Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Thoughts and quotes from Belk Arena (vs. Wofford)

-Too many turnovers tonight for Davidson. Richards and Curry both had four and the Wildcats coughed up the ball four more times than did Wofford.

-"We had the right people shooting the right shots. Barr had some big rebounds. We are really coming together right now." Max Paulhus Gosselin

-Davidson's free throw shooting is a virus that they can't seem to get over. Davidson was 10-17 from the line and didn't seem comfortable there all night. At one point late in the game, Wofford fouled Max Paulhus Gosselin to stop the clock and MPG visibly cursed at the prospect of needing to go to the line. He missed the front end of the one-and-one.

-Davidson needs to continue to have confidence attacking the paint with entry passes. Their frontcourt can do anything against anyone in the Conference. They proved that tonight when they opened the game up with big layups inside.

"I am delighted with our second half performance. We have to learn how to come back from a deficit. We set the tone at the beginning of the half and that was delighting." -Coach Bob McKillop

-Everyone was up in arms about Kevin Cary missing tonight's game. The Charlotte Observer sent a replacement writer that almost looked as young as me (he was certainly wearing my wardrobe). No one knew who he was and I felt a little awkward as everyone talked about the Charlotte Observer as if they didn't have a representative there.

-Tonight was only second time that Curry has scored more than 30 points at home. He now has over 200 three-pointers for his career.

"This was a good situation for us. It was different to have to play a close game, but we have to learn different ways to win. Our inside-out game was excellent in the second half." Stephen Curry

"It was great to see Steph [Curry] elevate us at times when I put him at the point. He made some pinpoint passes, that were also singles. That was great to see." -Coach Bob McKillop

Davidson 78 Wofford 65

The Wildcats host the Wofford Terriers in the second of their two-game conference season series. The Wildcats won the first meeting 80-55. Wofford might not have the services of Shane Nichols tonight. He was listed as doubtful this morning and has not been put into the projected starting lineup.

More updates as tip-off approaches.
It looks like Nichols won't be seeing any time tonight as he in street clothes on the Wofford bench. However, that might not bode well for Davidson as most might think. Nichols tends to overplay in tough situations and often takes his teams out of games by shooting too much. The Terriers did make their run on College of Charleston with Nichols hurt on the bench. The Terriers have a perfect record when a player other than Nichols or Gibson lead them in scoring.

Davidson, on the other hand, has not lost since Andrew Lovedale entered the starting lineup oh so long ago against Georgia Southern. Here's to going January-0 tonight.
The Wildcats have been blitzing their SoCon opponents out of the gate, the latest romp being an 18-4 run to start last Saturday's road win at College of Charleston. The Wildcats did that to Wofford in their last meeting in Spartanburg. There's no reason they can't repeat the feat tonight.

However, there are vestages of a trap game lingering in the air right before tipoff. Even without Nichols, Wofford is a very hot team. Davidson have too much in terms of a crowd tonight and they might be a little flat after being on the road for so long.
15:45 D 4 W 6
Like he has done so many times before, Thomas Sander opens Davidson's scoring with a layup inside. Lovedale looking good on the defensive post. He has three rebounds already. Sander launches a three from the wing which was not what Coach wanted from him. The Wildcats are a little cold to start and Salters gives Wofford a quick lead.
14:00 D 8 W 13
There are a bunch of blue-clad kids in the upper reaches of Belk Arena tonight. They just started making noise when the Wildcat went up there. I don't think many of them are actually watching the game. they are chanting defense.

Lovedale continues to dominate inside. He pulled down an offensive rebound in traffic and put it back.

But here we go, Wofford is putting in easy shots and Davidson is missing outside ones...they are good looks, but are rimming out. Wofford didn't come here to lose tonight.
11:54 D 15 W 15
Sander with another three from the wing and he hits this one. I happen to think that he shouldn't have had his license revoked along with Boris. He has always been able to shoot with touch if he's open.

Meno with some great production in his first minutes as he gets four points and will have a free throw after the timeout. Davidson doesn't look bad right now...but Curry is on the bench and Wofford is hitting shots (7-12 FG).
10:40 D 20 W 18
Kevin Cary is still not in the building. Word is that there was some traffic congestion and we all know that Mr. Cary is a pretty busy guy. Maybe I can write for the Observer tonight. Radio last night. Regional newspaper tonight.

Curry back in the game and gets a steal away from the basket. But the Terrier threes keep falling.
9:04 D 24 W 21
Curry has had about enough of that. He hits two nice mid-range step-backs in front of the student crowd to get his first four points of the game.

But in the first 11 minutes, Lovedale already has eight points and five rebounds. He is just dominating the Southern Conference.
3:49 D 29 W 31
Blogger goes down for a bit. Not sure how long it will be out. The Terriers are outplaying Davidson on both ends of the court right now. Which is what you have to do to lead Davidson by 2 on their home court. But Davidson isn’t using the paint the same way they did at Spartanburg, and Wofford is hitting their outside shots. Curry has warmed up a little and now has 12 points.
Halftime D 34 W 35
Not a very good half for the Wildcats. Curry (14 pts) and Lovedale (8 pts, 5 reb) played reasonably well on the offensive end but the defensive effort was not there during several bad stretches. Wofford got way too many easy shots…and with Nichols out, they don’t have one guy ending possessions prematurely. Davidson will get quite a talking to...they have 10 turnovers to Wofford's 7. Davidson is not shooting particularly bad (51%), but they aren't defending the basket (Wofford FG=52%) nor getting any points in transition.

So it seems that Bill Polian, President of the Indianapolis Colts, is sitting right down from me talking to John Kilgo on the radio. I hope everyone in the digital world is enjoying their fill of Tony Dungy during halftime.

Back here in Belk Arena...things are weird. There's no sense of urgency as the Davidson elementary school kids did a routine on the court. The students, although reasonably large in number, have not been too loud and might not have looked at the scoreboard lately. Like they did against The Citadel back in November, Davidson will have to generate their own intensity and it has to come from their defense. Wofford cannot be allowed to shoot 52% again.
19:00 D 35 W 37
Curry seems really frustrated right now. He misses his first two shots and he's running up the court after each one. On the last one, Max Paulhus Gosselin got the offensive rebound and Curry didn't know we had the ball until he was already over halfcourt. He needs to get it together.
18:07 D 42 W 37
The defensive intensity comes at the top with the leader. Richards jumps a pass for a transition two and then Curry hits a transition three 20 seconds later. Wofford calls time and the Davidson crowd appreciates the effort. That was a mirror image of the first two minutes against The Citadel in the December game that I referenced.
14:57 D 46 W 43
Another steal...this time Sander picks a pocket, makes a nifty head fake and finds MPG for a big dunk. But Wofford is better than The Citadel and they respond with a high-percentage shot on the other end.
14:00 D 48 W 43
I'm a little disappointed that Davidson hasn't given the ball to Lovedale on the block. Richards is way off his shot tonight, going 2-6 from the field. But Lovedale is fighting for position and Davidson is not giving him entry passes. He is not the same Lovedale fellas. He can score! "Feed the elephant!"
12:43 D 52 W 43
Meno causes a very audible gasp from the crowd as he almost launches a three from the top of the key. He wisely held up. And Wofford is quickly picking up some fouls. That's five now in the half, four in the last 2 minutes.
9:00 D 62 W 50
The Wildcats are heating up from outside and Meno is taking advantage of size finally. He has nine points while Richards has 7. But Wofford continues to pick up baskets here and there and haven't given up like they did in Spartanburg. This next few minutes might do the trick though.
7:54 D 64 W 53
Sander now in double figures after a great feed from Curry. Once again, great distribution of points...Lovedale 9 Meno 9 Sander 11 Richards 7 Curry 24. I'll take that, especially after a mediocre first half.

For the first time ever, Davidson was at the line coming out of the "Sweet Caroline" media...and the students had to shush themselves on the reprise of the chorus. Good teamwork.
4:21 D 70 W 58
Richards starting to unravel a little bit again. He just lost a routine outlet pass out of bounds after missing a couple of shots on the offensive end. McKillop calls a timeout to talk to him and settle him down. This game is probably over...but the way that the Wildcats end it will be very important.

Not much from Will Archambault tonight. Max and Bryant have done a great job on the rebounds and 50/50 balls, but not much Archer. Andrew hasn't seen the ball on offense since the first five minutes of the game.
3:00 D 73 W 60
I hope that Stephen Curry doesn't have anything against John Kilgo. He just threw a bullet pass that barely got deflected and went flying at Kilgo's head. Thankfully no one got hurt...except maybe some pride on Kilgo's part for not catching it. The first-row season ticket holders on this side certainly enjoyed it.

Curry now with 29 point and five threes. He has 204 trifectas on his career and is quickly approaching Matt McKillop for second place all-time.
Final D 78 W 65
You don't often see Jason Richards and Stephen Curry in the lineup in the final minute when Davidson plays in the Southern Conference, but Wofford applied just enough pressure to make that happen. It gave Curry the opportunity to put in 34 points. Jason Richards finished with nine points and eight assists, while Meno and Sander finished with 11 points apiece.

This game did not fulfill McKillop's challenge to put forth a full effort for 40 minutes. But once again, it was another win in the Southern Conference as Davidson marches closer to that elusive 20-0.

Blogs killed the radio star

I experienced yet another perspective on Davidson Athletics on Tuesday night, when Wildcat radio man Derek Smith asked me to fill in for Tia Washington and do color for the radio broadcast of the Women’s basketball team’s game against Furman. The most color commentary that I have ever done came in my own living room bantering with my Dad as we watched a game with the sound turned down. Derek said that was all I needed to do on the radio, as long as I didn’t say anything too far out there. Not a bad deal.

As it turned out, I had a lot of fun. While I was expecting to be very nervous by those pregnant pauses that meant that I was supposed to have something witty and insightful to say, I found that there was so much going on in the game that Derek didn’t pause enough for me to get everything in. I do admit that there were a few moments where Derek’s up-tempo play-by-play lulled me into silence that I had to wake myself up and remember to say something. (You can hear the entire broadcast here).

So what actually happened in the game? Well Davidson overcame a 16-8 deficit to open up a 22-16 lead midway through the first half. During that stretch, they dominated the Paladins on the boards and mixed a potent three-point shooting attack with great entry passes that ended in open layups. The Wildcats were used to Furman’s 2-3 zone as they had faced something similar just a few games earlier at Elon.

Although Davidson had way too many ball-handling turnovers and went through an offensive slump to start the second half, they held on for the double-digit victory thanks to some strong play from Mercedes Robinson and Ashley Lax. Robinson put together another double-double by scoring 16 and rebounding 10, while Lax came off the bench to score a career high of 11 points.

I learned throughout the game of the constant torment of the color-man: you often don’t get the chance to say what you want and you never have much to say when you are put on the spot. I probably sounded like a broken record as I talked about the “great passes and good looks” that resulted in made baskets. I hope I wasn’t too ridiculously obvious with my commentary. Some of the best moments of the night included joking with Derek about the ease of some Wildcat baskets while he chided me for making it sound easier than it really was for a man like himself.

Overall, I really enjoyed breaking down Davidson’s play on the fly and organizing some thoughts for the world to hear. It definitely beats having to organize thoughts with these stupid commas and periods and reasonably short sentences. Maybe I should start on an audio blog where I want be judged for prattling on. Hmm, there’s a thought.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Business as Usual

CHARLESTON, S.C. –- So I was walking down George Street in this pretty little city, about an hour and a half before tip, headed toward Kresse Arena, right behind two campus cops.

"I don't even know who we're playing," the first cop said.

"Davidson," the second cop said.

"Oh shit," the first cop said.

What can you say? The man had a point.

The Wildcats here on Saturday were in their road reds for the sixth time in seven games, AND were playing their fourth game in a week, AND were going up against a Charleston team coming off two straight bad losses that
should've been desperate, AND got only three assists from Jason Richards, AND got "only" 16 points from Steph Curry, AND had very few fans in a small, sold-out gym, AND played a pretty awful second half.

And they won by 12.

And it wasn't even close.

At no point in any of the 40 minutes of play were the Wildcats going to lose the game, not once, not ever. Y'all saw it on TV. Never ever.

This was supposed to be loud and crazy and sweaty and tight. The signs on the doors to the gym a good hour before the start said Sold Out.

And if you were from Davidson, you had to have some juice to the nth to get into this one – your name had to be Hobby, or Dell, or McKillop, or Matheny, it seemed, all hunched behind the Wildcat bench. Everybody else in the place was dressed in maroon.

But it was 12-4, then 15-4, then 18-4, then 23-9, then 32-16. That was pretty much how it was going to be. Nice comfy working margin, thanks very much.

Ho-hum. Don't mind us. We're just passing through.

At least in the first half, balls that were up for grabs kind of weren't, not really, because the Davidson boys were getting just about all of them. Fierce. There was a 4-5 league team out there, and there was a 10-0 league team out there, and it was the 10-0 team that was playing like it NEEDED to win.

One-man team?

People say that, right?

Well, here: Sander with a top of the key three, channeling a little Landry, Sander on the block, Sander at the rim for a tip off the offensive glass.

Here: Lovedale with a baseline J, Lovedale with a 17-footer, Lovedale with that little tiptoe dribble under the basket and into a nifty reverse.

Here: a two from Max.

Here: a three from Barr.

And … okay, Steph being Steph, too, here and there, including one deep three that came at about two minutes before half, one of those where he gets just the teeniest, tiniest, slimmest bit of light … and up and in it goes. A disgusted, disbelieving Charleston fan dressed in a black suit sitting in the front row looked like he might chuck his 20-ounce Sprite.

The second half, meanwhile, is probably better left alone for the most part. It was unsightly.

The Wildcats outrebounded Charleston 26-15 in the first half … and basically flip-flopped the figure in the second. The Wildcats shot 6-for-12 from three in the first … and 0-for-6 in the second. There were missed free throws. There were missed three throws from Steph (!). There were WOUNDED free throws from Boris. Those loose balls that belonged to Davidson in the first … not in the second. They looked tired.

At about 8 minutes to go, their facial expressions said, basically:

Are we done yet?

Haven't we done what we needed to do to show that we're the better team?

Can we go home now? Finally?

But the lead, almost always, was 15, 18, 12.

Steph was bothered at times by the lanky stick of a kid named Wiggins. Wiggins had help too. Charleston threw two guys at Steph about every time he touched the ball. Seems like a smart thing to do with Davidson. Limit Curry. Or try. Make somebody else beat you.


Lovedale for 10 and 7.

Red-cheeked Sander for 21 and 5.

"That guy's ALWAYS open," one fan moaned in the middle of the second half.

That's called math. Two white jerseys on one red jersey = one red jersey wide open. It's like the campus cop said.

The sellout crowd was … were they there? In the cramped, sweaty gym with a low ceiling and wooden bleachers, those folks cheered, like, twice – once at the beginning of the second half when the Cougar crowd-surfed, and then with two and change to go when Charleston hit a jumper and was down by 11 and there seemed, for a brief, fleeting moment, and only that, that there MIGHT have been a CHANCE.

But no.

Kevin Cary, the Observer's conscientious tracker of the 'Cats, pointed out on press row that Davidson has trailed in the second half of just one conference game so far this year – that, of course, being the scrape up at Elon.

To which Steph said after this latest win: "We haven't really done anything yet."

McKillop said he was happy with the post play. He said he wasn't so happy with the so-so second half. Still, though, the boys got back on the bus and went home, a job well done down here.

A win is a win is a win, and in the league now that's 11 and 0, 21 in a row, 35 of 36, etc., etc., etc.

Michael Kruse, class of 2000, is a staff writer for the St. Petersburg Times.

Davidson 70 College of Charleston 58

The Wildcats finish up their stay in Charleston by playing an early evening game with the College of Charleston tonight at 5. Davidson (12-6, 10-0) is coming off a ho-hum 86-70 win over The Citadel while Charleston (9-10, 4-5) is trying to recover from a 88-71 home loss to UNC-Greensboro.

Davidson's Stephen Curry was given mention this morning on ESPN's College Gameday. The sophomore ranks fifth in the nation with 24.3 points per game. Davidson has not lost a game in the city of Charleston in the last four years and own a 44-9 all-time record against the Cougars.

Keep it here for live commentary throughout tonight's game and a post-game article from Michael Kruse.
Well so much for that. I just arrived on site to find that CofC does not have wireless in the arena. Neither Kevin Cary nor I will be able to post anything during the game. Sorry.

Check that. The SID department hooked me up with their wireless card and we are good to go.
20 minutes to tip

The CofC student section chants Sonya Curry and she stands up to give a bow.
Brendan McKillop has a wrap on his right wrist that he wasn't wearing during Thursday's Citadel game. Don't know how serious this is, but he is favoring it a little bit in shootaround.

For being such a hot ticket, Kresse Arena is pretty slow to fill up in the season ticket sections. It is three minutes to tip and there are still plenty of seats in the upper section and endzone section.

The first few minutes of this game will be key for Davidson. I feel like the Cougars' confidence is getting down to its last leg. Davidson can break that leg with the type of offensive blitz that they have put on teams like GSU and Chatt. CofC might not be able to recover.
17:40 D 6 CofC 2
Jason bails Davidson out on its first possession by hitting a three at the buzzer. Sander attempts his first three in ages and hits. Curry needs to stop falling down on his three point attempts. He is taking himself out of position just to be dramatic. MPG with two big steals early.
16:00 D 6 CofC 2
Cremins has 6-7 Antwaine Wiggins guarding Curry. Wiggins has long arms and is making life tough for Steph so far. CofC's offense has not looked sharp with early misses, but Davidson is shooting very late in the shot clock, and has turned the ball over twice.
14:02 D 12 CofC 4
Goudelock has scored all of CofC's points so far. He's no Draper, but he isn't bad either. Davidson is winning the frontcourt battle as Sander has scored two easy layups and CofC has not been rebounding well. Curry's first points came off a patented step-back jumper. Wiggins doesn't have the speed to stay with him in an iso situation.
11:53 D 15 CofC 4
Davidson is killing on the offensive boards. Boris seems to have lost a little touch with his close jumper as he missed two gimmes in a row. But CofC doesn't have any offensive rhythm and they aren't getting trash balls. This isn't pretty for Davidson by any stretch, but they are outhustling the Cougars.
9:29 D 18 CofC 9
Lovedale showing a new move as he took his defender down the lane and made a reverse layup. In his first touch of the game he immediately traveled. But then Lovedale misses a layup and fouls Johnson for an and1. He sits down on the bench. Davidson getting sloppy now.
7:18 D 23 CofC 9
Both Will and Boris, while not hitting shots, have done well to keep the ball alive on the offensive end. Jason Richards finished off a 5 o-rebound possession with a three. Curry got a minute break before the media timeout and he'll be back soon. The Cougars haven't let him beat them, but they aren't getting easy baskets and their jump-shooting cannot keep up with Davidson's.
5:32 D 26 CofC 14
Rossiter gets called with a charge after he hits a nice turnaround. That's a bad call. Then on the other end, Lovedale was whistled for a foul and the Cougars converted another three-point play. Curry is back in. And he takes it hard to the hole and gets hacked. A chant of Sonya makes Curry miss the second FT.
2:43 D 32 CofC 16
Lovedale with several big jumpers but his two fouls will make Coach put Boris in for the rest of the half. Jermaine Johnson has been a non-entity for the Cougars. As the only player recognizable from last year's squad outside of Tony White, Johnson seems to have no drive or intensity about him. He's not getting the ball and he's not rebounding either. I think that I'm probably not the only one who thinks that he and his bad attitude should have left along with Josh Jackson.
Halftime D 40 CofC 25
Boris has messed up some on the defensive end and the Cougars have converted at the rim. Barr and Curry hit big threes but CofC hit a big three before the half. Back with some stats in a little bit.

Sander leads all Davidson scorers with 12 points. He has gotten some nice looks inside and actually converted on a three-point attempt from the top of the key. His first ever three pointer came during his sophomore year down here in Kresse Arena and helped seal a 10-point Davidson win.

Davidson has outrebounded Charleston 26-15, with an 11-5 edge on offensive boards. Curry only has nine points on 3-7 shooting, with only 3 three-point attempts (he hit two).

Jermaine Johnson made a big shot near the end of the half to bring his point total up to 5, but Goudelock leads all Cougar scorers with 7. Tony White Jr. is 0-4 from the field while Dustin Scott is 1-3 from the field.

Davidson just about had the Cougars on the ropes after two consecutive three-pointers, but Charleston had big points before the half to keep their crowd and players in the game. This 15-point advantage doesn't look like much when you remember that Charleston recovered from a 50-25 halftime deficit to Temple to beat them on a neutral court.
17:15 D 40 CofC 27
This second half has started slowly. CofC has shot a lot. Missed even more. Curry with a bone-head play as he fouls Tony White on a three-point attempt. White hits 2 of 3. Mad Max misses a gimme layup and things are getting frustrating. And then Thomas drops the ball. Davidson needs this media timeout coming up.
15:30 D 44 CofC 30
Sander clears his throat and gets the scoring started again. He now has sixteen off of nice dishes from Curry and Lovedale. Andrew is getting better and better on offense with shot selection, dribbling and passing vision. The Cougars are missing some gimmes themselves, but the Wildcats aren't out of this heat by any stretch. Curry is still pretty unproductive by his standards. I expect that to change coming out of this timeout.
11:56 D 46 CofC 31
The threes are not going down for Davidson tonight. Both Will and Stephen missed from the corner right in front of me. This is one of the slowest games in terms of scoring that we've seen since Elon. Curry just picked up his second foul away from the basket. While I mention some of Davidson's uninspiring offensive production, I might as well bring up Richards. He is really off his game tonight with a turnover and an air ball in front of the CofC student section. His assist totals are lower than normal which might not always be his fault, but he isn't playing his best ball tonight. 8 minutes into the second half...Davidson 6 CofC 6.
9:30 D 51 CofC 34
Sander and Lovedale are reading the interior perfectly. First, Lovedale reads the double and dishes to a wide open Thomas (19 points) and then Sander returns the favor and Lovedale finger rolls it in. Davidson knows where to attack right now and they are doing it efficiently. That's good to see.
7:32 D 53 CofC 39
Curry finally hits a jumper. He had the ball for most of that possession and was just waiting for his own dribble to find him space on the wing. Swish. He's only got 11. Don't think he won't search for those nine in the last seven minutes here.
5:19 D 57 CofC 42
Two possessions. Two Curry shots and no dice. Curry needs to look for his teammates if the shot isn't there. Especially now. Davidson needs to put this game away. McKillop calls a full timeout while Curry was bringing the ball up the court at full speed. Nonetheless, Davidson's 15 point lead is enough to make some College students check out and start the party night early.
1:57 D 63 CofC 52
Huge night for Thomas Sander. He now has 21 points including some nice looking FT strokes. This was a career night for him. The Cougars apply the pressure but it might be too little too late. Goudelock pulls it to within eleven and this place makes one last attempt at momentum.
Final D 70 CofC 58
Outside of some strong play from Lovedale and especially Sander, this game didn't prove too much for either team. College of Charleston is not completely out of the SoCon race in the South, and yet Davidson didn't prove that they are unbeatable tonight either. They only proved that they were better than a Cougar team that missed tons of free throws and missed some layups. Davidson had their own trouble on the offensive end and did not put the Cougars away when they had the chances.

But another conference win on the road is nothing to be ashamed of. Davidson won't be content heading home...and that's a good thing. They still have a long road ahead of them before coming back to the fair city in a little over a month.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Home away from home

And so the Wildcats are back. 9-0 in the conference and staying in their home away from home at Davidson. Last night on the team bus, all of the guys were cracking up, laughing to the one-liners of a comedy on the bus screens. When several players began to see me packing my bag, their eyes perked up. There, coming around the bend of I-26 was the best bad hotel that any of these players had ever stayed in: the red Sheraton. The laughter descrescendo-ed into a serious, calm silence.

For seniors Jason Richards, Boris Meno and Thomas Sander (and even myself to a point), this city has been nothing but a haven of goodly southern hospitality, balmy Palmetto trees and winning basketball. In the last three years, Davidson has won 12 straight games while staying at that Sheraton with the slightly undersized rooms and pathetic attempt at a real bar in the premises. Richards, Meno and Sander remember Jason Morton's last-second heave to beat the College of Charleston and preserve that undefeated conference record in 2005. The juniors and seniors plus Brendan all remember Davidson's late-night come-from-behind victory to beat The Citadel in the quarterfinals of the 2006 SoCon tournament. They remember the celebrations after going back-to-back in the North Chuck Coliseum to win consecutive league titles and NCAA berths.

They remember how much pride and ownership the city of Charleston takes in the Southern Conference. Unlike Chattanooga, the host of the basketball tournament in 2009, Charleston has embraced SoCon sports across the map for many years, hosting baseball, basketball, tennis and soccer tournaments year in and year out.

The city's small newspaper, The Post and Courier, has taken on the responsibility of being the "official" news source of the Southern Conference, outworking David Uchiyama and the Chattanooga Times Free Press for that distinction by virtue of the presence of two SoCon schools within miles of each other. Even today as the basketball Wildcats walk through that Sheraton lobby on the way to shootaround, they will see not Clemson or Charleston or South Carolina or even The Citadel on the front page of the sports section...but themselves. Jeff Hartsell's 3/4 page article on Davidson entitled "A League of its Own," comes across as so complimentary to the Wildcats that even this former Davidsonian editor blushed a little. In fact, the article was so good to the rival of Charleston's home teams, that the Post and Courier have not even put it on their website yet. (EDIT: it is now up. You can see it here

So here we are. Back home again. The air is a little warmer. The streets a little less crowded. This ground isn't filled with all that Davidson-red's just nice smooth sand.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Will In Turn: Substance over Style

Danielle Hemerka is not a flashy player. In fact, if you look in your library’s thesaurus, Hemerka’s name comes up as item one as the antonym of flashy.

So while Stephen “cocked hand/sliding across midcourt/making everyone buy his jersey” Curry was continuing to assault the record books with a 29 point performance at Western Carolina, Hemerka did some assaulting of her own down I-40 in Elon.

Read the rest of my post on Danielle Hemerka and her 1,000 points over on the Wildcats' Roar blog page.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Final look at anniversary weekend

The alums have all flown home now. The snow has all but melted. And the basketball team is off in Cullowhee thinking about the next set of bodies that the SoCon will throw at them. The once in a lifetime moment came and went...but thankfully, we are left with more than just a ticket stub and maybe a few autographs. Here's a look at all of the different takes from the weekend of Davidson basketball.

Just recently published here on the blog, Michael Kruse put up the caution sign in this article about the Hall of Fame panel that gathered on Saturday morning. Kruse argues that Saturday was not the best time for the politics of John Gerdy and yet firmly believed that the high-flying act of the 2007-2008 Wildcats all but erased any bruised feelings between members of different generations and worldviews.

Over on the Wildcats' Roar blog, Lauren Biggers gave a nice take on how the Wildcats were finally having fun on the court. From Jason Richards' several fist pumps and exhortations of competitive fury to Stephen Curry's smooth pointing to the crowd, the entire game felt like an unleashing of Wildcat fervor that came from somewhere very deep down inside. I will also have an article on the athletic website's blog page in the near future.

Throughout the afternoon basketball game, Lefty Driesell sat with John Kilgo at the press table and talked about the game and his experiences as the Wildcat coach in the 1960's. He repeatedly said that Curry was one of the best guards that he had ever seen play basketball, and that McKillop had coached his team to play great defense. Even in the 1960's when defenses were less physical, Driesell always taught his Wildcats how to play shut-down D and force turnovers.

As pointed out by AppFan over on his blog, Davidson's celebration was not without its ironic humor. This poorly deluded youngster was getting an autograph from Driesell while wearing an App State hoody. This photo by Marty Price appeared in the Charlotte Observer slideshow of photos from the basketball weekend.

In another bit of irony more pleasing to Davidson fans, the Chattanooga Free Times' David Uchiyama wrote that Chase Allred, a local 8-year old was happier to have gotten Stephen Curry's autograph than Driesell's. "I can't believe I got Stephen Curry's autograph."

One of the darker moments of Saturday came late in the game against Chattanooga when the Mocs' Matt Gwynne intentionally fouled Davidson's Thomas Sander. The Davidson bench was irate and Sander refused to comment on the incident after the game. As you can see by the footage, Gwynne was ferocious with his elbow and nearly broke Sander's nose. Sander had been punched in the groin earlier in the game by Chattanooga's Kevin Bridgewaters.

Sander seemed to be without any permanent damage after the game, as he was cheerfully signing autographs for kids on the court. The Wildcats return to Chattanooga on February 2, and if this video continues to be played over and over, it is a guarantee that some more sparks will fly.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Kruse Thoughts

Michael Kruse is a staff writer for the St. Petersburg Times and friend of Will's World. A graduate of Davidson and former editor of the Davidsonian, Kruse was in town to enjoy the 100th anniversary festivities and kindly wrote up an article for the blog.

Good, rich weekend for the Wildcats, was it not?

So much to just fill you up: old friends and familiar faces, the 100th anniversary festivities, beers at the Brick House, a big, dominant win over the "other" best team in the league, and the much-anticipated panel discussion with greats like Lefty, Snyder, Gerdy and others. But my favorite thing about the whole weekend was that the panel discussion wasn't my favorite thing about the whole weekend.

Not because it wasn't interesting.

It was.

A little TOO interesting at times, actually, thanks to Gerdy, the program's all-time leading scorer who grew up, of course, to write books with titles like Sports: The All-American Addiction.

"I'm very proud of Davidson that we've readjusted our expectations," he said at one point.

(Uh oh.)

"I've never been more proud of the program than over the last 10 years," he said, with Lefty and Jerry Kroll sitting a few feet to his right.

(Uh oh.)

And then this: "The bottom line," he said. "The basketball program is not essential to the mission of the college."


It's maybe a worthwhile if tired debate, the Division I vs. Division III thing at Davidson, and all that goes with it, but it's best had almost in an intellectual vacuum in a coffee shop somewhere.

Thing is, I don't disagree with a bunch of the stuff Gerdy likes to talk about, and you can make the argument that what McKillop has done over the last, say, 15 years, in some ways, and at this point in College Sports, Inc., has been even harder than what Lefty did in his nine years in the '60s. And that's no knock at all on what Lefty did here. What he did that decade at Davidson adds up to absolutely one of the most amazing stories in the history of the college hoops.

But on a panel on a weekend celebrating 100 years of Wildcat basketball? Not totally the time and place to have snippets of that conversation, or to raise the kinds of issues that beg a back-and-forth on the complicated, pretty much impossible comparison between the program's two most successful eras. Too many things have changed. Everyone here knows what they are.

Lefty on the panel?

Lefty was Lefty. Gravelly voice, folksy showman, big man, big presence. People can't not listen and watch. There's just something about him. Anyway, he told some of his stories from the '60s, some of which might actually have been true.

"Lefty," Kilgo told him at the end, "I want to, in deference to you, to give you the last word."

But here was the best part of the weekend.

Lefty's word wasn't the last word.

The vibrant present took over from there.

Practice like you play, play like you practice, and the 27-point win over Chattanooga rolled out like a natural extension of the workout I watched Friday afternoon. So much purpose and precision within all that sweat and heavy breathing.

"We're gonna kick their ass," first-rate, first-row fan Jim Richards said before tip.

And so we did.

McKillop's teams, when they're right, they play with such a level-headed fury.

Jason did his thing, all angles, intellect and body control.

Max was Max. That kid, and I don't know that I fully understood this before, at least not to such an extent, but sitting press row at Belk for the whole game for the first time in years and years made me appreciate his play more than ever. He plays, defense in particular, with an utter ferocity. You can practically hear his exertion.

Steph was awesome, of course, he of the light that's as green as green can be. You always know he's going good, though, when you notice, just as much as the threes, the floaters, the runners, the pull-ups, the crafty little dribble drives that turn into layups that lead to him piling up all those twos like he does all those threes.

No wonder middle-aged men in the stands at Belk wear those No. 30 jerseys. The part of me that's a sensible adult thinks that's kind of ridiculous, but I've got to be honest here: The proud, almost primal part of me kind of digs the hell out of it.

Steph aside, though, the tenor of Saturday's game was established just as much by the whole team's sticky fingers and active hands. Thomas Sander had SIX steals. All of it was a 40-minute reminder that being in the right place at the right time doesn't have to be an accident, and shouldn't be.

After the game, in the little press get-together, Thomas said this succinct thing about Steph: "Seeing him feel like he can do anything makes us feel like we can do anything."

Steph, asked about his 37 points, said this: "We played our best game of the year."

The kid said we.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Stephen Curry video highlights vs. Chattanooga

'Cats win big in front of alums, 85-58

***photo by Marty Price***

Davidson extended its conference winning streak to 18 games on Saturday afternoon by defeating North Division leader Chattanooga 85-58. The Wildcats have now started the conference season at 8-0. Davidson has only opened the conference season with eight straight in three different seasons: they finished undefeated each time.

Davidson was led by the incredible talent of Stephen Curry. Curry fed off the raucous crowd of 5,361 to lead Davidson from the opening tip. The crowd had an especially emotional feel as scores of Davidson basketball alumni, including Lefty Driesell, were in town for Davidson's 100th anniversary celebration.

Curry hit three-pointers from all parts of the court, scoring 27 points in the first half. That was one point short of Fred Hetzel's Davidson record of 28 set back in the 1964. Curry finished with 37 points, one short of a career high, with eight three-pointers. His last three came from well beyond the three-point arc with a hand in his face.

Curry was not alone in harnessing the fever pulse of the crowd. Boris Meno finished with 12 points off the bench, including several big thunder dunks that brought the crowd to its feet.

"It was good to get the crowd going and my team going," said Meno. "Steph was making shots like crazy, so I had to do something."

"The crowd was extraordinary," said Coach McKillop. "It was emotional for me to have all these people assembled that have allowed me to be here. They built the foundation of this program, and I wanted us to play well in front of them. I was incredibly proud of our guys because it was such a special day."

Andrew Lovedale and Thomas Sander joined Meno in dominating Chattanooga in the frontcourt. Lovedale made several fallaway jumpers to finish with 12 points in his sixth game as a starter. Sander set several impenetrable ball screens to set up Curry threes. He finished with six assists and six steals, leading Davidson's defense all night.

"Sander was flawless out there today," said McKillop.

McKillop and his players had the opportunity to interact with Davidson basketball alums at Friday's practice and Saturday's dinner.

"Those guys are proud to be a part of a program that has the excitement we have now. They are all part of that foundation," said McKillop.

On Saturday afternoon, that foundation seemed impenetrable.

Davidson 85 Chattanooga 58

The Wildcats tip off against the Chattanooga Mocs today at 2 p.m. on this 100th anniversary celebration Saturday. Lefty Driesell spearheaded a panel discussion this morning that was moderated by John Kilgo and featured Mike Williams '49, Hobby Cobb '56, Dick Snyder '66, Jerry Kroll '70, John Gerdy '79, and Kenny Wilson '84. More on that to come...

Today's game will be the biggest matchup for the Wildcats in Belk Arena this year. The students will be in town and fired up as this is rush weekend on campus. Unfortunately, the bad weather forecast might keep away Davidson fans who were planning to drive home in the afternoon. Most forecasts call for icy roads and dangerous conditions starting around 2 p.m. It is not far from anyone's minds that the last two conference home games that Davidson has dropped in five years were on Saturday afternoons with either cold or wet weather.

Updates on starting lineups and matchups from Belk Arena soon to come...including a special feature article from Michael Kruse.
20 minutes before tipoff

Can Civi is still dressed out in street clothes today, along with Bond and Allison.

The D-Block crew has found its way into section 8 while the back of the basket filled up pretty quickly. Students should be lining the corner sections all the way up to the ceiling. The electricity in Belk Arena has not reached this level in a long time.

Chattanooga will be starting Watts (6-7), Doaks (6-7), Hartwell (6-8), McDowell (5-11) and Bridgewaters (5-9).

Wells Black of Davidson Basketball Update fame will also be here today filming. He has acquired a pass and will be shooting from the baseline.
15:30 D 11 C 6
I apologize for the delay as the wireless internet is going haywire right now and I'm also answering phones. But Curry opened with five big points and Meno just finished a big slam off a slipped screen. Belk Arena is rocking and rolling with a full contingency of students.
13:12 D 17 C 8
UTC's Kevin Bridgewaters reminds me a lot of D.J. Thompson or Tim Smith. He has the ability to break everyone down off the dribble and find open people inside.

But Stephen Curry is still the class of the conference. He gets a steal and a big defensive rebound and goes for two huge threes from 25 feet out. He wants the MVP now! J-Rich forces a turnover and Belk Arena comes down in a waterfall of noise. This feels like the finals of the SoCon tournament.
11:39 D 19 C 11
Things calm down a little with a missed BBarr three pointer and a Meno turnover. Unlike App, Wofford or Georgia Southern, these Mocs don't seem to be intimidated by Davidson's emotional starts. They are not pressing and still getting pretty good looks from their offense. It will take 40 minutes to put this one away. UTC did not let App St. run away from them on Thursdy and it won't happen this afternoon.
8:33 D 25 C 15
Things get chippy after Sander gets hit without a call at midcourt. Jason Richards sends a signal by putting his shoulder into his defender's face. That charge call was booed extensively but it was legit. The no-call before it was bad. Don't mess with Sander because you will get all of Jason Richards. Needless to say, this place has a lot of emotion. The Wildcats have a few teardrops rim out in consecutive possessions.
7:50 D 26 C 15
Curry with a layup in traffic and then hits a wide-open three-pointer. He now has 16 points on 6-9 shooting including three three-pointers. A media timeout keeps Shulman from taking one himself.
6:41 D 26 C 17
The Wildcats have not had any hangover from playing some of the bottom teams of the Southern Conference. They are playing at a good clip tonight and have been sharp from the field. Meno has continued to play better and better and better. Richards has five assists as well.
4:28 D 33 C 22
Curry finished the first half of the Appalachian State game with 26 points. He might push that today...he's already got 21. Talks of half scoring records are now circulating around the SID crew. Hetzel has the Davidson mark with 28. Not sure about Belk Arena records.
3:55 D 33 C 22
After a steal and finish and then another jump ball tie-up, Jason Richards is talking at Bridgewaters. These Wildcats are taking no prisoners today. They are now calling all former basketball players down to the tunnel...thankfully there are plenty of photographers and videographers to film this. It's going to be special. I see that Lefty is sitting down next to Kilgo, not sure if he's on the radio all game.
1:21 D 41 C 24
Curry hits a big three to put him at 24. I just checked out the hit stats for the blog and saw that no one is following online. That is excellent. I feel like everyone is here today sitting around and watching this in all of its glory. Make that 27. Curry needs 1 point for the Davidson 1-half record. ---
Halftime D 41 C 26

Curry misses a shot right at the buzzer and finishes with 27 points for the half with 6 threes, one point behind Hetzel's record of 28 which he set twice. Richards has 6 assists.
16:39 D 49 C 26

The internet is down again. And so are livestats. The halftime show was an incredible event as Wildcats from every generation lined the court with the Hall of Famers standing at the middle. Curry hits two free throws to put him at 29, but he might be starting to tire now. He short-armed a layup. But Boris finishes a huge two hand slam on the next possession and then gets an alley oop monster. What an emotional game! Meno now has 10. I’ve never seen so many videographers here along the baseline before. This game might not be on TV, but its incredible footage will be getting out soon. Chattanooga is about to give up.
15:28 D 51 C 26

Football quarterback Ryan Alexander came extremely close to winning 10,000 dollars at the media timeout but he misses the half-court shot. Davidson is starting to run away now. Too bad Curry is getting tired. He might have had a career day after that first half. He is still at 29.
12:43 D 57 C 31

Meno with the turn around alley oop jam on the baseline out of bounds. You could get a full highlight video out of this game alone. Meno has 12 while Lovedale has 8. Curry takes a seat to give Barr some looks while Rossiter replaces Meno. Lovedale’s little jumper falls again. That thing looks pretty this year. Too bad he just picked up number 4 on the foul category.
11:41 D 59 C 35

Richards pulls a little Stephen Curry out of his pocket as he hits a very difficult fallaway with the shot clock expiring. And Curry comes back in during Shulman’s 30 second timeout. This is an incredible display today and a message to the Southern Conference. I also thinks that it sends a message to the students that this season is still one of a kind even without the wins over Duke or UNC.
8:37 D 66 C 41

Richards is now 1 assist away from a double-double after scoring his tenth point at the foul line. Davidson’s defense has continued to play very well although the offense has sputtered now. Lovedale becomes the victim of some tough calls inside and he gets a standing ovation for his efforts. The refs are calling a lot now and really slowing this game down. It can’t be too fun for either team to watch anymore. The excitement left after Meno’s last dunk which seemed like an hour ago.
6:51 D 70 C 47

Sweet Caroline does its magic again as the students continue the chorus in a cappella into a Chattanooga free throw. As the Moc free throw missed, the student section went nuts. An MPG dunk lights everyone up again.
4:05 D 76 C 50

Poor Curry. His shot is off in this half. He has only scored four second half points. The Will’s World jinx works again. He hits a three as I type. He hits another one from 30 feet out falling down. Poor Lefty. He is missing quite a show by hanging out in the SID office watching the Maryland game (his son is an assistant coach).
3:24 D 79 C 51

Matt Gwynne picks up an intentional foul by knocking Thomas Sander to the deck. Sander is still down with Ray Beltz attending to his face. That will be a continuing theme for this year. SoCon teams getting frustrated with Davidson’s play and physicality and retaliating by playing dirty. Coach puts in McKillop, Nelms and Rossiter to keep Richards and Curry safe. Curry finished with 37 points and eight threes, one point behind his career high.
Final D 85 C 58

A complete display from the Davidson Wildcats today. Stephen Curry had a performance for the ages while Jason Richards, Boris Meno, Andrew Lovedale, Max Paulhus Gosselin…heck, everyone played really well. Davidson will take the greatest show in the Southern Conference on the road next week when they head to Cullowhee and then Charleston, SC.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Davidson records 17th straight conference victory, 73-51 over Furman

The Davidson Wildcats hit their first eight of nine shots to open up a 24-13 lead over the Furman Paladins Wednesday night before cruising to a 73-51 victory. The win puts Bob McKillop's Wildcats at a perfect 7-0 in the conference. It is the second consecutive season that Davidson has opened the league slate with seven victories.

Stephen Curry once again led all scorers with 14 points. However, Curry was off of his game on this night, hitting only 1-8 three-pointers and turning the ball over four times. He made up for his poor offensive performance by playing very aggressive defense, blocking one shot and collecting a team-high seven rebounds.

Boris Meno and Will Archambault turned in solid performances off the bench. Each scored in double figures in less than 20 minutes of play. Archambault attacked the basket off the dribble on several possessions and showed his ability to score from different looks. Andrew Lovedale started his fifth consecutive game and put together another solid performance with eight points and five rebounds.

Although Davidson got off to another quick start, they hit a slump halfway through the first period. Several costly turnovers by Davidson's guards found Jason Richards sitting on the bench and Furman trying to pull within single digits. Although Richards started with a couple of big three-pointers, he played most of the game out of sync. He played through the trash time at the end to finish with eight assists and 11 points. The nation's leading assist man now has over 500 assists for his career.

Davidson's defense played well for the night, forcing 16 turnovers and holding Furman to 4-19 shooting from three-point land. Six different players were credited with steals while the Wildcats challenged many Paladin shots around the rim.

Thomas Sander continued to provide a strong presence inside, pounding the Paladin forwards on every possession. The physical strain seemed to get to him a little in the second half though. He was visibly tired on the free throw line, missing two freebies off the front rim and going 1-4 from the FT line on the night.

The Furman student contingent tried to get in the Wildcats' heads all night by referring to players' siblings and past history.

"We have all learned to tune that stuff out pretty well," said Sander afterwards. "But that's probably the first time that people have brought up my sister."

As Davidson was leaving the Timmons Arena, the players were greeted by the first falling snow of the season. Native Canadian Max Paulhus Gosselin was grinning from ear to ear.

"It feels just like home."

Davidson 73 Furman 51

Coming off a 85-50 stomping of Wofford on Saturday, Davidson travels to Furman tonight to take on the Paladins in this final matchup of the three-game road trip. Furman has struggled mightily this season, posting a 2-14 record overall. Davidson will look to win its 31st of its last 32 conference games.

I will be on hand in Greenville to bring you all the action via the live blog. So keep it tuned here while you listen to John Kilgo out there in the digital world. And after the game, check out my post-game writeup and check out Lauren Biggers' View from Press Row on the new athletics blog of Davidson Athletics.
18 minutes to tipoff

Aaron Bond has joined Can Civi on the bench in street clothes tonight. I haven't heard anything definitive about Bond, but I do know that he didn't get his normal time at the end of the Wofford game on Saturday. Maybe there's still some lingering affects from his early-season shoulder injury. Furman's Stanley Jones will also be in street clothes tonight as he has been suspended indefinitely. That leaves Opacic as the only Paladin with significant playing experience against Davidson.

Timmons Arena doesn't look too bad. They switched the benches to the other side and they have put the Davidson fans back in the nice seats. They took the stage down on the other side and seats extend from the floor up 25 rows to a black curtain. They also curtained off the extraneous upper bleachers that faced the court at weird angles. So it now looks like a semi-normal basketball facility, albeit with a smaller capacity.

Davidson's collection of bloggers have been put behind the basket on a table with very little protection. I have a feeling that we will get hit with some stray balls and flying bodies.
"Welcome to tonight's game between Furman and the Wildcats of Davidson University," says the PA announcer.

After the Wildcats broke their last huddle, Curry went over and gave Meno a big hug. I'm sure that he really wants to get back into the starting lineup. Lovedale still starting tonight.
17:50 D 7 FU 6
MPG opens things with a steal and Steph converts. After a Furman basket, Richards had an untimely turnover leading to 2 more for the Paladins. Davidson attacked the paint on their first half court possession and got easy points and then J-Rich hits a three. Now the defense needs to tighten...FU has scored on every possession.
15:40 D 14 FU 8
Jason Richards responds to chants of "Lindsey" (his All-American sister) by hitting another three-pointer. Davidson now 5-5 from the field. They miss one but Curry responds with a nice is now 6-7 FG.
15:18 D 14 FU 8
MPG picks up his second foul and he will go to the bench going into the first media timeout. The pace of this game really favors Davidson right now. Furman has gotten a basket or two in transition but Davidson has gotten many. Only one Wildcat FG came after 25 seconds of a possession. That's Davidson's bread and and shoot, and hit in open space.
11:43 D 21 FU 10
The high-flying Wildcats continue their offensive slaughter with another Curry three. Everyone in but Richards is a bench player now, and the Wildcats are cooling off a little. FU's Evans is really quick off the dribble. He just made a nice baseline reverse layup past everyone.
11:00 D 21 FU 13
A turnover from Steph followed by a Connor Nolte leads McKillop to use a 30 second timeout. He's not letting Furman pull back now. He also puts Richards back in after a 20 second stint on the bench. And the Furman students let loose on his sister again. Our offense looks out of sync right now. We need to get Sander more looks inside. He has a way of steadying nervous offensive energy. And McKillop gets some surprising looks in the first half.
7:56 D 24 FU 16
Richards hits a big three and he and Curry both have nine now. Curry's defense is excellent, but his ball-handling seems a little off right now. The Paladins have cooled off from the field, with several shots rimming out. SoCon opponents have done their homework on Davidson's screen slipping. Lovedale has tried several times and Furman knew it was coming. This score is actually very comforting because Furman is outplaying Davidson right now.
4:48 D 29 FU 18
Furman is doing everything right now except for offensive rebounding and not lucking out on some bounces at the rim. Davidson is looking progressively sloppy. Sander hasn't gotten anything easy inside and our threes are further off the mark. Archambault breaks the slump with a nice baseline two...he had been blocked in the lane on his last attempt.
4:18 D 31 FU 18
Meno scores a big two from a nice little J-Rich lob (2 assts on the game). Jackson calls a 30 to try to stop this mini run.
3:56 D 31 FU 18
Davidson is doing a nice job of not leaving their feet on defensive possessions. Rossiter got a block on that last possession by standing straight with his hands up. Furman is 7-24 from the field and their last few shots have not been pretty. The Wildcats have kept position and have been gobbling up the defensive rebounds and not letting Furman get any second chance opps.
1:04 D 35 FU 20
Meno is playing better and better. His defense has been very strong tonight and he has not made mistakes on offense while still being aggressive. He might begin starting again soon. It looks like the message is sinking in.
Halftime D 37 FU 20
Richards feeds Archambault on a backdoor cut to end the half and Will slams Davidson to a 17 point lead.

Apparently the Furman students like to do sister research in their spare time. They are now getting on Thomas about Bridget. I'm surprised that they haven't brought up Seth but maybe they figured that wasn't intimidating enough.

So it looks like the Paladins have been to Wofford. Their tennis team is playing on the court tonight. I don't believe this. I'm getting pelted with tennis balls.
18:00 D 39 FU 22
There's that easy Sander layup that I've been looking for. Davidson is shooting well over 50% from the floor while Furman is under 30%.
17:51 D 43 FU
Richards and Curry drive unimpeded to the basket and Furman has to call a timeout. Both players have 11 on the game.

I got to meet Mr. DavidsonBasketball Blog at halftime which was great. The Wildcats have a pretty nice turnout from D-town...good mix of students and older fans representing for a weekday night game. The consensus is that we need to play better.
14:13 D 47 FU 27
Furman's Jordan Miller just picked up his fourth foul. That came out of nowhere. MPG gets his first points with a nice finish at the cup. The fans are now getting on Andrew Lovedale and his habit of grunting on every rebound. I don't know but I think it's pretty cool. Curry is really really off tonight. Shots are way off, he's turned the ball over 4 times and he's giving them the confidence that they are shutting down the best player in the league. At least their fans are happy about it. Thankfully, Furman is pretty offensively inept and some other Wildcats have found easy ways to score.

Sander just missed two free throws to the tune of Bridget. He looks tired from rebounding and his shots are short.
13:33 D 52 FU 30
KCary observed on the message board that Will Archambault is playing more aggressively. That is very accurate. He just ran an iso play with everyone on the left side of the key and Will driving right. He almost got a three-point play but settled for two free throws. Then, as I type, he does get a two AND1. Archer has 10 points.
12:30 D 52 FU 32
Davidson moved to a 1-3-1 zone that last possession with Richards in the paint guarding Opacic. The Furman forward has several inches on him but Richards held his ground and Davidson got the stop. On the next possession, Opacic took advantage and drew a foul on Barr. Back to man.
10:20 D 59 FU 35
Meno with eight points now. He and Archambault have played really well on the offensive end tonight. Curry is back in and looking to shoot. He hits a pull-up that time. I hope he doesn't get "selfish" here in the final ten as he tries to get his scoring total up. He needs to still play within the offense.
8:20 D 60 FU 37
Free throws are becoming an issue again tonight. Davidson is 7-12 from the line with a bad 1-4 mark from Sander. Rossiter has not played very well tonight either. He just picked up a foul inside and comes out without any points to his name. Furman has also kept with Davidson pretty well on the rebounding end. The Wildcats aren't getting any O rebounds or second chance points.
7:06 D 62 FU 41
This blog has what I call "the Will factor." After most negative critiques of Davidson, we usually fix them in the next possession. Two possessions after that last post. Two offensive rebounds and two points for Lovedale. Gotta love it. Paladin fans are heading out here in the penultimate media timeout. That's sad.
5:15 D 64 FU 45
Brendan McKillop comes into the game to chatter of daddy's boy. After two quick fouls, they are now yelling "send in Mom." Davidson has not played well tonight and maybe Furman has reason to jeer us. We aren't playing as well as we should. But gosh, Furman is pretty bad. Outright bad.

Lovedale coming back with some strong play here in the end. Some big rebounds and a two while Sander sits on the bench.
3:54 D 66 FU 45
Bryant Barr misses on an Archambault-like runner on the baseline...he threw it all the way over the hoop. That's not his shot yet. This Furman fight song is starting to grate on me. I just know that I'll be humming it all the way home tonight.
25 sec D 73 FU 51
With Civi out tonight, Jason is getting some extended time here at the end along with Brendan. His presence makes Nelms, Rossiter and McKillop look much better. They now have him at seven assists after two nice dishes. McKillop for three and Richards has eight.
Final D 73 FU 51
The Wildcats' performance could have been crisper tonight. Curry was not on his game tonight but the Wildcats saw some good things from Archambault and Meno and Lovedale. I will get a post-game story up later tonight from the road. Head over to Wildcats' Roar to check out Lauren Biggers' story. Also go to the Davidson Basketball blog to see some pictures and video.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"Wildcats' Roar" on Athletics Website

The Davidson Athletics website has now started a new blog where current athletes, coaches, and staff have been given the opportunity to write about different topics.

"Wildcats' Roar" has opened with content from Davidson SID Lauren Biggers and men's soccer player Robert O'Donnell. A sophomore from Chevy Chase, MD, O'Donnell is currently in Charleston, SC working with the Obama Campaign. He plans to blog about his experiences on a weekly basis.

As you have seen from the last several entries on Will's World, Biggers plans to provide insider commentary from her seat at press row on the conference stretch of the men's basketball season. She will be providing another post tomorrow after Davidson's game with Furman.

The purpose of the athletics blog is to provide people associated with Davidson sports the opportunity to have their own voice to talk about their experiences as a Davidson Wildcat.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Davidson quiets the Dogs

Tonight's post-game wrap-up is again presented by Davidson's own Lauren Biggers. While not writing for Will's World, Biggers likes to watch The Office and Lost, while keeping up with current events. She enjoys drinking Diet Coke.

Back by popular demand – well, my mom and (most of) the guys in the office liked my mindless commentary at least - I decided to make a second straight road trip. Will’s World is kind enough to air my thoughts again, but stay tuned for a possible Davidson blog in the near future. (I know what you are thinking: Here’s hoping.)

This time we traveled just over the border into the Palmetto State and onto the lovely campus of Wofford College. It really is lovely, and it’s certainly less hot than I remember from my Panthers training camp trip, and much quieter and all around tamer than my last visit to the home of the “Beware of Dog” sign last season. (I love that sign.)

In ’07, I drew the short(er) end of the stick with a seat next to the Davidson bench on the official scorers table. From what I remembered of my trip last year, I expected a much louder atmosphere, though that expectation may have been distorted by that row of students shouting over my shoulder the entire time, mistakenly calling Bryant Barr “J” so much that I finally turned around and clarified for them. A momentary lapse in judgment to be sure, but they did help me get connected to the wireless Internet and, well, you need friends everywhere you go.

I digress, and I just spent most of this opening writing about last year’s game, and that’s because, well this wasn’t last year’s game. Nor really, a game at all. The atmosphere wasn’t electric, the game wasn’t close, and unlike some in Davidson red, I wasn’t annoyed by the Wofford students.

The antithesis to last week’s Elon game, where nothing needed was falling for the ‘Cats, Davidson couldn’t miss out of the gates tonight, going nearly six minutes before finally missing a shot. It was the kind of game that when Wofford scored on an inbounds play to make the margin 21-7, I found myself cheering just a little. Cheering, after all, isn’t allowed on press row.

It wasn’t that Wofford was slacking off or even playing that poorly, it was just one of those games that was decided right from the Andrew Lovedale tip. At the point when Davidson finally missed a shot, Stephen (not pronounced Steven, except sometimes for fun) Curry was outscoring the Terriers 12-7 all by his lonesome.

Even the Wofford students couldn’t get up for this one, and can you blame them? At their own arena the P.A. announcer directed a security guard to take away their bullhorn, in so many words, over the loudspeaker to cheers from the Davidson contingent. Though, you can’t blame the guy, since the bullhorn was literally within an earshot. And don’t even get me started on the unnecessarily lengthy horn for timeouts. Was that guy serious? Or just as bored as the rest of us? Or afraid that Wofford wouldn’t actually come back out?

Lacking in drama from the start, expect for if the ‘Cats would get to 100 (no), the crowd pretty much kicked back for a show. For Davidson though, the memories of a close win at Elon combined with a near-miss at Wofford last season, combined for a big win on Saturday night.

“It felt really good,” said Jason Richards, demoted, also to his amusement, to my press conference this night. “Coming down here, it’s always a battle against Wofford. We came out fired up. We learned a lot from the game against Elon. We knew we needed to get out of the starting gates early, and we got out to a big lead. It was a good win for us.”

And if it was a lackluster game, as indicated by the final scored of 85-50, it certainly wasn’t for effort. Steph finished with 26 on 11-of-13 shooting with three each in rebounds and assists. Jason finished with 12 (four treys) points and was credited with six assists, though it probably should have been more. Will, who had such a big game in this arena last season, posted another good total with 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting, while Stephen (actually pronounced Steven) Rossiter was close to a double-double with eight pounds and rebounds off the bench, back after an off-night at Elon.

“Obviously that builds confidence for us,” Jason said of back-to-back SoCon road wins. “Winning on the road in the conference is huge; every game in conference is hard. Furman will be really important for us; they are gonna bring it. Anytime you go on the road in the conference, we just need to come out like we did tonight against Wofford.”

Here’s hoping for a very similar result.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Davidson 85 Wofford 50

Davidson Basketball travels to Spartanburg, SC today to take on the Terriers from Wofford College. Wofford is 1-3 in the conference but their three losses have come to UTC, ASU and UNCG, all teams that are fighting to win the North Division. Davidson has only won twice in the last several years at Wofford, and those wins were decided in the final minute. The Wildcats are coming off a heart-stopping two-point road win at Elon where Stephen Curry broke out of a game-long slump to score the team's last eight points in the final two and a half minutes.

I plan on live-blogging the action from Ben Johnson Arena tonight. I have been told that they have wireless, but as many of you remember, my computer's wireless card is not always completely reliable. So look for live updated thoughts throughout the game, but if they aren't popping up, I promise to at least get them recorded and post them as soon as I can get to a working internet connection.
So I'm sitting here at press row with a few observations with our friend Kevin Cary. Stephen Curry usually takes the last shot before going into the locker room in the pregame. He did that again tonight and hit it, but then out of nowhere Brendan McKillop and Boris Meno picked up loose balls and launched three pointers after Curry. I don't what it means that McKillop airballed his shot while Meno swished it from the wing.

Lovedale is still projected tonight for the Cats. Hopefully Davidson can take advantage of their superior frontcourt and get some easy baskets on the inside to put Wofford down early. The Terriers have been really close here in Spartanburg and they should be itching for a win tonight. Davidson has only won two out of the last six games here in Ben Johnson Arena.
17:59 D 7 W 0
Richards with a nice three after a long opening possession. I would imagine that Wofford would try to slow down the pace a la Elon. But I've been wrong about these things before. Sander and Curry put us up 7. This is good.
15:44 D 12 W 2
We haven't seen Nichols jack it up yet. I don't know why Wofford is attacking us in the paint. This early lead is great. Wofford might not be able to have the firepower to come back later on. They certainly can't outrebound us. Lovedale has played very well securing boards and then hits a nice jumper.

The Wofford crowd is not as loud as it has been in years past. Maybe that App game took some of their spirit. Unlike Davidson, Wofford students have already been back for their trimester/Januarymester.
13:44 D 18 W 5
Davidson is shooting 100% from the field right now. With good points from everyone. I was worried about this game but I also suspected that we could be out for blood after Elon. It looks like it. We need to get some confidence for the bigs and bench tonight. I hope that Rossiter and Will get a lot of PT. For what it's worth, the entire section of red isn't very loud either. But oh well.
11:40 D 21 W 7
Will with Davidson's first miss of the night. The Wildcats hit their first nine shots. Wofford's defense just doesn't have the size to really bother our shooters, and we're breaking them down by bringing the ball up quickly. This is the team that people imagined back in October. He then lost an incredible pass from J-Rich out of bounds. Maybe seeing Barr soon.

In the media timeout, they are launching t-shirts with an air cannon. But the gym is so small the t-shirts are hitting the upper back wall. Also, the horn is completely out of control and going too long and too loud.
8:47 D 28 W 8
And Kevin Cary makes the observation of the night. Curry isn't wearing any wrapping on his wrist. That will be in the Observer tomorrow. I never seem to notice these things. Davidson has cooled off a little bit here. They can't let the Terriers back in this one. Then Curry hits a long three. Thanks for bailing me out buddy. Then another one from inside the line. He's good.
5:50 D 36 W 13
I heard some extremely loud screaming behind me only to discover that there are several rows of Davidson fans behind us as well. The Wofford marketing interns are handing out 3 point papers, but it might be too little too late. This one is about over. And this place is just enjoying watching Stephen Curry play.
3:22 D 41 W 18
I also just learned that the shortest ref here is Dean Smith's son. He hasn't made too many notable calls, so that's about all I can say about that. KCary thinks that tonight's PA announcer sounds like Mean Gene Okerlund from the WWE. He was also very upset that I didn't know who that was. Boris Meno with a travel inside. Coach is trying to let him play out of his slump but he's still off. Everytime he grabs a rebound he bobbles it a little before Jason takes it from him. If this is anyone other than Wofford those rebounds turn into loose balls.
1:11 D 43 W 25
All of the Davidson fans behind the bench have to stand up on every Wildcat offensive possession. The middle section is where Wofford puts the students and you can't see from around them down the court unless you stand. When the P.A. announcer told the students not to use megaphones, the older Davidson contingent expressed their approval.

After starting the game, Lovedale hasn't seen too much PT. I understand trying to get Boris some time. But remember, Andrew hasn't had all that much experience this year, starting or no, I'd rather get him the playing time in a lot of ways.
Halftime D 45 W 25
Excellent first half from Davidson. They had a few breakdowns on defense and picked up silly fouls, but there's not too much to critique them on. Curry has 17 points in the first half with some white-hot outside shooting. His halftime high was 26 against Appalachian State. Archambault has also played well. The frontcourt has dominated as expected, outrebounding Wofford 18-7 (Meno 5, Rossiter 4). The halftime stats are little pathetic. The Wofford staff gave Aaron Bond a minute of play while they only gave Jason Richards 3 assists against 3 turnovers. That's not right.

The halftime entertainment is a bunch of Wofford tennis players playing a small ball game on the court. The guys are being mean and just hitting the ball really hard. It's not very competitive.
17:21 D 54 W 29
And a quick start for Davidson...Curry has five points to put him at 22. Sweet pass from Lovedale to Sander underneath. Unfortunately Lovedale gets tagged for his third foul on the other end.

I noticed on DavidsonCats that people thought Meno hit a three in the first. He didn't. I wonder where Kilgo thought that he did. Curry now with 24, but he has 3 fouls now.
15:48 D 56 W 29
Sander down on the court with an elbow to the face. This doesn't look too good. Sander is always the victim of these things, because frankly, his chippiness usually goes unnoticed and other players retaliate obviously. Lovedale might not see too much more time with 3 fouls.
15:23 D 56 W 29
At the media timeout and Curry has 26 points. That will make up for some of those sub-par scoring performances against Elon and Western Carolina.
11:54 D 63 W 31
If this margin stays like this, this win will be larger than the cumulative margin of victory for at least ten years down here in Ben Johnson. This is a pretty epic performance by these guys. Too bad we have Furman on Wednesday...I wanna go straight to Chattanooga.

Several Wildcat fans are yelling the margin of the score at every Davidson bucket. The Wofford students are none too pleased and have made jokes about our ability to do math. Well, yes, we can do math.
9:38 D 71 W 36 we hit some more threes or something...haha. What's the over/under on Davidson breaking 100?
7:10 D 77 W 36
Curry gets his fourth foul (26 points) and J-Rich is back in. Richards looks to be getting his assist total back up by launching rainbow passes over the defense to streaking small forwards. And Wofford goes back to zone. Meno gets a nice one-handed dunk on the inside and the lead grows. Wofford has all but given up.

I get a little nudge in the elbow as Kevin Cary exclaims that Jax has opened the scoring against New England. Cary has broken the rules of dress code objectivity by wearing a Jacksonville sweatshirt to tonight's game. He claims that those rules don't apply to the Jaguars and especially not at a SoCon game in Spartanburg.
4:21 D 81 W 40
This will be Davidson's 30th win in its last 31 conference games dating back to February 25, 2006. This has turned into a foul-fest for Davidson, but Wofford cannot shoot free throws to save their life. Nelms and McKillop into the lineup.
Final D 85 W 50
Huge win for Davidson tonight. They came out firing and never let Wofford believe that they could win this game. That sort of mentality will need to continue if Davidson is going to run the conference this year. They won't win 20 close games, but they can win 5-10 close ones and a couple of blowouts on the road.

Lauren Biggers will be providing tonight's game story, so look for that later on.

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Battle of "Will"s: College vs. Professional Sports

Will Roberson is a 2002 graduate of Davidson College and former member of basketball staffs at Davidson College and Clemson University. He now resides in Charlotte, N.C., and is a constant reader and "critic" of the blog. In the following interchange, he and I square off on an age-old question: which is better, college or professional sports?

Will Bryan: College athletics are superior to professional athletes because they represent the highest level of sports. I define sport as organized competition between individuals or teams that is played for the fun and enjoyment of the players and the spectators. Professional athletics is paid entertainment. The players have a job to do and their work is not designed for their own personal fulfillment, but solely for the entertainment of the spectators. In this sense, college athletics is the highest level of volunteer sport. Many of its participants have nothing more to gain than some free sweatshirts and the enjoyment of competition. It does not constitute an occupation and because of that distinction, its participants are free to enjoy college athletics for what sports truly are: fun and games.

Will Roberson: First of all, I'm honored to be the latest (and clearly least talented) guest contributor to Will's World.

I'm afraid that you have been duped by the NCAA into believing that college athletics is pure and wholesome fun and games. College athletics is a business, just like professional sports. The difference is that professional sports are more transparent and don't operate under false pretenses.

Money drives every decision in college athletics just as it does in the pros. You want evidence? Check the 9 PM start time for the Davidson-Elon game on Wednesday night. You think it was in the student-athletes' best interests to play a game that didn't end until after 11:00?

And there's plenty of money to be had. According to Forbes, Notre Dame's football team profited $46 million last year!

At the highest level in football and basketball, college athletics are merely a minor league that the NFL and NBA don't have to pay for. Most players are placed in the easiest majors like Parks & Tourism Management in an attempt to ensure their continued eligibility. Graduation rates are so low that the NCAA was forced to pass a rule that takes away scholarships from teams with low academic performances.

But what about the other sports, you might ask? Money doesn't rule the day in olympic sports, right? A lot of the decisions that are made regarding the cash cows (football and men's basketball) have trickle-down effects. Ask the Saint John's women's soccer team if their trip to Tampa to take on South Florida in a CONFERENCE MATCH made sense to them. Why are they in the same conference? Football and basketball. BIG East, indeed.

WB: My esteemed colleague has brought forth very compelling arguments that showcase the hypocrisy of the NCAA and the identity crisis that college sports have faced over the last few decades. Like the professional leagues and their battles with steroids, cheating and the criminal activity of their players, the college sports environment is not without its problems.

As Will pointed out, donors, sponsorship, play a major role in the ways that college athletes partake in their sports and in the ways that spectators view them. One of the greatest wrongs of college sports is that so many athletes are often put through the ringer of the big time program as their plays make millions for the University and the marketers and whoever else, and at the end of the day, they are thrown out with a substandard education and no compensation of their complete worth to the institution.

But, the college game is fighting back. Schools like Clemson have raised the academic standards for recruited football players, meaning that these high school football studs cannot skip high school classes in lieu of their 40 time. The NCAA's punishments for substandard graduation rates are finally beginning to have some bite as major athletic programs lose donors and interests as their image becomes sullied.

College sports have been criticized for being hypocritical. Yet, at their best, in schools like Davidson, Presbyterian College, Williams and Amherst, they remain fully a function of the institution's goal of educating the mind and the body. At their worst, college athletics are nothing worse than a minor professional league with an identity crisis, not unlike major professional leagues who continue to battle with the moral issues of steroids, gambling, and high-stakes contract disputes. Just because college athletics can often sink to the level of professional sports does not mean that pro sports are any better.

Finally, college athletics have the potential for a particular fan-to-sport relationship that professional teams can never match. While individuals can certainly form very strong bonds to their local or regional pro sports team, no form of fan affiliation can ever trump the experience of being a student in a college or university.

You can "be" a Washington Redskin by living in or around D.C. You can take that fandom with you by purchasing merchandise, satellite plans and knowing the rosters. But that sort of fan relationship does not compare to the level of affinity and bond that one builds by pulling for the school which you attend or attended. Those athletes represent you not by your own choosing but by something more organic. Your relationship with them is tied up with more than just the brand of that particular team. They become your face to a wider community and you become their heartbeat within your own community. Professional sports cannot ever reproduce that same feeling, now matter how many sweatshirts one has or however long someone's family has pulled for a team.

WR: OK, so we'll admit that both levels have their issues. My problem with college athletics is how the business side hides behind the facade of academics. What was the fans' response when your beloved Clemson increased the academic standards for football players? Complete outrage. Many threatened to pull back their IPTAY contributions. To them, winning the ACC is more of a priority than preserving the integrity of the academics. (See this website for more information.)

I think your feeling on fandom is more a product of your upbringing than anything. If you were born in Boston (a pro sports town), you might feel differently. But, you were born in a state with no pro sports teams. And you currently live in a town with really bad NBA and NFL teams that are hard to cheer for. Would you feel as devoted to your college team had you gone to Western Carolina?

A couple more comments...professional leagues, by their nature, have better players. Why would you not want to see the best of the best compete?

Also, many of the major champions in college sports are chosen by subjective measures. Most NCAA tournament participants are chosen and seeded by a committee, not by their record. And don't get me started on the ridiculousness of the BCS.

WB: Since we're on the subject of the Southeast and its relationship with pro sports teams, let's examine that a little more closely. You argue that I like college sports better because a) I'm not in close proximity with a successful pro franchise and b) I have been around some reasonably successful college programs, the alma mater of my Dad (Clemson) and my own school (Davidson).

But growing up, I was always a huge fan of the Atlanta Braves and the Carolina Panthers. Those franchises were pretty successful in their own right, and yet the Braves always had the reputation of having lack-luster fanbases. Between 1992 and 2004, Atlanta was just as successful and had as many stars as anyone in MLB outside of the Yankees, and yet they never had much of a rabid fanbase (compared to teams like the Cubs or Red Sox). Southerners could not wrap themselves around professional sports, even when the teams won. Yet I loved College Baseball growing up. I loved watching the Citadel and College of Charleston and their magical runs to the Super Regional. Colleges in the South had great baseball teams with loyal fanbases. Why did that not translate to a feverish following of the Braves?

And what about the Panthers? Even during their runs to the Super Bowl and NFC championship game, there was always something missing at those games. They needed a pep band...the fans needed some chants...the cheerleaders needed to look a little bit less like strippers. When the Panthers went back to being a .500 team, Southerners had no problem with it. They always liked their Georgia Bulldogs or South Carolina Gamecocks or Clemson Tigers better anyway.

Now that I reflect on it, I believe that Will is upbringing has influenced my love of college sports. I have had the privilege of growing up in a part of the country where college sports first originated. I have been immersed in some of the oldest traditions and legacies of success in all of America's college sports. We don't need that pro stuff down here. And when we've gotten it, and even when it was successful, we realized that we like the college stuff better. And for good reason.

WR: It's clear we value different things. While I definitely appreciate watching a game in a great atmosphere, I've never been one to participate so it probably doesn't carry as much weight with me. I'd much rather watch a game sitting down so I can pay attention to what's going on in the field/court. To me, the reasons you like college sports more (a pep band, etc) are smoke and mirrors to cover up a mediocre product.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

100th Anniversary Celebration, January 19th

Help Us Celebrate 100 Years of Basketball at Davidson, Saturday, January 19, 2008!

You and your family are invited to take part in celebrating 100 years of Davidson College basketball next Saturday, January 19. Players and coaches – including Lefty Driesell and Terry Holland ’64 – from eight different decades will return to campus during the weekend. Don’t miss your chance to hear from them, get autographs, and share the special bond of the Davidson basketball family… then and now.

Please join players, coaches, alumni, and the campus and local communities at the following public events:

10:00 a.m. – Panel discussion: “Meet Davidson Basketball’s Hall of Famers,” Duke Family Performance Hall, Knobloch Campus Center (formerly Johnston Gym) Moderated by The Voice of the Wildcats, John Kilgo, and featuring Hall of Fame inductees Lefty Driesell, Hobby Cobb ’56, John Gerdy ’79, Terry Holland ’64, Jerry Kroll ’70, Dick Snyder ’66, and Kenny Wilson ’84. Welcome back to campus the legends of Davidson basketball, and take part in an audience Q&A session!

2:00 p.m. – Davidson vs. Chattanooga, Belk Arena Cheer on the Wildcats in a key conference game vs. the Mocs from Chattanooga. For tickets to the game, call the Athletic Ticket Office at 1-800-768-CATS. Call today as attendance for this game is expected to be very high!

4:15 p.m. (approximately) – Fan Meet & Greet and Autograph Session, Belk Arena Grab a scorecard, uniform shirt, or other basketball-related item and collect as many autographs as you can! All returning Davidson basketball alumni are the stars of this show – come down to the main floor a few minutes after the game ends and meet the alumni! Limited edition Centennial Basketballs, suitable for autographs, will be on sale at the game.

Don’t miss this important day in the history of Davidson’s basketball program! Brought to you by the Office of Alumni Relations, Davidson Athletic Foundation, and Davidson Athletics.