College Sports

Injured Jack Gibbs eager to rejoin deep Davidson roster

Davidson men’s basketball coach Bob McKillop answers questions during the Wildcats’ media day at Belk Arena on Tuesday. Davidson will open the 2016-17 season Nov. 12, hosting former Southern Conference rival Appalachian State.
Davidson men’s basketball coach Bob McKillop answers questions during the Wildcats’ media day at Belk Arena on Tuesday. Davidson will open the 2016-17 season Nov. 12, hosting former Southern Conference rival Appalachian State.

Davidson guard Jack Gibbs is getting a little antsy watching from the sidelines as his teammates practice.

He said he plans to be ready for the Wildcats’ 2016-17 basketball season opener Nov. 12 against Appalachian State at Belk Arena.

Gibbs, sixth in the nation in scoring last season at 23.5 points per game, has been sidelined since Thursday after he sprained his left shoulder in the closing minutes of practice.

He missed Davidson’s Red-Black Scrimmage on Saturday, and coach Bob McKillop said Gibbs could sit out two to four weeks.

“It’s getting there,” Gibbs said Tuesday during Davidson’s media day. “I’ve been doing rehab on it, and the X-rays are negative.

“Right now, the plan is to be back for the first game, but there’s no timetable. It’s not my shooting shoulder, which is a plus. I’ve been rehabbing it day by day.”

Deep roster a luxury

Having Gibbs back and ready for the opener would also be a big plus for the Wildcats, who look to improve on last year’s 20-13 record and sixth-place finish in the Atlantic 10.

Davidson will open with what McKillop called one of the deepest and most versatile rosters he’s had since he took over as Wildcats coach 28 years ago.

In addition to losing just one starter (guard Brian Sullivan), McKillop said the addition of several newcomers – including three who sat out because of injuries or NCAA transfer rules – gives him the option of playing several lineup variations, depending on the opponent.

“We’re very, very pleased with how many guys we have who can bridge the frontcourt and the backcourt,” he said. “We believe we can play big, or we can play small. … That ability to do that is at the highest level since I’ve been here.”

In addition to starters Peyton Aldridge (6-foot-8 forward), Nathan Ekwu (6-7 forward) and Oskar Michelsen (6-9 forward), and reserve Andrew McAuliffe (6-8, 260 pounds), Davidson will get back 6-10 forward Dusan Kovacevic and 6-6 guard KiShawn Pritchett who sat out last season recovering from knee surgery.

Will Magarity, a 6-11 Boston College transfer, will also join the lineup after sitting out last season, and McKillop signed freshman guard Jon Axel Gudmundsson, a 6-4 guard from Iceland.

At the very least, the additions have made practice more competitive, McKillop said.

“It’s a heck of a lot more challenging for Peyton Aldridge to go against Dusan Kovacevic rather than go against Will Thoni,” he said in a light-hearted dig at the former Wildcats player and now the team’s director of student-athlete development.

“If you’ve ever seen Will (who stands 6-3) play, you can understand how difficult it is to get better playing against him. Now he’s got Dusan to go against, so he’s clearly getting better.”

A test at Tennessee

McKillop confirmed that Davidson will hold a closed-door scrimmage against Tennessee on Saturday in Knoxville, continuing a tradition Volunteers coach Rick Barnes began when he was at Texas.

Barnes, who played college ball at Lenoir-Rhyne in the mid-to late 1970s and was an assistant coach at Davidson in 1978-80, had scheduled the Longhorns’ preseason scrimmages against either the Wildcats or Gonzaga since 2005.

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