Amidst all of the national media coverage that kneels down and worships the beauty of March Madness, several rotten apples have emerged in utter protest of the NCAA tournament. In his syndicated column from the Sporting News, writer Matt Hayes posits that the NCAA tournament is in fact much worse than the oft-maligned BCS system of Division I college football.
Hayes argues that the NCAA tournament's format of a 65 team playoff with conference champions from the smaller leagues demeans the national championship process and renders the "accomplishments" of teams like Long Beach State that much more significant than those of Syracuse.
The inclusion of teams like Davidson, Winthrop and VCU make legitimate national title contenders like Maryland, Duke and Texas run a gauntlet of teams with one-shot chances at glory, he argues. If VCU or Davidson deserved to be playing for a national championship, then they should have competed in the regular season. Davidson's 0-RPI top 100 did not sit well with Mr. Hayes.
I take issue with this article not merely because the writer tried to take down our beloved Davidson Wildcats (although that's what led me to find it; thanks Google News), but because the author eventually asserted a moral argument for the need for authenticity in crowning a national champion.
Boise State and George Mason were one-hit wonders that spoiled the party in football and basketball, respectively. The NCAA tournament's fascination with the underdog and its continual talk of expansion is merely a power play to make more money. With this affirmation, Hayes essentially implies that our national sports culture should be ashamed of unknowingly beefing up the pockets of the entertainment side of the sports industry. We should all be ashamed for not seeing that pulling for the underdog means more money for CBS.
I would like to preface my rebuttal of Mr. Hayes by saying that I love sports. My friends know that I check ESPN.com at an addictive rate and devote way too many hours each week to watching games. However, within all of that madness, I still believe that high-level college and professional sports are entertainment. As fans, winning is everything for us. But, as I can tell you, winning doesn't mean anything if you don't have fun and aren't entertained.
The NCAA tournament is not set up to bring the nation's best teams together in a national championship playoff. Not all of the nation's top 65 teams get a shot at a national title, yet usually the best team wins. This year's Final Four is a collection of four teams that were all in the nation's top 10 for at least four weeks this season. UCLA, Florida and Ohio State were almost always among the top five or six in the country. The inclusion of Davidson in the NCAA tournament has not prevented the best teams from competing for a national title.
In fact, there have been so few massive tournament-crashing parties by Cinderellas that one would wonder why such a big deal is made of their first-round victories. So, if the tournament usually works the way that it is supposed to, why does Hayes claim that it is so "awkward?"
The NCAA tournament entertains me. In fact, the NCAA tournament entertains a large portion of this country. I am not ashamed to admit that I support a process that is not mathematically straightforward and that rewards the instant miracle over the proven winner. Besides, a few miracles are sometimes necessary before a team can become a proven dynasty. Who am I to belittle the current recruiting power of a Gonzaga program that just happened to shock the world a few too many times?
Maybe I am a fan of the underdog. Maybe I let my emotions dictate my opinions. Maybe I committed the cardinal sin of actually being entertained by watching sports. At the end of this month, we should enjoy having been entertained a little more and worry a little bit less about which school gets the big banner in their massive gym.
I can promise you that Oklahoma football will recover after Boise State's miracle in the Fiesta Bowl. Jim Boeheim and Syracuse will still find top-notch recruits despite giving up their spot in this year's NCAA tournament to Central Connecticut State. We all want a fair system to decide who wins the national championship, but there is no harm in letting a small town like Davidson go nuts for a few days a year. I'm sure Mr. Hayes could concede that.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Amidst all of the national media coverage that kneels down and worships the beauty of March Madness, several rotten apples have emerged in utter protest of the NCAA tournament. In his syndicated column from the Sporting News, writer Matt Hayes posits that the NCAA tournament is in fact much worse than the oft-maligned BCS system of Division I college football.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
The campus showcased a full slate of spring sports on what was on one of the most beautiful days of the spring season last Saturday. Everyone from Davidson students to prospectives and their families were treated to the traditional cookout at the men's tennis match, the popcorn and ice cream at the baseball field and the bruising play of the men's lacrosse team. Wait a minute. We have a men's lacrosse team at Davidson?
For most of us, club sports at Davidson signify opportunities for participation rather than spectating, unless you have a significant other on the team. But our men's club lacrosse team has spent the last five years trying to change that.
Armed with the second-highest financial allotment of any Davidson club sport, men's lacrosse hits the turf with high-quality uniforms and equipment, and, as we saw on Saturday, some high-quality play.
The team handily defeated its conference rival Appalachian State by a score of 11-6. Led by its hard-hitting captains Morgan Koukopolous '08, John Hoke '07 and Ryan Robertson '08, the team opened up an early advantage and blew the game open in the third quarter. The victory came as rare domination of a Mountaineer team that usually pulls out close contests in the final minutes.
"We were able to keep them from making runs at us late in the game," Robertson said. "Our late-game goals were crucial in keeping them establishing any momentum."
Offensive pushes were not the only factors working against the Mountaineers. The Davidson team was backed by an army of supporters that continually ratcheted up the Wildcats' energy levels. The large crowd was certainly a rarity for any club lacrosse match in Davidson's B division of the SLEC.
"I'm sure that Appalachian did not expect so many rowdy Davidson students to be out there breathing down their necks," Hoke said. "That really gave us an edge."
The play of the day came halfway through the second half when Koukopolous leveled an Appalachian State player on a clean hit in the middle of the field. After forcing the ball loose, Koukopolous retrieved it, made a few nifty moves to get himself into position and then fiercely deposited the ball at the back of the net. The turf field's stands erupted, and the Appalachian team looked shocked. With the victory, the Wildcats positioned themselves well for a long run into the playoffs.
"We have really been coming together over the course of the last two weeks after starting somewhat slow," Hoke said. "With our renewed success and level of excitement, we are getting more people at practice, and the team's commitment level is rising."
The team's next league matchup will be on Friday when they travel to Elon to take on the Phoenix. With a win there, the Wildcats will be closer to the position that they occupied two years ago when they won their conference championship and were ranked eighth in the country.
Although much of the team's success can be attributed to the growing popularity of men's lacrosse in the south, teammembers point to coach Fuji Lozada's commitment as the major catalyst. A former lacrosse player, Lozada lends his expert authority to a club team that would otherwise be self-coached.
"He really loves the game and dedicates his free time to our team," Robertson said. "We are incredibly lucky to have him."
With an ever-increasing pool of former lacrosse players entering Davidson every year, the club men's lacrosse team hopes to continue to be successful and establish themselves as an integral piece of the Davidson sports culture. Judging by last Saturday's performance, there is no reason to believe that dream won't come true.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Throughout this season, the national media has called Stephen Curry '10 many things: Dell Curry's son, babyface, Steven, the "ACC reject who found a home at little Davidson." And throughout this season, we have watched as the freshman guard went from dropping 32 points against Michigan to scoring the most points in the NCAA tournament's first round against Maryland (30). Throughout the ride, Curry has been named SoCon Freshman of the Year, SoCon Tournament MVP and a Mid-Major All-American. Quite simply, Curry has done enough to merit being called whatever he wants to be called. But in the end, he just wants to be known as Steph, student and basketball player at Davidson College.
As many people have said, including coach Bob McKillop, Curry might be one of the best players who has ever played for Davidson. As a freshman, he has set records for three-pointers and scoring and is on pace to become the most prolific shooter in Wildcat history. However, Curry did not come to Davidson just to get his number retired. For him, the campus community and the sense of belonging were among the biggest factors in his decision to wear the red and black.
"I knew that we had a great group of guys on this team, and that really helped my decision to come here," Curry said.
Although it is widely known that Curry originally wanted to play for Virginia Tech, his personality meshes with those of his teammates on the court and his classmates in Chambers. While he might be able to shoot three-pointers over seven-foot Maryland centers, Curry has not always felt comfortable when approached by a press that has continually asked him to talk about himself.
"I'm not a conceited guy, and I was worried that some of that attention would go to my head," Curry said. "I have really had to be careful with what I have said this season."
Whether it was during a half-court press or in the media room after the game, Curry's teammates have been there for him all season. Players like Jason Richards '08 and Thomas Sander '08 have helped Curry deal with the constant hype surrounding his actions on the basketball court. They spent most of the season laughing at some writers' suggestions that the team might be jealous.
His teammates knew what the media took a long time to learn, that one of Curry's greatest aspirations is to be a good teammate. Sometimes that manifested itself by deflecting public praise; other times it meant that Curry found an open teammate and set him up to score. We often fail to mention that Curry finished second on the team and thirteenth in the conference in assists.
As Davidson racked up a school-record 29 wins and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the second time in as many years, student attendance and excitement reached new high-water marks for passion and intensity. Far from being aloof and aware of his star status, Curry often seemed as if he wanted to be up in the student section going nuts.
"By far, the best part of this season has been the support from this campus and community," Curry said. "It was incredible to hear about how this campus shut down during the NCAA tournament, and how much everyone is looking forward to next year."
Even though Curry says that he loves being at Davidson, there are still doubters who believe that a major school will come calling and give Curry an offer that he can't refuse. They believe that the admiration of a small town and the joy of playing Xbox with his friends won't be enough to keep Curry away from a big university that plays basketball on TV twice a week.
"I have heard a rumor that I was going to transfer to Virginia Tech or something, and I really want to smash that," Curry said. "I made a decision to be here for four years, and I'm not going anywhere anytime soon."
It is a good thing that Curry believes in us as much as we believe in him.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Newcomers to Davidson basketball watched in shock and awe as Davidson students and hardcore fans walked out of the Union with their heads down, and their backpacks tightened for the long trek back to Chambers for afternoon classes.
"You guys played so well, you have nothing to hang your head about."
Winners never hang their head, but they also don't expect to lose. It was an incredible feeling to see so many Davidson students and fans crowd into the Union today to cheer for a team that they knew would win. This wasn't about putting up a good fight. This was about advancing in the NCAA tournament.
After Maryland negated the Wildcats eight point lead in the second half, Davidson started looking around for a miracle. With their "gastric acid" welling up in their stomachs, Davidson had a hard time controlling the ball and made several costly mistakes as Maryland slowly caught up and pulled ahead. Curry began to press so much that McKillop had to sit him down after the freshman picked a frustration charge.
By the time he had reentered the lineup, the game seemed to be slipping away. Maryland attacked the paint relentlessly and Sander, Meno and Lovedale were overpowered on the glass. As in the NIT game several years ago, Davidson's interior defense was not strong enough to stop Maryland.
The story of the game was Stephen Curry. In so many ways, he is the player that begins to put Davidson on-line with all of the other powerful teams around the country. He plays with great quickness and he has an uncanny ability to make plays, from behind the arc and in the paint. Curry's 30 points was not enough to overcome a Maryland marathon that saw intense action on both sides of the court for 40 minutes straight.
At the end of this incredible season, I begin to wonder: has this campus been irrevocably changed this season? Will national media and breakout stars like Curry carry Davidson to the recruiting promised land where every 1300 SAT basketball star in the country will have Davidson at the top of their lists?
It is going to be a long wait before next year's Night with the Cats. But that wait will be comforted by the knowledge of these players and their achievements. Character, intelligence and heart are not just buzzwords for the kids that we wish could be a little bit better at sports. These athletes have shown us that talent comes at the expense of nothing, and that success on the basketball court is not reserved for the endowed, the over-populated or the high-major. Davidson is a little bit closer to being on the map. We will have to wait one more year, but I am looking forward to what is coming.
Monday, March 12, 2007
In last night's NCAA tournament selection show, Davidson was given a thirteen seed and a first-round date with Maryland in Buffalo, NY. Here are some notes on the upcoming game:
-All Maryland starters are 6-5 or taller with Ekene Ibekwe clocking in at 6-9. Davidson might have trouble with the tall athletic attack of a Maryland team that averages 79 points a game.
-In Davidson's last matchup against Maryland in the 2005 NIT, current PF James Gist scored a team-high fifteen points to lead the Maryland comeback. The Wildcats had jumped out to an early 16 point lead, but the Terrapins tied the game at halftime and went on to win by 15 points.
-The last time that Maryland was upset in the NCAA tournament first round was in 1997 when they lost to then-TAAC champion College of Charleston. The Cougars lost to eventual champion Arizona in the next round. They would join the SoCon two years later.
-Although Davidson won two games in the NIT in 2005, they have not won an NCAA tournament game since 1969. That year, Davidson won 27 games and advanced to the Regional final where they fell to UNC on a last-second shot by Charlie Scott. Less than a day after that defeat, Davidson coach Lefty Driesell left for Maryland where he would become one of the most prolific coaches in Terrapin history.
This season, the Wildcats broke that 1969 team's record for most wins in a season. It only seems fitting that they would break their NCAA tournament slide against Maryland.
-The scouting report on Maryland shows that they struggle against teams that slow the pace and play a lot of zone. Davidson has played an up-tempo game all season and has rarely used a zone as part of their defensive gameplan. If the Wildcats do change any of their gameplan, Coach Williams will have no tape to prepare for it.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Every once in a blue moon, I wish that I didn’t attend college in the state of NC. It is usually a boon for me to look around and see all of the great things that North Carolina offers a resident: an incredibly expanding job market in several of the state’s burgeoning urban centers, one of the nation’s leading gatherings of intellectual and cultural growth, a vast diversity of landscapes and populations, and finally, excellent sports traditions, especially in college basketball.
However, in the past few weeks, I have gazed upon these basketball giants and wondered where their perspective has gone. Where is the humility?
In last week’s regular season finale between Duke and UNC, Duke’s Gerald Henderson delivered the elbow shot heard around the world to UNC’s Tyler Hansbrough. As soon as replays of the infamous play were scrolling across the screen, TV analysts like Billy Packer were making declarative statements while North Carolina fans shouted death threats at the Duke coaching staff from several feet away.
Throughout the next week, North Carolina papers ran arguments and counter-arguments about the intent, harshness and punishment of Henderson’s foul. For many followers of North Carolina-Duke basketball, this issue was the most important thing on their minds when they woke up. Everything was black vs. white, or in this case, sky blue versus royal blue.
Fans of North Carolina and Duke, however, have failed to recognize that the rest of the country really does not care about their petty little arguments. The rest of the country does not see college basketball revolving around these built-up institutions of all things that are supposedly great about sports, rivalry, and success.
When the rest of the country looks at North Carolina and Duke, they don’t see greatness, they pomposity.
Hold short before mincing my words, however. I am not saying the North Carolina and Duke have not set the bar for success and intensity of support for college basketball. The two schools have combined for fourteen Final Four appearances since 1990. Duke’s Cameron Crazies have been copied and emulated at numerous schools around the country.
What I am saying is this: the rest of the basketball world is realizing that they can do things just as well as these two schools, and they don’t like being told that Carolina-Duke is all that matters.
As a matter of fact, states like Florida matter. That’s why the ACC elected to give Tampa Bay a chance to host the ACC tournament, much to the chagrin of North Carolinians who protest that the tournament is not in their back yard for once.
Some of the best basketball is being played in the Midwest this year where schools like Ohio State, Kansas, Wisconsin and Southern Illinois are putting together strong bids for late runs in the tournament.
The rivalry games of Virginia/Virginia Tech, Texas/Texas A&M, and Tennessee/Florida have arguably had even more impact on the landscape of college basketball, and their respective groups of fans have certainly brought their collective intensity and love of college basketball to bear.
Despite their talented young players, legendary coaches, and stubbornly die-hard fans, neither North Carolina nor Duke is the best team in the country this season. Nor are their programs so important that the rest of us should kneel in wonder. So let’s bring home a little more humility and less self-importance to the Tar Heel state. The rest of the country is waiting.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Every year during college basketball season, there are magical climbs and magical falls. No two teams seemed to epitomize the euphoria and the utter agony of the extremes of college basketball better than Clemson and Davidson.
Both teams started the year with airs of uncertainty as they returned limited starters, and only had one scholarship senior between them. Projections placed both Clemson and Davidson directly in the middle of their conference with the possibility of rising to the top and slipping to the very bottom.
By the beginning of January, Clemson and Davidson had a combined record of 30-4, and both teams were coming off of huge victories over conference rivals on the same night. Davidson had fended off pre-season top pick College of Charleston on their home court, while Clemson had beaten Georgia Tech on a layup with time expiring.
However, on the night of January 13th, the spirits of college basketball whisked Davidson into the driver's seat, while subsequently driving Clemson back into the dungeon of self-doubt and mediocrity that has long plagued the Tiger basketball program.
On that night, Davidson was battling for their lives on the road in Spartanburg, SC. The Wofford Terriers refused to relent, and the Wildcats were beginning to see that conference play would not be nearly as easy as they had made it look. With under a minute remaining, Wofford was only one possession away from pulling off the upset when Will Archambault hit one of the biggest threes of his young career as a Wildcat. Davidson would go on to win by five.
Up the road in College Park, MD, Clemson was feeling the pressure of its nation-longest streak, and they were being pushed to the wire by a tough Maryland squad. WIth opportunities to score down the stretch, Clemson continually missed the front ends of 1-in-1's and dropped the contest by the same margin: five.
As Davidson rolled through their conference season with their only blemish coming at home against Appalachian State, Clemson began feeling the pressure; their poor field goal shooting cost them the game against UNC while poor refereeing cost them a precious win at Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium. Davidson's young team was finding their identity and imposing it on their opponents, while Clemson crumbled under the high intensity of the ACC conference schedule. The Tigers finished the season 7-9 in the conference and ended up with the eight seed in the conference tournament.
With the regular seasons wrapped up, the conference tournaments became microcosms of the balance of confidence, coaching and talented play that is in constant flux within the college basketball season. Davidson entered the tournament as the top seed, fully confident of their ability to advance to the NCAA tournament. Clemson entered with a requisite for immediate success in order to be considered for an NCAA at-large bid, this coming only months after Clemson was thought to be a contender for the league title.
One minute of one game within each respective tournament showed confidence and resiliency juxtaposed with doubt and fear as both teams neared the conclusion of games that would decide their postseason future.
The Wildcats were tied with the hometown Cougars with five minutes remaining in the SoCon championship game. With no shot at an at-large bid, both teams realized that their seasons came down to execution at the end of the game. Although decibel levels were reaching record highs, Davidson was able to force a turnover by all-conference player Dontaye Draper and convert it into an old-fashioned three-point play. Another forced turnover on the next possession caused a run-out and easy layup by Thomas Sander. The Wildcats had used their defense to create offense and put the game away. The Cougars would never get back to within two, and the Wildcats danced into the NCAA tournament.
With the game tied and one minute remaining against Florida State in the ACC's opening round of its tournament in Tampa, Clemson knew that they needed to pull out a victory in order to have any hope of dancing in the NCAAs. The Tiger defense muscled up for one final stand and rookie Trevor Booker made a tremendous block and recovery as the shot clock wound down. The Tigers would have the last shot of the game. But, as Vernon Hamilton dribbled the ball over half-court, his routine pass to Cliff Hammonds bounced off his knee and caused a backcourt violation. The Seminoles received a controversial foul call ("In no way was that a foul," Billy Packer), and won the game with a free throw in the final seconds. Clemson's spirit had driven them so far, and yet their propensity to make bone-headed mistakes and create their own bad luck did them in at the end.
Two teams started the season with talent, great coaching, and a ton of uncertainty. By the beginning of March, the bounces and rollercoasters of college basketball had taken their toll and separated the victims from the heroes. Some now go home, while others march on.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Davidson's second SoCon tournament championship in as many years did not come as easily as many had hoped. The Wildcats overcame adversity in the forms of early game foul trouble to Jason Richards '08, strong shooting by Charleston's frontcourt, and a raucously biased crowd that registered one of the highest recorded decibel mark in Coliseum history.
In the end, Davidson prevailed by not giving up. The Wildcats refused to be intimidated by clutch plays by their opposition or the hostile environment produced by a stadium two-thirds filled with Charleston natives. Their 72-65 earned them yet another conference championship and a bid to the NCAA tournament in back-to-back years.
With five minutes left in the game, the Wildcats found themselves down by three to Charleston after David Lawrence hit a three-pointer that brought the house down.
The College of Charleston had not been to the NCAA tournament since 1999 and the hometown crowd was hell-bent on pulling their Cougars through to one more magical victory.
Davidson responded by staying in their system. At a time when natural adrenaline would dictate a forced play, Richards calmly found Stephen Curry '10 for the game-tying three. Boris Meno '08 gave the Wildcats the lead on the next possession and then Curry forced a steal and Richards found a wide-open Thomas Sander.
With the momentum firmly back in the Wildcats favor, Davidson seemed poised to weather one final push by the Cougars. That push came after Phillip McCandies cut the Davidson lead to two with under two minutes remaining.
McKillop called a timeout to set up a play to keep the Wildcats ahead. From the top of the key, Meno found a back-cutting Richards who finished with an easy layup. The Cougars never recovered.
"The play was actually supposed to go to Stephen [Curry]," McKillop said afterwards. "But Boris [Meno] and Richards made the right reads and the backcut came open. That play showed us that our system really works."
As the final buzzer sounded, the team rushed to the center of the court in celebration. The energy and excitement was emblematic of this team's spirit all season.
"Last year was fun, but this was really special for us," Meno said. "This was a better experience in winning."
Curry finished with 29 points in the contest and was named as the tournament's MVP. Richards also made the media's all-tournament team.
With Davidson's fourth tournament title in ten years, Bob McKillop surpassed Lefty Driesell for most NCAA tournament appearances while coaching at Davidson. Being the second youngest team in all of the NCAA, Davidson achieved the unthinkable. They ran through the conference season, they won games on the road, and they beat the giant in his own lair.
Good times never felt so good! Davidson hit the clutch shots at the end and that was all she wrote for the Cougars. Boris Meno put the exclamation mark on the affair with a big dunk. It's on to the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row. Story to follow...
If you are reading this and are not watching the game, you better start now. I won't be pusting again until after this one is over. Here we go....
Another CofC turnover and we get the media timeout. Davidson has 3 timeouts remaining while the Cougars only have 1. The Wildcats put together a nice little run right there. I shouldn't have been, but I admittedly was surprised at their poise while staring down the barrel of CofC's gun.
Big plays for Davidson. Boris with an and-1 and then MPG got a block leading to a runout layup finish by Thomas Sander. Jason set up the layup nicely with a superb pass. The Cougars will need to recover on this next possession.
Stephen Curry hits another big shot and he now has 29. Two things will happen right now, CofC's fatigue will catch up with them, or their experience in close big games will give them a shot in the arm. We shall see.
The Cougars really seem to want this game more than Davidson right now. Stephen is tired and the Wildcats can't find any easy points. It's like Davidson didn't think that Charleston would show up. They certainly did, and we don't seem to have been prepared.
And the band plays Sweet Caroline in an attempt to bring some pep back to these fans. Steph's three helped a little bit, but this place can get scary loud when the Cougars are on a roll. I get nervous just sitting down here; I can't imagine what the players feel.
This game is about to get out of hand, and not in our favor. College of Charleston has made a really nice run and Davidson doesn't have an answer to the paint slashing. None of the Wildcats' frontcourt can buy a basket, and it looks the crowd is really getting to them.
J-rich just picked up his third foul on a questionable charging call. The Cougars are finding some good shots in the paint and they have the Coliseum rocking right now. It is really loud.
Stephen Curry is a playing a little bit out of control right now. Coach McKillop talks about him walking the fine line between having freedom and staying within the system, and he is definitely outside of the system. With Curry's last missed layup, Coach sat him on the bench. The offense is still Jason Richards'. It needs to run through him.
Davidson starts out really strong on some big steals and a Boris three-pointer. We are going to have to try to forget Stephen Curry's missed dunk. That was a little bit of embarrassing.
On the last play of the first, Stephen drove to the lane and looks like he might have tweaked his ankle. He ran into the lockerroom with a bit of a limp, that could be dangerous news for the Wildcats. Curry scored 15 points in the first half.
Overall, Davidson finished the half well considering that Jason Richards was sitting on the bench with 2 fouls. Let's hope that this game is somewhat comparable to yesterday in that regard. When Curry reentered the lineup in the second half in Friday's game, he sparked a Wildcat run that lead to an insurmountable lead.
Apart from a few lapses where Tony White Jr. was left open, the Wildcats played very good defense overall. Draper was held to five total points.
And there's the makeup call on MPG. Wow, that didn't take long.
Stephen Curry is coming back with a vengeance. He just made a nice move into the paint and hit a shot. Boris hit Stephen and a foul was called on CofC. The Cougars are calling for some blood right now.
Tony White Jr. is the leading scorer in this game with three three-pointers. The Wildcats are doubling the ball and CofC is finding the open man. They have stepped their game up and are playing smart basketball. This is not the team that was always chasing after loose balls like in previous games.
Davidson's offense is really scared right now. I wish we could see Jason back for just a few more possessions. If CofC pulls away before half, this could be bad.
Davidson seems to have all but abandoned their interior game. Thomas has not gotten any good looks underneath and our defense is pressing as a result of this offensive slump. CofC just scored four big points in the paint. We need Jason Richards back in this game to bring us together. He's got two fouls right now.
Davidson has made some big defensive stops in the last three possessions and the Cougar crowd has gone quiet. Stephen and Draper have only combined for nine points so far. Their shots have been just a tad off in the last few minutes.
Davidson has not been able to get any good inside looks after Thomas Sander's first turnaround. Sander is back in for Lovedale right now and we'll see if they try to go back to the block. Davidson is shooting a lot of threes right now. Arch just hit two in a row, which is nice. But when they don't fall, it gets you nervous.
These refs are letting them play right now. Andrew just made a nice strip on Jackson in the paint and the Cougar fans were mad.
Steph has hit his first three-pointer so let's hope that his nerves will subside just a little bit. Davidson really hasn't played in this type of environment this year outside of Michigan, Charlotte and ASU. We lost two out of three of those.
Tony White Jr. hits a three. And Archambault is into the game as well as Lovedale. Let's see who will guard Draper this next trip. It's the Archer. Now it's Steph, that was a good switchoff.
MPG is playing tough right now. He is keeping loose balls alive and just took a charge. Davidson needs to finish on offense. They are missing some simple shots. CofC is definitely motivated. I don't know if they can keep up this pace all day. However, this is not a regular game; TV timeouts are a little bit longer and that break will definitely help the Cougars get some energy back. They are going to need it if they keep playing at this clip.
CofC will need to find more offense outside of Draper. Davidson's interior d has been tough. This Cougar crowd can get pretty loud. The Wildcats can't let them hang around. As I type JJ hits two.
MPG hits a three and Draper counters. Sander in the paint again. This is going fast so far. Draper again
Davidson wins the tip and Sander opens the scoring. Davidson will take that short jumper all day.
We have an excellent crowd here today. Davidson is keeping up their side of things with plenty of noise. They have filled five lower sections and two upper sections and they are pumped up!
Pat Forde is in the building from ESPN.com. This is going to be a doozy.
Posted by Will Bryan at 5:39 PM
We are 30 minutes from tip time here in North Charleston Coliseum. Here are some interesting stats to keep in mind as this game begins:
-Davidson has beaten College of Charleston seven times in a row as they lead the all-time series 43-8. Davidson beat CofC by margins of eight and 10 in earlier matchups this season.
-College of Charleston has averaged 69.5 points per game this season while Davidson has averaged 82.0; Charleston's margin of victory is 4.3 against Davidson's 13.6.
-Dontaye Draper scored 38 in yesterday's overtime win against Appalachian State. Draper has shot 17-32 in this tournament so far, and has a 3.6:1 assist to turnover ratio. In the regular season, Draper averaged 41% from the field and 16.4 points/game.
-The College of Charleston has never won a SoCon tournament title in Charleston. Their last NCAA tournament appearance came in 1999 against ASU in Greensboro.
-The Cougars have only led in 6 of their 20 SoCon matchups this season, yet the Cougars won 15 of those games. They know how to battle in the second half.
-Davidson has not won back-to-back conference tournament titles since 1970, the season after Davidson won 27 games. This year's team will look to break that drought as they go for their 29th win of the season.
Posted by Will Bryan at 5:11 PM
Davidson's monster victory over Furman today was incredible as the Wildcats played a second half with authority and showed that their nine-player rotation was one of the best in the conference.
However, after all of the Davidson players had returned to the hotel and kicked off their shoes, the Southern Conference and the city of Charleston was treated to one of the most exciting basketball games that I have ever seen in person.
College of Charleston knocked off Appalachian State 89-87 in OT. Dontaye Draper finished with 38 points as he hit clutch shot after shot down the stretch. This game had so many turning points that it's hard to remember them all. The most important was a questionable foul call with 2.2 seconds left in regulation that sent ASU's Donte Minter to the foul line. With both shots, Minter would be able to secure a victory for the Mountaineers. He choked on the second and the game went to overtime.
In the extra period, Draper made play after play to keep his Cougars alive, even as Josh Jackson and Phillip McCandies were sitting on the bench with five fouls. With ten seconds remaining, CofC had the ball and a three-point lead. ASU, however, was not able to foul and the Cougars got the ball down the court for a monster jam. ASU threw up a three-pointer at buzzer to cut the final margin to two.
This Cougar team has a lot of emotion propelling them right now. This was supposed to be the year that they got rid of all their demons, and with this tournament run, they are on the verge of returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1999.
Tonight's attendance was clocked at 9,000+ and tomorrow's might be even higher as it is on a weekend. Davidson should be able to expand on their large crowd from today as more students and fans make the trip down from Charlotte. The entire city of Charleston has been summoned to come support the Cougars, and I have no doubt that tomorrow's game will have the electricity and atmosphere of anything that could be produced in the ACC or SEC. NCC will see some big-time college basketball.
If you can't make it to the game, keep it here for live in-game updates. I will try to be at the Coliseum early to set up shop and crunch some numbers during the pregame.
Friday, March 02, 2007
With their 91-68 victory of Furman in today’s SoCon semifinals, Davidson’s magical run continues. This team was never expected to do anything more than push the conference’s top teams, and yet now they find themselves in another tournament title game and sporting a new program record for most wins in a season with 29.
This game started out slow for both teams as Davidson’s Stephen Curry ’10 sat out most of the first half with foul trouble and Furman’s Eric Webb and Robby Bostain could not find their touches from behind the arc. The Paladins only hit five field goals in the entire first half and they trailed 30-15 at the break.
When Curry returned for Davidson in the second stanza, the horses were unleashed. Curry hit six three-pointers en route to a game-high thirty points while corralling four rebounds and a steal. The Davidson attack did not stop with Curry, however, as Jason Richards ’08 continued to attack the basket and put the Paladin defenders on their heels. Richards finished with a very impressive stat line of 20 points, five rebounds and seven assists against only one turnover.
While the Wildcats’ offensive attack might have been the most notable aspect of this game, it was Davidson’s defense that won it. Davidson forced 13 turnovers and outrebounded Furman by seven. More importantly, they did not allow many open shots and the Furman shooters did not find their touch until it was too late.
Davidson’s physicality also shined through as the Paladins repeatedly found themselves on the wrong end of rebounding and loose ball scrums. That frustration resulted in a total of two technical fouls on Furman’s Moussa Diagne and 27 personal fouls on the Paladins.
“Our defense has been phenomenal all year,” said McKillop afterwards. “When you have a nine-man rotation that can defend, rebound and run, that is really hard to stop.”
With his six three-pointers, Curry became the NCAA’s most proficient freshman three-point shooter ever. His continued excellence has wowed everyone, including his coach.
“He makes a lot of ‘wow’ plays. Stephen Curry is just a remarkably gifted young man.”
Davidson will advance to the Southern Conference tournament final for the sixteenth time in their history, a mark that is matched only by Duke and Chattanooga. They will face the winner of the College of Charleston/Appalachian State game being played tonight.
What a resounding victory for Davidson. I will sleep well tonight. Check back tonight for the full writeup on the game. I hope that no one will be following this one tomorrow, you all better be here in Charleston!
And it's Civi/Nelms time!
Webb and Bostain have finally found their shots but it is too little too late. This one's over, especially with Davidson's foul shooting. Jrich now has 20, while Curry has 28.
Furman is attempting the press as they try to pull close here at the end. Davidson has beaten it pretty handily. That could be good practice for tomorrow night.
All of the corridors are filled with fans waiting to get into the lower sections for the next game. This place is pretty electric with anticipation right now.
Wow, Valentine really is going to set a record for most foul calls by a single ref. I'm a bit amazed.
And Valentine just T-ed up Diagne and he is gone. Davidson needs to be careful right now. Furman is a bit frustrated. For his part, Valentine really does like to talk to the players.
And then Valentine Ts up Lovedale for hanging on the rim. Too much going on at one time.
Valentine is pretty funny right now. A couple of really bizarre calls have the Furman fans going apey.
I must say that I didn't think that Davidson would get out to this margin. Furman seemed like a team that was ready to break out in a big way. They had a lot of good pieces in place, and yet that first half did them in. They had Stephen Curry on the bench for 11 minutes, and had Rossiter and Barr playing significant minutes, but they could not take advantage.
Davidson didn't wait long to pull away. Curry has 21 points right now and Jason Richards has 14. Many people still doubt the ability of this team to play with the real athletic and physical clubs. I think that you only have to look at this half to realize that Davidson is a great team. But they are going to need to play two halves to win tomorrow.
Stephen Curry now has 19 after he hits his fifth three-pointer. Getting towards a thirty point game. This is a lot of fun on a Friday night.
Sander just picked up his fourth foul, while Diagne is still in the game with 3. This is Furman's chance to attack inside. Oh wait, there's Andrew, nevermind. Lovedale is definitely the most improved player on this team. What a player.
Boris gets into the three-point act and Jrich now has 14 points. Everyone in this league thinks Jason is slower than he actually is. He can fly out in front of people and convert those layups. I don't know how coaching staffs don't scout that.
Opacic just picked up his third foul after Bostain hit his first three of the game. He will need to hit a lot more of those.
The Coliseum feels really filled right now with some early birds from the ASU-CofC crowd coming on in.
And the student section gets up a great new cheer. "We want Brendan!" as they point toward Brendan McKillop sitting in the front row. Coach's youngest son already has interest from schools like VT.
This is a lot of fun right now. I better recant from that last post. This game isn't over by any stretch (yeah it is).
CURRY AGAIN!!!! AND THE HOUSE COMES DOWN!
This lead is insurmountable with 15 minutes left in the game. Furman's confidence is shot and Davidson's Curry is out to make up for his slow first half. He already has 14 points in this game.
Furman is picking up some stupid fouls and they don't have the lineup that they want right now, as Punch goes to the bench.
CURRY DOES IT!!!! That's the record.
Another steal and a Curry three! One more for the record. There's a fan with a sign counting down the threes.
Curry made a big defensive play, and Davidson is back on offense. MPG finishes strong AND 1! Davidson is about ready to pull away.
Max gets an offensive rebound and J-rich starts the scoring in the second half. Davidson outrebound Furple 26-15 in the first half.
Incredibly ugly first half, I must say. Davidson shot 11-29 while Furman shot 5-22 from the field. The Paladins' last field goal came with over 11 minutes to play in the first half. The Paladins shot 3-8 from the foul line and were led by Diagne's 5 points.
Davidson's leading scorer was Thomas Sander with 6 points. Stephen Curry only played nine minutes while being hampered with two personal fouls. Furman has five players with at least 2 fouls, including Diagne with three, Opacic with two, Punch with two and Stanley Jones with two. Eric Webb and Robby Bostain have two points apiece.
Although Davidson leads by 15, everyone here has a sneaking feeling that this second half will open up with some fire. Curry should be back in the lineup, and you can't keep Furman's outside shooters cold forever. This one might turn into a race for the finish.
I can't wait to see some of these Furman shooting lines from the first half. I'm a little embarrassed that Davidson only leads by 14.
Just for the record, Davidson might be going over the back just a little bit. Just a bit.
Furman can't hit free throws, though. Oops, they finally scored. Wow, 15 points.
Furman can't hit the broad side of a barn. Some offensive rebounds lead to a Barr three. I love seeing these freshmen play so well in such a big time game.
The Wildcats have three freshmen in the lineup and none of them is Stephen Curry.
Jason Richards hits a layup on the break. A 12 point lead is a lot right now.
Interesting stat of the first half: Furman fouls 11 Furman points 14.
And the band unleashes Sweet Caroline. Davidson's fans have it this time. BUH-BUH-BUH. Too bad no one is shooting free throws after this timeout.
Cheap foul on Rossiter. This one is going to become a free-throw shooting fest.
Curry is still on the bench with a white towel on his head.
Richards makes a nice drive bank and foul. Davidson is hitting singles and playing physical which is definitely our gameplan. Unfortunately, Valentine has heard from the Furman fans and is starting to make some picky calls against the Wildcats. Both teams are in the bonus.
Valentine also has some big white swooshes on his referee shoes. It looks pretty funny when he struts across the court to call a foul.
Davidson needs to find some looks on offense right now. Barr has been in for Curry for a while now. Furman is really getting flustered by Davidson's physical defense.
Thomas just picked up his second foul and Andrew is back in. Webb and Bostain have combined for a grand total of 2 points so far. They never do well against us.
Bryant Barr hits a nice fadeaway. Furman definitely looks a little scared to shoot right now. They have gotten some open looks on the perimeter and have made the next pass. If Davidson can put a few more baskets together, they might be able to break the Paladins' will here late in the first. If the Furman players are as distracted with the refs' calls as these fans are, they are really going to be in trouble.
Opacic is going to have to make up for Diagne right now. Davidson needs to get Thomas the ball on the block.
Diagne just picked up his third foul. HUGE! Jason Richards is pumped up, while the guys behind me are cursing. "It's a McKillop conspiracy!"
Davidson is getting a lot of offensive rebounds right now thanks to Boris and Andrew. I wish I had a statcounter in front of me. All of the important people are hogging it.
Things are getting interesting now. Boris got tangled up with Diagne and we have some technicals. Personal foul on Diagne, technical on Diagne and Meno. That's two for Diagne. Six team fouls for Furman.
It looked like Davidson was in a zone in that last possession on defense. The collapse didn't work as Furman was able to hit a three-pointer.
We are definitely getting our open looks today. Archambault just got a jumper on the baseline. I would like to see a few more traps on defense. It seems like we are sitting back on our heels a little bit in the halfcourt D. Furman doesn't need to have layup opportunities to get the ball in the basket. We can't allow them the same looking shots they are giving us.
Curry hits three number 1 one of the game. Two more for the record.
Thomas Sander hits a big three. This tournament is definitely about the juniors. They are going to have create Curry's opportunities by playing well themselves.
Moussa Diagne hits his first three-pointer of the game and Furman takes their first lead. Curry definitely looks like the "freshman" from yesterday's game.
Right before the media timeout, Valentine held his conference with Thomas about playing easy. Sander gets one of those per half.
When Curry lofted his first three, the entire Davidson crowd inhaled. He missed but Max recovered the rebound for a layup. Furman finally gets on the board with a jumper. They are really slow.
We have the venerable Teddy Valentine with us today. He just called an over-the-back call on Diagne then took it back and called it out of bounds. Wow.
Thomas Sander starts the scoring, and you can already tell how different this game is than yesterday. Furman does not have UTC's speed off the dribble nor their leaping ability.
Unfortunately the "you ain't ready Curry" guy is still sitting behind me. Crap.
We are seconds from tipoff here at the NCC. The crowd is excited, the players are loose. This has a feel of an NCAA tournament game. It's pretty amazing.
Posted by Will Bryan at 5:59 PM
Here are some pre-game thoughts before today's semifinal round against Furman.
Davidson will be facing a different beast in today's game. While they had to contend with length and leaping ability yesterday, today's game will about shooting and defending the perimeter. Against UNC-G yesterday, Furman's Robby Bostain scored 18 points, going 5-8 from the field and 3-4 from three-point land. Davidson will have to extend their defense to limit Furman's looks from outside.
The Cats should have a nice home court advantage in this game. Davidson has a lot of fans who made the trip down I-77 today; so many, in fact, that I don't know if anyone will even be reading this blog during the game. Furman will be outmuscled in terms of crowd noise.
Davidson will have to integrate Max Paulhus Gosselin back into their gameplan. He did not have any steals or points yesterday against UTC. Gosselin needs to regain his confidence and create some fastbreak opportunities at the top of Davidson's defense.
The Wildcats have to take advantage of all of their offensive opportunities because Furman, unlike UTC, will make them pay on the other end of the court. Each possession will be very valuable in this game.
In a nice human interest tidbit, former Davidson assistant SID Erica Madden is here at the game today. However, she will be wearing the purple and white as she now works for the Furman SID department. Madden is engaged to former Davidson DBO Will Roberson.
The Wildcats winningest season in the program’s history ended with a devastating loss to UTC on Friday, 80-68. The Wildcats hustled, fought and scrapped, but Chattanooga emerged victorious and advanced to yet another title game.
Davidson was taken hostage by the strong play of conference player of the year Alex Anderson who scored 22 points in the winning effort. The Wildcats jumped out to an early 14-4 lead, but Anderson lead the Mocs on a 41-15 run to end the first half. She finished the half with 20 points on 7-11 shooting.
As the second half started, Davidson showed that they would not quietly into the afternoon. Katie Hamilton poured in 10 second half points to finish with 17 overall. Brynn Kelly also contributed 18 points and eight rebounds in what might be her final game as a Wildcat.
The Wildcats could not find the right combination of players to make points on the offensive end while shutting down the Mocs’ outside shooting. Chattanooga seemed to answer every Wildcat run with a big three-pointer or a steal and finish.
"I don't know what we can do to top that team other than finding Stephen Curry's younger sister," Coach Watts said.
Chattanooga shot 11-27 from three-point land, while Davidson only managed 4-20. When Davidson shut down Alex Anderson in the second half, Brooke Hand found the hot hand and hit several three-pointers. She finished with a game-high 23 points.
Tia Washington ’07 finished with 17 points, many of which came late in the second half. The Wildcats refused to relent, even in the face of Chattanooga's shooting onslaught.
"Chattanooga had a lot of bullets in their gun, but we played really hard," Coach Watts said. "I was so proud of the effort of this team."
Davidson has not beaten Chattanooga since 1999, a losing streak that reached 17 with today’s loss. They have also never advanced to the tournament finals in their program’s history.
With their 23 wins on the season, the Wildcats still have an outside shot at an NIT bid.
Chattanooga beats Davidson for the 17th time in a row, and Davidson remains locked out of the tournament championship game. They have never gotten there in their program's history.
This one is about over here in North Charleston. Davidson doesn't have the firepower to score that many points in three minutes. They are chucking up threes but nothing is going in.
Brooke Hand now has a quiet twenty-three points for UTC, while Anderson has yet to score in the second half. Tia just hit a runner to keep it at ten. It's hard to find a theme to this second half. The Wildcats are fighting hard, but they just can't pull back. No team is really beating the other one, they are just trading runs and wasting time. Unfortunately, you can't do that when you are already in a deficit.
Mocs just two big three-pointers to push the lead back out again. The small mo that we had seems broken.
Cats are within nine after Kelly Gassie's first points of the game. If a run is going to come, it needs to happen soon. Anderson has yet to score in the second half.
Davidson looked to be inching closer as Hamilton hit another three pointer, but Chattanooga forced a couple of turnovers and converted them into easy points. Whenever Davidson seems to make a mini-run, Chattanooga answers. That is definitely the sign of a team that knows how to win big games and put their opponents away.
The sad part is that there is a distinct feel among the Davidson fanbase right now that it's OK if we lose this game as long as the men win in two hours. Davidson is the only school whose men's and women's teams both made the semifinals. This team's success has always seemed like a nice exclamation point to the men's success this season. Whereas for Chattanooga, this women's team is their basketball hope. It's win or go home.
Davidson will have to start hitting threes if they want to get back into this one. Chattanooga is attacking the basket for some easy layups and Davidson doesn't have the height to stop the turnaround jumpers. Katie Hamilton just hit a three-pointer which might be a good sign. She now has 10 points on the game.
Davidson has started the half on a 7-0 run as Chattanooga looks a little bit out of sync. Coach Watts must have said the right things in the locker room.
As these Wildcats walk into the locker-room, they are displaying signs of utter despair. Chattanooga knows that they belong in a championship showdown against Western Carolina, while Davidson seems to just be happy to be in this semifinal game. Coach Watts doesn't seem to have any gameplan to slow down Alex Anderson, who reminds me a lot of Adam Morrison. She is the tallest player on the team and yet she is driving the ball from the top of the paint. That creates a real speed mismatch for our forwards. She has 20 points so far in this game.
Davidson cannot seem to secure defensive rebounds right now. Every carom lengthens the UTC possessions. Davidson needs to penetrate the paint every once in a while, but alas Kelly Gassie is still on the bench. If the Wildcats don't secure some rebounds and stop UTC, this game is going to get even uglier.
The Wildcats are a second slow on their reads on offense. That has resulted in several travels and turnovers down the stretch. Hand now has 12 points to supplement Anderson's 17.
Coach Watts finally puts Kelly Gassie in. She is one of our quickest defenders and players off the bench. In order to stop this attack, Davidson has to do a better job of denying the penetration. Right now, they are just too slow on defense.
Anderson is back in the lineup. Another shot, another basket times two. She now has 15 points.
Chattanooga has slowed a little right now offensively with Anderson on the bench. Danielle Hemerka now has six points for Davidson, while Brooke Hand has nine for UTC. Compared with yesterday, the foul situation is night and day. There have only been five total fouls in the first twelve minutes.
Davidson fans are a little more quiet right now. The Wildcats are making everything too hard right now as Brynn just got called for a 3-second call and Honna Housley airballed a three.
Before the game, ASU's DJ Thompson and Jeremy Clayton were hanging out in the staging area flirting with UTC's dance team. Boys will be boys.
Davidson doesn't need to worry about height mismatches today. Alex Anderson is UTC's tallest player at 6-1 and she usually plays on the perimeter. Speaking of Anderson, she has 11 of UTC's 14 points. This feels like the NBA.
Chattanooga is a smooth team. It seems like they really don't like to get their hands dirty with loose balls, or rebounds, or ...defense. Davidson has just gone a little cold from the field unfortunately.
Chattanooga's defense seems really lax right now compared to last year's game. Anderson is the only offense that UTC has right now. She wants the ball on every possession.
Davidson has jumped out to an early lead with easy inside baskets by Danielle Hemerka. Alex Anderson only has six points so far.
Sorry for the delay in posting. The Coliseum connection is really really slow.
Posted by Will Bryan at 2:43 PM
Thursday, March 01, 2007
-While there still might be issues about attendance in this Charleston conference tournament, the local media has embraced it in a great way. The local paper has put a lot of energy behind their coverage of this tournament, and Charleston’s Comcast Channel 2 has bought the feed for tomorrow’s semifinal games from ESPN FullCourt. That channel had special tournament coverage tonight. Even the Charlotte Observer’s Scott Fowler is down here covering this baby!
-It has been great to see so many Davidson employees in the North Charleston Coliseum today. However, I did hear reports from Davidson that many students were at the Baker Ticket office today looking for ways to get tickets. No one there seemed to have Jamie Hendricks’ cell phone number. The athletic department needs to do a little bit of a better job covering the home front.
-If Davidson’s quarterfinal game against Chattanooga was turned into a battle of the bands, the Wildcats would have been blown out. The Mocs’ band was exceptional as always. I love their rendition of the theme of SportsCenter.
-This year’s tournament could sport one of the biggest mid-major games of the season if ASU and Davidson meet in the finals. One more day will tell if the local sports community will come out and embrace some of the best Southern basketball outside of the ACC. If the College of Charleston isn't playing, local fans often don't put forth the effort to come out and watch. Davidson has reportedly sold their allotment of tickets, so here’s hoping that the state of NC will bring its fan base down to SC.
-Starting this year, the women’s side of the tournament is being hosted in the North Charleston Coliseum in the morning. Although these games started on Tuesday and are being played in the early morning, I think that this change is a good thing. Last year, there seemed to be no communication between McAlister Field House and the Coliseum about game results, and many of the men’s fans are also the primary women’s fans. It is really bad to have to split them up in the early rounds.
-There have been no upsets of note in this tournament so far. In their tourney preview insert, the local paper had a picture of roulette wheel, saying that the championship was anyone’s to win. So far, it really isn’t anyone’s to win. You can only say that a league has parity when any given team can beat anyone else on a given night. I really just don’t believe that applies to Davidson, ASU, CofC in the men’s bracket or Chattanooga and WCU in the women’s bracket. We will have one of the conference’s best teams represent it in the NCAA tournament.
-For those of you who attended today’s games, feel free to send or post any comments that you might have. Thank you to everyone reading the blog today. Your readership is a testament to the electricity and excitement of this Davidson basketball team.
After the game, Coach McKillop said he didn’t have to remind his players about last year’s SoCon quarterfinal game against The Citadel. “That memory was refreshed for these guys several times before today’s game.”
In last season’s game, Davidson came back from 18 points down in the first half to overcome The Citadel on the way to winning the Southern Conference tournament championship. Although the deficit was never larger than eight against Chattanooga today, Davidson looked like a team in the headlights for most of the game. Their 78-68 victory came as a sigh of relief for the Davidson corps that made the drive down to Charleston, expecting a weekend stay.
The Wildcats shot only 34% in the first half, and led by two at the break. Although Davidson had beaten Chattanooga twice this season, the Mocs refused to relent in this meeting. They continually drove hard to the lane and tried to keep the Wildcat frontcourt on their heels. The strategy nearly worked as Boris Meno ’08, Thomas Sander ’08, Andrew Lovedale ’09 and Steve Rossiter ’10 combined for 12 fouls on the game. The Mocs also held a 46-34 advantage in rebounding, including 21 offensive boards.
The Wildcats relaxed in the second half as the veteran poise of Meno, Sander, and Jason Richards ’08 kept the Davidson offense in sync. Richards finished with 20 points along with five assists and five steals. Stephen Curry ’10 also found his poise in the second half as he poured in 20 points and three steals.
“In the second half, I used defensive intensity to give myself some offensive touches,” Curry said. “It is tough to play in this environment for the first time, my teammates helped me gain my confidence.”
With his three treys in the game, Curry moved to within three three-pointers of the NCAA record for three-point shots in one season.
Davidson sealed the win in the final minutes with some dramatic plays from Meno. The forward from Paris, France found himself on a fast break one-on-one and he was able to slam the ball home over a Chattanooga defender. The play all but ended any hopes of a Moc comeback.
With the Wildcats victory, they advance to the tournament semifinals for the sixth time in the last seven years. They will face Furman tomorrow night at 6 p.m.
So ends Chattanooga's streak of title games. Look for a full writeup with quotes and stats later this afternoon.
Boris Meno with another big dunk. Chattanooga is used to those in this building.
Stephen Curry for three! And this game is over. Curry has 20 points, which will probably be padded with some free throws down the stretch.
Max gets called for a foul on a three-pointer from Mays. Mays misses the first. Mays hits the second. Mays hits the third.
BORIS MENO WITH A DUNK!!!!! And then another follow. Davidson fans going nuts! What a way to end a game.
Crunch time after a Thomas turnover. Boris gets a big-time block that is called a held ball. Under two minutes.
Two Moc fans behind me have been yelling that "Stephen is not ready," all game. After that nice floater over two Moc defenders, I'm pretty sure that he's not ready either.
Doaks hits another two for UTC to keep them close. UTC will have the ball after this timeout and will most likely attack the paint. Boris is still riding the bench with four fouls and he has been the best defender for us against these Moc leapers.
Boris Meno comes back in, after UTC converts an old-fashioned three-point play. Davidson is right on the verge of pulling away. Need a bucket this possession.
Jason Richards hits a three, and he has a quiet 18 points.
Thomas Sander hits a three-pointer, and UTC's Casey Long counters. Bryant Barr is also back in the lineup. Davidson just can't seem to find a way to pull away.
Boris Meno just picked up his fourth foul which will really hurt. Chattanooga is attacking like mad in the paint.
Chattanooga is really cold from outside but their attack on the offensive boards have kept them in this game. I hate to imagine what this game would be if the Mocs could actually hit three pointers. The one stat in the Wildcat's favor right now is team fouls. UTC has seven and Boris Meno will be on the line after the timeout.
Chattanooga gets four quick points to take back the lead. Davidson can't seem to get any buckets to fall as Jason Richards repeatedly drives the paint to no avail. Davidson's rebounding is also becoming a problem. The Wildcats can't allow for so many second chances. Boris Meno and Thomas Sander both have three fouls, and Stephen has disappeared.
Both teams really want ownership of the paint right now. Boris Meno just had a block ruled as a foul on him and he will come out.
Andrew Lovedale takes the ball in and gets a blocking foul and 1. This is a real trench battle.
Stephen Curry just got hit in the face then comes back and gets a steal. What a baller. This game is getting really really physical.
Both teams are starting to heat it up from the floor, as Chattanooga has scored on their last three possessions. Thomas Sander will be on the line when they get back from the media timeout.
Thomas Sander just got two big blocks on the last several possessions. He is still a long way behind Boris for the team lead, however. But it's still nice to see T get some airtime.
Chattanooga's bench just got a technical foul and the Mocs seem to be unraveling a little bit. Davidson is having some more luck in the paint as well.
Stephen Curry has nine points and Jason Richards has eight. The Wildcats committed 10 turnovers in that first half and Jason Richards only had 1 assist. However, I think it says a lot about our program that are so upset about a first half in which leading, shooting a better percentage from the floor, and have no one in foul trouble.
And the announcer just told us that we are under a severe weather watch. Go Charleston!
You have to wonder about the emptiness behind these baskets. The Wildcats are really off on their outside shots and these baskets are really on an island with nothing behind them. Chattanooga is more used to playing in this in their gym.
As I write this, Stephen Curry nails a three-pointer, so of course I don't know anything.
Many posters on Davidsoncats.com talked about the need for the Wildcats to play loose. For those reading this right now, Davidson is not playing loose. They seem to be playing not-to-lose in the worst possible ways. Davidson can definitely pull this one off, but a bad formula is playing out in the first half here.
Boris has been having trouble today. He has no points and just dribbled the ball off of his foot. Stephen Curry is also off on several of his shots.
And the pep band is playing Sweet Caroline. I'm not sure if this demographic of fans will sing though. No, they didn't.
Bryant Barr comes in the game and gets 5 quick points. Steve Rossiter also entered the game. Maybe Coach McKillop was taking notes during the women's game today. Good to see some bench minutes. Rossiter just got two quick fouls on pretty picky calls and Chattanooga is now in the bonus.
Andrew Lovedale hits a big turnaround jumper to stop the scoring draught and Thomas Sander takes a charge on the other end. However, the Wildcats seem to be playing last year's basketball. They are playing slow to Chatt's up-tempo game. I thought that this was a different team this year. If we aren't going to run with people, we need to start shooting lights out.
Davidson fans are squirming right now. The Wildcats can't seem to find much offense as they are turning the ball over. Chattanooga is getting some dunks as they have a lot of momentum right now. Davidson can't seem to hang onto the ball. This is getting ugly.
William Archambault hits his first three of the game. Right now, Chattanooga is using its speed pretty effectively and breaking the Wildcat defense down off the dribble. The Wildcat double team is coming and Chattanooga is one good pass away from getting an easy shot. Sometimes they find it, and sometimes not.
Coach McKillop has yet to go to his bench. Andrew Lovedale keeps looking up very expectedly. The Davidson offense is not looking very strong right now as Thomas airballs a six-footer.
Take that back. Andrew finally comes in. Still, it took a while.
Chattanooga fans aren't ready to go back to Tennessee. They have shown up in big numbers today and are cheering very loudly. Stephen Curry is on the line after this media timeout.
Stephen Curry starts the Davidson scoring with a three-pointer. 5 away.
Chattanooga doesn't believe in shooting. After last year's final loss to Davidson, the Mocs coach John Shulman said that his team played really well outside of shooting. Well, if you can't put the ball in the basket, I really do have to ask what the point is. The Mocs missed their first three shots today.
We are 10 minutes from tip here in the North Charleston Coliseum. Both teams are warming up and the crowds are moving in. Davidson reportedly sold 500 tickets to this game. The excitement is very tangible for a 2 o clock afternoon game.
In the media's season awards that were released today, Kyle Hines won Player of the Year while Stephen Curry was elected to the first team. Jason Richards and Thomas Sander were elected to the second team.
UT-Chattanooga has made it to the Southern Conference finals four years in a row, and they surprised a good many people last night with their victory over Wofford. They slowed down the Terriers perimeter attack and went inside themselves. Ricky Hood scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Mocs.
In these two teams last meeting, Davidson won in a rout 87-57. The Mocs were often unable to find any open shots and gave up 30 turnovers on the game. The Cats will call on the services of Max Paulhus Gosselin, Stephen Curry and Jason Richards to reproduce that stat line today.
Posted by Will Bryan at 1:39 PM
Davidson gutted out a quarterfinal victory today behind the strong bench play of Mercedes Robinson '09 (14 points) and Kelly Gassie '09 (9 points). Robinson, who had struggled in several games at the end of the regular season, provided the veteran 'Cats with enough energy to eke out the 71-62 victory over Wofford.
Although the Cats were hampered by foul trouble to all-conference selection Katie Hamilton '08, they stuck to their gameplan and kept attacking the Terriers at the heart of their defense. Danielle Hemerka '08 (11 points) was the key to the second half run as several of her layups began to fell and fouls racked up against Wofford. Davidson finished with 32 points in the paint.
The Davidson defense forced 28 turnovers and they converted that into 27 points. They held the Terriers to 21-45 shooting, including 5-11 from three-point land. Davidson grabbed 13 offensive rebounds and had 15 second-chance points to Wofford's 3.
Although Davidson started the first half with relatively slow production on the offensive end, they continued to attack Wofford's oversized frontcourt in search of simple baskets.
The Cats will advance to meet the Chattanooga Mocs tomorrow. The Mocs are led by SoCon player of the Year Alex Anderson who averages over 20 points per game.
Coach Watts knows that the Wildcats face a challenge tomorrow: "We know that we just have to slow Anderson down. You can't completely stop her. However, I'm proud of our effort today, and I hope that we can reproduce it tomorrow."
With the men's team waiting in the tunnel, the women wrap this one up in style. They should a lot of courage to pull away in the second half and to attack the paint against such an oversized opponent. Kelly Gassie, Danielle Hemerka, and Mercedes Robinson are my MVP's from this game. I'm out to the tailgate right now. Be back soon for the men's game.
Davidson is rolling in all the big guns right now. Kevin Cary, John Kilgo and Mark Plemmons are in the building. Men's basketball tips off in an hour.
The Wildcats are in control right now. Robinson and Hemerka are both in double digits in scoring.
Davidson remains committed to their inside game and this lead will hopefully hold over the last four minutes with Wofford over the foul limit. Both teams have their big guns in now, not worrying about fouls. There are a combined 22 fouls on the ten players on the court right now.
Honna Housley just fouled out and Katie Hamilton is back in the lineup. Hemerka and Gassie both have 9 points for the Wildcats right now.
Kelly Gassie finishes on a fast-break layup and Wofford calls a timeout. The Terriers don't have an answer for Hemerka. Coach Watts made a courageous move by putting her in here in the second half. She is one big elbow away from having some major problems with her face. She is just returning from plastic surgery after suffering a broken nose.
OK, so maybe I was wrong. Hemerka has been very strong inside and has not let the Wofford arms intimidate her. She just scored two big layups. Wofford also has six team fouls, and Weurding and Miller are on the bench.
Watts' gameplan is obvious to everyone in the building, and I'm not sure if it's going to work. Davidson is consistently getting the ball into the blocks on offense and trying to lean into the Wofford forwards to draw a foul. Unfortunately, the turnover/block-foul ratio is very uneven right now. Wofford only has four team fouls and no one with more than 3 fouls. The Wildcats haven't shot a three-pointer in what seems like an eternity.
The Davidson offense is in shambles right now. They are losing the ball inside and don't seem ready to shoot any three-point shots. Weurding has 16 points for Wofford.
In this ongoing Katie Hamilton saga, she just picked up her fourth foul battling for a loose ball. Kelly Gassie is back in the game.
Katie Hamilton just scored her first two points of the contest. Davidson will need more production from her in this second half. Tia Washington just got a bit knicked up and will take a seat on the bench. Hamilton just picked up her third foul, which is very dangerous news for Davidson. She subsequently hits a three as I type.
Wofford picks up four quick points early in the paint. Davidson seems a little bit on their heels right now.
Mercedes Robinson has shown up here late in the first. She has six points and some big rebounds. Kelly Gassie leads the team with 7 points. Wofford has 18 turnovers against Davidson's 11.
Kelly Gassie hits a three-pointer, and Wofford gets called for another foul. If Davidson can convert on some easy offensive opportunities, they might be able to pull away with this tough defense.
This game really has turned into a dogfight (or dog-cat fight). Both teams are constantly on the floor, loose balls galore, and the refs are now hated by all 300 people here. They have called 18 first half fouls, many of which could be deemed makeups of makeups.
One Wofford player just slipped her shorts down to change some leg bandage. Not like I was watching or anything.
Katie Hamilton and Danielle Hemerka have been riding the bench for some time now. This could very well be a breakout game for Kelly Gassie, she has four points and several great defensive plays. Many Davidson fans think that she should have gotten more playing time all season.
Wofford's Jennifer Weurding has been a beast inside so far. She just picked up her second foul and she can't shoot a layup to save her life. But God, she is really tall.
Davidson takes the lead for the first time after Tia Washington converts a steal into a layup.
Davidson is getting into some foul trouble right now as Julia Paquette just picked up her first, team fifth. The backups have been in for most of the first half, and holding their own for the most part.
This game could get really ugly by the end; the black woman ref, who has done several games at Belk Arena, has stuck her foot in her mouth several times already. Calling an offensive foul, then reversing it, calling a shot clock violation when the ball obviously touched the rim. Annette Watts is about to rip her head off.
So the Southern Conference is apparently throwing out mini basketballs after every three-pointer made. They might run out of their supply after today's men's game.
Davidson needs to be more careful when attacking the paint. Wofford's frontcourt has an average of two-three inches on every Wildcat forward. The Terriers have 3 blocks so far. Davidson is certainly picking up the intensity on the defensive end, but the last month's offensive struggles are still continuing. Davidson is shooting 3-12 from the field right now.
Davidson's collapsing zone has had troubles defending Wofford's three-point shot. Kelly Gassie and Mandy Halbersleben are now in the game. Housley and Gassie have two driving layups so far.
This game has started out ugly for both teams as Davidson has shot 1-6 from the field while Wofford is only 3-6 with several turnovers. Honna Housley is now into the game for some outside shooting.
In the announcing of the starting lineups, one of Wofford's players was knocked down by her teammates. She got up limping and very upset. You don't see that every day.
Jessica Mitchell is starting, so it seems that her knee injury might not be so bad.
Tipoff - 1 minute
The Wildcats are wide awake early on this Thursday morning. I can't say the same about any of us in the media. Let's hope that our women open this up early. I need a wakeup pill.
The Davidson pep band seems to have gotten down here for this early one, and my friend Jared is in charge of the cowbell. That could be a legitimate theme of this tournament. "More cowbell!"
Posted by Will Bryan at 11:15 AM