As Davidson and 26 year head coach Bob McKillop head into the 2014-15 season they will be faced with the big challenge of establishing themselves in the Atlantic 10 Conference. After previously being in the relatively easy Southern Conference Davidson will take the next big step for its program as it enters the A-10. Although Coach McKillop has always made sure to give his teams exposure in non-conference play(last season Davidson played the likes of Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, Wichita State, New Mexico, and Georgia) starting this year they will have a chance to be tested night in and night out. Davidson is coming off its third straight Southern Conference regular season title and ninth postseason appearance in 10 years. Davidson will have to adjust to a new style of play where they can no longer rely on De’mon Brooks for the scoring and rebounding he has brought them over the past few seasons. With the exceptions of Tyler Kalinoski and Brian Sullivan Davidson will have to look further down the bench to younger and developing talent to pick up the slack.
Over the years Bob McKillop has built a program that consistently displays a well-coached product where defense is the key getting off the pine for most players. That will be the case as much as ever this year as Davidson is full of young inexperienced players still adapting to Coach McKillop’s standards and the level of play of Division 1 basketball.
Brian Sullivan (Jr.), G- It is rare that a sophomore is given the opportunity to prove himself like Brian Sullivan was last year, finishing second in scoring on the team with 13.2 points per game and shooting 83.3% from the free-throw line. With De’mon Brooks gone Sullivan will be forced to carry much of the weight offensively between scoring and facilitating for his teammates. Expect Sullivan to take full advantage of the chance to be a major contributor in the backcourt and help Davidson compete in the Atlantic 10.
Tyler Kalinoski (Sr.), G- Kalinoski is perhaps the only senior that will see significant playing time this year. Kalinoski is coming off a strong year in which he was tied for first in assists, finished second in rebounding, and contributed 11.0 points per game. McKillop builds his program around players like Kalinoski that he knows he can rely on come their senior year. As a result look for much of the leadership of the team to fall on Kalinoski’s shoulders as well as high expectations in terms of production.
The Davidson Wildcats have a lot of opportunity in front of them with a new wave of young players learning their roles. Although between minimal experienced talent and having to adjust to the Atlantic 10 I do not see all this culminating in an NCAA tournament berth or Conference championship. Davidson has the foundation to be a tournament contender in a year or so. Nonetheless, expect the Wildcats to compete just as Coach McKillop plans but to not quite get over the hump this season.