Archie Miller calls junior Darrell Davis a major X-factor for the Dayton Flyers and a cog in the wheel.
“There’s not many players who can say, ‘I’ve played in every college game from the first one to the last one through my first two years,’ so he’s got experience,” Miller said Tuesday at Atlantic 10 Media Day in Pittsburgh. “I thought he went through a lot of ups and downs last year, particularly with his shot. I thought that impacted his confidence level throughout the course of the year.”
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Davis, a 6-foot-4 guard from Frederick Douglass High School in Detroit, burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2014. In his first game, he scored a team-high 17 points and made 3 of 5 3-pointers in a 76-52 victory over Alabama A&M.
Davis cooled off for the next eight games, not scoring more than five points, and then caught fire in a six-game stretch from Dec. 29, 2014, to Jan. 10, 2015. He made 17 of 19 3-pointers during that time.
At that point, Davis was averaging 9.8 points per game and leading the Atlantic 10 in 3-point percentage (60.5). He played a key role in Dayton overcoming the loss of Devon Scott and Jalen Robinson, who were dismissed from the team in December of that season. The Flyers were playing without much depth and little height and needed someone to step up. Davis was that guy.
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Davis slumped at times throughout the second half of his freshman season but did have a few standout games. He made 4 of 6 3-pointers in a win at Saint Louis, made 2 of 3 pointers against Boise State in the First Four and would have been the hero if UD had beat Oklahoma in the second round of the NCAA tournament. After making a total of five 3-pointers in the previous seven games, Davis made 5 of 7 against the Sooners in a 72-66 loss in Columbus.
Davis finished his freshman season with a 4.8 scoring average, 45.2 percent shooting from 3-point range (47 of 104) and 38.3 percent shooting from the field.
As a sophomore, Davis boosted his overall scoring to 5.8 points per game, but he saw his 3-point percentage fall to 29.1 (32 of 110) and his field-goal percentage fall to 36.8.
“Part of it is him getting off to a rocky start, then having to fight through it, then having some success, then it not staying, so he battled it up and down really all year,” Miller said. “The thing we focused on with Darrell the most as a junior is his maturity level and handling that, the adversity. I think he’s done a really good job with where he’s at as a player. He understands exactly where he’s supposed to be, what he’s supposed to be doing, when he’s supposed to be there. He’s done a great job in practice right now being able to have a lot of success making plays that don’t have anything to do with shooting. That in turn gives him a lot of confidence. If he’s a guy that’s confident and he’s making shots and scoring the ball from the perimeter but he’s playing really good defense, he’s a guy that can help us win a lot of games.”
A year from now, unless the Flyers add a graduate transfer next year, Davis will be the team’s only senior. A successful junior year could set him up for a strong finish.
“I think Darrell’s shooting percentage last year is a direct result of the disappointment of missing,” Miller said. “You start to get down when you’re not making them and it bothers you, and the next thing you know, like I told him, the best of the best go through a month or so when they don’t have it, but the best of the best find a way to come back and I think he’ll do that this season.”