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Scouting William & Mary

After finishing last season 10-20, William & Mary was picked by the Colonial Athletic Association's coaches, sports information directors and reporters to finish 10th in the 12-team league in 2009-10. Nearly two months into the season, that prediction seems quite a bit off. The Tribe, led by seventh-year coach Tony Shaver, is 8-2 and received five votes in the latest Associated Press top 25 poll.

Already this season, William & Mary has defeated three teams (Wake Forest, VCU and Radford) that played in the NCAA tournament last season, and the Tribe played Connecticut close in the season opener before falling by nine points. William & Mary has won eight straight games entering Wednesday night's matchup against Maryland at Comcast Center. And given the Tribe's success this season, don't think they'll play timidly.

"This is a team that believes in itself and it's a team that right now believes anybody on our schedule we can beat," Shaver said Monday in a telephone interview. "I think they also understand that we're not so talented that if we don't play well, anybody on that schedule could beat us. There has been a great leap of confidence for us, and it's been a pretty neat thing to see."

The Tribe is led by senior guard David Schneider (6 feet 3, 190 pounds), whom Shaver believes has returned to form this season after trying to do too much offensively last year. Schneider is averaging a team-leading 17.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. He is shooting 39.5 percent from the field and 37.3 percent from three-point range. Schneider also leads the team with 12 steals.

"You know, as a freshman and sophomore David started for us and always could score," Shaver said. "But what I think he was exceptional at was playing the game hard, doing the dirty things, drawing charges, getting loose balls, you know, a great rebounding guard."

Sophomore swingman Quinn McDowell (6-6, 212) has spent some time at the power forward position, Shaver said. McDowell is averaging 14.8 points and 3.4 rebounds per game, while shooting 54.8 percent from the field and 44.7 percent from three-point range.

"He's got an incredible combination of cerebralness," Shaver said. "I mean, he's so smart on the basketball floor, but he is one tough kid too now. He won't back down from people. And he's immensely improved his ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter. So he's a real threat. I think he's caused some matchup problems for some people we've played. I mean, 6-8, 6-9, 6-10 guys have had a hard time guarding him along the perimeter."

Also spreading out opposing defenses for the Tribe is senior point guard Sean McCurdy (6-1, 184), who is rebounding after a rough first season at William & Mary last year. McCurdy transferred to the Tribe from Arkansas, and Shaver said the coaching staff expected a lot out of him last season. McCurdy struggled, only to reveal after the season was over that he needed surgery on both of his ankles. "He had been hurt all year," Shaver said.

Back on the court and healthy his season, McCurdy is averaging 6.6 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. His assist-to-turnover ratio is 2.3.

William & Mary's front-court starters include senior forward Danny Sumner (6-7, 225) and junior forward Marcus Kitts (6-9, 230). Sumner, a Fairfax native who attended Paul VI Catholic, is averaging 12.7 points and 4.0 rebounds. He is shooting 39.6 percent from the field and 38.0 percent from three-point range, while tallying six blocks and six steals on the defensive end.

"Danny Sumner has had a good year," Shaver said. "He's not had a great year for us offensively, but he's played so much better defensively and so much better on the boards. You know, when we can get a shot to go in again for him, you know, he has a chance to finish his senior year in a great way."

As for Kitts, he is averaging 6.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. He also has registered a team-leading 12 blocks.

Off the bench, the Tribe offers a trio of players new to the team's active roster. Sophomore forward JohnMark Ludwick (6-8, 230) sat out last season after transferring from Texas-San Antonio. This season, Ludwick is averaging 5.0 points and 1.9 rebounds per game.

Freshman forward Kyle Gaillard (6-7, 210) and freshman guard Matt Rum (6-4, 180) also see significant minutes in reserve for the Tribe. Gaillard is averaging 4.7 points and 1.7 rebounds per game, while Rum is averaging 3.7 points and 0.9 rebounds per game.

"We felt they were good, young players, but you know, quite honestly I can't say we expected them to be quite as good as they've been," Shaver said of Ludwick, Gaillard and Rum. "They've just been very composed players. They're all shooting, I believe, over 40-41 percent from threes, their turnovers are really low as a group and they've just been very composed. So they give us a lot of new weapons, there's no question about it."

The Tribe is working sophomore guard Kendrix Brown (6-3, 205) and senior forward Steven Hess (6-10, 245) back into the mix, as well. Brown has played in just four games this season after missing six weeks because of an ankle injury. He is averaging 5.3 points and 1.5 rebounds per game. Brown played 18 minutes during William & Mary's Dec. 22 win at Radford, registering eight points and three steals.

Hess sat out nearly a month with an elbow infection incurred after obtaining a cut during practice. He is averaging 3.1 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.

As a team, the Tribe is shooting 46.0 percent from the field, 41.0 percent from three-point range and 70.3 percent from the free throw line. They possess a plus-2.7 rebounding margin, a plus-0.4 turnover margin and a 1.6 assist-to-turnover ratio.

"The best thing we've done this year, quite honestly, is we have not talked a lot about results with this team," Shaver said. "Something we've talked about with them a great deal is that we need to take great pride in our execution, really have great joy in how we execute, and not be result-driven. I mean, if you look at our schedule and what we've been through, you know, from where we were picked at the beginning of the season, if all we cared about was winning and losing, you know, there was the potential there for some disappointment. So we've taken the approach that we want to be much more concerned about how we execute, how we play, how we handle ourselves and felt like if we did that well, then other things would fall into place."

By Steve Yanda  |  December 29, 2009; 12:18 PM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Comments

I hope Gary Williams is smart enough not to run a zone because that is the only way WM is going to upset Maryland. Everyone on WM's roster can and will shoot the three ball.

I think Greivis is also a big key to the matchup. I'm not sure this is a team that will let him score 20 pts. I'm sure they'll lure him into taking jump shots instead of running the offense. Let's hope he doesn't force shots, try to make acrobatic plays, etc, to try to reach that total.

Posted by: crsiggy | December 29, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

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