Saturday April 19, 2014

Big Wednesday for Westsyde's wonder

Murray Mitchell

Joe Davis of Westsyde heads for the hoop during a game against St. Ann's Wednesday night in Fulton Cup action at the Tournament Capital Centre.

Tired of getting cut from the hockey teams his brother was making, Joe Davis decided to switch to basketball.

Smart move.

Davis had a big Wednesday, committing to play for the TRU WolfPack in the afternoon and leading his Westsyde Whundas senior boys team to a 60-41 victory over the St. Ann's Crusaders in their Fulton Cup opener at the Tournament Capital Centre in the evening.

He said that playing postsecondary basketball - for the WolfPack, in particular - had been a goal of his since he decided to hang up his skates in favour of basketball.

That happened between Grades 9 and 10, when Davis got tired of watching his brother Kevin, a year younger than Joe, make the same teams for which Joe was trying out.

"I always liked basketball, but I'm from a hockey family and also played baseball," Joe said Wednesday. "When I was in my second year of bantam (hockey) or whatever, (Kevin) would be in his first year - he would always make the AAA team and I would be the last cut.

"He had the bragging rights."

Joe's doing pretty well, while Kevin made the right decision in sticking with hockey - the 16-year-old defenceman is in his rookie season with the WHL's Everett Silvertips.

Part of Joe's decision to go with basketball had to do with his relationship with Ryan Porter, the head coach of the Whundas' senior team. Porter, a former all-star centre for the UCC Sun Demons, has worked hard with Davis from when he joined the senior team in Grade 10.

"He's so coachable, and the best players are the coachable ones," Porter said. "In Grade 9, he was so raw; you show him one thing once and he's got it right away. . . . You're going to see his development skyrocket as he gets to play with and against top players every day."

But there is work ahead, and Porter and Davis know this. Davis, a forward who stands 6-foot-5 ("and a bit," he says) is able to dominate the post against high school teams, but certainly won't enjoy that luxury when he's playing in the CIS next season.

Porter has been working on developing all aspects of Davis's game, not just allowing the big man to simply park inside and take advantage of smaller opponents.

"We've always known he wasn't going to grow too much past 6-foot-5," Porter said. "His peak's probably around 6-foot-6, and . . . we're giving him a lot of time on the wing and trying to develop his shot.

"On our team, even though he is our best inside player, we give him probably 40-50 per cent of his minutes on the perimeter just for his development. We know he's not necessarily going to be sitting in the post in the CIS."

This doesn't mean that Porter doesn't see Davis using his size to his advantage with the WolfPack.

"My vision for him in the CIS is that he'll be able to take advantage of mismatches guarding him," Porter said. "Other 6-foot-5 or lower guys trying to guard him on the perimeter, (let him) bring them inside and work them inside."

Two members of the WolfPack coaching staff - head coach Scott Clark and assistant Joe Enevoldson - were in attendance for the Whundas' Wednesday victory, and had to be impressed. Davis led the way with 28 points and 15 rebounds.

It was an impressive showing, but it came from a star on a AA high school team playing against a smaller A team. There won't be any easy nights in the CIS, and Davis plans to keep hitting the gym.

"I'm going to work on my body a lot this offseason, trying to get more explosive and stronger," he said. "It's a big difference, the next level."

Davis is keeping his mind on this season; the Whundas will take on the NorKam Saints today, 8:15 p.m., at the TCC. A victory will propel the Whundas into the Fulton Cup final, scheduled for Friday, 7:15 p.m., at the TCC.

Westsyde looked solid on Wednesday, even with Davis playing only 25 minutes, including just eight in the second half. Porter has been trying to keep the rest of the Whundas players from standing around and watching Davis on offence, and was pleased to see everyone contributing yesterday.

Westsyde is an honourable mention in the provincial AA ranking.

"We have high expectations. We've had high expectations for this group for a couple of years," Davis said. "We know that this is our year. We're putting in the work and hoping everyone can get healthy - we're missing a couple of key guys, but we're really excited for when they come back."

Carter Seminoff had 16 points to lead the Saints, and Michael Mayhew added 14.

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