2012-13 NAIA Basketball Preview: Does Davenport have enough firepower to repeat as WHAC champs?

October 5, 2012 in NAIA

It’s hard to believe, but college basketball season is almost here. This week, we’ll preview Michigan’s 11 NAIA schools.

By Patrick Hayes

At a glance

Overview

Although Davenport loses some key players from last season’s WHAC champions, the Panthers are primed to make another run at a national title thanks to some strong returning talent, a great recruiting class and impact transfers.

Strengths

Davenport loses two All-Americans from last year’s team in Nelson and Humphrey, but the good news? They get one back. Javontae Ford, a junior, was second on the team in scoring at 14.6 points per game and fourth on the team in rebounding at 4.6 per game. Ford led the team in 3-point shooting, knocking down 43 percent of his shots from the perimeter, and he shot 48 percent from the field overall. That’s not a bad starting point for a team that has to replace four starters.

The good thing for Paddock is that his incoming class gives him many options. He has experienced players from solid JUCO programs in Brooks, Hill and Drew and he has several highly regarded freshmen who could push for minutes immediately.

The team also returns 6-foot-7 forward DeArmond Davis, who shot 56 percent from the field and averaged 4.7 rebounds per game last season off the bench. Returning senior guard Gabe Vanderjagt provides 3-point shooting off the bench.

Weaknesses

Although the two departing All-Americans, Humphrey and Nelson, certainly leave a void, so do fellow starters Fairfax and White. Fairfax averaged six assists per game, took good care of the basketball and shot 48 percent from the field. White hit 42 percent of his 3-pointers and tied with Humphrey for the team lead in offensive rebounds. Humphrey and Nelson were the top rebounders on the team and Humphrey blocked nearly two shots per game.

All of those players were significant parts of the team’s success and Davenport will quickly need to find capable replacements in those roles.

Circle these dates …

  • Oct. 30 – Davenport gets to test itself against a Division I opponent, Oakland University.
  • Nov. 20 and Jan. 26 – Cornerstone gave Davenport one of its two league losses last season. The two meetings this year will be key in deciding who wins the WHAC title.
  • Jan. 12 and Feb. 16 – See above. Indiana Tech beat Davenport once last season, and should once again be one of the teams in play for that league championship.

Outlook

Despite the talent Davenport loses, until another team proves otherwise, the Panthers are the class of the WHAC. Whoever comes out of this conference has a good chance at making a run at the national title.

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