Jack Gibbs

Atlantic 10 Preview: Can Rhode Island unseat Davidson?

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Beginning in October and running up through November 13th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2015-2016 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we are previewing the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Last year, many people were reminded never to bet against Bob McKillop. The Davidson coach, in a new league for the first time in 23 years, took little time navigating his way to the top of the conference standings, leading the Wildcats to the Atlantic 10 regular season title.

Davidson graduated Tyler Kalinoski, the A-10 Player of the Year, but there’s reason to believe the Wildcats can repeat in the A-10 this season. The back court is anchored by Jack Gibbs and Brian Sullivan, both of whom averaged double figures and finished top-3 in the league in assists. Jordan Barham, as 6-foot-4 senior who led Davidson is rebounding, adds another upperclassmen on the perimeter. The front court will build off of last year’s experience with six forward logging 10 or more minutes, including Payton Aldridge and Jake Belford, who was missed all but six games last season.

The Wildcats may be a favorite to repeat, but no team in the A-10 has as much upside as Rhode Island. The Rams are coming off a 23-win season, bringing back all-conference selections E.C. Matthews and Hassan Martin, along sophomores Jared Terrell and Jarvis Garrett. The roster was bolstered by the additions of graduate transfer Four McGlynn, who will help with the Rams’ deficiency behind the 3-point line, and Kuran Iverson, the ex-Memphis forward and former top 30 recruit, who will create matchup problems for opposing defenses.

The Dayton Flyers have become a team no one wants to be paired with on Selection Sunday. Archie Miller’s team has won five games in the last two tournament appearances and is primed for another postseason appearance with Kendall Pollard, Scoochie Smith and Kyle Davis returning. James Madison transfer Charles Cooke and redshirt big man Steve McElvene could both make an immediate impact. At the moment, Dyshawn Pierre is not with the team. It’s a blow to the roster, but remember, Miller was able to guide the Flyers to a 20-7 finish after dismissing two players last winter.

The major offeseason storyline in the Atlantic 10 occurred in April when Shaka Smart left for Texas. Chattanooga head coach and former VCU assistant Will Wade takes over a program dealing with the graduation of two of the program’s all-time greats, Treveon Graham and Briante Weber, and departures of some of Smart’s top recruits (Terry Larrier and 2015 commits Tevin Mack and Kenny Williams). However, Melvin Johnson, Mo Alie-Cox and JeQuan Lewis is a solid core to have in Wade’s first season.

George Washington and Richmond headline a list of teams that could fight to round out the top fiver. The Colonials have one of the best starting fives in the league, but depth could be a concern. The Spiders return Terry Allen and T.J. Cline, but lose Kendall Anthony. ShawnDre’ Jones will step into that role after earning A-10 Sixth Man of the Year honors.

FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW:

1. Shaka Smart gone, Havoc remains: Texas was able to uproot Shaka Smart from VCU this spring. VCU was quick to hire Smart’s former assistant, Will Wade, who had built Chattanooga into a Southern Conference contender in just two seasons. In Wade’s introductory press conference, he made it clear, “Havoc still lives here.” Wade served on Smart’s staff for four years, which included the 2011 Final Four run.

Will Wade (AP Photo)
Will Wade (AP Photo)

2. Dyshawn Pierre suspended: The 6-foot-6 senior forward was suspended for the entire fall semester back in September. He was the team’s top returning scorer and rebounder at 12.7 points and 8.1 boards per game. The Flyers could be without the versatile forward for marquee non-conference games against Vanderbilt and at the AdvoCare Invitation in Orlando, which includes potential matchups against Notre Dame and Wichita State/Xavier. He is currently fighting this suspension.

3. Rhody rising: The fourth year of Dan Hurley’s tenure in Kingstown is expected to end with the Rams first NCAA tournament appearance since 1999. Rhode Island finished third in the A-10 standings last year, but settled for an NIT bid. Rhode Island has the most talent in the league, bringing back E.C. Matthews, Hassan Martin, Jared Terrell and Jarvis Garett, while adding transfers Kuran Iverson and Four McGlynn, both of whom immediately eligible. Is that enough to dethrone Davidson and stave off Dayton and VCU?

4. Coming off a ‘down year?’: Following back-to-back seasons in which the league earned five and six NCAA tournament bids, the A-10 sent just three (Davidson, Dayton and VCU) to the Big Dance in March. Entering this season, you’d expect all Davidson, Dayton, Rhode Island and VCU to be in the conversation.

5. A big slate on NBCSN: Twenty-four Atlantic 10 Conference games, in addition to two rounds of the Atlantic 10 Tournament, will be aired on the NBC Sports Network.

MORE: 2015-16 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

COACH’S TAKE:

  • Favorite: “I think someone has to prove that they’re better than Davidson. I know they lost a good player, but their style of play is never predicated on a star system or on a single player. I’d have to go with Davidson until someone proves otherwise.”
  • Sleeper: “I’d say George Washington or Richmond. Those are two teams I’d really keep my eye on.”
  • Best player:
    • “DeAndre Bembry. When people use the phrase, ‘he does everything,’ it’s usually exaggerated. It’s not exaggerated in his case. He’s outstanding at just about every area of basketball. He can rebound, he can defend, he can pass, he obviously can score, he can make threes, he can finish. … I really think he’s a great NBA prospect.”
    • “Bembry. He can shoot the three, he post up, he can get offensive rebound. I think he can do it all. I think he’s the complete package. He’s too big for most small forwards to guard him and he’s too versatile and skilled for power forwards.”
  • Most underrated player:
    • “I think Kendall Pollard should have been all-league. I don’t know how underrated he is, but I think a guy who doesn’t get as much attention is Hassan Martin at Rhode Island. I think he’s terrific.”
    • “Probably, [Patricio] Garino. Are people talking about him? I think he’s gotten better every year. He had a great summer against a high-level of competition.”

PRESEASON ATLANTIC 10 PLAYER OF THE YEAR: DeAndre Bembry, Saint Joseph’s

Giving a guy on a sub-.500 team player of the years honors is a tough sell. Perhaps that’s why Bembry wasn’t named Atlantic 10 Player of the Year as a sophomore. No player in the Atlantic 10 has more of an impact on his team than 6-foot-6 forward. Bembry logged a ridiculous 38.6 minutes per game (tops in Division I) and won the A-10 scoring title at 17.7 points per game. He finished in the top-10 in points, rebounds, assists and steals.

THE REST OF THE ATLANTIC 10 FIRST TEAM:

  • Jack Gibbs, Davidson: The junior point guard went for 20 or more six times (missed seven games to injury). He also led the A-10 in assists at 4.8 per game
  • Hassan Martin, Rhode Island: The 6-foot-7 forward was a second-team A-10 selection, corralling 7.7 boards and blocking 3.1 shots per game, sixth-best in the NCAA.
  • E.C. Matthews, Rhode Island: URI’s top returning scorer averaged 16.9 points per game and like Martin second team A-10 selection
  • Jordan Price, La Salle: The redshirt junior was second in the Atlantic 10 in scoring at 17.2 points per game.

FIVE MORE NAMES TO KNOW:

  • Patrico Garino, George Washington
  • Melvin Johnson, VCU
  • Kuran Iverson, Rhode Island
  • Kendall Pollard, Dayton
  • ShawnDre’ Jones, Richmond

BREAKOUT STAR: Donte Clark, UMass

The 6-foot-4 freshman was inserted into the starting lineup in early January. He had his ups-and-downs scoring, but ending the season averaging 14.4 points per game in the last five games. Clark could be a big part of UMass’ future, one that has one of conference’s top recruiting classes coming in.

COACH UNDER PRESSURE: Jim Ferry, Duquesne

Ferry received a contract extension at the end of June despite failing to finish better than 10th in the A-10 standings in three seasons at the helm. While he doesn’t appear to be on the hot seat, that act of good faith comes with the expectations that the Dukes will improve this upcoming season.

ON SELECTION SUNDAY WE’LL BE SAYING … : The same old same old, arguing about the A-10 getting too many bids, or not enough bids

I’M MOST EXCITED ABOUT : Is there another surprising team?

Last season, newcomer Davidson was slotted 12th in the preseason before winning the regular season title. In 2013, George Washington, picked 10th in the preseason, reached the program’s first tournament in seven years. From the coaches’ quotes above, George Washington and Richmond will be in the conversation. But what about that next tier of teams? St. Joe’s and La Salle both benefit by having two of the top scorers in the league, while St. Bonaventure and Duquesne each have experienced lineups. Will any of those teams defy preseason projections?

FIVE NON-CONFERENCE GAMES TO CIRCLE ON YOUR CALENDAR:

  • Nov. 16, Virginia at George Washington
  • Nov. 20, VCU vs. Duke (in New York)
  • Nov. 26, Dayton vs. Iowa (in Orlando)*
  • Dec. 5, Providence at Rhode Island
  • Dec. 6, Davidson at North Carolina

*Dayton could renew a rivalry with Xavier at the AdvoCare Invitational

ONE TWITTER FEED TO FOLLOW: @CDiSano44

PREDICTED FINISH

1. Davidson: Yes, Tyler Kalinoski is gone, but Bob McKillop returns three guards who averaged double figures, including Jack Gibbs. Wildcats also have a experienced frontline.
2. Rhode Island: The Rams is the most talented team in the A-10 led by E.C. Matthews and Hassan Martin. But that February slate is brutal. URI is at VCU, at Davidson and at Dayton in three of their last six regular season games.
3. Dayton: The Flyers were expected to return four starters, but as of right now, the status of Dyshawn Pierre remains uncertain. Dayton still has the chemistry and depth to make a run at the A-10 title.
4. VCU: Depending on how graduate transfer Korey Billbury fits in to the offense alongside JeQuan Lewis, Melvin Johnson and Mo Alie-Cox, this could be a really good first year for Will Wade.
5. George Washington: A veteran lineup of brings back Joe McDonald, Patricio Garino and Kevin Larsen and adds 6-foot-10 transfer Tyler Cavanaugh. But do the Colonials have the depth to support a talented starting lineup?
6. Richmond: The loss of Kendall Anthony is tough, but the trio of ShawnDre’ Jones, Terry Allen and T.J. Cline make the Spiders a real sleeper in the A-10 this season.
7. St. Bonaventure: The Bonnies could be another surprise team, returning Marcus Posley, Dion Wright and Jaylen Adams.
8. La Salle: The Explorers took an early foreign tour to Prague in May, hoping to jumpstart a 2015-16 campaign in which players are stepping into larger roles alongside the returning Jordan Price.
9. Duquesne: Derrick Colter and Micah Mason, two of the better 3-point shooters in the A-10, will have no issues putting up points, but the Dukes will need to focus on limiting points on the other end. Duquesne gave up the most points per game in the A-10 last season.
10. Saint Joseph’s: The Hawks have arguably the best player in the conference, but DeAndre Bembry will need some help.
11. Saint Louis: Four starters back could lead the Billikens to a higher finish. In order to do so, Saint Louis will need to make major improvements to its offense, which ranked the worst in the conference.
12. UMass: A streak of three straight 20-win seasons was snapped in 2014-15. Despite a stable back court, Minutemen are likely enter a rebuilding season after losing Cady Lalanne, Maxie Esho and Derrick Gordon.
13. George Mason: A rebuilding effort begins under Dave Paulsen, who is taking over a program that will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its Final Four run this spring. The Patriots return three starters, including 6-foot-11 center Shevon Thompson, who averaged a double-double last season.
14. Fordham: Jeff Neubauer inherits a 10-win team that saw Eric Paschall, the 2015 Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year, transfer to Villanova.

Chase for 180: Corey Hawkins turns UC Davis into a Big West contender

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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

While UC Davis senior guard Corey Hawkins was a preseason all-conference selection back in October, his team was picked to finish seventh in the Big West by the league’s media. However to this point in the season Jim Les’ team has exceeded those expectations, as they’re 16-4 overall and part of a three-way tie for first in the Big West with a 6-1 record. And as expected Hawkins has been a big reason why the Aggies have been so successful, as he’s averaging 21.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.

Hawkins has been a prolific scorer in each of his three seasons at UC Davis after transferring in from Arizona State, but the difference now is that he’s a more efficient player. Hawkins averaged 18.0 points per game in 2013-14, which is a good number, but he did so shooting 44.4% from the field and 32.2% from beyond the arc. Through 20 games this season Hawkins’ shooting percentages are 51.2% (field) and 52.6% (three-pointers), and he’s also shooting 80.6% from the foul line.

According to Ken Pomeroy’s numbers Hawkins’ offensive rating is up to 122.2 this season after finishing the 2013-14 campaign with a rating of 108.3, and that jump is one reason why UC Davis has improved significantly on the offensive end of the floor. UC Davis is ranked third nationally in effective field goal percentage (59.1%), fourth in field goal percentage (50.1%) and first in three-point percentage (45.4%), and they’re ranked 25th in offensive efficiency (not adjusted) after ranking 23oth in that category a season ago.

With Josh Ritchart (12.4 ppg) being the only other Aggie averaging double figures and Josh Fox at 9.4 ppg, a lot is asked of Hawkins (who also leads the team in rebounding and assists) on that end of the floor. Yet even with the attention that opposing teams pay him, Hawkins has flourished for a team that has a realistic shot at its first NCAA tournament berth as a member of the Big West.

In wins over UCSB and Cal Poly last week Hawkins averaged 25.0 points per game, shooting 53.1% from the field and 64.3% from beyond the arc while also averaging 5.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per. UC Davis’ schedule down the stretch will be tougher, beginning with a road game at UC Irvine Thursday night and remaining games against Long Beach State, Hawaii (which gave them their lone conference loss) and a rematch with UC Irvine.

But if Hawkins can continue to play as he has to this point in the season, Jim Les’ team will be a factor in the Big West title race. And given his ability to shoot the basketball, Hawkins is the kind of player who can carry a team through a conference tournament.

50-40-90 Players

Jack Gibbs (Davidson)
51.7% FG, 41.4% 3PT, 90.8% FT = 183.9

Gibbs remains sidelined due to a slight tear of the meniscus in his knee.

He’s Close to 50-40-90 Status

Derrick Marks (Boise State)
52.7%, 54.7%, 83.8% = 191.2

Marks (23 points on 9-for-13 shooting from the field) was too much for Utah State on Tuesday, helping to propel Boise State to its first-ever win in Logan after losing their last 18 games there.

Tyler Harvey (Eastern Washington) 
50.5%, 47.6%, 86.1% = 184.2

Harvey shot just 4-for-13 from the field in the Eagles’ win over Idaho on Saturday, and he’ll need a better performance Thursday night at Montana.

Seven More “180” Players

Corey Hawkins (UC Davis)
51.2%, 52.6%, 80.6% = 184.4

Jacob Parker (Stephen F. Austin)
55.6%, 44.9%, 81.8% = 182.3

The Lumberjacks still haven’t lost since late November, and Parker’s shot 50 percent or better from the field in each of the last six games.

Marc Loving (Ohio State)
49.1%, 53.2%, 79.7% = 182.0

Loving didn’t make the trip with the team Wednesday night, and the Buckeyes could have used his shooting as they lost by two at Purdue.

Alec Peters (Valparaiso) 
50.5%, 46.3%, 84.8% = 181.6

In the Crusaders’ three-game win streak Peters has shot 22-for-36 (61.1%) from the field and 7-for-15 (46.7%) from three.

Tim Huskisson (Northern Colorado) 
50.8%, 45.0%, 77.3% = 180.3

Huskisson shot 5-for-11 in a 2-0 week for the Bears, which included a win over Weber State on Saturday.

Justin Anderson (Virginia)
49.7%, 50.0%, 80.6% = 180.3

Anderson bounced back from his showing in the Cavaliers’ loss to No. 4 Duke, shooting 6-for-10 from the field (3-for-5 3PT) in a win at No. 12 North Carolina Monday night.

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

Rice was expected to return to the court against Rutgers, but he and teammate Aaron Cosby were suspended by head coach John Groce.

 

Chase for 180: Already a good shooter, Tyler Harvey’s been even better in 2014-15

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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

Eastern Washington guard Tyler Harvey enjoyed a productive debut season after redshirting in 2012-13, scoring an average of 21.8 points per game while shooting 44.3% from the field and 43.3% from beyond the arc. Obviously the opportunities Harvey saw a season ago would once again be present in 2014-15, and he’s certainly taken advantage for head coach Jim Hayford. But the scary thing for the rest of the Big Sky is that while Harvey’s scoring 24.0 points per game, he’s putting points on the board in a more efficient manner than he did last season.

Harvey’s percentages have risen to 51.4% from the field and 48.6% from beyond the arc, with the biggest change coming in the way he’s scored inside of the arc. After making 45.2% of his two-point attempts as a freshman, Harvey’s shooting 54.3% this season. The ratio has changed some this season, with the majority of Harvey’s shots coming from outside of the arc (163 three-point attempts, 92 two-point attempts) after attempting just 24 more three-pointers than two-pointers in 2013-14 (234 three-point attempts, 210 two-point attempts).

But Harvey’s done a better job of converting the two-point looks he does get, even with the increased attention that comes with being the focus of every opponent’s scouting report.

Scoring-wise, Harvey’s reached double figures in every game this season and he’s scored no fewer than 16 points in any of those games. In conference play Harvey’s been even more productive, averaging 26.1 points per game on a team that’s 6-1 in Big Sky play. In wins over Northern Colorado and North Dakota last week, Harvey averaged 30.5 points per game on 59.3% shooting from the field, 46.7% from three and 88.0% from the foul line.

While the presence of three other double-figure scorers in conference play, led by freshman forward Bogdan Bliznyuk (15.1 ppg), helps Harvey from a spacing standpoint teams still know who EWU’s primary scoring option is. And yet he continues to put up highly impressive numbers for the Eagles, who are aiming for their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2004.

50-40-90 Players

Jack Gibbs (Davidson) 
51.7% FG, 41.4% 3PT, 90.8% FT = 183.9

Gibbs has missed the last two games for the Wildcats due to a knee injury.

He’s Close to 50-40-90 Status

Derrick Marks (Boise State)
51.9%, 53.8%, 86.2% = 191.9

Marks and the Broncos have now won five straight, with the senior scoring 28 in a win over Colorado State Tuesday night.

Tyler Harvey (Eastern Washington)
51.4%, 48.6%, 85.8% = 185.8

Seven More “180” Players 

Jacob Parker (Stephen F. Austin)
55.6%, 46.2%, 81.6% = 183.4

Parker followed up a 13-point outing in a win over Sam Houston State with a 20-point (7-for-13 FG), 12-rebound night in a win over Lamar on Monday.

Justin Anderson (Virginia)
50.0%, 51.9%, 81.0% = 182.9

Like his teammates Anderson got off to a slow start Sunday at Virginia Tech. But he scored ten points in the final 7:05 to lead the Cavaliers to the 50-47 win.

Corey Hawkins (UC Davis) 
50.9%, 51.0%, 80.0% = 181.9

Shooting wasn’t an issue for Hawkins in the Aggies’ loss at Hawaii last Thursday (5-for-8 3PT), but the seven turnovers were.

Nic Moore (SMU) 
45.9%, 46.3%, 89.2% = 181.4

With the Mustangs navigating multiple personnel losses, it’s been Moore leading the way for a team one game behind Tulsa in the conference standings.

Alec Peters (Valparaiso) 
50.2%, 46.4%, 84.4% = 181.0

Peters bounced back from Friday’s loss at Green Bay in a big way Monday night, shooting 10-for-14 from the field to lead the Crusaders past Milwaukee.

Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga)
49.7%, 47.0%, 83.6% = 180.3

Pangos played just 18 minutes in the Bulldogs’ blowout win over Pacific on Saturday, making three of his five three-point attempts.

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

Like Gibbs, Rice remains out of the lineup for Illinois due to injury (left wrist).

Chase for 180: Boise State rebounds from 0-3 conference start thanks to Derrick Marks

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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 expectations were high for a Boise State team returning its two best players in seniors Anthony Drmic and Derrick Marks, even with the graduation of all-Mountain West performer Ryan Watkins, as they were picked to finish second in the conference’s preseason poll. And if dealing with an inexperienced front court wasn’t tough enough for Leon Rice to do, there was also the loss of Drmic to back and ankle injuries.

Without Drmic, who averaged 15.9 points per game as a junior, even more would be asked of Marks from a scoring standpoint. And for a player who at times had issues with shot selection in 2013-14 (see: their home loss to San Diego State), this could be either a gift or a curse depending upon Marks’ shot discipline. After losing their first three conference games the Broncos have now won three in a row, and while the progress made by James Webb III has been key the most important factor has been Marks’ improvement.

After averaging 14.9 points per game as a junior Marks is up to 18.6 as a senior, and his percentages have improved as well. The senior has raised his field goal percentage by more than seven percentage points (51.7, from 44.1), and the improvements made from beyond the arc have been stunning. After making just 19 of his 66 attempts in 2013-14, through 19 games Marks is shooting 36-for-71 (50.7%) from three.

Marks may not be scoring from the foul line as often as he did last season, with his free throw rate being cut in half, but there’s been improved accuracy from both the mid-range (46.6% FG on two-point jumpers compared to 36.7% last season, per hoop-math.com) and from three. On the whole Boise State doesn’t get to the foul line all that often, ranking last in the conference in free throw rate (conference games only), but they’re still second in the Mountain West in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers even with the loss of Drmic.

The performance of Marks, who averaged 29.5 points per game and shot 52.4% from the field in wins over UNLV and New Mexico (we’re going to leave out last night’s 86-36 win over San Jose State), is the biggest reason why the Broncos have rebounded from their 0-3 start to conference play.

50-40-90 Club

Jack Gibbs, Davidson
51.7% FG, 41.4% 3PT, 90.8% FT = 183.9

Gibbs missed Davidson’s win over No. 22 Dayton with a slight tear in his meniscus, and he’ll be out of the lineup for a little while.

He’s Close to 50-40-90 Status

Derrick Marks, Boise State
51.7%, 50.7%, 84.3% = 186.7

Tyler Harvey, Eastern Washington
50.6%, 48.8%, 85.2% = 184.6

Harvey’s scored 21 points or more in eight of Eastern Washington’s last nine games, and he’s a reason why the Eagles are now the favorites to win the Big Sky.

 

Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga
50.0%, 47.2%, 83.1% = 180.3

Still haven’t been able to see how the addition of Eric McClellan will impact Pangos due to McClellan’s foot injury, but the senior continues to lead the way for one of the nation’s best teams.

Eight More “180” Players

Jacob Parker, Stephen F. Austin
55.6%, 46.6%, 84.4% = 186.6

Why are the Lumberjacks 15-3 overall and 5-0 in Southland play? Parker’s one reason, as he’s shot 70 percent or better from the field in each of the last three games.

Justin Anderson, Virginia
50.6%, 52.7%, 79.7% = 183.0

With Georgia Tech in town, Anderson will look to rebound from his worst performance of the season (0-for-8 FG, zero points) in Saturday’s win at Boston College.

Richaud Gittens, Weber State
46.4%, 54.9%, 81.3% = 182.6

Given the amount of talent lost from last year’s NCAA tournament team, Gittens is one player the Wildcats needed to step up. The hope in Ogden is that his last three games (14.0 ppg, 71.4% FG, 9-for-10 3PT) are a sign that the sophomore is becoming a more consistent scoring option.

Alec Wintering, Portland
46.7%, 51.2%, 84.0% = 181.9

Wintering’s been kept in check the last three games, which were all defeats for the Pilots. He managed to score just five points (2-for-9 FG) in their loss at Pepperdine on Saturday.

Marcus Marshall, Missouri State
45.9%, 45.6%, 89.9% = 181.4

Marshall’s played his last game in a Missouri State uniform, as it was announced last week that he’ll be transferring in May.

Alec Peters, Valparaiso
49.6%, 47.0%, 84.0% = 180.6

Peters shot just 34.8% from the field in wins over Wright State and Youngstown State, and the Crusaders will need greater accuracy from their leading scorer if they’re to win at Green Bay Friday night.

Corey Hawkins, UC Davis
51.2%, 50.0%, 79.1% = 180.3

Jim Les’ Aggies remain undefeated in Big West play (4-0) with Hawkins, who’s shooting 50 percent from the field and 54.5% from three, being the biggest reason why.

Rayvonte Rice, Illinois
51.5%, 48.3%, 80.3% = 180.1

Rice (broken left hand) isn’t expected to return until sometime next month for the Fighting Illini.

Davidson blows out No. 22 Dayton, star guard Jack Gibbs sits with knee injury

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If last night’s performance should tell you anything, it’s that we need to start taking Davidson more seriously as a threat in the Atlantic 10.

In their first season in the conference after making the job from the SoCon, the Wildcats are now sitting at 13-4 overall and 4-2 in the league after pasting No. 22 Dayton 77-60 in Belk Arena last night.

Bob McKillop’s club shot 12-for-23 from beyond the arc in the win over the Flyers, who had won eight straight games and had been keeping pace with VCU at the top of the Atlantic 10 standings. The win was all the more important considering the fact that Davidson had been absolutely drilled by Richmond their last time out, falling to the Spiders by 26 points on the road.

And here’s the scary part: Davidson did this without Jack Gibbs on the floor, their second-leading scorer and assist leader. They were also without Jake Bedford, another starter who has played in just five games this season.

Now the question becomes just how seriously is Gibbs hurt. He injured the knee late in the loss to Richmond and has an appointment with a doctor scheduled for Wednesday.

“I feel awful for Jack, just absolutely awful for him,” McKillop said after the game. “He wanted to be out here so badly today.”

On Wednesday afternoon, McKillop told CBSSports that Gibbs’ injury is a slight meniscus tear, and that he’s not expected to be out for a long time.

If he is, Davidson is a team to keep an eye on. They struggle on the defensive end of the floor — that’s what happens when you don’t force turnovers and don’t have a shot-blocker around the rim — but even without Gibbs, a 41.2 percent three-point shooter, this team is lethal when they into a rhythm from beyond the arc.

If they can find a way into the NCAA tournament, which, at this point, may require the automatic bid if they don’t beat VCU later this season, they’re certainly a team to watch out for.

(This story has been updated from it’s original version)

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 hoop-math.com. 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.