DURHAM, NC – DECEMBER 16: Coach Tim Craft of the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs directs his team against the Duke Blue Devils during play at Cameron Indoor Stadium on December 16, 2013 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
In today’s basketball opponent previews, we take a look at the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs and the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs
Head Coach: Tim Craft (5th season) – 2017-18 Record: 14-18 (9-9) – Big South
Game: December 17th, 2018 (McCamish Pavillion – Atlanta, GA)
Head coach profile:
Tim Craft enters his fifth season with the Gardner-Webb program. After four seasons of winning records with the Big South program, the Bulldogs faltered last year, resulting in his first losing season. The former ECU and Auburn assistant overall has an 88-78 record with Gardner-Webb and has one postseason appearance. A CBI bid in the 2015 season. Craft and his Bulldogs look to bounce back in a big way this season.
As mentioned above, the Bulldogs suffered their first losing season under Tim Craft last season as they went 14-18 overall and 9-9 in conference play.
- Non-Conference play:
The Bulldogs went 5-8 through their non-conference schedule last season and started their non-conference slate on a three-game losing streak including losses to Miami (FL), Florida, and UCF. They also faced Auburn and Maryland during their non-conference schedule, dropping both games. It is also worth noting that they faced three non-D1 opponents in Warren Wilson, Brevard, and Toccoa Falls.
- Conference play:
It was an up-and-down season throughout conference play for the Bulldogs, only winning back-to-back games just once in their eighteen games. Their conference schedule also included a four-game losing streak in the tail end of the season.
Notable Players to Watch:
- G Davi Efianayi
The senior guard is coming off a season that saw him average 17.5 points per game, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. He’ll be the Bulldogs biggest threat.
- G Liam O’Reilly
The junior started 28 games as a junior for Gardner-Webb and was a consistent scoring threat for the Bulldogs. After averaging over eight points per game his freshman season, O’Reilly averaged 14.8 points per game last season. He also averaged 17.1 points per game over the Bulldogs last nine games of last season.
Expectations entering 2018-19:
The standard has been set at Gardner-Webb in the past under head coach Tim Craft. Last season obviously didn’t meet that standard but the Bulldogs will look to meet it once again this season. They have the lead core to do so but ultimately, their ability to be consistent will be their biggest test heading into the season.
How the Yellow Jackets match-up:
Last season, the Bulldogs struggled against power conference opponents. They have a strong core, however, this season which should allow them to be a bit more of a threat to the weaker power conference opponents. Ultimately, it’s a game that the Yellow Jackets should win but if the Jackets struggle offensively, the Bulldogs do have the offensive talent to give the Yellow Jackets a fight.