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College Basketball: Pfeiffer men’s preview

By Ronnie Gallagher
rgallagher@salisburypost.com
MISENHEIMER ó Dave Davis is starting his 14th season as men’s basketball coach at Pfeiffer.
He’d like to forget about unlucky No. 13.
Pfeiffer, which is used to being among the nation’s leaders in scoring and participating in the national playoffs, fell to a 16-12 mark last season.
What went wrong?
“The things that have made us special is how hard we play and how bought-in we are to the system,” Davis said. “We had a good team and had good kids but they did not buy into the ‘all out all the time.’ We were among the more talented teams I’ve coached here. We just didn’t have all the intangibles.”
Davis will count on two juniors ó 6-foot-5 forward Chris Woods and point guard Jeff Pettiway ó to bring the glory back to Merner Gym.
Woods, a former Thomasville star, has already shown his mettle, scoring 22 points in Cameron Indoor Stadium during a recent exhibition loss against Duke.
“Chris was an All-American the last half of our season,” Davis said. “He’s just phenomenal. He came back with a vengeance. He certainly wasn’t pleased with how the season went and he’s done a great job leading.”
Davis, who substitutes at a furious pace, said Woods’ 40-minute averages would have been 32 points and 16 rebounds.
“His work ethic is where it should be for us to have a chance to be really good,” Davis said.
Pettiway could start at point guard but may move over to shooting guard because of other good point guards Davis brought in.
“He’s arguably our best shooter,” Davis said of Pettiway.
Newcomers at the point have Davis bubbling. Juniors Kierre Jordan and Yuki Yamaguchi and sophomore Chase Miller are talented. Jordan, who scored 19 points at Duke, and Yamaguchi are junior college transfers.
“Jordan is fast and quick, arguably Terrence Baxter quick,” Davis said, referring to one of his former stars. “He really went by those guys at Duke.”
Of the 5-6 Yamaguchi, Davis said, “Like many Pfeiffer basketball players, he doesn’t look like much, but once the game starts, he does some pretty terrific things.”
Miller passes extremely well and can do just about anything with the ball.
“So, there are three pretty exciting new players,” Davis said.
The guards can pass to freshman James Morse, who is a lethal shooter from Maine.
“He was one of the best players in the state,” Davis said. “He won a state championship and has looked really good in the preseason.”
A returning senior, Athalie Rivera brings a big, 6-4 body into the post.
“He’s a wrecking ball,” Davis said. “He can play with the Pfeiffer mentality if he can sustain it. He was very, very good at times.”
Antonio Kalpic could be the surprise of Conference Carolinas. The 6-foot-9 Croation is waiting to be cleared to play.
“He can run and move and is really skilled,” Davis said, adding Kalpic comes from a basketball family. His father is a pro coach overseas.
“We haven’t had a lot of big guys because they can’t do those things. But he can. He is the most interesting one of all.”
Outside of Kalpic, this is probably the shortest team Davis has had.
“At Duke, it was the tallest team in the country against the smallest team in the country,” Davis chuckled. “But that doesn’t scare me. I like the intensity and work ethic of our players. This team has a chance to be very good. It’s just inexperienced.”
He’ll find out quickly how good and how inexperienced. When the Falcons lace it up, they’ll face three NCAA teams in their first four games.
Pfeiffer was chosen fourth in the Conference Carolinas voting.
“It’s the lowest we’ve been picked,” Davis said.
Much of those votes came from last season’s results. But Davis is forgetting season No. 13.
It’s time to get back to Pfeiffer basketball.

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