Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Good Times

After a couple of days back on campus and back in class with professors explaining end-of-year projects and emails announcing the final senior celebrations in the coming weeks, I quickly realized that this incredible four-year journey is about to end. Over the next month, there will be a couple of long nights studying, hopefully a couple of long nights partying and plenty of reminiscing about all of the incredible things that we did and learned as students here at Davidson College.

For me, so many of those memories will revolve around Davidson basketball. As a student fan, Davidsonian writer and editor, Sports Information intern and live-blogger, I have been privileged to see this team and its surrounding community from so many different angles.

I was absolutely thrilled during my freshman year when I made friends with several upperclassmen purely based on our mutual love of basketball, and they ended up driving me all around the Southern Conference as I watched Conor Grace and Logan Kosmalski lead Davidson to a perfect conference season.

I spent sophomore year as the crazy "involved kid with no real title" who dated a team manager, filmed most of the games, wrote about the team in the student newspaper and cheered in the student section as that incredible group of seniors led us all to our first (well, my first) taste of the NCAA Tournament, taking second-seeded Ohio State down to the wire in Dayton.

By the time junior year rolled around, I was too busy as the editor of the Davidsonian to travel to too many games, but I watched in awe as this team made up of former bench players and an undersized shooter with NBA genes took the Wildcats to the mountaintop. They set a school record for winning 29 total games, secured a consecutive SoCon title and made some noise in the NCAA Tournament as they pushed Maryland to the brink.

Then there was 2008. With exclusive blogging privileges and the full backing of Davidson's Sports Info department, I traveled everywhere and wrote about the team that never got knocked to the mat. These Wildcats came in highly touted as ESPNU filmed the season-opening Night with the Cats. But then the close losses just kept adding up. Students, fans, national media...they seemed to fade away slowly. But Davidson kept building its tower and fortune, brick by brick, penny by penny. Close calls at Elon and UNC-Greensboro begat yet another undefeated conference season and the Wildcats rolled into the NCAA Tournament riding high. And we all know what happened then. I was privileged enough to blog it all from the epicenter.

I wish that I had the time and space to thank everyone that ever cheered alongside of me, that ever picked up the paper or clicked onto the blog. I have tried numerous times to capture in words how special this entire community is to everyone that has some investment in it, to all of the people that reached out both arms to someone else and formed this impenetrable web of support that binds all things. These players and coaches and students see it every day. These alumni invoke it even when they are halfway across the world. And these town members have made the physical sacrifices to place this web in a physical setting where it can flourish. Over the last two weeks, we finally got to share it with everyone else around the world.

As you may have realized by now, this will be my last post on Will's World. I graduate from Davidson College with a history major in just over a month, and I will be working next year in Charlotte for the Carolina Panthers.

It would seem that I should continue the blog and just write about the Wildcats whenever I get up to campus to see a game, but I realized that this blog was about the perspective of a college student more than anything else. I will continue to love and cherish Davidson basketball next year and the year after, but it will be undeniably different. I don't want that difference to overly flesh out a blog that so nicely encapsulates for me my last four years at this wonderful college.

So "Thank You" all. You know who you are. Heck, we all know who you are. This is Davidson, isn't it? The place where every Day is a Great Day to be a Wildcat.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Hope That Knows That Davidson Will Be Back

Walking out of Ford Field after Davidson's 57-59 loss to top-seeded Kansas in the Elite 8, I felt every single emotion imaginable: pain at watching my friend and classmate sit at center court after missing the game-winning shot...happiness that these Wildcats had advanced so far and fought so valiantly...numbness in realizing that I would never again watch a Davidson basketball game as a Davidson student...shattered hope that these Wildcats could fulfill some sort of destiny that seemed right there for the taking.

But the whirl of thoughts and feelings were quickly brought to a singular head when I stepped out onto the street. Mobs of reporters and locals flocked to the exodus of Davidson red, looking for interviews and offering consolation.

"Don't worry, we will see you back here in the Final Four next year!" they shouted.

What? Do you have any idea what you are talking about? Davidson had not made it past the first round of the NCAA Tournament for 39 years. And they just had a shot to make it to the Final Four! This opportunity does not happen every year for a team from a one-bid league with an enrollment of 1,700 students and rigorous admission standards. This year was a miracle, and it may never be replicated in my lifetime.

Those were my immediate responses. That was the pain talking, but I realized that it was also my selfishness talking. I wanted my senior year to end in miracles from the national semifinals.

On the morning after the game, I realized that despite all of the games, practices and interviews that I've seen with this team over the last four years, those strangers in Detroit actually had a better perspective on Davidson right now than I did.

This run, while magical, was certainly not miraculous. Davidson was not and is not a Cinderella and didn't need the help of a fairy godmother to knock off Gonzaga, Georgetown and Wisconsin.

The NCAA Tournament accomplishments of Davidson reflected the lump sum of a rational set of terms more than some sort of discovery of a magic glass slipper. When you add exceptional talent to unceasing hard work to faith in one's teammates to trust in outstanding coaching to the uplifting support of a passionate army of followers, you get the type of performance that Davidson demonstrated in the NCAA Tournament. I guess I just underestimated the absolute value of each term.

Over the past two weeks, this team showed the world, and us locals, that it is a part of one of the elite programs in college basketball. Bob McKillop might only coach in the Southern Conference, Belk Arena might only hold 5,700 people and Stephen Curry might have only gotten scholarship offers from mid-major programs, but Davidson's Basketball program, the sum of all its parts, is undeniably elite.

So maybe those Detroit locals were right that we'd be back in Detroit this time next March. Maybe my Mom was right in suggesting that since Kansas was graduating so many players, we'd be able to knock them off next year. Maybe Jason Richards, Thomas Sander and Boris Meno will get to join the elite company of all of the great Davidson basketball alums before them as they move to the front row of the cheering section and marvel at the continuation of a very special and successful basketball program.

This is a program of trust, commitment and care. But there is also hope. Hope that can never be shattered like the glass of Cinderella's slipper. Hope that knows that Davidson will return next year, and the year after, and the year after that.

CBS Highlights: Davidson vs. Kansas

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Live Blog: Davidson 57 Kansas 59

I apologize for getting the live blog going so late. The Elite 8 is not the time for computer trouble. Let's hope we are past it now.

Davidson definitely won that first round as they got several defensive stops on two steals and a block as Kansas' huge offense got a little cocky and forced things that weren't there.

Davidson is getting single coverage on their forwards down low so they are working the ball to them, but Kansas has stopped the Wildcat attack well.

Curry is now 0-2 with two rimouts but the rest of the Wildcats are fighting strong.

14:20 D 2 K 4


Curry leads Davidson's rebounders now which is good...it means that the bigs are taking Kansas' forwards out of the equation.

But Davidson can't get anything offensively. Kansas has arms all over the perimeter and bodies are flying in the post.

Thankfully, Kansas is shooting a low percentage and the Jayhawks are picking up fouls left and right. But with every Wildcat shot that rims out, you feel like it's a missed opportunity for the Final Four. And that you are just waiting for Kansas to turn it on.

Wow...another huge block on Sander inside. The pump fake doesn't work here. Curry still off.

In case you can't tell on TV, this place is so pro-Davidson it's not even funny.

Sander with a big three and Davidson has a one-point lead...Richards all the way and this place is hype.

Lovedale picks up his first foul in commanding fashion sending Jackson to the line and to the floor.

Kansas is currently shooting 3-13 while Davidson is 4-15. The Jayhawks have edges in blocks (3-1) and rebounds (12-8) as expected. Two rounds in and the Wildcats probably have Kansas a little surprised with their defensive athleticism. This isn't a team from the Big East...this is the Southern Conference champion, they are good.

11:03 D 9 K 6


J-Rich launches a shot at the end of the shot clock and Boris tips the rebound away from Andrew...tough tough break. Kansas ties at the other end and Robinson continues to do a good job on Curry...

Lucky karma as Curry hits his first three of the game. That's the NCAA record for Stephen Curry.

Curry in the lane...Curry in the corner...Curry, Curry, Curry.

Rossiter in and he knocks away an inbound. Curry gives this team a confidence that no other challenger to a one seed has.

Three rounds in...Wildcats have it so far. Pressure is starting to squeeze on Kansas. This isn't as easy as they thought it would be.

7:56 D 17 K 16


What a spectacle right in front of me as the Kansas cheerleaders are nearly pleading with the crowd to get loud. They get no response whatsoever. Who'd have thunk that Davidson would have a home-court advantage in Detroit too?

Curry in the lane and he has 10 points.

Chalmers hits a big three to pull Kansas even but Davidson is out running again. And Richards in the lane for two.

Chalmers again. He's got a really nice touch fading away. Of course, so does Stephen Curry...back and forth, back and forth.

Bryant Barr is not on tonight with two pretty bad misses. Those big forwards flying at him clearly messes with him a ton. Like to see Will get a shot out there on the wing. His pump and penetration could slow down their closeouts.

4:59 D 23 K 23


Davidson's double team does great work again forcing another timeout. Kansas only has three left for the whole game. How many times do we have to tell you that you are going to get double-teamed on the low block (hint: I know how to beat it, but I won't tell you).

Meno with a huge play, sacrificing his body to save the ball as the shot clock wound down. Before Kansas could recover it, whistles blew for a violation.

Richards airballs from the top of the key with another long arm flying at him. But Davidson's defense continues to be the story of this team...it is so underrated and unheralded, but it is the reason that Kansas hasn't stomped on Davidson yet. Heck, they aren't even beating them at this point. Gregg Doyel has practically said that Davidson would win the game if it got to this point.

Davidson's mini pressure doesn't work that time as Kansas' forward doesn't have to shoot a floater but goes right over Lovedale in the lane. This strategy worked against Georgetown because their forward stopped to shoot. Not here.

Davidson misses again and Kansas gets to the line...their free throws have been pretty bad thus far, but Davidson has seven team fouls.

Curry gets fouled on a three-point attempt...he was thinking and thinking and thinking about it and Kansas knew it, but they still fouled his arm. Curry having a great half.

Before the game, I talked about the block-to-charge ratio. I thought that if Davidson won it, they could win this game. Right now Davidson has taken two charges and been called for one block on nearly identical plays. Looking good.

1:17 D 28 K 28


3 charges to 1 block.

Kansas with a nice play to end the half as they sensed the double team and dished to the baseline. I sometimes wonder why these teams don't do that on every play. You look at that and wonder how they are only up by two at the half.

Davidson is killed on the boards, but they are playing strong on their 50-50 balls. Not much foul trouble either. Call me crazy, but I think that Davidson is going to win this game. The Wildcats have outscored their oppponents by large margins in every second half of this NCAA Tournament. They will only have to score three more points than Kansas to win this one. That's one Stephen Curry three-pointer from the corner. I think it's going to happen.

Halftime D 28 K 30


Curry...what a release...I have no idea how he got that three off. Kansas' inside game vs. Curry. Davidson needs a couple more jumpshots from everyone else.

Monster pass from Richards to Sander for the layup and the foul.

The newspaper writers from the Daily Kansan ask me if Curry will be the first Davidson player to leave early for the NBA. I pause and stare at him before I break out Mike Maloy.

Kansas plays size ball as Kahn gets an alley-oop and Kansas rebounds the free throw.

Lovedale now has three fouls. They are going right at him. Thankfully, Kansas can't hit free throws...that's 2-7 for the game.

The Wildcats really need to get some jumpers from people other than Curry. MPG skies for the rebound and Kahn picks up his third foul.

First round of the second half done and Davidson won it by 2.

15:51 D 35 K 35


Lovedale with a monster rebound and sticks it back. Holy cow...he's playing with three fouls and a lot of time. But God knows we need him.

Kansas athleticism coming into play with a big steal and getting hands on Rossiter's outlet pass. What an up and down game. Kansas is not playing that well but they have kept Curry out of it in the last few minutes.

Lovedale barely misses another tough shot...and the fouls are mounting on Davidson as Kansas gets to the bucket.

Kansas is going to go on runs but you have to limit it and not create permanent damage (a la major foul trouble). Curry is getting pushed to halfcourt.

Kansas drives on Barr and gets the shot and the foul. And the free throws are starting to go down.

Kansas' bench right in front of me has energy for the first time tonight.

Round two to Kansas.

11:59 D 38 K 43


Bryant Barr hits from the corner but Curry turns it over and Kansas dunks. And Barr again. Two huge threes to cut it to 1.

And Lovedale scores and is fouled. Crowd erupts as Davidson takes back the lead. This is the Sweet Caroline round and Davidson wants to go into it with momentum...two and a half more minutes.

Every empty Kansas possession causes raucous cheers from the crowd. Bryant BARR!!!!! Three huge ones.

And Curry stops on a dime and hits mid-range. Max goes flying out of bounds and comes screaming back into the play.

Kansas uses a timeout and Davidson emphatically wins that round. I don't half mind Curry at the point. It opens up alot.

7:30 D 51 K 47


Kansas with a mini-run off a bad J-Rich turnover and a big Kansas three. Sweet Caroline could have been better thirty seconds before.

Curry had a little too much adrenaline on that three as he has a capella Sweet Caroline echoing.

Bryant Barr with his 11th point underneath. But Kansas is eating Davidson alive in the paint.

Dangerous time right here with Davidson down three on defense. Get the stop and Meno saves a bad pass, but Richards turns it over. Cmon buddy.

Final round and Davidson trails by three. This is it. No more turnovers.

3:31 D 53 K 56


Lovedale gets an o-rebound but didn't get the foul call as went back up. He then picks up a frustration one and then gets his fifth on the other end. He's done....what a standing ovation. Let's go Rossiter.

Kahn at the line and Kansas looks to be in the driver's seat. Barr almost turns it over. And Curry just can't get a shot.

Kansas ball and we are getting close to being cooked.

Richards steals and Curry has the chance...but the miracle isn't there.

Kansas on the line up four ...1:15 left. Up five. Davidson needs a few miracles now. Down six.

Curry misses another good look. It feels like we've dried up of the big shots here in the end. Time is ticking, and it looks like the Elite 8 curse might still be in effect.

59.8 sec D 53 K 59


Sander has the layup but gets fouled and misses it. On the line...hits the first. Do you play it out or foul? Misses the second and Kansas tips it out of bounds. Davidson ball, down 5.

Curry for a long three! And timeout. Davidson down 2. Miracles...miracles...miracles...need one or two more...what is that about shooters need to keep shooting?

Kansas misses and Davidson gets the ball, down 2. Need a miracle. Who's going to shoot it? My money is on Bryant Barr...Curry is going to get all of the attention.

16 sec D 57 K 59


Richards gets the look at the top of the key and misses left. Davidson came so close. Oh so close.

All 1 seeds advance for the first time ever, but I bet your money wasn't on a 10 seed to have a shot to win at the end.

Davidson's miracle season ends one shot from the Final Four once again.

For the illustrious careers of Thomas Sander, Boris Meno and Jason Richards...we thank you.

Final D 57 K 59

Davidson grows up tonight

An early morning saw Davidson students dragging out of bed to come down to the hotel lobby to film a short segment for ABC's Good Morning America. The network grabbed the current and former student body presidents, the senior cheerleading captain, threw in some stereotypes and got out of dodge.

...Tiny Davidson where the quirky little students act so cute with their textbooks and their Neil Diamond...

The students might not have the voice to express it, but they are tired of being patronized 15-year olds in an adult world. They are tired of reading about how cute and feel-good their team is in a college basketball world of pre-professional men with full-grown facial hair. They are tired of the stereotypes that say that these kids don't belong in downtown Detroit, so they should just go home to their suburbia where everyone loves everyone else in some surreal bubble.

Today, Davidson gets to grow up in everyone's mind. And when they do, the world will realize that the hearts, passion and wherewithall of our students and players are even more mature than X-big school with their hundreds of thousands of fans and proverbial facial hair.

Dropped off in downtown Detroit at high noon, I was with a group that took over a local burger joint and filled it with Wildcat red. Natives with Red Wings gear came in and gawked at the tables of Davidson students singing to the 60's music blaring from the jukebox. One Kansas couple came in and walked back out immediately.

Davidson is formidable in this town today. The school is not just formidable because every non-Jayhawk fan is pulling for the Wildcats, but because there has been a transformation in this student body. Over half of Davidson's students will be here tonight and all of them know the score. This isn't the same student body that left games early to go do homework. This is no longer the group of kids that largely had no idea what was going on down there on the court. This year has been Big Time Basketball 101 and these students are ready for their final exam.

I sit here in the media room right now and watch as Memphis creeps closer to being the third #1 seed to reach the Final Four. I read Gregg Doyel's column about how Kansas is bigger, faster, stronger and they should be able to drive Davidson into the ground. On paper, this is supposed be one of the biggest blowouts in regional final history. Davidson doesn't have a chance, right?

But here's the coolest part...no one cares. Davidson students aren't fretting about what they can do about slowing down all those McDonald's All-Americans. They know exactly what is going to happen tonight...Davidson will play to win, they will get better, and they will have a whole lot of fun. And when the eight-minute mark of the second half rolls around, Davidson could be on the verge of doing something historic, or they could just be fighting to make it respectable...but either way, these Davidson fans clad in red will lead a rousing chorus for the world to join in on.

Oh Sweet Caroline...these good times have never felt so good...I'm completely inclined...to believe they'd never would.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Good Morning America from Detroit

ABC network's Good Morning America: Weekend Edition will be broadcasting live on Sunday morning from the Doubletree hotel lobby where over 300 Davidson students are staying. The show comes on at 7 a.m. and goes to 8 a.m.

Wildcat students have gained national fame for making the trip to Detroit free off of the generosity of the school's trustees. Last night, students sported "Witness" t-shirts in Davidson's blowout Sweet 16 victory over Wisconsin.

This will be the second time this week that Davidson has made the morning show circuit. CBS' Early Show came to Davidson's campus last Thursday.

Davidson's famous students

We all thought that the spotlight was blinding last week as CBS, ESPN, and Sports Illustrated descended on our campus, at this point we are just closing our eyes and holding on to each other for dear life.

Upon getting to the hotel last night, Davidson students weren't just exclaiming about how they can't wait to read about this team in tomorrow's papers, they were also pumped about getting to read about themselves. Swarms of reporters and camera people have mobbed this now-famous student body because of their free trip to Detroit and their undying devotion to America's basketball team.

"They put my picture in the Detroit paper...I was quoted in the Cleveland paper...I was in the Charlotte Observer..."

Clad in our red "Witness" t-shirts, the hundreds of Davidson students in this Dearborn hotel have a pretty imposing appearance. This morning, students back on campus learned that they would be able to come up for Sunday's Elite 8 game as the Trustees found another five buses for another 250 students to support the Cats.

And while the Davidson Wildcats' men's basketball team continues to transcend the stereotypes of low-seeded, mid-major teams, Davidson's student body has done nothing but uphold many of the stereotypes cultivated about them.

"So I guess you guys will have to study all day tomorrow," joked a reporter after the game.

"Well, yeah, we will."

The hotel lobby is currently filled with Davidson students and their laptops, typing away at papers and reading up for next week's tests. The Wildcats are forty minutes away from the Final Four, and yet the foremost thing on everyone's mind today is next week's academic assignments.

You work hard and have fun in the basketball arena, but academics remain all-important. Davidson students and players will be getting back to campus on Monday morning with very little sleep, but they will be expected back in class. That's just how we do things here.

Davidson vs. Wisconsin Highlights from CBS

Friday, March 28, 2008

Davidson blows out Wisconsin, advances to Elite 8

After the biggest win of Davidson's program in the last forty years, there was no mobbing at center court. The locker room was not being torn apart and there were only two media members talking to players other than Stephen Curry and Jason Richards.

Davidson's 73-56 win over third-seeded Wisconsin in the Midwest region semifinals was not a miracle of epic proportions. Davidson didn't need a last second three-pointer from Stephen Curry to cap off a big comeback. Instead, Davidson handed the champions of the Big Ten a good, ol-fashioned whupping.

After being tied at the half, Davidson went on a tear in the second stanza as Curry scored 22 second-half points to finish with 33 for the game. His high-flying show of dagger three-pointers and insane reverse layups was accentuated by Jason Richards' superb 11-point, 13-assist, 0-turnover performance. Andrew Lovedale continued to put up big numbers in the NCAA Tournament as he scored 12 points on 5-5 shooting.

By the end of the contest, not only had Davidson advanced to the Elite 8 for the first time since 1969 and won three straight NCAA tournament games for the first time ever, but they also continued to put their mark in the Davidson record book for years to come. Richards' 13 assists put him in first place all-time as Davidson's assist leader, while Curry's six three-pointers helped him tie the NCAA record for three-pointers in a season. Davidson's 29 wins ties last year's mark as the most all-time in Davidson's history.

After a first half where the Wildcats and Badgers exchanged punches from the three-point line and on the glass, Davidson was able to run away through the strength of their defense. The Wildcats forced seven second-half turnovers and held Wisconsin to 23% from the field. More importantly, Davidson was able to get in the open court and create open looks against one of the best defenses in the country.

"Michael Flowers is a great defender, but I was able to find a lot of open spots in transition," Curry said afterwards. "Our defense helped create those opportunities and that's one of our biggest strengths as a team."

Although many writers thought that Wisconsin's size and game plan would slow down the Wildcats and force a grind-out affair, it was actually Davidson's defense and their team speed that took center stage.

"We love playing in the open court," Jason Richards said. "We are a team that plays fast. That's just what we do at Davidson."

And so as Davidson becomes the ever rare double digit seed to make the Elite 8, objective observers can't help but notice that this team does not fit the mold of your typical "cinderella."

In the post-game, a New York Post reporter asked Jason Richards how "teeny Davidson" seemed to out-physical the mighty Badgers.

"We won't back down from everyone."

The Wildcats actually outscored the taller Wisconsin squad 22-18 in the paint and won the rebounding battle in the second half.

Not only are these Wildcats strong and physical, they have a star player that belongs on the biggest stage. They have a player that Cinderella mid-majors aren't supposed to get their hands on. And on this biggest stage, Curry put on a show for the world and for one of the best players of that even bigger stage of the NBA, LeBron James.

"It is really cool for a guy like Lebron to come out and support us," Curry said. James was on his feet at several points in the second half, awe-struck with the moves of Curry.

But after you add up Davidson's strength and star power, you are left with a very glaring reality on this Friday night. These Wildcats played to win from the opening tip, and after rolling through the Big Ten champions, they acted like they had been here before.

"At the beginning of this season, I told John Kilgo that I wanted to win the National Championship," Andrew Lovedale said. "I wasn't joking."

Live Blog: Davidson 73 Wisconsin 56

Welcome to the Live Blog of the Sweet Sixteen in Detroit, MI. I came up here virtue of Davidson's trustees who payed for over four hundred students to come Detroit for a free weekend. As I mentioned in that previous post, this city has embraced Davidson and if the Wildcats pull out a win tonight, it will be a fun weekend of revelry with tons of new friends and Wildcat fans.

That being said, we all need to pay attention to the platforms of our major political candidates because the poor economy has really hit Detroit hard. Over half of all the buildings in the middle of downtown seemed to be boarded up. This city needs some life back.

But on to basketball. Ford Field is as huge as advertised and they added a couple of feet of soft padding on the edge of the court all the way around so we still hope that no one goes flying off the three foot drop. It will be interesting to watch substitutions on the fly as bench players have to climb onto the court to run over to the scorers table. I also feel like the noise won't be much of a factor either way here. The band sound is hooked up to the complex's speaker system and the crowd seems very faint way back behind me.

Alright Davidson taking the court now. No nerves here, Ms. Biggers from View from Press Row says she's nervous, but I don't see any reason to be. The players are relaxed, the coaching staff is prepared and the stage is set for something special tonight.


Curry with a steal and feed to Lovedale for the game's first basket. Wisconsin doesn't look scary but they aren't bad. Lovedale picks up his first foul just a minute in, which isn't good. It looked like a clean block.

Long rebound that Lovedale chases but has to let go. If that is in Raleigh he flies out of bounds to save it.

Butch with a three and Curry answers. It is so quiet on the court. I am floored by this. How can you have such a big event and have it sound like a funeral.

Bad possession for Davidson as Richards takes too long to get things going, but Max gets a steal and then gets points underneath. Wisconsin answers by hitting the side of the backboard. Wow.

Davidson's defense is the story right now with two steals while Wisconsin hasn't been able to deny open shots for the Wildcats.

15:34 D 7 W 5


Davidson comes out of the media with the same lineup. Five minutes in and no subs yet.

Outside shooting is sketchy and it's no mystery why. They shouldn't be playing basketball in this place.

Offensive foul on Lovedale and the Wildcats are in trouble. That's two for him just like against Georgetown. Meno will have to play very confidently to sky for some rebounds. Rossiter and Archambault see their first looks...Curry has only hit one shot so far.

Make that two. Flowers got through the first screen but the second one tripped him up.

Flowers goes after a loose one and is the first to leave the court right in front of me.

Richards with a huge three with an expiring shot clock and Davidson takes the lead back. The Wildcats have nine of their thirteen from three point range and they will probably keep shooting out there because of what happened on Archambault's last drive to the hoop. He got packed.

11:56 D 13 W 10


Badger guard Trevon Hughes is getting some wrapping on his right ankle right in front of me.

The Badgers continue to swing the ball well and are getting their three-point looks. Archambault with a huge three-pointer from the corner and then Sander gets a basket before Wisconsin can set up.

Refs are calling hand checks on Davidson's big men on the perimeter. That isn't good, especially because they haven't been called on Davidson at all before in this tournament.

Wisconsin is using their rebounding to some advantage now as they get some second-chance looks and knock down threes only because of their height advantage.

But Curry is having an explosive half himself with three threes...and then Flowers hits a three. The outside shooting has come alive.

They just showed a replay of Curry's last j and he definitely picked up his pivot foot. The Wisconsin fans are trying to show disapproval but you just can't hear them. It's almost boring down here.

6:02 D 25 W 28


Richards for three. Barr for three. I remember this team now. And then Lovedale with a huge baseline J and Wisconsin burns a timeout. Davidson with a five point lead.

And Jason Richards has just tied Ali Ton's mark for most career assists in a Wildcat uniform.

Word on the street is that Lebron James is sitting behind Davidson's Joey Beeler. Maybe Joey will get on TV. Again.

Wisconsin's big men are much "bigger" than either Georgetown's or Gonzaga's. They use their height to block shots, sky for rebounds and hit easy layups. This was what was supposed to happen to Davidson last weekend.

Brian Butch got poked in the eye on that last play where Meno interfered with the ball in the cylinder. We will see if it affects him.

2:43 D 33 W 33


Offensive rebounds are the story of this game right now. Wisconsin has an 8-2 edge. But then Davidson has shot 8-14 from three point land so that's why we're so even.

Oooh...tough foul call with no time left on the shot clock and four second left in the half. Davidson has played very tough defensively, but Wisconsin has a real big size advantage (15-5 on second chance points, 17-7 on rebounds).

But Davidson has not turned the ball over much and have a 4:1 assist ratio. They have pretty much played the best offensive half in a long time and yet they still had a few shots rim out that could have dropped. Nearly sixty percent from three does not happen every day. Jason Richards' six first-half assists are enough to pass Ali Ton for tops all-time. Davidson's all-time assist leader is Jason Richards with 647 and counting.

It is really hard to judge momentum right now. Wisconsin has shown that they can score in an easier fashion (layups being easier than threes), but they have also demonstrated that they can't shut down Davidson's outside game. In a smaller arena, I'd give the Wildcats the edge since they should have the crowd on their side in the second half, but that really doesn't seem to matter here.

Half D 36 W 36


We open the half with a very ugly Curry three-pointer followed by another miss on the next possession. But two defensive stops turning into transition opps renders four points and two Wisconsin fouls.

Three Curry defensive stops now. And this is how Davidson does it. You have to hit your shots or Davidson will run you to death.

Wow...five fouls on Wisconsin now just three minutes into this half. No individual is in trouble but Davidson will be shooting free throws soon.

Andrew Lovedale with a huge dunk! And Davidson has a six-point lead.

And Curry is fouled going into the media. Round 1 of the second half goes unequivocally to Davidson. Everyone, including myself, repeatedly overlooks Davidson's defense and that has been the driving force behind this little run.

But the Wildcats now have to do what they did last weekend and not last year. You don't win the game with 16 minutes remaining. They have to keep winning the rounds.

15:57 D 44 W 38


So the media get food service here on press court at Ford Field. They have some ladies that go around with snack trays and I have been killing some Skittles.

Wisconsin picks up their seventh foul blocking out on free throws and Davidson is going to the line from here on out.

Wow...whistles are going nuts. Two quick ones on Davidson that possession off the ball. Lovedale, Sander and Richards have two.

And a third on that possession and Sander has three. Bo Ryan has been in their ear. Four fouls. Same possession. This is freaking ridiculous.

Sander and Lovedale both have three fouls and are still in the game.

And Curry pumps...sends a Badger flying...and hits his second straight three. The crowd is mesmerized by this kid. Twenty three points for Curry and twelve in the second half. Lebron is on his feet.

13:01 D 54 W 45


Lebron James makes the big screen and the Detroit Pistons fan boo.

Flowers and Curry go up for an inbound and Flowers comes down hard. Instead of going for the loose ball, Curry stands next to Flowers to see if he's alright. Wow.

Richards for three! And the barrage continues. Meno with a steal. Davidson misses on two shots and a Wildcat three that is launched a second after the shot clock isn't counted as it banks in. Fans go nuts...what is happening in front of us? Davidson up 12 with 11 minutes remaining. Wisconsin is shell-shocked.

Curry with a crossover and a three. Lebron goes nuts (I love how we are measuring this by his reactions now). Curry has 26.

Flop action by Wisconsin and Curry picks up a charge on the perimeter. Fans didn't like that one. The Badgers have a hard time scoring.

Flowers gets fouled underneath and Curry goes to help him out...Flowers will have none of it as he jumps straight to his feet. Don't diss Stephen Curry.

What'd I tell you. All the way to the hoop and the foul on the reverse layup. Don't mess with Stephen Curry.

A huge minute for Davidson. If they can get another basket into the Sweet Caroline...this place will burst. Dangit as Sander misses underneath.

But Lovedale does get a punctuation mark with a dunk and a foul and the students want Sweet Caroline.

7:57 D 65 W 48


Davidson has to keep pushing their advantage right now. Thankfully Wisconsin is still missing threes...but Davidson can't just try to run out the clock. That's not what got them here. They have to keep scoring.

Andrew Lovedale to the line and the arena burts out with boos...but it's not because of Andrew. Lebron James just exited through the media tunnel and the fans rained down their hate.

Wisconsin is ice-cold from three right now. The Davidson fans can feel it as Curry gives Davidson a 21-point lead.

Wisconsin gets an easy layup, and calls a quick timeout to try to refocus. But I don't think that it is lack of focus that is giving Stephen Curry 31 points...

The Badgers cannot hit shots. I'm starting to do the math now...four minutes, 35 second possessions, 18 point lead.

Four minutes...cmon Cats. Pull off another miracle.

The students are going nuts up in their section. You can't hear them down here, but it looks like they are having fun.

3:49 D 69 W 51


Davidson has been slack offensively, but the defense is keeping the pressure on. Tick tick tick.

Wisconsin getting to the line through some cheap calls but they aren't converting. If the Badgers had been trying this banger thing about 10 minutes ago, I would have been scared. But they shot themselves out of it by missing threes.

Tick tick tick.

From the student writers for Kansas: "I mean why would he have wanted to go to Virginia Tech. Davidson has a better basketball tradition now."

Cmon Cats. Put this one away with substance, don't walk to the finish.

I don't even feel all that giddy. Davidson is a better team. This isn't miraculous at all anymore. Davidson is in the Elite 8. There. I said it. Wow, that felt good.

1:15 D 73 W 56


Never thought we would see Civi Time in the NCAA Tournament. What planet is this? And Mike Schmitt checks in. He didn't get PT against Furman! Now it's sinking in...Davidson is one of the best eight teams in the country in my book. Now miracles...pure talent.

Let's keep the dream alive, Cats! This is a statement to the rest of college basketball. 2008 is the year of the Cat!

Final Davidson 73 Wisconsin 56

The famous bus trip

This trip started at 4 am this morning when I, along with at least 400 other students, rolled out of bed, threw some clothes in a bag and made a zombie-like exodus from Sentelle, Cannon, Watts, Little Belk and Senior Apartments over to the Baker Parking Lot to board the famous "free buses."

Local news was there to chart the famous boarding. There were here when we de-boarded and the AP already wants some quotes on how it went.

Well, it was a bus trip. We slept most of the morning. Watched Remember the Titans in the afternoon. Lunched at a McDonalds in Strasburg, OH and then rolled into Detroit two hours before gametime.

But then it got interesting. As we got off the bus a couple blocks from Ford Field, we were met by a staff member who had some t-shirts for us. Turns out, the athletic department splurged for hundreds of red shirts that say WITNESS with the Nike swoosh on the front. It wasn't lost on these Davidson students that the originator of Nike's Witness campaign, Lebron James, will be in the building tonight. Just a day or two ago he was quoted in a ESPN article saying that Stephen Curry was definitely the most exciting player in the NCAA Tournament.

As we students walked towards the stadium, complete strangers on the street started chanting Davidson. A local radio staffer handed out placards with Davidson's logo on it. I've never seen so much Wildcat stuff in my life. The coolest part was seeing my comrades' reaction. We had an idea about how famous we are as a student body, but until you get off campus and see it in practice, it does not seem real. If the Wildcats win tonight, I couldn't even imagine what comes next.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Davidson will be sending over 500 students to Detroit tomorrow for free. All Wildcat fans should wear black to stand out in the expansive Ford Field complex and not blend into the red Wisconsin crowd.

Davidson Practice Pictures from Detroit

Reminder: These photos are the personal property of Tim Cowie. If you are interested in getting a copy for your own use, please visit his photo website for the originals.

Notice how low the benches and press row are in relation to the court.

The Davidson Show #5

Part I

Part II

This Feels Eerily Familiar

While all of the Davidson historians among us have been quick to look to the 1960's for a context for this Davidson run and its subsequent ridiculousness, I want to argue that maybe Davidsonians can also look to a more recent example of a watershed moment in Davidson athletics for some context on this Sweet 16 experience.

In 1992, Davidson College was selected to host the National Semifinals of the NCAA Men's Soccer championship. Little did Davidson know that they would be playing in those very same national semifinals (The Final Four!) on their home field by the end of the year. That was a year when things stopped at Davidson...students could hardly focus on class...newspaper reporters seemed to pop up behind every oak tree, and the Wildcats just seemed to keep on winning despite improbable odds. Davidson beat UNC-Charlotte and Coastal Carolina on penalty kicks before knocking off N.C. State in overtime to earn a berth in the Final Four. Although the Wildcats did not reach the national title game, the legacy of those years still lives on.

When I ran into Matt Spear, Davidson's current men's soccer coach and member of that 1992 team, in the athletic complex today, the parallels between the two teams hit me before either of us could get a word out.

"There are definitely some huge similarities but differences too," Spear said. "Rob Ukrop and Stephen Curry are very similar in my mind in that they were really under-recruited and very talented. They both have an incredible humility about them and quick to put the team first in everything. They are once-in-a-generation players who are tailor-made for these watershed moments."

Ukrop was an All-American soccer player who was highly under-recruited, but ended up winning the Adi Dassler award as the nation's top senior. He scored more goals than anyone in college soccer that year.

But even more compelling than the athletic accomplishments and national success was the way that Davidson's community responded to those giddy times.

"Because of the nature of soccer and basketball and the prevalence of the internet, you see that this Sweet 16 trip gets a whole lot more national play than we got," Spear said. "But because we were playing the Final Four in Davidson, I actually think that the local hysteria was pretty comparable."

In a 2002 article by Davidson alum Michael Kruse, he claimed that the Davidson soccer team was "doing it all, it seemed, on a different campus, at a different college, in a different town. The students had cause to celebrate each other, for the tournament run was, if nothing else, tangible, watchable, cheerable proof that little Davidson could make it big."

Sound familiar?

It didn't take soccer alum Preston Davis nearly as long as myself to figure out this angle, as he already has a post up over on Charlotte Magazine about those incredible weeks of soccer euphoria.

But while these two events will certainly give Davidson folks a set of memories through which they will always connect, the question remains as to how long-lasting the impact will be. Davidson soccer has not returned to the Final Four since 1992. Will Davidson basketball be able to replicate this incredible run in the coming years? Will people still remember where the school is come April or May?

"I promise you that there will be ripple effects in ways that you can and can't see for a long time to come," Spear said. "I definitely believe this will help all of our athletic programs, not just men's basketball."

So many things have already been revolutionized around this school. Davidson gear is being sold in area sporting goods stores. Athletic department staff have been able to provide savvy media facilitation and have used the close proximity of Charlotte, NC to market the program. And we have all seen the actions of the trustees in going out on financial limbs for their students whether it is for basketball or financial aid.

I see one of the biggest lasting effects of this weekend on Davidson's own Bob McKillop.

"More so than at any point in my life, I am at peace right now," McKillop said in Thursday's NCAA news conference, trying to fight back tears. McKillop has spent so many years knocking on the doors of perfection and success. Now he is in the Sweet 16.

Not five minutes after that comment, ESPN.com's Andy Katz came on to answer whether McKillop would remain the coach at Davidson.

"You heard him, didn't you?" Katz replied. "He is completely comfortable where he is right now. I think that a lot of smaller program coaches often get to a point where they have to make very hard decisions and do either the right or the wrong thing with their lives. We saw what Gregg Marshall did last year. I wonder if he doesn't wish he was still at Winthrop."

And so the Madness continues. Davidson keeps reaching higher and they keep proclaiming their mission ever louder. But as Kruse wrote back in 2002, "that [soccer] group doesn't so much remember the shots or the saves or the scores; what remains fresh is the feeling, the ringing in their ears, the slow and steady buzz that never, ever totally goes away."