Part 2: Mac looks at Davante Gardner

In part 1 of our interview with former MU Center Jim McIlvaine, Mac assessed 6-10 Soph post Chris Otule. In part 2, Big Mac looks at 6-8 post Davante Gardner. Against Duke, Garnder forced Coach K to change his defense to double the post and get the ball out of his hands. Pretty impressive for a Freshman.

DOS: What about Davante Gardner? When I describe people, I always want to paint a picture by putting others in a blender – this guy reminds me of DeJuan Blair, "Tractor" Traylor, Robert Jackson – what do you see from him?

Jimmy Mac: It's great to be mentioned in the company of those players. He reminds me of Damon Key in a lot of ways. A very solid low post game – not an explosive leaper – people haven't seen it yet, but I have at practice at the Al, he has surprisingly good shooting range – he can shoot a three pointer and knock it down. Reggie Smith (PG) might get more dunks than Davante will this year, but he is a very effective and efficient player with his moves in the post.

He is efficient with his post moves and then he knows that he can't give the defense time to react. The moves that he has come in with down in the post are phenomenal. The footwork is great. The hands are great. I told Homer that I can make every move he makes but I do it mechanically because it has been taught to me. I can repeat it but I have to think about it to do it. Davante can do it because he feels it. It is so much an advantage when you have that. I used to be able to block shots because I would "feel" it, other guys would block shots because they thought about it. The difference between thinking and feeling is very big.

DOS: Against Bucknell, Gardner did a great job of anticipating his own missed shots and getting to the offensive rebound quickly before anyone else could react. He seemed to be moving quicker which is remarkable for a guy that big.

Jimmy Mac: The thing that Davante needs to understand is that he needs to be a land baron. He needs to take up a lot of real estate. So many guys his size have to put effort into really everything they have and you getting a shot off. With physical guys, you are going to push on them and hang on them. But he is so big that physical guys won't be able to impact him as much. As a result, if the shot doesn't go in, he hasn't taken all his momentum trying to get the ball up and he is able to get to the basket quicker and the ball quicker. Even when he is underneath the backboard he can find himself in a position to go up and get an offensive rebound and then get a quick shot off.

DOS: MU Assistant Coach Aki Collins said at practice if he can get the opponent on his back and receive the ball down low, it's two points because he's got the leverage, the quickness and the moves.

Jimmy Mac: He is really wide. When it comes down to being a wide body like he is and he is wide in a good way, the best way you can try to counteract is an absurdly tall defender who can block his shot. Otherwise, you are not going to be able to get around him to block his shot in order to deny the ball. It is too hard to get around him and deny post entry passes. If he gets the ball down low, you better hope that someone comes and helps on defense because he is a handful.

DOS: It looks like he can hit free throws, so he does kind of have a touch like Damon Key did.

Jimmy Mac: That's a great thing for a big guy to have a soft touch from the free throw line. If a big guy can't knock down a free throw, it becomes "Hack-a-Shaq" which is the easiest way to neutralize him or minimize his impact on a game.

DOS: I have always found that the best post passers are other post players. (Try to say that 5 times fast.)

Jimmy Mac: Because the post is always guarded and the post is often open on a seal but you have to understand when he is open on a seal, when to give him the ball.

DOS: You and Damon used to have a great two man game where even when you at 7' 1" high at the free throw line and Damon was low you would understand when he was open and you could feed him a bounce pass or a chest pass.

Jimmy Mac: Well that just came with time. Damon and I were fortunate enough to be able to play with each other in the summertime for a couple of years before we got to Marquette U so we got a feel for each other's game (AAU run to Las Vegas in 1989). Again, it is a feel that is different than mechanics. Davante has a good feel not only for post passing down low but for kicking out on top. He can read and feel situations at a much faster rate than other kids do that have to develop that talent mechanically.

DOS: Jim, you did a lot of TV early in the season and now you are back on radio. I have done very limited TV work and have done more radio mostly for post games for the Packers, but I noticed that on radio you can explain yourself a lot better but on TV you better make your point, get in, get out but the pictures kind of tell you what is going on.

Jimmy Mac: I told Ken Summerfeld (our radio engineer) that I feel like I've missed the first couple games this year because I was doing TV. There is so much going on from a visual aspect with TV that I don't have enough time to concentrate and focus on the plays that are taking place and the guy on radio has to spit out what he is going to say from the time the guy makes the basket until the offense gets set up at half court. So a play-by-play man can do his job. Both Dennis Krause (Time Warner Ch. 32 TV) and Steve "the Homer" True (WAUK 540) are great professionals and they lob me softballs all game long and make it real easy for me and I enjoy working with both.

DOS: Thanks Mac for your time.

Jimmy Mac: Thank you.

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