Varun Maheshwari ’23 (He/Him), Sports Editor
Sports Editor Varun Maheshwari ‘23 chatted with Davidson Men’s Basketball Head Coach Bob McKillop following the Myrtle Beach Tournament. McKillop spoke to the team’s season so far and his strategy moving forward.
VM: A lot of news or buzz after the New Mexico State game was that we seem to not have that one-on-one guy that can kind of lead us down the stretch, like Kellan [Grady ‘21] was last year. Who do you think moving forward is going to be that guy?
BM: Well, I don’t think that that’s going to be as important. We have so many different options; we have got five guys scoring in double figures. And to make a play at the end of the game, I think we’ve got enough inside-out firepower that we could do that, we could stretch the court. And as we saw against East Carolina, the guy that made that big shot was a three-pointer by Luka. I think Lee has the capacity to do things with dribble that can create opportunities for us, so that’s clearly something that we feel confident about. But Lee is also very capable of not just creating opportunities for himself, but also creating opportunities for others because he does see the court so well, he has such a great IQ and has terrific size. So that would be the guy that if we had to make a play, he would be capable of making it. But again, because we have five guys in double-digit scoring, I think we’ve got a lot of weapons and sometimes making the play is not as important as spreading the court and giving it to the right guy at the right time.
VM: A lot of people [on Twitter] are saying that these sort of “big-ish” games like San Francisco and New Mexico State where we’re in the winner’s bracket, we haven’t been able to close out yet. And we’ve been winning sort of like the consolation games and then Robert Morris, like the “easier games.” I just wanted to get your commentary on that. What can we do moving forward to sort of win these big games? I know we will play Loyola Chicago later on.
BM: I think every game is a big game. To not see Penn and East Carolina as big games, to not see Delaware as a big game—Delaware’s picked number one in their league. They come in and they have a roster filled with seniors. They had their entire roster back. If that’s not a big game, I don’t know what a big game is. And we went on and played very well. Penn took Utah State to two overtimes. And in both cases, had a chance to beat Utah State because they had a last shot. And then Utah State goes and winds up winning the tournament. So another big game and then East Carolina. I mean, if you match them up in a one-on-one contest, they’re gonna beat us at every spot. But yet, we were able to withstand a total of a 13 point deficit and come back in the second half and it was the largest recovery from a deficit in ESPN history or Myrtle beach tournament history. So I mean, we’ve performed very well but maybe not as consistently as we want in the San Francisco game in the New Mexico State game and clearly in the Robert Morris game in the first half we didn’t perform as consistently as we wanted but the second half we did take control. So, and just so you know, I don’t read Twitter. I don’t care about Twitter. People say things, and in most cases the people that say things don’t know the difference between a pick and roll and a butter roll.
VM: Yeah, no, I know, but as my job as the editor, I gotta ask the tough questions, you know?
BM: And believe me, I’m not offended by it. I understand the world today. Yeah. But I can only imagine what our guys go through when they have to watch and see this crap.
VM: Yeah, I know, it’s not easy sometimes. My last question is, there was a lot of hype around Lee coming into the season, as our number one option, as just you know, the new leader of the team. So do you think he has sort of lived up to that so far?
BM: You know, you look at his numbers, he’s 50, 40, and almost 90, which is unheard of. And he was one of two guys to do it in the last 17 years or something. So his numbers are there. And what’s really remarkable is he’s not forcing the issue. He’s not getting the same volume of shots that other people might have gotten, had they been the hype guy. You look over the past few years, that’s happened to guys where they get that hype. Lee is not. Lee has produced at an extraordinary level. And I could not be more pleased with the leadership, the teamwork and the performance level that he’s demonstrated.