Dance Cards: Davidson faces Louisville

Dance Cards: Davidson faces Louisville

March 12th, 2012 by David Uchiyama in Sports - College

Davidson men's basketball coach Bob McKillop

Davidson men's basketball coach Bob McKillop

Photo by Tim Cowie

Bob McKillop made the rounds on North Carolina sports radio stations last week.

He earned the air time.

The Davidson College basketball coach guided the Wildcats to the NCAA tournament with a thrilling 93-91 double-overtime win against Western Carolina for the Southern Conference's automatic berth.

Last week was enjoyable. The players returned from Asheville with the trophy to a rather quiet campus despite their accomplishment. Everybody else was away on spring break.

"To a degree, that's been advantageous because guys were sequestered on campus for the last couple of days, with not a lot of classmates around, and their total focus has been on the practice court," McKillop said Monday on a conference call. "They've also had a chance to kick off their shoes and relax and enjoy the success but be serious enough to perform their normal routine."

Players returned to classes Monday and McKillop could sense more of a buzz around town Monday morning.

"There's a bit of excitement," he said. "The [selection] show on CBS generated quite a bit of enthusiasm. But we're heading out tomorrow, so it will be very short-lived."

This week is about business.

The Wildcats (25-7) received a No. 13 seed and will face No. 4 seed Louisville (26-9) in Portland on Thursday at 1:40 p.m. EDT. The Cardinals won the Big East tournament 50-44 over Cincinnati on Saturday.

"We understand the dynamic of the game," McKillop said. "Rick Pitino is a future Hall of Fame coach, he knows what it takes to get to the championship and win it, and Louisville is a powerhouse program. We have a formidable and challenging foe in front of us."

McKillop is making his sixth trip to the NCAA tournament as Davidson's coach. Stephen Curry led the Wildcats to the Elite Eight -- and within a bucket of the Final Four -- in their last trip in 2008.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga represented the SoCon in 2009, and Wofford did so in 2010 and 2011. The Terriers are headed to the College Basketball Invitational this year.

McKillop said there are no comparisons to be made between the 2008 team and this season's Wildcats because Curry is playing for the Golden State Warriors and there is no similar star this time. But they do have the two SoCon players of the year. The league's coaches selected forward De'Mon Brooks (16 ppg) as their MVP, and the media selected forward Jake Cohen (14 ppg).

"They do a little bit of everything, and when you have two guys who do a little bit of everything, you're able to cover your bases," McKillop said. "We get superb output from our interior players because they're as versatile as they are."

Their efforts against Louisville will be crucial. But for Davidson to pull off an upset, guards Nik Cochran and JP Kuhlman must handle Louisville's pressure defense.

"Louisville has guys who can play in the NFL," McKillop said. "Their ability to cover distance is outstanding. They attack space defensively and can make a team hesitant."

That's a lot less relaxing than returning to a quiet campus.

Contact David Uchiyama at or at 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at