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.

1 comment:

WB said...

Thank you for not calling them "palm" trees. Any good South Carolinian knows they are "palmetto" trees. You, Will, are clearly a good South Carolinian.

Go Cats!