I think it started in late January or early February. When I sat down to watch the Bearcats play basketball, I thought one thing, "why is Larry Davis on the floor?" I thought UC had much better options for the reserve guard spot. I liked Dion Dixon, obviously because since the blog started I've called him my best friend, I liked JaQuon Parker, and I liked Cashmere Wright playing with Deonta Vaughn, yeah that way, more. I attended the NIT game against Dayton, and as soon as he checked in, the people behind me and myself started questioning why Mick would put Larry Davis in the game. To be quite honest, last season I was a Larry Davis hater.
Could you really blame me? Last season, Larry Davis shot 37-128. For the whole season. That's 28%. From 3 point range, he was 20-82. That's 24%. He was incredibly awful shooting in general, and then even worse from the three. When all you do is bomb threes, and you miss 76% of them, it's pretty awful to watch. It also makes you the punch line to some fans scorn. I remember off the top of my head the Villanova game being particularly terrible for Davis, and checking the box score, he was 0-5 from 3. I also remember him shooting UC out of the Marquette game. He was 3-6 from 3, which is good, but 5-12 from the field. Good and bad games aren't the point of this paragraph. The point is that when Davis took a shot, yes, even took a shot, it felt like a wasted possession.
To close out the season, Larry Davis was 2-22 from 3. Let me repeat that, two of twenty two. He started out the season 10 of 43. Ten for forty three. That does mean by the math he was 8-17 at some point last season. Larry's offensive rating was 82.9. His effective field goal percentage was 36%. I don't care how good of a lock down defender you are, having someone who is that big a liability on the offensive end is killer to the team. Especially when he seemed to force every shot he took. It was all the more frustrating when Davis hit 35% of his 3s the season before. He played well in the middle of his sophomore season, and looked like he was on the verge of a breakout. Last season, Larry Davis was in a career valley. He could have come out this season raring to go, and playing the best ball of his career. Or, he could have done the thing that we've seen people do in all walks of life, not just on the floor, and that's do nothing about it, write it off to bad luck, and go on with his life.
When I wrote the preview piece for the season, I awarded Larry Davis for bounce back player of the year. I believed mainly that there was no way in hell Larry Davis could possibly be as bad as he was last season, and that if he made 33% of his shots, that would be a bounce back season. And, I wanted to write something about everyone, that's what I came up with for Larry Davis. I didn't totally buy in to my own words, but I was hopeful that they would come true.
Thankfully for everyone who likes the Bearcats, and even more thankfully for himself, Larry Davis put in a lot of work this summer. The result has been a completely different Larry Davis than we have seen during his time as a Bearcat. I don't know if last season was a case of Larry not accepting a role in coming off the bench, but this season, Larry has embraced being one of the leaders of the second string whole heartedly. In fact, he's embraced it so well, that Davis, Darnell Wilks, Sean Kilpatrick and Justin Jackson call themselves the Goon Squad. Davis' intensity on defense was never an issue, his offense was. Well, that changed rather drastically.
Larry Davis is 27 of 56 on the season. That's 48%. Last season, Davis made his 27th shot on February 7. Larry Davis is 16 of 33 from three. That's also 48%. Larry Davis made his 16th three on February 21 last season. Even more impressively, Larry Davis is 10-15 at the free throw line. That's not the impressive part. The 10 matches last seasons' total. Davis shot 19, 21 and 13 free throws in his career. He's on pace to get all of those put together. Maybe, I'm bad at math. Davis' offensive rating is a career best 120.1. His effective FG% is 62. That brings up the question, what's changed?
I think the biggest thing that's changed for Larry Davis has been his complete demeanor. Davis looks like he wants his senior season to mean something. This is his last chance at play a meaningful game in March. Davis has seemed to full accept his role as a big player off the bench. Offensively, I think a big part of his success is that all of his shots lately have been in the flow of the offense. He took 9 shots against DePaul, and I would say at most 2 of them weren't great. He only missed 3. Nearly 3 that Davis took against DePaul was a good shot. One of the misses was a heat check. You could not say that last season. It seemed it was in his mind that if he got the ball, he was going to shoot. Maybe I'm just projecting things that I want to believe onto Larry Davis, but I sense that he, just like Dixon and to a lesser extent right now Cash Wright, came to a conclusion over the summer that this is their team, and they are going to lead it. When you look back at the DePaul game, Dixon made the plays when his unit was in the game. When he was out, it was Davis making the plays for his unit.
Another big thing that I've seen from Davis has been maturity. Look back at the box scores, it appears that something happened after the Wright State game that really got Davis going. Maybe that's how long it took him to adjust to the flow of the team. Let's compare the first 6 games of the season to the last 7 for Davis.
First 6: 3-16, 3-9 from 3, 1-2 at the free throw line, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 turnovers, 4 steals
Last 7: 24-42, 13-24 from 3, 9-14 at the free throw line, 7 rebounds, 8 assists, 6 turnovers (3 against DePaul), 7 steals
Well, that's a tale of two players. Larry Davis had the option of going down the same road he walked down a season ago. He was on the same path. But, Davis didn't want to go down that road, and has turned himself into the player we thought he could be after a good sophomore season. It's true that Cincinnati hasn't been playing the best of competition, but the transformation Davis has taken as the schedule has picked up is very noticeable. Larry Davis has gone from someone I couldn't stand watching play a year ago, to someone that I want to see on the floor more. I believe that the turn Larry has taken will last for a while. And I couldn't be happier for him.