LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- You have to keep going back and back and back into the NCAA archives to find the last time Bellarmine shot under 50 percent as a team for a season or were out of the top ten nationally in that statistic. In fact you have to go all the way back to 2007, Scott Davenport's second season as head coach to find when either of those things last happened. And they shot 49.7 percent that season (22nd in the nation).
It is a stunning run of offensive efficiency:
Year FG Rank FG percent Record
2016 3rd 51.2 percent 23-7
2015 1st 53.5 percent 31-4
2014 1st 52.9 percent 23-8
2013 6th 50.5 percent 24-8
2012 1st 54.2 percent 29-4
2011 1st 52.1 percent 33-2
2010 9th 50.1 percent 23-9
2011 4th 52.1 percent 33-2
2010 9th 50.1 percent 23-9
2009 4th 50.7 percent 26-7
2008 4th 51.3 percent 17-11
It has led to incredible success on the court including a national title in 2011. That has continued this season. The Knights are shooting 53.4 percent from the field (No. 1 in the nation) and are ranked 3rd overall in the media poll with a 22-3 record.
Always looking to improve, Davenport took a deep look at the team's defensive efficiency before last season and came up with what he calls a hybrid of what several teams and coaches have done. Guys like Dick Bennett and Bo Ryan at Wisconsin and a bit of what Dick's son Tony Bennett does at Virginia. The team showed improvement on that end in 2016 and the coach believes that has been the real key to a recent nine-game win streak.
"We are defending together," said Davenport. "We are defending as one. It's impressive to watch because they love doing it. They're loving defending. It's been very gratifying to see this group as a team 1 through 14 embrace defending every possession."
Davenport's experience also comes in handy when dealing with a time of the year that can be considered a grind, well into the regular season, but not quite ready for the post-season.
"It can be for sure," said Sophomore Forward Adam Eberhard. "Coach does a good job of controlling the way practice goes. He's been there, done that. He's got experience with that. We trust him. We're going to do whatever it takes. It is a bit of a grind but at the same time, we know it's all worth it and we know Coach D has got plenty of experience. We put all our trust in him."
"Our training staff always tells us to take care of our body," said Senior Guard Al Davis. "Right after this (practice), I'm going to go get in an ice bath. Nobody likes it. Everybody hates getting in but it does help. It makes a big difference. When it's a grind like this, you gotta take care of your body and be smart."
Last week was all about the Seniors (Davis, Rusty Troutman and George Knott) and making their final regular season road trip memorable and successful. This week, Davenport says it's about celebrating each other. The Knights host McKendree Thursday at 8:00 pm, then Illinois-Springfield Saturday at 3:15. They close out the regular season by hosting Southern Indiana Thursday, February 23rd.
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