks 338th in the country while Davidson averages 64.0 which is 351st. Neither team on Friday will be pushing the pace to say the least. Yet even with that shared characteristic, Bob McKillop continues to have the Wildcats chugging along with dependable competency while Flyer fans are on the break of an existential breakdown.
It has been frequently mentioned that the Flyers score the ball efficiently when they aren’t shooting themselves in the foot via turnover, averaging 107.9 points per 100 possessions. Without the self-sabotaging turnovers, Davidson’s offensive rating is even better at 111.2, which is 32nd among all division 1 teams. It’s the 24.9% turnover rate for the Flyers compared to the Wildcats 17.4% that has caused Davidson to average 71.3 points per game while Dayton averages 67.4 points.
We aren’t breaking news discussing that Dayton turns the ball over and Davidson is one of many teams that does not turn it over as much as the Flyers. Given what I just shared about both club’s pace numbers, you can already guess neither team gets out and runs much. The Wildcats have played on transition on only 8% of their possessions this season while 12% of the Flyers possessions have been on transition (it is worth noting that is down 7% compared to last year’s Obi led Dayton squad). Both teams are more efficient on transition, but that is true for nearly every team. What is clear though is that Davidson very much is trying to take their time and find the best shot and are often successful in doing so while the Flyers seem to head to panic stations the longer the possession goes on. In nearly the same number of possessions where at least 25 seconds of the possession has occurred, the Wildcats have an effective field goal percentage of 56.8% while the Flyers put up a 43.2% effective field goal percentage. At end of clock scenarios, it is clear Dayton feels the crunch while Davidson remain calm.
One thing that seemingly remains a constant for Bob McKillop coached teams is their ability to shoot the ball. In possessions involving a spot up jump shot for the Wildcats this season, they are scoring 1.08 points per possession. On midrange 2-point jump shots they are averaging 0.98 points per possession, well above the average A10 side. These strong jump shooting numbers are in sharp contrast to the Flyers. It is a bit surprising Dayton has yet to shoot it well from the floor with players like Jalen Crutcher and Ibi Watson. The Flyers are only averaging 0.87 points per possession from spot up opportunities, with Jalen being the only Flyer averaging above 1 point per possession on these shots at 1.18. Compare this to Davidson who have Hyungjung Lee (1.21), Kellan Grady (1.27), and Carter Collins (1.56!!) averaging above a point per possession on spot up jumpers.
While Davidson’s slow methodical offense has done well scoring efficiently in their limited possessions, there is perhaps an opportunity to exploit the Wildcats on defense. Their overall metrics on defense are decent, with a defensive rating of 98.9 and effective field goal percentage conceded of 49.3% which are both lower than the national average. They don’t force a ton of turn overs, only taking the ball from opponents on 15.1% of possessions. Given that Dayton’s non-turnover rate of 16.6% is one of the worst in the country, that might be of little comfort for Flyer fans.
What the Flyers might be able to do is get Davidson to switch on defense and attack those mismatches. On all pick and roll plays where the ball handler attacks, the Wildcats are allowing 1.05 points per possession. They are also prone to lose their defenders who are making cuts on the floor, allowing 1.37 points per possession on those plays. A possible tactic for Dayton offense on Friday is to focuses on getting slower defenders switched onto guys Jalen and Ibi. From there, they can attack the basket and force Davidson defenders to help. This can allow their Flyer teammates to move into good positions where they are open and help the Flyers maximize their reduced possessions in the game.
Coming into the season, many expected senior Kellan Grady to be the main man for Davidson. Grady has indeed had the highest usage rate for the Wildcats this season at 25.8%, but despite this the two danger men for Davidson have clearly been Hyungjung Lee and Carter Collins. Lee is averaging an impressive 1.37 points per possession this season, while Collins isn’t far behind at 1.25. For such an efficient scorer, Lee doesn’t score it particularly productively at the rim, only scoring on half of his attempts there. He can however, drop it on you with a jump shot anywhere. We discussed his spot up shooting earlier, but specifically on midrange shots he’s hitting 50% of attempts averaging 1 point per possession. From three-point land he’s been engulfed in flames, hitting 50.8% of attempts from the perimeter which comes out to 1.53 points per possession. Rodney Chatman, where art thou?
Carter Collins is a dynamic senior that can score anywhere on the floor. He too can shoot jump shots anywhere, averaging 1.2 points per possession from the midrange and hitting 43.5% of his three-point attempts. He is also capable of scoring at the rim, also scoring an above average 1.2 points per possession on those attempts. Furthermore, the guard can set up his teammates just as well as he is putting forth a 27.3% assist rate.
While Lee and Collins have been good for Davidson, it is the continued inefficacious play From Kellan Grady that seems to be preventing the Wildcats from being among the top of the Atlantic 10. The preseason All-A10 team senior certainly hasn’t lived up to that billing (which has been a theme for most of his career to be honest). He is only averaging 0.97 points per possession, largely driven by his struggles to finish at the rim. He has only scored on 47.6% of his attempts there, averaging a meager 0.95 points per possession on those shots. His shooting from the perimeter has been rather average, connecting on 33% of those field goal attempts from deep. In short, he’s been a mediocre scorer this season despite taking the most shots for Davidson. If not for the exemplary play from Lee and Collins, this type of performance from a senior leader could really sink a team like Davidson. Maybe there’s more in common between the Flyers and Davidson than just their slow pace.
The under, the under, this game screams THE UNDER. For wagering sake, Davidson is favored by 5.5 points and the O/U is set at 130. Perhaps a Sock Hop Parlay is the play — any way you care to slice it. The matchups between these two teams, the all-time series is tied 5-5, always seem to be close, particularly at Belk Arena. While I think Dayton can certainly win this game, I’d be hard-pressed to pick any team with losses to La Salle and Fordham against a pretty solid Davidson squad. Cats 64, Flyers 60. #LOWD
A quick reminder, the Sock Hop will start later than usual, 9pm on ESPN2 (no streaming tonight, put the women and children to bed). Punch will be served and, hopefully, so will JUSTICE.