Chase for 180: Jack Gibbs’ progression a key factor in Davidson’s 12-3 start

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The “Chase for 180″ is back for a second year, and for those who may not be familiar with the project it’s our attempt to identify some of the best shooters in America. But what makes one an “elite shooter?” For some it’s merely the ability to knock down perimeter shots at a high rate, but that isn’t the case for all players. High-level shooting requires proficiency from three, the field overall, and from the foul line. 

“180” refers to the resulting number when adding a player’s field goal, three-point and free throw percentages, with the best shooters either approaching or surpassing that mark. 50 percent or better from the field overall, 40 percent or better from three and 90 percent or better from the foul line. This achievement has occurred more often in college basketball than it has in the NBA, where just six players (Steve Nash did it in four different seasons) have done it in the history of the league. 

We’ll update this list throughout the season, with players also needing to qualify to be ranked by the NCAA in each of the three percentage categories in order to be considered. In order to qualify to be ranked a player needs to have played in at least 75 percent of his team’s games and have averaged: 

  • five or more field goal attempts per game;
  • two or more three-point attempts per game;
  • 2.5 or more free throw attempts per game.

To read prior installments of the Chase for 180, click here

Entering the 2014-15 season, their first as a member of the Atlantic 10, not a whole lot was expected of the Davidson Wildcats by outsiders. Bob McKillop’s team lost three starters from last season’s team, with forward De’Mon Brooks (who led the team in both scoring and rebounding) being the biggest departure. As a result the Wildcats were picked to finish 12th in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll.

However through 15 games Davidson has the conference’s biggest surprise, as they’ve put together a 12-3 record and are 3.1 in conference play. After having four players averaging double figures a season ago Davidson has five in 2014-15, with one of the most improved guards in sophomore Jack Gibbs leading the way at 16.3 ppg. After averaging 6.8 points and 2.1 assists per game as one of the Wildcats’ first reserves off the bench as a freshman, Gibbs has raised his scoring by more than nine points per game and also leads the team in assists (4.9 apg) while also adding 4.5 rebounds per contest.

The biggest key for Gibbs thus far is that with increased scoring opportunities, his shooting percentages have improved by substantial margins from both the field (54.0%; 38.2% as a freshman) and from three (43.1%; 32.1). Add in his 91.8% from the foul line, and Gibbs has been one of the best all-around shooters in the country to this point in the season. Gibbs is attempting an average of 9.3 field goals per game, a figure that isn’t all that surprising when taking into consideration the presence of Tyler Kalinoski (16.2 ppg), Jordan Barham (10.8), Brian Sullivan (10.3) and Peyton Aldridge (10.2).

Davidson’s offense, which is ranked fifth nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers, had resulted in quality looks for Gibbs and others and as a whole the Wildcats have taken advantage. The area where Gibbs has made the greatest improvement is his shooting inside of the arc, where he’s increased his shooting percentage from 35.5% in 2013-14 to 55.6% in 2014-15 per Two-point jump shots make up just over 20 percent of Gibbs’ attempts this season, with opportunities at the rim and from beyond the arc taken with greater frequency.

Given Davidson’s scoring options, there will continue be open opportunities for Gibbs moving forward thanks to the Wildcats’ spacing on offense. If Gibbs can continue to take advantage at the level he has through 15 games, the Wildcats will continue to be a factor in the Atlantic 10 race.

50-40-90 Club

Jack Gibbs (Davidson)
54.0% FG, 43.1% 3PT, 91.8% FT = 188.9

He’s Close to 50-40-90 Status

Derrick Marks (Boise State)
51.0, 53.3, 82.5 = 186.8

Marks shot 12-for-26 from the field, scoring 28 points, in the Broncos’ overtime win over UNLV on Tuesday.

Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga)
50.8, 48.1, 87.8 = 186.7

We’ve yet to see what kind of impact the addition of Eric McClellan will have on Pangos as the Vanderbilt transfer is sidelined due to injury, but Pangos continues to shoot the ball well for the third-ranked Bulldogs.

Marcus Marshall (Missouri State)
45.9, 45.6, 89.9 = 181.4

Missouri State’s leading scorer was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team on Wednesday, so it remains to be seen when he’ll return to the court.

Five More “180” Players

Justin Anderson (Virginia)
53.3, 55.7, 78.0 = 187.0

Anderson hit half of his shots from the field (5-for-10) and from three (3-for-6) in the second-ranked Cavaliers’ win over Clemson on Tuesday.

Alec Wintering (Portland)
47.3, 51.3, 84.8 = 183.4

Wintering will look to help the Pilots rebound from their loss to San Francisco with a win over Loyola Marymount Thursday night, and he shot 2-for-10 from the field in two meetings with the Lions last season.

Tyler Harvey (Eastern Washington)
50.8, 49.0, 83.1 = 182.9

Harvey shot below his percentage for the season in an 89-86 win over Idaho on Saturday, shooting 6-for-15 from the field, but he still managed to score 23 points.

Corey Hawkins (UC Davis)
51.4, 49.4, 80.3 = 181.1

Hawkins led the Aggies to their first win over Long Beach State since 2009 on Saturday, scoring 28 points on 8-for-13 shooting from the field and 8-for-10 from the foul line.

Rayvonte Rice (Illinois)
51.5, 48.3, 80.3 = 180.1

Rice is currently sidelined with a broken left hand, suffered in early January, and could miss anywhere from three to six weeks.

Louisville challenges NCAA over recruiting allegations

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville has refuted NCAA allegations against its men’s basketball program in the wake of a federal corruption scandal, requesting that the highest-level violation be reclassified.

The university also is challenging that former coach Rick Pitino failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance in his program.

Louisville filed a 104-page response last week to the Notice Of Allegations sent to the school in May. The document stated that college sports’ governing body seeks to ignore wire fraud convictions against several people involved in the scheme – including a former Adidas executive – by suggesting they were representing its athletic interests. Louisville’s contract with the apparel maker was a standard sponsorship agreement rather than a promotional deal, the response added.

“This argument is as novel as it is wrong,” the school wrote in its response. “Even if an institution has some responsibility for the conduct of its suppliers, that responsibility plainly does not extend to acts of fraud perpetrated against the institution itself.”

Louisville also seeks to have several second-tier violations reclassified even lower. The NCAA has until Nov. 15 to respond with the school responding 15 days after before a decision is made whether the case will proceed through the traditional Committee on Infractions or Independent Accountability Review Process (IARP).

The NCAA’s Notice of Allegations states that Louisville committed a Level I violation, considered the most severe, with an improper recruiting offer and extra benefits along with several lesser violations. Those lesser violations also include Pitino failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

The NCAA notice completed a two-year investigation following a federal corruption probe of college basketball announced in September 2017. Louisville acknowledged its involvement in the federal investigation related to the recruitment of former player Brian Bowen II. Pitino, who’s now coaching Iona, was not named in the federal complaint and has consistently denied authorizing or having knowledge of a payment to a recruit’s family.

Louisville has previously indicated it would accept responsibility for violations it committed but would contest allegations it believed were not supported by facts. The school also noted corrective measures taken in the scandal’s immediate aftermath, such as suspending and then firing Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich.

Louisville also dismissed the NCAA’s contention that former Adidas executive James Gatto and amateur league director Merl Code represented the school while funneling illegal payments to recruits at several schools.

“The enforcement staff’s remaining allegations lack factual support and overread the relevant Bylaws,” the response stated, “and rest on the erroneous contention that the conspirators were representatives of the University’s athletics interests.

“For these reasons and others set forth, the panel should reject the enforcement staff’s dramatically overbroad theory, and classify this case as involving a Level II-Mitigated violation.”

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

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LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.